Oil palm execs claim assault

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday January 21st, 2015

 A COMPANY claims that four of its senior executives were assaulted at Vanimo airport last Friday by a group of landowners.

A spokesman for the Bewani Oil Palm Plantations Ltd said the four included managing director Tee Lip Hian, executive director Goh Eng Seong, general manager Desmond Lau and personal assistant Dennis Liaw.

Corporate general manager Kelvin Tan said in a statement about 12 people, believed to be from a landowners group, used sticks in the attack.

Tan said the four executives were at the airport to catch a flight back to Port Moresby.

He said a complaint had been lodged with the Vanimo police station. Efforts to get a comment from Vanimo police yesterday failed.

The statement said the four suffered injuries and were treated at the hospital.

The company is the developer of the oil palm plantation. Tan said the situation at the project area was tense and foreign workers were “fearful of their safety”. 

“We believe that this violent act is confined to a minority possibly from only one of the clans in the area,” he said.

“We have received letters of support from a large majority of the tribes in the project area, who are happy with us and would like us to remain and develop the project.”

The company received two letters from a landowner company dated Nov 19 last year and Jan 11 this year to terminate the project agreement dated Oct 28, 2010.

Tan said the developer recently obtained an order from the court restraining the landowners company “from interfering in the project and causing any harm or damage to the developer’s property and employees”.