WHAT has the Chinese have to do with FELDA? On the face of it, nothing.
The Federal Land Development Authority or FELDA is 61 this July. It was set up before Merdeka to resettle the rural poor into newly opened areas and organise smallholder farms.
In effect, the world’s largest and most successful collectivisation project, bigger and better than in any socialist countries. Malaysians, especially Malays, must thank Tun Abdul Razak Hussein for this.
Since the 1990s however, FELDA has stopped opening up new lands, instead diversifying into other businesses.
It’s listed unit Felda Global Ventures is the world’s largest plantation company with 811,140 hectares of palm oil in Malaysia and across the world. FGV was listed in 2012 and touted as the world’s second biggest initial public offering (IPO) after Facebook.
FGV raised US$3.1 billion from the IPO and share prices peaked to RM5.46 on opening day, up 20 percent from the RM4.55 reference price per share.
Today, it is RM1.96 per share.
Not only that, FELDA is looking at a deal that will get back its plantation lands from FGV by selling a significant stake to two Indonesian businessmen who trade in oil palm and related assets but do not run plantations.
These two men are Indonesian Chinese tycoons – Wilmar International Ltd co-founder Martua Sitorus and Rajawali Corp boss Peter Sondakh. Wilmar is Asia’s largest agri-business group and oil trader based in Singapore.
Why are foreigners buying into what Malaysians, especially Malays, have been doing best over the years? How did the world’s second biggest IPO in 2012 now needs to be rescued and managed by outsiders?
Why are Indonesians coming in to own and run Malaysian plantations when it was Malaysians who first started these massive plantations and even invested in Indonesia? Are our people incapable? Most major oil palm producers are Malaysians, especially GLCs.
So why are we looking at Indonesia?
These two men might have Indonesian names but they are Chinese, and both have benefitted from a tax amnesty programme in Indonesia enabling them to keep their wealth without paying much tax.
ARE THESE THE KIND OF MEN WHO FELDA WANTS TO MANAGE FGV AND SMALLHOLDINGS?
If Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak can ask Apa Lagi Cina Mau? in the 2013 general elections, can he also ask why is his government willing to deal with Chinese businessmen from abroad but not from Malaysia?
The May 1 to 7 edition of The Edge had details of the proposed deal.
The plan, according to the weekly’s report, would begin with Felda buying back its plantation land from FGV — which has already been mooted, according to sources — and will eventually detach Felda from FGV. Felda currently holds 33.67% in FGV, of which 21.25% is held directly and 12.42% through Felda Asset Holdings Co Sdn Bhd.
The report highlighted the land lease agreement (LLA) between FELDA and FGV, and noted that FGV will have to pay FELDA compensation for the loss of expected future profits in respect of the land, if the LLA were to be terminated.
Quoting sources, the weekly said the second part of the plan would result in the emergence of Indonesian businessmen Tan Sri Peter Sondakh, who controls PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk, and Martua Sitorus, the co-founder of Wilmar International Ltd, as new shareholders in FGV, via the injection of assets into the group in return for shares and management control.
CAN’T THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT UNDER DATUK SERI NAJIB RAZAK ASK SUCCESSFUL MALAYSIAN COMPANIES SUCH AS SIME DARBY TO TAKE OVER FGV AND RUN THE PLANTATIONS?
We are talking about plantations here, not just oil palm trading. Why the need to get foreigners to run our plantation companies? Are there no Malaysians or Malaysian companies that can do this?
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS DEAL?
After all, the IPO was supposed to benefit everyone, especially the smallholders but their shares are now worthless pieces of paper. Will the new managers come up with a better plan or will Malaysia always see a new plan for FELDA settlers before every general elections.
REMEMBER, the FGV IPO was in 2012, a year before the 2013 elections.
This proposed deal is being floated now, a year before the next general elections.
For the 2013 elections, Malaysia’s great saviours were supposed to be from the Middle East and the global markets. Will the Chinese now be our saviours in the next general elections.