Editor's note: Article updated to reflect that Chow was later released on bail, but the 18 durian farmers were held overnight and police will be seeking remand this morning.
Tras assemblyperson Chow Yu Hui was detained by police amid the continued tussle between durian farmers and state authorities in Raub, Pahang.
Chow was detained yesterday evening under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstruction of a public servant in the discharge of his functions.
The DAP lawmaker had accompanied durian farmers to the disputed land that is part of a legal tussle between the cultivators and the state government.
The state government had accused the cultivators of illegal farming and is trying to evict them as it had leased the land to a firm that is planning its own durian cultivation.
The firm, Royal Pahang Durian Resources-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP), is a joint venture between the state government and a company linked to Pahang royalty.
The latest round of the flare-up started when the durian farmers tried to harvest their produce on the disputed land but were blocked by the Forestry Department and police.
The farmers had maintained that they have a right to enter the land as they had obtained a stay against their eviction from the Court of Appeal.
This is pending their appeal against the decision of the High Court in Kuantan dismissing their bid for a judicial review against their eviction notice.
Despite the stay, the durian farmers were not allowed onto the land, leading to a standoff, said the Save Musang King Alliance (Samka), which comprises durian farmers in the legal dispute.
Samka said police also detained 18 of the durian farmers for questioning.
They were taken to the Raub District police headquarters, purportedly for trespassing.
Chow later posted on his Facebook page at 1.57am that he had been released on bail, but that the durian farmers had continued to be detained overnight and the police would apply for a remand in the morning.
Samka president Wilson Chang also claimed authorities had moved in to clear some durian trees on the land.
“They started to cut down the trees today, they cut down about 200 trees belonging to three farmers,” he said.
However, Pahang Forestry Department director Mohd Hizamri Yasin defended the operation, according to China Press.
He maintained that they did not violate the court's stay on the eviction notices as they were clearing durian trees planted in a forest reserve.
Hizamri said the cleared area was not on the land that is in dispute between the durian farmers and RPDR-PKPP.