KUALA LUMPUR — Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) has alleged a “conspiracy” in which a land authority in Melaka is aiding the forced acquisition of the government-linked company’s (GLC) land for the benefit of an ultimately foreign-owned company.
After recently filing its court challenge to stop the alleged land grab in Melaka for below market price, SDP asserted that the relevant land authority in Melaka still went on to issue a document to proceed with the compulsory acquisition three days after the lawsuit was filed.
n a court affidavit, SDP land management unit head Mohd Razlan Mohd Rahim pointed out that the lawsuit was filed on April 29, producing news reports to show that the lawsuit was widely reported as early as April 30.
SDP judicial review application sought for the Melaka courts to stop and cancel the compulsory acquisition of its 75.07 hectares land in Merlimau in Melaka’s Jasin district for a mixed development project.
“In such circumstances, it is appropriate that the respondents do not take any action that can change the status quo. Changing the status quo deliberately which may affect this case is not only an act of mala fide (bad faith) but can be a contempt of court,” Mohd Razlan said in a court affidavit sighted by Malay Mail.
The lawsuit was filed against four respondents, namely the Melaka Land and Mines Department director, the Jasin land administrator, the Melaka state government and private company GI A Resources Sdn Bhd that is allegedly foreign-controlled.
Mohd Razlan noted that the Jasin district land administrator had on May 2 — three days after the lawsuit was filed — issued a Borang H over SDP’s land.
The Borang H offered SDP a total of RM37.4 million in compensation, including RM35.28 million for the land and the remaining sum for six houses and a guardhouse on the land.
SDP is currently using the Melaka land as an oil palm plantation, with one of the five residences being a valuable colonial-era bungalow that is 66 years’ old.
Effectively, the Jasin land administrator had — by issuing the Borang H — proceeded to take yet another step in the land acquisition process that SDP sought to have suspended until the courts’ decision.
“The swift reaction of the second respondent (Jasin land administrator) to issue Borang H after controversy over this matter arose shows the second respondent’s conspiracy to help the fourth respondent (GI A Resources) to conclude the acquisition process quickly.
“The purpose is none other than bad motives so that the grabbing of GLC land can be finalised for foreign-owned interest,” Mohd Razlan said, alleging to signs of a conspiracy involving Jasin land administrator and GI A Resources.
Mohd Razlan also claimed the form the Jasin land administrator issued was not meant to fulfil legal requirements but, according to him, meant to conceal alleged abuse of the Land Acquisition Act 1960.
“The second respondent’s actions are also intended to oppress the applicant’s rights to cause the applicant (SDP) to lose the land for the interests of GI A Resources Sdn Bhd,” he said, asserting that the alleged conspiracy for the purported continued oppression of SDP should not be allowed to go on.
Mohd Razlan urged the High Court in Melaka to ensure that those sued by SDP would not carry out “mischief to divert the course of justice” and affect the status quo of SDP’s land.
“Unless the respondents are blocked and an order for interim suspension is given by the court, the respondents will continue to act hurriedly to grab the land owned by the applicant and cause irreparable loss and damages to the applicant,” he said.
Previously in court documents, SDP said it had no choice but to file this lawsuit against the state authorities, as it received no replies from three written appeals to Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahar within the period of October 29, 2018 to March 25, 2019 to have the compulsory acquisition process cancelled.
Adly, who heads the Melaka state government now under Pakatan Harapan’s administration, also leads the coalition’s Melaka chapter and its component party Parti Amanah Negara in Melaka.
In previous court documents, SDP had alleged that the compulsory acquisition process was rushed through after the foreign-controlled GI A Resources wrote an email on March 11, where the latter used Kelantan ruler Sultan Muhammad V’s name when saying the “Agong” purportedly intends to proceed with the land acquisition.
By that time, the Kelantan ruler was no longer the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a position which he held from December 13, 2016 until his unprecedented abdication on January 6, 2019.
Mohd Razlan said the Jasin land administrator allegedly rushed to end the enquiry for the land acquisition by orally awarding on March 27 a sum of RM35,282,900 as compensation to SDP, arguing that this sum does not reflect the land’s current market value and is a depressed value.
Mohd Razlan also cited multiple other instances of GI A Resources’ alleged attempts to use the Kelantan ruler’s name or Istana Negara’s name in communications and meetings regarding the land acquisition.
