PETALING JAYA: The 28 Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco) settlers who were arrested on Tuesday were released on police bail today.
The Seremban High Court dismissed the three days remand order that was granted by the Bahau Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Speaking to FMT, one of the settlers, John Cantious, said it was likely the 28 arrested settlers would continue efforts to stop Thamarai Holdings Sdn Bhd from taking down the rubber trees planted some 40 years ago on the 4,700 acres of disputed land.
“They planted the trees for their families and they will not let this company cut them down so easily,” he said.
“I believe they will continue to block the company from going in because they knew they were going to get arrested even before they were arrested, and yet they still continued to block the company.”
The settlers have maintained that the company’s move to chop down the trees was illegal as the courts had yet to make a final decision on the matter.
He said the settlers’ legal battle began in 2013 when they sued the two liquidators – K Jayapalasingam and Yong Yoon Shing – and Thamarai over the land.
The land was leased in 1977 by the Negeri Sembilan State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to Gatco.
The land was reportedly converted by the National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW), which owns Gatco, into a land scheme for members.
The villagers paid RM7,600 each as deposit before working on the land.
According to the facts of the case, the scheme failed and Gatco was forced to take loans from two finance companies.
A third party served a winding-up petition on Gatco in 1996. It was wound up the same year.
The appointed liquidators sold the land in 2006. Thamarai then bought the land.
A lawsuit by the settlers was struck out by the High Court. The Court of Appeal, in reversing the decision in 2014, ordered the lawsuit to be reinstated.
The High Court ruled in favour of the liquidators and the company.
In November last year, the settlers filed an appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of their lawsuit.