• The statement of claim alleged that there was no application to extend the lease to Associated Pan Malaysia Cement Sdn Bhd.

PUTRAJAYA (Feb 20): A three-member Court of Appeal bench on Monday unanimously dismissed an application by the more than 100-year-old Buddhist Dhamma Sakyamuni Caves Monastery in Gunung Kanthan, Hulu Kinta, Perak, to stay its eviction.

Meanwhile, the temple administrators filed a writ and statement of claim, to seek a declaration to nullify a 30-year extension of a land lease in the area to Associated Pan Malaysia Cement Sdn Bhd (APMC), the party who is attempting to evict the monastery.

The outcome was confirmed by the monastery’s counsel Ranjit Singh when contacted by The Edge. APMC was represented by counsel Nahendran Navaratnam.

At the hearing, the bench ruled that there were no special circumstances to grant a stay of eviction notice to the monastery.

However, the monastery’s representatives could file a fresh application, pending its application for leave to the Federal Court scheduled on Feb 28, ruled the bench led by Datuk Azizah Nawawi. The other bench members were Datuk See Mee Chun and Datuk Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

APMC had secured a lease from the state on a 146.4ha plot of land for quarrying activities. The 30-year extension, provided by the Perak Land and Mines Department, is effective Oct 17, 2020 till Oct 17, 2050.

In January 2022, APMC sought the Ipoh High Court to order the eviction of all squatters on Lot no 46497 in Hulu Kinta where Gunung Kanthan is located. The application was dismissed in October 2022, but APMC successfully appealed against the decision on Sept 5 last year before the same three-member bench.

On Jan 2 this year, Chong Sai Tin, and five others who are public officers of the monastery filed a writ and statement of claim, and named the director of the State Land and Mines Department and APMC as the defendants.

The monastery filed the action via Messrs Chan & Associates, where it sought a declaration to nullify the extension of the lease on the 146.4ha land, Ranjit confirmed, when contacted.

Land lease extension allegedly not tabled to Perak exco

The monastery is seeking a declaration that the extension of the lease registered vide presentation no 1213/2020 on April 29, 2020 is null and void, and an order that the department cancel the entry or memorial in the register of titles.

In addition, the monastery is seeking to set aside the appellate court's decision on the eviction order, along with damages, exemplary damages and interests.

It alleged that according to former Perak state exco member Abdul Aziz Bari, the application for extension of the lease of the land was never tabled to the Perak exco.

“Therefore, the extension of the lease of the land was done without the knowledge and/or proper approval of the Perak exco,” the statement of claim added.

Following this, the statement of claim alleged that there was no application to extend the lease.

Meanwhile, APMC said that it had been given rights to the quarry land since 1963, during the time of first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj.

It claims that the lease was given to the company to assist with Malaysia's development, and that it had secured renewals or extensions since. The company further questioned the year in which the association managing the monastery was incorporated.

A leave to appeal the eviction order is pending next week.

According to the statement of claim, the monastery was set up in 1900 by Great Master Leo Shi Fu.

The monastery, through its society, has its registered address in Bandar Baru Sri Klebang, and it has two main shrine halls, namely the upper cave serving as living quarters and a place for meditation.

The monastery is also home to its golden Buddha statue, said the statement, which claimed that the entire monastery’s construction had cost some RM10 million.

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