KOTA KINABALU: The High Court on Wednesday struck out Idris Hydraulic (M) Sdn Bhd’s judicial review application against the Chief Minister and the State Government over the cancellation of its Sustainable Forest Management Licence (SFMLA) in respect of Forest Management Units 8 and 13 (FMU 8 and 13).
FMUs 8 and 13 comprise an area of some 238,000 hectares of timber.
In his 78-page decision, High Court Judge Leonard David Shim ruled that the Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Haji Hajiji Bin Haji Noor, acted lawfully and within the limits of his powers under Section 24A of the Forest Enactment 1968 to cancel Idris Hydraulic’s SFMLA on public interest grounds.
In his conclusion, Judge Leonard stated that “…after perusing the application for judicial review, statutory statement, affidavits and the submissions filed by both parties, this Court finds that the applicant had failed to prove that the impugned cancellation of the said SFMLA in the public interest is invalid on grounds of illegality, irrationality or proportionality.
“Neither does the Court find that the Respondents had taken into consideration irrelevant matters or had failed to consider relevant matters in the issuance of the said notices. In the premises, the said letter of cancellation which is issued in accordance with the law is valid.
“The Chief Minister, after hearing Idris Hydralic’s representations, correctly decided that it was not in the public interest, among others, for Idris Hydraulic to be owned by not one but two, wound up shareholders.
“The result of Idris being owned by insolvent parent companies is that it – along with the SFMLA – will be sold off to the highest bidder.
“Consequently, the State Government will then lose control over who manages, exploits and develops Sabah’s natural forest resources – a situation which is clearly not in the public interest,” said Tengku Datuk Fuad who acted for the Chief Minister and Sabah Government.
“Further, Idris Hydraulic had failed for the past 13 or so years to obtain an approved Forest Management Plan and an egregious failure of this magnitude is contrary to the public interest” Fuad added.
Idris Hydraulic (M) Sdn Bhd was represented by Peter Lee Kong Chung while the Chief Minister and Government of Sabah was represented by Fuad.