Court to hear GLC’s complaint over palace interference in land grab

Sime Darby Plantation says its land was compulsorily acquired to benefit a foreign-owned company.

PETALING JAYA: The High Court in Melaka has given leave to Sime Darby Plantation (SDP), which brought an action to overturn a compulsory acquisition of its land for the benefit of a foreign-owned company through the use of palace influence.

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, representing SDP, said judge Ahmad Nasfy Yasin would hear his client’s complaint on a date to be fixed.

In a positive turn of events, he said, the Attorney-General’s Chambers also made no objection to the leave.

However, lawyers for GIA Resources Sdn Bhd, which was named as a party to the judicial review, turned up unexpectedly to intervene and oppose the leave application, he added.

In an affidavit filed by Lum Mun Fook, a director of GIA Resources, the company took the position that SDP’s judicial review application was out of time.

The company’s lawyer, David Mathews, also said the subject matter involved the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Istana Negara, and that the court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Rosli Dahlan.

Rosli said the objections by GIA Resources are misconceived.

“SDP was well within time as the award was made on March 27, 2019. The Borang H was also just served on May 2, 2019. So clearly, SDP was well within the 90-day period to file the judicial review.”

SDP filed its action on April 29.

Rosli added that neither Istana Negara nor the Agong is a party in this action, saying the judicial review is against the director of Land and Mines, Melaka; the Jasin district land administrator; and the Melaka government whom SDP alleged conspired with GIA Resources to forfeit its land for a foreign interest.

FMT reported on April 30 that a letter from Istana Negara had been mentioned in a judicial review action brought by SDP.

The government-linked company claimed GIA Resources, a foreign-owned private company, had abused its relationship with the national palace to avoid an open-tender sale of the land, thus enabling it to own the land at below market price.

The 75-hectare plot in Jasin, Melaka, has since been planted with oil palm.

SDP is seeking a judicial review of the actions of the Melaka government and the three others for wrongfully acquiring the land, and an order to quash the acquisition.

In support of its action, SDP challenged the validity of a letter from Istana Negara, which purportedly directed the state government to acquire the land.

The company said the letter from Istana Negara, dated April 4 last year, was invalid, of no effect, and in violation of the Federal Constitution.

The company said Istana Negara, or the Agong as a federal institution, could not interfere in land matters which come under the purview of the state government.

The company also wants the court to declare that the Land Acquisition Act 1960 cannot be abused for the compulsory acquisition of its land to benefit GIA Resources.

SDP said it was perverse, oppressive and irrational for GIA Resources to refuse to participate in an open-tender sale and instead insist on a compulsory acquisition.

Meanwhile, Rosli praised the AGC’s stand in the case, saying it showed that it will not condone administrative misconduct by state officers, state agencies and state government.