Bauxite mine drowning: Land owner to be sued over deaths

T.N. Alagesh

KUANTAN: The families of three young children who drowned in a disused bauxite mine here on Feb 4 will sue the land owner for negligence.

Lawyer Mohd Harris Abdullah, who is expected to file the suit within the next two weeks, said the Land and Mines Office had confirmed that the land, where the drowning occurred, had not been leased for mining activities.

He said the office provided him with the land owner’s details along with the property lot number.

“The families will file the suit against the land owner, and if there are others involved, then the said owner can include them as a third party (in the suit). That is up to the land owner to decide.

“I will write to (the Land and Mines Office) to clarify the previous statement by (state Women and Family Development Committee chairman Datuk Shahaniza Shamsuddin) that the land owner had only been given a permit to produce laterite,” he said yesterday.

Harris said he had yet to receive copies of the post-mortem reports of the victims.

He said police told him to write to the state prosecution director to seek permission before they could release the reports.

“Initially, police contacted me saying the reports had been prepared and I could collect them.

“But on Feb 21, I received a letter (from police) saying that I must get the permission of the (state) prosecution director before the documents could be released.

“This is the first time I have come across such a procedure. Previously, police reports, in this case legal documents which need to be presented in court, were usually provided once you pay for them.

“I have complied and written to the (state) prosecutor’s office, but have yet to receive any reply,” he said, adding that he had already obtained all other necessary documents.

Beserah assemblyman Andansura Rabu, who was present at the press conference, said it was surprising that the land owner claimed he was not aware that his land was used for bauxite mining activities.

“The owner has to be responsible for his land. Land that is used for bauxite mining has to have valid licence before they can be mined,” he said.

On Feb 4, siblings Sasabella Zulhairi, 12, and Mahathir Mohamad, 7, and friend, Nureen Ain Juwita Mohd Sharif, 10, drowned while trying to retrieve a pair of pants from the disused mining-pit.