Thursday, December 29, 2011

FELDA Controversy: Tengku Razaleigh's Help Sought

by Hafiz

A non-governmental organisation representing the children of FELDA settlers (ANAK), hopes to rope former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah into the fight against the listing of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) next month.

NONEANAK President Mazlan Aliman said he would be meeting Tengku Razaleigh (left) at a private location this afternoon.

Mazlan, who is also PAS central committee member, said the Kelantan Prince, who was also one of the founding members of FELDA along with then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, had reservations about the move.

“I met Tengku Razaleigh last year, and he was opposed to the idea of FELDA building its new headquarters on private land in a prime city spot in Kuala Lumpur. This is despite there being government land available at cheaper rates.

“He (Tengku Razaleigh) asked for today’s meeting and we will meet to exchange views and ideas over the latest move taken by the present Prime Minister, Dato Seri Najib Abdul Razak, to list Felda Global Ventures,” he said.

He hopes that Tengku Razaleigh and others, including Perkasa, will support its cause in opposing the proposed listing.NONE

“PERKASA, as a Malay rights group, should be supporting us as the matter involves Malay land. However, it dances to the tune of the Prime Minister.

“There will be many more people joining our cause in the coming days, including a former senior person from FELDA.” Mazlan (centre in photo) said.

He was speaking to reporters after meeting with 11 other NGOs to form the Save FELDA Movement (Gerakan Selamatkan Felda) today.

Also present were national laureatte A Samad Said and former Bank Negara Malaysia Deputy Governor Dr Rosli Yaakop.

FELDA or the Federal Land Development Authority is known as the largest land development authority for settlers planting rubber and oil palm in the country.

It is also UMNO’s and the BN’s vote bank as FELDA settlements are located in the rural heartland of the Malays. The latest move sees the proposed listing of Felda Global Ventures, a lesser known subsidiary, after taking over the assets of Koperasi Permodalan Felda Bhd (KPFB).

This is viewed as undermining the rights of the settlers and opening the ownership of their land to investors, including foreigners, following the listing exercise. This, Mazlan claims, would further undermine the original intent of the setting up of Felda, which is to help poor rural Malays.

Mazlan said the NGOs have also written to the International Cooperative Alliance, the world body governing the cooperative movement, to look into this government move, and also the proposed appointment of FELDA chairperson Isa Samad (left) as FGV chairperson.

“We have also brought up this issue to Angkasa (the National Cooperatives Body) to complain about the illegal move.”

In a strong statement against Isa, Mazlan slammed the former Negri Sembilan menteri besar’s appointment as the cooperative chairperson. Isa will also spearhead the listing exercise of FELDA Global Ventures.

“Isa is not a member of the cooperative, he is neither a staff member nor a settler. His appointment by the Prime Minister is by contract.Hence, his appointment as the cooperative’s chairperson is illegal,” he said.

Call for Isa’s removal

Mazlan and the coalition of GSF also called for Isa’s removal as FELDA chairperson and Sabri Ahmad as Chief Executive Officer of Felda Global Ventures.

“Their appointments, within less than a year, have caused turmoil in Felda’s assets and we call for their removal. Isa was found guilty of money politics during the UMNO elections and his appointment is questionable. Furthermore, Felda Global Ventures registered losses of RM500 million in its foreign ventures,” he said.

Mazlan said when Raja Muhammad Alias left as FELDA chairperson, it had RM5 billion in reserves, “but sadly today, we do not know how much is left”. In addition to this, he said, FELDA recently took a RM5 billion loan from the Employees Provident Fund “and we do not know how much of it is spent or left”.

“All this must be accounted for,” he said, adding he had reliably learned that FELDA’s reserves have dwindled. Mazlan also said that unlike the past, FELDA was now holding settlers to ransom with the replanting scheme, as it was now empowered to impose a caveat on the settlers’ land.

“There was no such agreement in the past and this is detrimental to the settlers. You can ask those at FELDA Cahaya Baru, FELDA Sungai Buaya, FELDA Sendayan and FELDA LBJ,” he said.

Rosli said Felda Global Ventures did not have the financial strength to go for listing on its own, as it was not making a huge profit but was relying on KPFB’s strength. "Isa cannot be appointed chairperson of KPFB as he is not a member. The voices of members are important in the cooperatives movement. But in Isa’s case, he is not even a member, but yet he is appointed and his appointment is bulldozed by Najib.”

“Hence, Isa’s appointment to head the cooperatives is against the spirit of the cooperatives movement,” added Rosli, who is an economist.

NONEMazlan said the court case to prevent the listing of FELDA Global Ventures on Bursa Malaysia has been fixed for Wednesday, January 4. ANAK is seeking an injunction to stop the proposed meeting on the listing, scheduled for the next day.

He warned that if attempts to prevent the listing of FELDA Global Ventures were not successful, ANAK and the other 11 NGOs would not hesitate to go to the streets to demonstrate the proposed listing.

“We have done all we can peacefully, sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister, filed the court case, met with Suruhanjaya Koperasi Malaysia (Malaysia Cooperatives Commission) and have written to the International Cooperatives Alliance.

“If the listing goes through, the livelihood and status of the settlers and their children will be in jeopardy.That is why we will protest if Najib does not heed our pleas,” Mazlan said, adding that he fould it puzzling that while Abdul Razak Hussein successfully built FELDA, his son Najib is seen as dismantling it.

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