Tempers flared when DAP representatives present at the Raub Magistrates’ Court in Pahang became embroiled in a heated argument with the police during a press conference.
Earlier, the court had granted a two-day remand order against 18 durian farmers, including a 17-year-old teenager, to facilitate the Forestry Department’s investigations into an alleged trespassing offence.
Their lawyer, Chan Yen Hui, said the department had initially requested that the farmers, who were detained yesterday, be remanded for four days.
She said the argument that the department needed time to record their statements and to verify the status of the alleged farms did not hold water as the department has sufficient human resources.
“The department should have obtained the information (on the land status) before the (submitting) remand application.
“…The farmers also cooperated with the police and were given police bail as well. There is no reason to remand them,” she added during the press conference.
Chan said the department might seek an extension of the remand order but urged the court to free her clients after the 48-hour period expires.
She also claimed that the police did not arrest them according to procedure.
Another lawyer, Samantha Chong, alleged that the authorities did not inform the teenager’s parents of his arrest and this was against the law.
She also expressed concern over the teenager being detained in a lock-up amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the lawyers, the 18 were arrested under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant from discharging his or her duties and Section 47 of the National Forestry Act 1984.
DAP representatives, including Raub MP Tengku Zulpuri Puji, Bentong MP Wong Tack, Sungai Pelek assemblyperson Ronnie Liu, Tras assemblyperson Chow Yu Hui and Bilut assemblyperson Lee Chin Chen were also present in court.
Police had also detained Chow together with the farmers, but he was released on bail later.
Towards the end of the press conference, a police officer instructed the crowd to dismiss, leading to a heated argument between him as well as Zulpuri, Wong and Liu.
Police also stopped Liu’s car, but he was later allowed to leave after Zulpuri intervened.
The Pahang state government has accused the cultivators of illegal farming and is attempting to evict them as it had leased the land to a firm that is planning its own durian plantation.
The firm, Royal Pahang Durian Resources-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP), is a joint venture between the state government and a company linked to the Pahang royalty.
The latest flare-up started when the farmers tried to harvest their produce on the disputed land, but were blocked by the Forestry Department and police.
The farmers maintained that they have a right to enter the land since the Court of Appeal had issued a stay against their eviction.
This is pending their appeal against the decision of the High Court in Kuantan dismissing their bid for a judicial review against the eviction notice. – Malaysiakini
Earlier report: Jul 5, DAP offers legal assistance to 18 detained Raub durian farmers