Posts Tagged ‘Felda


Here’s why Isa Samad should not be SPAD chief

Here’s why Isa Samad should not be SPAD chief

Can we entrust the welfare of millions of Malaysians who use public transport to a man, who has proven to be incompetent and inexperienced with questionable integrity?


On June 19, when Isa Samad resigned as Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV) chairman, Prime Minister Najib Razak appointed him as the acting chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) with immediate effect “in appreciation of Isa’s role” in FGV.

This is an absolutely ridiculous appointment. No one will believe that Isa is the best candidate to fill the post left vacant with the retirement of Syed Hamid Albar.

Here are three main reasons why Isa Samad should not be the chief of SPAD.

First, he is undoubtedly incompetent. Under his chairmanship, FGV went from glory to sorry.

In 2012, when FGV went for its US$3.1 billion initial public offering (IPO), it was the world’s second largest IPO of the year, after only Facebook Inc’s US$16 billion IPO.

In five years, FGV’s market capitalisation dropped more than 60% from around RM19 billion to only around RM6 billion, meaning RM13 billion had evaporated from the original value of the company.

The share price went from RM4.641on June 29, 2012 to only RM1.75 as of close of trading on June 23, 2017.

In addition, FGV started with a cash surplus of RM5.09 billion in December 2012 but four years later in December 2016, it is RM1.97 billion in debt. FGV’s current sorry state of affairs didn’t happen overnight, it was a result of a series of missteps, all of which were made under the watch of Isa.

Second, Isa has little, if any, experience in public transport. He made no significant contribution in public transport either during his over 20 years as Negeri Sembilan menteri besar or during his one year stint as Federal Territories minister.

Even as an MP, there is no traceable record of him raising public transport issues.

The chairman of SPAD should be someone with experience in the public transport industry and passionate about public transport in Malaysia.

I am sure there are more suitable candidates from within the public transport sector or relevant industries in Malaysia or within SPAD and other relevant government agencies for the position.

So, why did Najib choose Isa over others?

Third and most importantly, Isa has a highly-questionable integrity track record.

He was found guilty of money politics by Umno over the contest for the Umno vice-presidency in the party polls in 2004, and was suspended by the party for three years from 2005.

The now suspended CEO of FGV, Datuk Zakaria Arshad, was quoted by The Edge that there were instances of direct negotiations and direct contracts in FGV, which he attempted to stop but was overruled by the board of directors, led by Isa as non-executive chairman.

As pointed out by my colleague Liew Chin Tong (Kluang MP), SPAD is directly or indirectly responsible for the RM55 billion East Cost Rail Link, RM60 billion KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail, MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line (RM28 billion) and MRT Circle Line (more than RM20 billion).

Therefore, how can a person with such a questionable track record like Isa be the chief of SPAD?

Here’s why Isa Samad should not be SPAD chief
By Yeo Bee Yin
June 24, 2017 – FMT


FGV – an inbreeding that went wrong between two Samads

FGV – an inbreeding that went wrong between two Samads

COMMENT | The Felda Global Ventures (FGV) is one of the finest plantation companies in the world. Correction: was. With an administration under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, everything must be spoken in the past tense, precisely because there is no future, let alone a present.

Just a few years ago, FGV’s profits surged to nearly RM982 million ringgit, as Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua rightly noted in Malaysiakini.

Yet within a whisker of a few years, the inbreeding that Najib’s Umno had specialised in – this involves allowing only his alleged cronies and advisers – to gain from the juicy appointments and the projects began to go horribly wrong.

Isa Samad did not, and could not perform, literally and figuratively. And things immediately went south. To make matters worse, they went sour too.

Shahrir Samad was brought in from the cold to oversee the reform that is badly needed, given the importance of Felda regions, which include about 54 parliamentary constituencies and and almost 92 state constituencies, only to see the two Samads at loggerheads with one another.

Notwithstanding Najib’s additional role as the head of a committee on agricultural affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office, his added authority did not suffice. It didn’t lend any gravitas to allay the brewing storm in FGV.

Debt of the Felda settlers

The two Samads refused to yield, and both are going for the jugular of each other, with the attendant effect that has spilled into an MACC investigation and the removal of FGV’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer.

Meanwhile, the debts of Felda settlers are not forgiven. Hundreds of thousands of them are left to service the interest on their loans. With the FGV stock hovering at less than 50 percent of its original IPO, the farmers are further exposed to the vicissitudes of life.

