Malay reserve land at risk in Felda IPO, PKR alleges
PETALING JAYA, June 6 — Malay reserve land held by the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) will be sold off to private interests under the contentious listing of Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH), the opposition PKR alleged today.
Representatives from the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) party released copies of the land lease agreement between Felda and FGVH, and claimed it proves its allegation that Malay reserve land would be illegally transferred for the proposed FGVH initial public offering this month.
PKR and its allies have been vocal critics of the listing exercise in what is seen as a key contest with Barisan Nasional (BN) to win over the vital block of mostly Malay voters from Felda settlements.
PR parties have accused the government of pushing through the listing to the detriment of settlers, but BN leaders have denied this while swiftly rolling out payouts for settlers.
At a press conference today, one page of the November 1, 2011 land lease agreement between Felda and FGVH agreement and an attached appendix listing the various plots of land to be leased, its acreage, and reserve status were distributed to the media.
Referring to the appendix, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli said that at least 16 per cent of the 343,484 ha of land to be leased to FGVH for the coming listing was Malay reserve land, which cannot be transferred to the hands of non-Bumiputeras according to provisions in the National Land Code.
But he said there was little guarantee that the land would remain in the hands of Bumiputeras as according to the recently-launched FGVH listing prospectus, only 5.5 per cent of FGVH shares would be held by Felda settlers and workers.
Although some 30 per cent of the shares would stay in Felda’s hands, he added, the larger portion would be sold off to foreign companies and non-Bumiputeras.
“This means that the ownership and economic returns from these land plots would be given to a company (FGVH) of questionable Bumiputera status.
“Before this, the land was meant to be for the welfare of settlers. But when it is controlled by a private company (FGVH), this would mean the decisions of the company would then prioritise revenue and completely reject the welfare of the settlers,” Rafizi said.
When defending the proposed FGVH IPO, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Felda chairman Tan Sri Isa Samad repeatedly offered their assurances that the exercise would not put at risk settlers’ land.
In a recent speech reported by The Star, Najib had said, “I reiterate that not even an inch of land owned by the settlers will be involved in the listing. It will only involve state government land allowed to be developed by the federal government as provided for under the Land (Group Settlement Areas) Act 1960 and hitherto managed by Felda Plantations.”
Rafizi also pointed to a clause in the lease agreement, which refers to three categories of land to be leased for the FGVH listing — “Existing Lands”, “Additional Existing Lands” and “Future Lands” — and claimed that when leased in totality, the rights of Felda settlers and their livelihoods in the settlements would be pawned off to the hands of foreign shareholders.
He explained that “Existing Lands” refer to the 343,484 ha of land to be leased, which includes the Malay reserve land, while “Additional Existing Lands” refers to land plots without issued land titles in the settlements, including open land spaces used to site mosques, fields or community halls.
According to the agreement, “Future Lands” are “such lands as may be added from time to time by mutual agreement of the Parties in writing”.
“Meaning that after the listing, when settlers head to the mosque, it would be on FGVH land. This would have a huge effect on the livelihoods of settlers,” Rafizi said.
He demanded a guarantee from Najib and Isa that the land plots identified in the lease agreement would not later be sold off or have its uses altered in a manner that would not benefit the settlers.
“What is the guarantee that in the future, FGVH would not decide to demolish the small sundry shops sited on these lands and instead construct a shopping mall in its place? It is possible, we cannot say for certain,” he said.
Rafizi also said that PKR, upon consultation with its lawyers, may initiate legal action against the proposed plans to lease Malay reserve lands to non-Bumiputera owners.
He noted that according to the National Land Code, these lands must be replaced if they are transferred out of Bumiputera hands.
“But we need to study this in detail,” he said.
By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
06 June 2012
Rafizi said PKR may mount a legal challenge against what he categorised as wrongful use of Bumiputera land. — File pic