By Ida Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — Worried FELDA settlers sought today the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s intervention in a last-ditch bid to pull FELDA Global Ventures Holding (FGVH) from the open market over fears that foreign investors may rob them of the fruits of their hard-earned labour.
Eight representatives from an umbrella group calling itself Gerakan Selamatkan FELDA (GSF) handed over a memorandum to palace officials at 3.30pm today seeking the King’s intervention to withdraw FGVH from being listed on Bursa Malaysia.
The settlers, who hold a stake in the plantation giant, are continuing to resist its successful listing out of fear they will lose control of an asset they had invested in for generations.
“Under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, the protection of the Malays and the rights of the Bumiputeras are under the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” said PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who was in the eight-man team that met with palace officials at Istana Negara.
He said that was why the mostly Malay group had decided to seek the King’s help.
In the memorandum, GSF hoped the King would advise the prime minister and the authorities to cancel the listing which had already taken place on June 28.
The rally, attended by an estimated crowd of 2,000 settlers, ended peacefully at 4pm with shouts of “Daulat Tuanku” and a prayer.
The rally was organised by non-governmental organisations, who claimed that their opposition to the FGVH listing had fallen on deaf ears.
Printed on orange shirts worn by some protesters were GSF’s eight demands, which include the firing of FELDA chairman Tan Sri Isa Samad, abolishing the debt of FELDA settlers, protecting the settlers’ land and setting up new FELDA settlements for the new FELDA generation.
The rally appeared to carry a hint of anti-government sentiments as the crowd was led in chants which included “Crush Najib” and “Crush BN”, in reference to the prime minister and the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
The shares of FGVH, the world’s second-largest initial public offering (IPO) this year, continue to remain above their IPO price more than two weeks after their listing, probably due to interest from institutional index funds, say brokers.
FGVH soared 20 per cent above its debut price of RM5.30 when it listed on June 28 and has not traded below RM5.30 since July 2.
The shares of the GLC fell more than 2.6 per cent yesterday to RM5.34 however, in line with the slump in the FBM KLCI as regional market sentiment weakened.
This is in contrast to Facebook, the largest IPO this year, which plunged 17 per cent a week after its listing in May which analysts said managed to drive many retail investors from the stock market.
Brokers say however that FGVH has likely benefited from interest from large institutional funds who anticipate the plantation giant becoming a component of the benchmark FBM KLCI index.
“It’s likely index-tracking funds are buying FGVH,” said one broker.