Let court decide, Raub durian farmers say to Pahang MB

KUANTAN: Durian farmers in Raub, who are involved in the judicial review application against an eviction notice by the Pahang government, will initiate talks with the state government or Royal Pahang Durian Resources-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP), hoping to put an end to the long-standing crisis.

Save Musang King Alliance (Samka) chairman Wilson Chang said the Musang King farmers have reached a resolution that all negotiations should be based on the principle of equality which means that all contract terms should be done based on the agreement of both parties.

The group comprises of durian farmers without permits in Raub.

Chang said free trade has to be guaranteed to ensure healthy competition and the sales of the durian fruits to RPDR-PKPP should not involve elements of coercion.

"The farmers will form a negotiation panel to begin discussions on the matter with the Pahang government and RPDR-PKPP. The farmers are prepared to pay the land lease tax 20 times more than the amount stipulated in the Pahang State Gazette 2019.

"The farmers have even offered to pay the annual cost for environmental preservation to help create a sustainable durian industry and environment," he said in a statement after the Raub unlicensed farmers' congress at Sungai Ruan here today.

On the suggestion put forward by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail on Jan 27, he said the farmers have reached a consensus to continue the judicial review on the grounds that the new conditions offered by RPDP-PKPP will not be able to safeguard the interests of farmers.

Last week, Wan Rosdy advised the 200-odd farmers to reconsider their action to continue or withdraw their application for a judicial review which was filed at the Kuantan High Court three years ago.

Meanwhile, Chang said the 500 farmers who attended the congress today had unanimously rejected the term sheet offered by RPDR-PKPP to the farmers on Dec 30 last year.

"The term sheet contained conditions that remain exploitative. Although RPDR-PKPP claimed that the terms have been improved but the proposal still contains conditions which are biased such as setting a fixed price that is far cheaper than the market price and forcing planters to sell all their durians to the RPDP-PKPP factory which has yet to be built.

"Samka is extremely upset that Royal Pahang Durian Group had refused to attend the congress and replied through a letter sent by their legal representative. RPDR-PKPP has never organised town hall sessions with the farmers, and even refused this opportunity for a dialogue," he said, adding it showed that the private company has no intention to achieve a win-win solution with the farmers but only priotised making profits.

Last week, Raub member of parliament Chow Yu Hui, who is also Samka advisor, responded to Wan Rosdy's proposal saying the Pahang government has to review its land lease conditions concerning the durian farm legalisation scheme with RPDR-PKPP before asking the farmers to reconsider their judicial review.

On Sept 9, 2021, the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by the group of farmers against the Kuantan High Court's dismissal of their leave applications for a judicial review.

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