Sime Darby Plantation granted leave to challenge Melaka land acquisition

MELAKA (May 23): Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) was today granted leave (permission) by the High Court here to challenge the compulsory acquisition of its 75-hectare land in Merlimau at a below market price of RM35.282 million by Taiwan-controlled company GI A Resources Sdn Bhd, that claimed it was acting in the interest of former Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V.

High Court Judge Justice Datuk Ahmad Nasfy Yasin also granted a stay of all proceedings until the disposal of a full hearing of the judicial review. Hence, besides the granting of stay of the acquisition, the court also granted SDP permission to challenge the compulsory acquisition of its land.

The High Court's decision follows the Attorney General's Chamber's notification to SDP's lawyers from Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill that the Attorney General's Chamber would not be objecting to leave being granted.

SDP's counsel Rosli Dahlan had today related the High Court's decision to the

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However, the obstacle for SDP to gain leave came from GI A Resources, which was represented by law firm Messrs Steven Thiru & Sudhar Partnership.

The law firm's representatives David Matthews and David Lee turned up to argue that SDP's application was filed out of time and that the issue was non-justiciable, as it involves the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Istana Negara, according to Rosli.

SDP, which was represented by Rosli and lawyer Dayana Najwa, told Ahmad Nasfy that SDP was within time of filing the action as the award was made on March 27, this year and that the Form H (Borang H) was also served on the company on May 2.

Rosli said today: “So clearly, SDP was well within the 90-day period to file the challenge. GI A Resources' assertion is highly misconceived. Neither the Istana Negara nor the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is a party in this action. The action is against the Melaka government, the state land and mines department, and the Jasin District Land Office, as respondents in the application whom SDP alleged had conspired with GI A Resources to forfeit its land for a foreign interest.” 

Rosli added that GI A Resources' sudden appearance in court amounted to an ambush by a foreign-owned company.

“It is a clear attempt to prevent this matter from being ventilated in court. It is surprising that this foreign interest is strongly contesting this judicial review application, whereas the Attorney General's Chamber has already indicated that they have no objection.

“The stand taken by the Attorney General's Chamber is commendable, as it shows that it being the government’s legal adviser will not condone administrative misconduct by state officers, state agencies and state government,” he said.

On April 30 this year, The Edge Financial Daily was the first to report that SDP had filed a judicial review application to stop the compulsory acquisition of its 75ha land in Merlimau by GI A Resources, that claimed it was acting in the interest of former Yang di-Pertuan Agong to compel SDP to sell the land at a below market value price of RM35.282 million.

The Edge Financial Daily, which sighted the judicial review application, reported saying besides GI A Resources, SDP, which is majority owned by the Employees Provident Fund and Permodalan Nasional Bhd, also named the Melaka government, the state land and mines department, and the Jasin District Land Office, as respondents in the application.

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