If this isn’t a pattern that reflects the decrepit management of Prime Minister Najib, then one doesn’t know what is.

The unit in charge of transformation, which was parked under the Prime Minister’s? Department, has gone silent. As opposed to its outlandish outcry that the country was being transformed, FGV showcased the weakness that Najib inherited from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. In the case of Pak Lah, inbreeding through his boys on the Fourth Floor allowed national interest to fester.

Under Najib, the same inbreeding in the Fourth Floor and Fifth Floor, where Najib sits, are still continuing. Their interests precede all others in the country including FGV.

When their bad management festers, farmers and fishermen in FGV are expected to pick up the pieces on their behalf. Be it Najib, the two Samads or his boys in the Fifth and Fourth floors, the administration has lost the plot.

FGV – an inbreeding that went wrong between two Samads
Rais Hussin
8 June 2017 – malaysiakini


As Felda crisis unfolds, settlers’ group wants Isa Samad suspended

As Felda crisis unfolds, settlers’ group wants Isa Samad suspended

FELDA Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV) should be sacking the chairman Isa Samad instead of rather than the president and chief executive officer Zakaria Arshad, said Persatuan Anak Peneroka Felda Kebangsaan (Anak) today.

Anak chairman Mazlan Aliman said Isa had been a liability to FGV from the day he became chairman in 2011, while Zakaria, in contrast, had reduced FGV’s operational costs.

“Zakaria, who is a second generation Felda settler, should have been given a chance to realise his vision. Ever since he took over the reins at FGV, he has successfully reduced administrative costs,” said Mazlan.

Mazlan claimed Zakaria was suspended because he refused to follow Isa’s orders blindly.

Mazlan said it was unjustifiable to make Zakaria and three others go on leave over late payment from an Afghan company as business deals with companies from Afghanistan were inherently risky due to the unrest in the country.

Zakaria, along with group chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha and two others in FGV, was ordered today to go on leave pending an investigation into a late payment from Afghan company Safitex to FGV subsidiary Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd (DOP).

Zakaria has denied any wrongdoing and called for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate FGV, prompting Felda chairman Isa Samad to respond with a press conference this afternoon in which he declared the MACC would receive FGV’s full cooperation should it decide to launch a probe into the plantation company. – June 6, 2017.

As Felda crisis unfolds, settlers’ group wants Isa Samad suspended
6 Jun 2017 – Malaysian Insight


FGV’s Zakaria the latest victim of Isa Samad, claims Anak

FGV’s Zakaria the latest victim of Isa Samad, claims Anak

Felda Settlers’ Children Association claims the FGV chairman had placed other Felda, FGV executives in ‘cold storage’ in the past.

PETALING JAYA: The president and CEO of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), Zakaria Arshad, who has been ordered to immediately go on indefinite leave, is the latest “victim” of FGV chairman Isa Samad, claims the National Felda Settlers’ Children Association (Anak).

Recalling other cases, Anak president Mazlan Aliman claimed former Felda director-general Zulkifli Abdul Wahab was “cold storaged” over issues relating to FGV when Isa held the post of Felda chairman.

Mazlan alleged that Zulkifli’s successor, Faizoull Ahmad, was also placed in “cold storage” until he was charged in the Sessions Court recently.

“I had been told that Isa had, right from the outset, been uncomfortable with Zakaria.

“That is why whatever was done by Zakaria before Isa became chairman has now been dug up, among which is the issue of Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of FGV. Felda is the controlling shareholder of FGV which is listed on Bursa Malaysia.

“But the decisions of Zakaria were made with the concurrence of the company’s board of directors,” Mazlan said when contacted by FMT today.

Zakaria was reportedly ordered to go on leave by the board to facilitate investigations of an alleged delay in payment by Afghan company Safitex to Delima Oil Products for palm oil products.

Mazlan described the action taken against Zakaria as a “mistake” because the FGV CEO was carrying out his mission to correct the shortcomings within FGV.

He said Zakaria should have been given room to complete his task.

FGV’s Zakaria the latest victim of Isa Samad, claims Anak
June 6, 2017 – FMT


UMNO’s Captive Voters…No More

UMNO’s Captive Voters…

A captive audience is one that has no choice but to listen to a particular speaker. In Malaysia’s FELDA communities, however, it’s a question of captive voters.

