Published: Friday May 25, 2012 MYT 11:49:00 AM
Updated: Friday May 25, 2012 MYT 3:18:36 PM
Court rules Chinese Chambers is not owner of RM500mil-land in Sabah
By M. MAGESWARY
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court ruled Friday that the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia is not the beneficial owner of land in Sabah worth about RM500mil.
The Chamber filed the suit in Oct 2008 against eight defendants over breach of trust involving the 6,879ha land.
Justice Lim Yee Lan held that ACCCIM's claim over beneficial ownership of land resulting from trust was a misconception under law.
"I hold that no trust exists in favour of ACCCIM," Justice Lim ruled in a packed courtroom.
She held that the allegations over trust was wholly inconsistent based on the contemporaneous documents, circumstances evidence and facts of the case.
"It is manifestly clear that ACCCIM cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that it is the beneficial owner of the Sabah land.
"There is no documentary evidence that the state land was held in trust by ACCCIM or Unico-Desa Plantations (a joint venture company) Bhd for ACCCIM," she said.
She said ACCCIM's claim on the ownership was also not recognised from the perusal of the Sabah Land Ordinance.
In elaborating, Justice Lim said that ACCCIM application for various declarations was an exercise in futility, frivolous and abuse of the court process.
Justice Lim dismissed ACCCIM's claim and awarded costs between RM150,000 and RM500,000 to the respective defendants saying that it was based on discretion of the court to decide judicially.
The judge said it was based on the number of days for trial, number of witnesses, issues raised in court and number of work done by the parties for the lawsuit.
The judge ordered ACCCIM's lawyer Tommy Thomas to file a formal application of stay over the costs.
The judge made the order after hearing evidence from 14 witnesses since March 4, 2010.
The defendants are the Tan Sri Ngan Chin Wen (ACCCIM's former honorary adviser/secretary-general who passed away after giving his evidence), Tan Sri Lim Guan Teik (life honorary president), Teoh Hock Chai, Dr Yeong Cheong Thye, Mew Jin Seng and Datuk Tan Huat Sheng (KL/Selangor Chamber's former council members), Unico Holdings Bhd (which ACCCIM claims was its investment arm and in which Ngan was a director at the material time) and a joint-venture company Unico-Desa Plantations Bhd.
Speaking to reporters later, lawyer Leonard Yeoh, who acted for Unico Holdings Bhd, said that "After a long and tiring and exhaustive trial over two years, justice has finally prevailed."
Among others, they had sought a declaration that the Sabah land was held in trust by Unico-Desa for and on behalf of ACCCIM.
They also wanted a declaration that the first six defendants had acted in breach of trust in respect of their corporate dealings in relation to Unico and Unico-Desa.