By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — The proposed Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) listing will endanger the future of settlers as they risk losing their land assets, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has said.
In an interview with Harakahdaily, the Umno politician said that once the listing took place, land belonging to FELDA settlers will be exposed to the open market.
Once exposed to the open market, he claimed that “anyone” could buy up shares at any amount if they could afford it, and that this will result in settlers losing their land assets if shareholders were to sell their shares.
“If the price goes up, and if the shareholders want to profit, of course they will sell (to other people) ... it would be stupid not to take advantage of a profit (making) situation.
“The land that was previously owned will be lost because other people have owned shares and now have rights to the land. That is dangerous,” said the Kelantan prince.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had recently said the listing of FGV, announced in Budget 2012, is expected to take place in April, instead of the middle of the year as earlier planned.
But critics contend that the proposed listing, which will see loss-making FGVH assume control of the FELDA Investment Co-operative (KPF), will short-change smallholders and saddle FELDA with up to RM1.5 billion in yearly deficit.
The government has said the move will result in a RM5.9 billion lump sum payment to settlers but the National FELDA Settlers’ Children’s Association (ANAK) has insisted it will not be in cash but shares in FGV.
“This is a question of life and death for the settlers. If the land is sold because shares are sold, that means we no longer have rights to the land.
“I do not know if the government has another plan to guarantee the rights of settlers, but I do not see it,” Tengku Razaleigh told Harakahdaily yesterday.
Last week, a group of settlers won a temporary court order blocking the transfer of shares from their co-operative to FELDA Global Ventures (FGV), a crucial step in Putrajaya’s plans to list the plantation firm.
KPF has already cancelled today’s extraordinary general meeting following the temporary court order.
The Kuantan High Court gave eight settlers an interim injunction barring the handing over of shares in FELDA Holdings to FGV, or any discussion being held on behalf of KPF on the matter.
FGV subsidiaries such as FELDA Iffco Sdn Bhd, FELDA Global Technologies, FELDA Global Ventures Middle East and FELDA Global Ventures Arabia are reported to have chalked up accumulated losses of around RM500 million up to last year.
The profitable FELDA Holdings has a workforce of some 19,000 employees, with a labour force of 46,795 workers at 300 estates, 70 palm oil mills, seven refineries, four kernel-crushing plants, 13 rubber factories, manufacturing plants and several logistic and bulking installations spread throughout Malaysia and several locations overseas.