These communities (which command 54 parliamentary seats) are gated and the men at the gate are forbidding and threatening opposition campaigners from entering to canvass, meaning they can only hear from UMNO.

Because, as far as UMNO are concerned, these farm workers belong to them politically and they have no intention of letting them listen to alternative views, apart from the propaganda pumped out on government controlled radio and television and printed media.

The opposition say they have widespread evidence of recent criminal mismanagement of FELDA’s funds and also evidence FELDA money will be used to bribe votes at the upcoming election, just as it was also used, they say, for the Sarawak state election.

FELDA voters are likely to want to hear about that and to question ruling UMNO on the allegations. After all, MACC investigations into FELDA mismanagement have been on-going for over two years, according to information received by Sarawak Report and just in January there were 5 arrests of senior staff relating to the fund’s investments.

FELDA Global Ventures, launched on the stock market at RM5.5 a share in 2012, is latterly worth only a miserable RM1.9 following an immediate series of disastrous investments.

That is a direct loss and blow to the futures of all those settlers, whom Najib had persuaded to release their lands in return for this stock market ‘asset’.

Sarawak Report has already exposed a shocking parallel in Sarawak, where the entire native landowner ASSAR fund has likewise been run down to 17% of its nominal value, thanks to the disappearance of half a billion ringgit into a whole swathe of loss-making ventures, where nobody checked for conflicts of interest.

Pouff! All the compensation money for native people, who had been forceably thrown off their lands for peanuts, now gone.
FELDA Losses – how settlers were duped

The issue is, say opposition voices, that along with so many other public funds, FELDA, which was set up to guard the interests of these landowners, has been raided and pillaged. Take for example the scandal of FELDA Global Ventures (FGV), Najib’s brain child stockmarket flotation of much of the settler’s land bank in 2012.

Najib had enticed reluctant farmers to release their land with an upfront RM15,000 ‘sweetner’ on the deal. At $3.1 billion the huge sale was the second largest IPO ever after Facebook. And then the shares plummeted.

Even the Prime Minister’s own political crony and (second) cousin, Shahrir Abdul Samad (their mothers were cousins*) appointed to be CEO in January, expressed shock to discover the disappearance of nearly all the proceeds of that launch upon arriving at the fund:

“Felda received RM6 billion from the listing of FGVH which is Felda’s business asset. From that amount, we have spent RM1.7 billion as windfall,” Shahrir was quoted saying yesterday.

Shahrir said Felda awarded settlers and their families RM15,000 for each household, leaving behind a balance of RM4.3 billion.

“So where did this RM4.3 billion go? I think this has frustrated settlers who are very close to Felda … who admire the role of Felda … I think they have been disappointed,” Shahrir said.

FELDA settlers are right to be disappointed, but Shahrir ought not to have been surprised. He himself admitted to personally receiving a million ringgit handed to him by Najib, after being exposed by Sarawak Report.

Shahrir was clearly appointed for a reason and the former BN back bencher boss soon backtracked into explaining how the FGV money had been unfortunately invested in a number of apparently loss-making hotel and other enterprises, mostly abroad. Now he is trying to sell them off.

Nevertheless, just last month he concluded yet another plainly lousy deal on behalf of his cousin Najib, whereby FELDA agreed to a blatant half billion dollar purchase of 39% of Indonesia’s loss-making Eagle High Plantations way above its market value. The owner of Eagle High is a known businessman crony of the Prime Minister.

FELDA Global Ventures had been originally earmarked to do the deal at an even higher $700 million, however news of the scandal spiked the move and the EPF (a major investor in FGV) ditched its shares.

UMNO’s Captive Voters…
7 May 2017 – SR


Felda – How an ill-fated stock listing could sway Malaysia’s election

How an ill-fated stock listing could sway Malaysia’s election

The controversial listing of the Federal Land Development Authority’s commercial arm has left many of the Malaysian government’s key supporters – the rural poor – rethinking their allegiances

Viewed from afar, Malaysia’s ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), might seem nigh-on unchallengeable in the general election expected as early as this year. After all, it has been in power since the country’s first such election in 1955 – two years before the country’s independence from Britain.