In its judicial review application, SDP is seeking about 26 court orders, including the quashing of the compulsory acquisition, as well as declarations that the compulsory acquisition is an abuse of power, made in bad faith, tainted with procedural impropriety and breached both the Federal Constitution and the Land Acquisition Act.
Malay Mail understands that the High Court in Melaka will hear on May 23 SDP’s application for leave for judicial review, as well as its bid to freeze the land acquisition process.
2 May 2019
This is an interesting story at the Edge Financial Daily today
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) has filed a judicial review application to stop the compulsory acquisition of its 75ha land in Merlimau, Melaka, by a Taiwan-controlled company that claimed it was acting in the interest of the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, to compel it to sell the land at a below market value price of RM35.282 million.
Also important to note
In the application sighted by The Edge Financial Daily, SDP claimed it had written to Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari several times — specifically on Oct 29, Nov 13, and March 25 this year — to appeal against the state-compelled acquisition. But there has been no reply from Adly’s office.
Hence, SDP said it was forced to file the application to the Melaka High Court yesterday, in the hope of gaining leave (permission) for the full merits of its application to be heard, with the aim of quashing the acquisition.
Actually, I’ve been alerted of this matter quite a while back.
Someone forwarded this to me on March 27, that was before SDP proceeded with the judicial review application;
At the land hearing this morning, the Land Administrator, Reduan Yap Abdullah, informed that the land acquisition will proceed as scheduled as he had received instructions from CM Melaka office.
The SDP legal team intervened by tendering letters sent to PM and CM, requesting for the hearing to be put on hold until they get a reply.
An official from GI A Resources interjected saying that he also has instructions to proceed and Land Administrator (LA) to issue the award.
The SDP team then objected on the grounds that the LA would be too hasty to proceed with the award without taking into consideration PNB’s interest.
They also showed alternative sites for possible replacement but the GI A Resources representative said he will agree to such replacement at the Govt value of rm 3.59 psf and not SDP’s rate of rm 8 psf. He also disagreed to have to tender for the replacement land.
The SDP team then pointed out to the LA that the Gazette to acquire will only expire in September 2020 and there’s no need to rush.
The company’s representative interjected that it had deposited RM 29 mil since 2017 and cannot wait any longer.
Representatives from Jasin Municipal Council then explained the site selection was because of its strategic location for planned mix development.
The SDP team argued that the replacement lands offered are equally strategic and can cater for what is planned. They also mentioned that there’s a heritage house and 4 other bungalows on the land marked for acquisition.
The LA then asked for SDP’s valuation report and received it at rm 65 million and bungalows at 5 million plus.
The Govt however valued the land and building at rm 35 mil and the LA said the award is final.
I was informed that the company had tried to do the same previously but was not entertained by the then BN State government.
This time, they seemed to be getting it their way with the Pakatan State government.
As for the Sultan of Kelantan’s involvement, my sources said his name was “used” by his former aides.
My sources, in discussing the case, repeatedly mentioned two names they said were close to Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari, his senior private secretary Datuk Mariam Illias and a personal assistant by the name of Ashraf.
|So much for Amanah|
Actually, SDP was first informed about the “forced” land acquisition in September last year, whereby they managed to get a meeting with the Melaka CM Adly to discuss the matter.
Their second meeting was held in January where Adly told the SDP team that the state government had already received RM29 million from the investor and in fact had used it. He therefore can’t stop the aquisition process.
This is wrong because the money is actually for paying up the land owner (SDP) if the deal goes through.
My sources said in that 2nd meeting, Adly told the SDP team to discuss with the developer and that the aquisition process will not proceed until an amicable deal can be struck. This however was not how it happened later.
SDP CEO TS Bakke Salleh had then wrote to PM, Dr Mahathir on the matter but nothing came out of it.
Well, that’s quite troublesome, right?
MACC should go down to Melaka and check it out.
It’s such a hanky panky. Talk so much about eradicating corruption and these sort of things happened.
And while they are at it, MACC should also check on a minister who recently requested 300acres of land from SDP for a SOCSO building. Why does he needs so much land just for a building?
Crazy la these people.
I got a few more of these things, but I think I should save it for later.
30 April 2019
KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) has sued a foreign-controlled firm for allegedly “grabbing” its land in Melaka below market price, claiming that the latter had cited former Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V’s name in the acquisition.
