SD Plantation files for Melaka land judicial review

By MARK RAO

Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SD Plantation) is taking legal action against the Melaka state government and relevant companies for wrongfully initiating the compulsory acquisition of its former land in Merlimau.

The integrated plantation firm stated in an exchange filing on Tuesday that it had commenced a judicial review against the state government and state authorities, Pejabat Tanah dan Galian Melaka, and Pejabat Daerah dan Tanah Jasin, as well as GI A Resources Sdn Bhd — a Malaysia- incorporated but Taiwan-owned firm.

The action is in relation to the acquisition of SD Plantation’s 185.5 acres (75ha) of land in Mukim Merlimau, Daerah Jasin, which the company claims to have contravened the Land Acquisition Act 1960.

“The company is seeking, among others, the orders of certiorari and mandamus to nullify the compulsory acquisition, and declaratory relief that the Land Acquisition Act 1960 cannot be abused to compulsorily acquire land belonging to the company for the benefit of a foreign-owned company (GI A Resources).

“The company is advised by its solicitors that it has strong grounds for this action to protect its assets,” the company’s filing read.

SD Plantation, the world’s largest oil palm company by planted area, said it will make further announcements on any material development on the matter from time to time.

This followed reports on Monday that the company filed the judicial review to stop the acquisition of its land in Merlimau, which it claimed it was compelled to sell at below market value price of RM35.28 million.

Taiwan’s state-owned GI A Resources claimed to represent the interests of former Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V when it acquired the land, according to the reports. An English daily reported that SD Plantation wrote to Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari on several occasions to appeal against the acquisition, but was met with no reply.

This had forced the company to file the judicial review application to the Melaka High Court in hopes of nullifying the land deal, the daily wrote.

It was further reported that an affidavit was filed by SD Plantation head of land management unit Mohd Razlan Mohd Rahim in support of the legal action. The affidavit said GI A Resources failed to clearly state its purpose for acquiring the land in Merlimau, other than for the construction of a proposed “Bandar Pendidikan Bestari” mixed development.

This is an anomaly under the Land Acquisition Act 1960, the affidavit read, further claiming that the RM35.28 million oral award by Pejabat Daerah dan Tanah Jasin on March 27 this year was below the land’s market value.