Syed Mokhtar, Sunway eye land

KUALA LUMPUR: Industrialist Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and Sunway Bhd have submitted a proposal for a prime piece of real estate controlled by Kelab Golf Negara Subang (KGNS), which includes two 18-hole golf courses with a commercial value estimated at over RM5 billion.

Perspective Lane (M) Sdn Bhd, a private investment vehicle controlled by publicity-shy Syed Mokhtar, and Sunway City Sdn Bhd, a unit of property powerhouse Sunway, submitted a plan late last year, according to company executives and government officials close to the matter.

“As a property developer, we always look at the opportunities that are available to us. If it turns out to be something interesting, we may put in a proposal though most of this is done on a trial-and-error basis,” Ho Hon Sang, managing director of Sunway’s property division, told The Edge Financial Daily.

Other Sunway executives said the proposal is at the “exploratory stage”.

Company executives from Syed Mokhtar’s Perspective Lane weren’t available for immediate comment.

The yet-to-be publicised privatisation plan for the KGNS land is surely to stir public debate and will represent a new twist in the ownership struggle for this lucrative piece of real estate located on the leafy fringes of Kelana Jaya in Selangor.

The club, whose members include the elite of the country’s civil service and corporate sector, is already involved in a dispute with the government over the ownership of the land.

KGNS president Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas said the club has yet to be informed about the proposed privatisation, but he cautioned that such a move would be “political suicide” for the government.

“It will antagonise a whole generation of people. Our members include many prominent people including ex-statesmen and senior generals, as well as former civil servants who make up 25% to 30% of our members roll. These people are not just anyone,” said Najmuddin, who expressed doubt the Syed Mokthar-Sunway plan would make any headway.

If the privatisation plan does find traction, Najmuddin could find himself in an awkward spot.

He serves as chairman and an independent non-executive director of Tradewinds Corp Bhd, a property developer that is 47.08% owned by Perspective Lane.

He dismissed concerns that he could face potential conflict of interest should the Syed Mokhtar-led privatisation plan gather steam.

Najmuddin said he owns no stock in Tradewinds and his position as an independent director should free him of any concerns of conflict. He also said his priorities will remain with KGNS.

The issue over the ownership of the land occupied by KGNS has long been a source of friction because of a historical oversight when the club was set up in the late 1960s that didn’t clearly deal with its ownership.

To resolve the problem, the government and KGNS entered into an agreement in late 1971 which gave the club a 99-year lease on the 121ha property. Twenty years later, problems surfaced again when several government agencies began questioning the lease agreement and demanded a greater say over the management of the club.

The moves were successfully fended off and the club eventually lodged a private caveat to protect its interest.

In June 2010, the Federal Land Commissioner, the government agency registered as owner of the land occupied by KGNS, filed an application to remove the caveat.

Najmuddin said negotiations between the club and the government are still ongoing and the committee may persuade its members to agree to some demands made by the latter.

However, the issue of the ownership of the land — which remains the main prize the club and the government have been eyeing — is something KGNS will continue to fight for.

“We are determined to defend our position on this issue and if push turns to shove we will go to court,” he said.

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