SDP launched the lawsuit yesterday against GI A Resources Sdn Bhd, which it said was controlled by Taiwanese and Chinese owners, over the forced takeover of the Melaka land at a price of RM35.28 million for a purported mixed development project.
It wants the court to stop and cancel the compulsory acquisition of the 75.07 hectares plantation land in Lot 7498 in Merlimau in Jasin district.
SDP, which is a government-linked company (GLC) with the Employees Provident Fund and Permodalan Nasional Bhd as its majority shareholders, said the compulsory acquisition is invalid and unconstitutional.
“There it is clear that the compulsory acquisition is to grab land belonging to a GLC for the commercial interests of foreign-owned parties,” SDP land management unit head Mohd Razlan Mohd Rahim claimed in court documents.
Abrupt and ‘rushed’
In court documents sighted by Malay Mail, Mohd Razlan spoke of how the company had only discovered the compulsory acquisition process through a notice via Form E dated October 1, 2018.
Mohd Razlan said SDP was not given Form A or Form D, which are legally-required notices and declarations that its land would be acquired, with the latter dated September 20, 2018.
Mohd Razlan claimed that the compulsory acquisition process was rushed through shortly after GI A Resources wrote an email to inform SDP on March 11, 2019 that the “Agong” allegedly intends to proceed with the land acquisition.
Mohd Razlan said the Jasin land administrator (PTD) had then issued a letter on March 19, 2019, for the enquiry for the compulsory acquisition to proceed on March 27, 2019.
“On March 27, 2019, the Jasin PTD had rushed to end the enquiry for the compulsory acquisition of the land and decided to give an oral award for RM35,282,900.00 as compensation for the land, which is a suppressed value and does not reflect the current market value of the land,” Mohd Razlan said.
How ex-Agong’s name cropped up
Kelantan ruler Sultan Muhammad V served as Malaysia’s 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong from December 13, 2016 until January 6, 2019, when he took the unprecedented move of stepping down from the position as the country’s ruler.
Mohd Razlan said GI A Resources had allegedly sought to use Istana Negara’s influence in its letters to SDP over the land acquisition, claiming that the foreign-controlled company had in a December 12, 2018 letter said it would be involved in discussions with Yayasan Sultan Muhammad V and had also mentioned a purported representative of the Agong.
Citing minutes of a meeting between the two companies on January 10, 2019, Mohd Razlan said GI A Resources had also made various claims, including that the ruler wanted the Melaka land.
During the January 10 meeting, Mohd Razlan said GI A Resources had also claimed that Istana Negara had in an April 4, 2018 letter, purportedly signed off on behalf of Datuk Pengelola Bijaya Diraja, wrote to the Sime Darby Plantation’s CEO of the compulsory acquisition.
The purported letter had allegedly said the development project for a Bandar Pendidikan Bestari in Melaka had received Sultan Muhammad’s assent.
But Mohd Razlan said SDP’s CEO never received the purported letter from Istana Negara.
Mohd Razlan said he was informed by SDP’s lawyers that the Istana Negara as a federal institution had been used to intervene in matters which falls under the jurisdiction of state governments, if the purported letter and its alleged contents were authentic.
“If there was truly such a letter, it would breach the Federal Constitution, specifically Article 74 and List II of the Ninth Schedule,” he said.
Why the disagreement with compulsory acquisition
Mohd Razlan explained that the Melaka land was currently used as a palm oil plantation and contained five residences — including a valuable colonial-era bungalow that was 66 years old — that are used by the plantation’s senior management.
SDP said other plots of its land had previously been acquired for public interest such as the building of schools, mosques, hospitals, highways and public infrastructure, but said the Melaka land takeover was not for such purposes.
“As a GLC, Sime Darby Plantation does not oppose compulsory acquisition of land for such purposes for the needs of Malaysia’s society and citizens. But, this compulsory acquisition is not for the public interest for Malaysians,” Mohd Razlan said, claiming that the current case instead involved commercial interests by a foreign-owned firm that was allegedly abusing its ties to the royal institution.
Citing the advice of lawyers, Mohd Razlan said he believed that Article 13 of the Federal Constitution only allows compulsory acquisition of land when there is a genuine need, adding that the Land Acquisition Act 1960 cannot be abused for land “grabs”.
