Friday, October 17, 2008

Contempt Of Court ?

Hantu Laut

On 17 Sept the Federal Court upheld a decision by the High Court in Kuantan which on 25 May 2007 ordered the Government of Pahang to pay Seruan Gemilang Makmur Sdn.Bhd the sum of RM60 million for damages for breach of contract.

The company was given the right to log 4,000 hectares of forest concession by the Pahang State Government.The government subsequently allowed a third party to enter part of the area to carry out logging activities.The company sued the government for RM60 million and was awarded damages by the High Court.The government appealled to the Federal Court but lost the case.

The Pahang Government have not paid the company in spite of court order given by the Federal Court, the highest court in the country.The company have now applied for an order of mandamus to compel the government to pay.

What should be done if leaders of government have no respect of the law and the nation's highest court? Not respecting the court order is contempt of court and the court if it so wishes can send the person concerned for custodial sentence.

There are four elements that construe contempt.These are:

existence of a lawful order.
the contemnor's knowledge of the order.
the contemnor's ability to comply.
the contemnor's failure to comply.

If the Menteri Besar of Pahang has all of the above than the court should take serious view of his action and deal with him in accordance with the letter of the law.

There may be a law against seizure of government assets which gave the company no other choice but to apply for the 'order of mandamus' to compel the Menteri Besar to pay up.

If government can enforce its claims against its citizens for breach of contract, it has no right to be more equal than others.

I hope the court will take serious view of the disrespect for the court.

7 comments:

kadayanjournal said...

Quite straightforward really-Pahang State government must pay. If in any case, Pahang is unable to pay due to insufficient fund or assets-Pahang can be made bankrupt.
No issue on sovereign immunity here otherwise it wouldn’t have gone to court of law.
What seen here is, a sign of disrespect to our legal system-if Malaysian (Pahang is as Malaysian as you and I) doesn’t who else will? If court of justice is disrespected what about others, like Immigrations Department that deals with illegal immigrants coming to Sabah, ACA that deals with corrupt people, so on and so forth. Far too many to be put right.

Pok Kam said...

Dear HL,

If the law can be enforced upon a former King then I do not see why there should be any exception to a State Government.

Zawi said...

The contempt of court speaks volumes about some of our leaders respect for the laws.

Hantu Laut said...

kadayanjournal,

I believe you are right.The government can sue and be sued.Otherwise, what's the point of a judgement if you can't enforce it.

Some countries(less developed ones) have given themselves sovereign immunity.

I think the MB of Pahang behaved appallingly.

Our judiciary is independent after all.

Only Anwar Ibrahim still think they are not.

Hantu Laut said...

pok kam,
Of course.Some politicians think they are bigger than the king.

Hantu Laut said...

Zawi,
This is where arrogance breeds contempt.

SM said...

HL,

Bro, let's face it. Who's going to make them pay?!