BREAKING NEWS: Land grab by DAP-Penang State Government halted!
(Malaysia Today) – A big land battle is looming between Sime Darby Plantations Berhad (SDP) and Penang Development Corporation (PDC). SDP has gone to court to challenge PDC, which it accused of trying to do a land grab.
Today, the Penang High Court granted SDP leave to challenge the wrongful compulsory acquisition of its land in the Byram Estate measuring more than 380 acres. SDP accused the Penang State Govt and PDC of conspiring with the land office to do an unlawful land grab by forcing SDP to give up its land at very low value by abusing the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act.
Justice Dato’ George Varughese also granted an Ad Interim stay to maintain the status quo.
Penang has been grabbing land since DAP took over the state government in 2008
SDP accused PDC of attempting to acquire its land since 2014 during the time that Lim Guan Eng was Chief Minister. Sources in Penang disclosed that LGE has been abusing the Land Acquisition Act by acquiring private lands which the state then alienates to JVs between the state and other bigger developers. In short, it is simply land robbery.
While LGE has gotten away doing that to small landowners, PDC’s attempt at bullying SDP may be a mistake because SDP is not small. SDP is a GLC owned by the Federal Govt while PDC is a state agency. The DAP state govt was just agitating a fight with the federal govt. And this time they may have met their match – bertemu buku dengan ruas!
Let’s see what else will be revealed in this case. DAP Penang may just have bitten off more than it can chew. Guan Eng’s shenanigans in abusing the Land Acquisition Act will now be revealed.
Sime Darby Plantation granted leave to challenge Penang ‘land grab’
(The Edge Markets) – The High Court today granted Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) leave to challenge the “unlawful” acquisition of 380 acres of land of its Byram Estate in Seberang Perai Selatan by the Penang government and the state-owned Penang Development Corporation (PDC).
SDP deems the compulsory acquisition as unlawful and an abuse of the Land Acquisition Act on the grounds that the company was allegedly required to give up the land at a very low value.
The order was granted in Georgetown by Judicial Commissioner Datuk George Varughese, who also granted SDP an order to stay any further action that may prejudice the company’s rights and interest over the land, pending a full inter partes (both parties) hearing of the stay application.
“Yes, leave was granted together with an interim stay, pending an inter partes hearing of the application for stay,” a source confirmed.
In judicial review disputes, leave or permission of the court has to be obtained before the merits or the full substantive issues are heard. This is to make sure that the application is not frivolous and an abuse of the court process.
This is despite the fact that federal counsel Nurul Khairiah, representing the Penang government, had objected to the stay, arguing that the matter should be heard by both parties in order for the Penang authorities to reply.
SDP filed the judicial review application on April 21, naming the Penang Land and Mines Director, PDC, the Seberang Perai Selatan Land Office Administrator and the Penang government as respondents.
In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, SDP said it has been advised by its solicitors that it has strong and valid grounds to pursue the action in order to protect its assets.
The group said it is seeking orders to quash the “wrongful” compulsory acquisition of its land.
It added that it is also seeking declaratory reliefs, among others, that the Land Acquisition Act 1960 cannot be abused to compulsorily acquire the land of SDP, a government-linked company, to benefit PDC, which is a state-owned agency, at the detriment of SDP.
SDP, in its application, noted that PDC had attempted to acquire the land in 2014 but aborted the move, after the two sides entered into a collaborative agreement.
According to SDP, PDC unilaterally converted the collaboration into a joint venture agreement, which resulted in SDP getting a very small equity in the joint venture company.
The plantation company also accused PDC of blocking the sale of its land to other interested parties at more than double the price offered by PDC. It also accuses PDC of illegally acquiring its land by gazetting it to be for public purpose, while admitting that it is for industrial development.
SDP was represented by lawyers Rosli Dahlan, Dayana Najwa Jainon and Amiratu Al Amirat.
Prior to this, Rosli’s firm had represented SDP in a land grab matter involving its Merlimau land, which was to be acquired and to be alienated to a Taiwan-based company but was later aborted.
It is understood that SDP is also involved in a dispute with the Kedah government over the proposed acquisition of its land in Kulim for an industrial park and a new international airport.