Article 13 provides that no person shall be deprived of their property unless done according to law, and that no law shall allow compulsory acquisition “without adequate compensation”.
In a typical compulsory acquisition process, property owners can expect to be paid lower than the market value, or lower than the sum they may have received if they had sold the property.
Mohd Razlan said SDP had sought to find a solution by telling GI A Resources that it could purchase the company’s land when it is offered to the public, adding that such land sale would be via open tender based on current market value.
Mohd Razlan said the foreign-owned firm had, however, refused to participate in an open tender process, alleging that the latter had in the March 11 email used the ruler’s name when purporting that the ruler disagreed that the land be tendered.
Mohd Razlan said SDP had prior to this sent letters of appeal Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari to have the compulsory acquisition process cancelled, namely on October 29, 2018, November 13, 2018 and on March 25, 2019.
With no replies received over the appeals, SDP had “no other choice” except to file this lawsuit, he said.
Mohd Razlan’s 119-page affidavit included multiple pages of documents to back up his claims, including letters and email correspondence.
In its judicial review application, SDP is seeking about 26 court orders, including for the quashing of the compulsory acquisition of the land.
The GLC also wants the court to declare that the compulsory acquisition was an abuse of power, made in bad faith, tainted with procedural impropriety and breached both the Federal Constitution and the Land Acquisition Act.
SDP also wants the court to freeze all actions relating to the compulsory acquisition of the land until there is a final decision on this lawsuit, in order to maintain status quo on the land.
SDP today also announced on Bursa Malaysia that it had filed the lawsuit, saying: “The Company is advised by its solicitors that it has strong grounds for this action to protect its assets.”
75 hectares of land in Merlimau being acquired through underhand tactics misusing Palace’s name, alleges Sime Darby Plantations… Acquisition price.. RM4.3psf…
PETALING JAYA: A letter from Istana Negara has been mentioned in an action brought by the government-linked Sime Darby Plantation Bhd which seeks to overturn a compulsory acquisition of its land in Melaka.
The company alleges that a foreign-owned private company, GIA Resources Sdn Bhd, abused its relationship with the national palace to avoid an open tender sale of the land, thus enabling it to own the land at below market price.
The 75-hectare plot in Jasin, Melaka, has since been planted with oil palm.
Sime Darby Plantation seeks a judicial review of the actions of the Melaka government and three others for wrongfully acquiring the land, and an order to quash the acquisition.
The three other parties named are the director of Land and Mines, Melaka; the Jasin district land administrator; and GIA Resources.
Sime Darby Plantation also seeks an order for all correspondence between itself and the three others to be produced.
The court papers were filed in the Melaka High Court registry yesterday by Messrs Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill.
Sime Darby Plantation has to obtain leave from the court before the merits of the case can be heard.
In support of its action, Sime Darby Plantation challenged the validity of a letter from Istana Negara, which purportedly directed the state government to acquire the land. The company said the letter from Istana Negara, dated April 4 last year, was invalid, of no effect, and in violation of the Federal Constitution.
The company asserted that Istana Negara, or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as a federal institution, could not interfere in land matters which come under the purview of the state government.
The company also wants the court to declare that the Land Acquisition Act 1960 cannot be abused to compulsorily acquire its land to benefit GIA Resources.
It said the compulsory acquisition was void and unnecessary as GIA Resources could have sought to own the land through an open tender sale.
The company further said that GIA Resources was abusing its relationship with Istana Negara to avoid an open tender sale, thus enabling it to own the land at below market value.
Sime Darby Plantation said it was perverse, oppressive and irrational for GIA Resources to refuse to participate in an open tender sale and instead insist on a compulsory acquisition.
Sime Darby Plantation’s land management unit head, Mohd Razlan Mohd Rahim, who affirmed an affidavit in support of the application for judicial review, said although land acquisition was permissible for public purpose, it was not so in the current case.
Razlan said he had been advised by his lawyers that the acquisition is against Article 13 of the Federal Constitution, which states that no one should be deprived of property save in accordance with the law.
He said the district land administrator and the Melaka government owed a public duty regarding property in the state.
Sime Darby Plantation says it is the world’s largest oil palm plantation company by planted area and the world’s largest producer of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. The company was formerly the plantations division of the government-linked conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd.
Both companies form part of the portfolio of companies held by Permodalan Nasional Bhd, the national investment trust.