By Ida Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — Thousands of plantation settlers, dressed in eye-catching orange T-shirts, flooded the city today and blocked off part of Jalan Duta as they marched to express their unhappiness over the government’s listing of Felda Gloval Ventures Holding (FGVH) last month.
The marchers, estimated to be 2,000-strong and growing, are part of an umbrella group called Gerakan Selamatkan Felda, which includes various non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The movement was recently formed by those who believe the government market listing will short-change some 112,000 Felda settlers nationwide, a group that is seen to be an important vote bank for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
Today’s march will culminate with the delivery of a memorandum to a palace official seeking for the intervention of the Yang diPertuan Agong.
Heading the marchers this afternoon was PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu who, will riding on the back of a truck, roused the crowd with chants of “Bebas peneroka (Free the settlers)”, “Pecat Isa Samad (Sack Isa Samad)”, and “Hancur Najib (Crush Najib)”.
Tan Sri Isa Samad is the chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda).
The mostly Malay-Muslim crowd pushed off from the Jalan Duta Court Complex at about 2pm today, after saying their prayers at the Federal Territory mosque across the road.
The protest march, which has resulted in the closure of several roads into the city, has stayed peaceful, with PAS’s Unit Amal (volunteer unit) in their signature maroon-coloured T-shirts seen helping the police with crowd control.
The rally is taking place despite the hitherto successful showing by FGVH in the Bursa Malaysia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had also given his assurance that the listing would yield profits, and earlier announced a RM1.69-billion “windfall” for all settlers throughout the country ahead of the FGVH listing.
The shares of FGVH, the world’s second largest initial public offering (IPO) this year reportedly continued to remain above its IPO price more than two weeks after its listing.
FGVH had soared 20 per cent above its debut price of RM5.30 when it listed on June 28.
Brokers have said, however, that FGVH is likely benefitting from the interest of large institutional funds who expect the plantation giant to become a component of the benchmark FBM KLCI index, along with restrictions against cornerstone buyers disposing their lots within six months of the listing.
MORE TO COME