Yet, while it is undeniably strong, its armour is not without chinks. The party cannot afford to lose the support of Malaysia’s rural constituencies – a dependency that has entwined its fate with that of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) for the past 60 years and may now represent just such a weak spot.

Felda was created by Umno a year after its maiden election win to handle the resettlement of rural poor into newly developed areas and smallhold farms. It went on to alter the development of Malaysia beyond recognition as large swathes of unused land became well-irrigated plantation schemes that transformed both agricultural exports and the incomes of its rural communities.

Settlers on Felda land have remained fiercely loyal to Umno, which forms the backbone of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (National Front), ever since and have played no small part in defending Umno’s grip on power. Of the party’s 86 parliamentary seats, 54 are from constituencies on Felda-developed land.

But there are signs Umno’s grip may now be loosening with opinion among its erstwhile diehard support base now deeply divided by the government’s handling of the listing of Felda’s commercial arm – Felda Global Ventures (FGV) – on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in May 2012.

While savvy investors who bought FGV shares in November 2016 may be laughing all the way to the bank with returns of 36 per cent (the uptick followed a management reshuffle), those who bought at the time of the listing have seen their investments cut in half.

So bad has FGV’s performance been that rumours have swirled for the past month that it may be delisted from the exchange completely. If that happens, it will only further undermine the trust of many first- and second-generation Felda settlers in the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak, a leader already under fire for alleged links to a corruption scandal at the state firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Critics say Najib’s government was oblivious to the risks when it placed 360,000 hectares – out of Felda’s total of 508,000 hectares – on 99-year leases as collateral for the listing on the stock exchange.

The president of Anak (the Malay acronym for the National Felda Settlers’ Children Society), Mazlan Aliman, says the move has exposed Felda to a perpetual cycle of debt-servicing.

And it’s hard for Najib to claim he wasn’t warned. When the initial public offering (IPO) was first announced in the budget of 2011, more than 65 per cent of senior officers working in FGV were opposed. Yet Najib pushed ahead, much to Anak’s chagrin.

Increasingly, there are signs of wider scale political disillusionment. Discontent was palpable when the Felda stronghold constituency of Rompin, Pahang, held a by-election in May 2015. Of its 16 polling districts, two returned a majority for the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party – the first time in history a district in a Felda constituency had not backed the Umno candidate.

Although the Umno candidate, Hasan Arifin, still won by a majority of more than 8,000 votes, the final tally showed a 50 per cent drop in support.

Such a reversal of fortunes has set the alarm bells ringing at Umno and Najib has since tried to win over Felda settlers with soft loans that have given some the opportunity to borrow up to US$22,000. That tactic has had mixed results, increasing indebtedness among settlers rather than bringing them swift financial redemption.

How an ill-fated stock listing could sway Malaysia’s election
By Phar Kim Beng
9 Apr 2017 – SCMP


Harapan will make Felda even better

Kit Siang: Harapan will make Felda even better

The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) will not be abolished should Pakatan Harapan and its allies form the next federal government, assured DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang.

Instead, said Lim, the coalition intends to make Felda better than it is today.

“DAP will not want Felda to be closed but on the contrary, we want a special programme to strengthen Felda so that Felda settlers and the new generation in Felda can get a new deal of justice and prosperity in Malaysia,” said Lim.

Lim said this during a speech at Bangi, Selangor last night at a fund raising dinner for Mazlan Aliman, a Parti Amanah Negara activist who specialises in Felda issues.

Mazlan now owed RM350,000 to Felda following the latter’s defamation suit.

Lim said politics of race, hatred and lies have reached new heights, citing how Umno president Najib Abdul Razak was perpetuating three “Nazi-type big lies”.

This include the insinuation that the next general election is a contest between Umno and DAP and that the DAP was anti-Malay or anti-Islam.

“Najib went to the extent of warning that ‘if the country falls into the hands of DAP’, the rights and privileges championed and defended by Umno through institutions such as Felda, Mara, Risda and Felcra would become ‘extinct and disappear’,” said Lim.

Lim gave his assurance to Kelantan Amanah advisor Husam Musa, who spoke before him, that this will not happened.

He said what will happen is that Harapan will rally the public to vote against “global kleptocracy”.

“The next general election is not a battle between DAP and Umno, but between the people of Malaysia versus Najib to save Malaysia from kleptocracy.

“(Our goal is also to) hold true to the promise of the founders of the nation that Malaysia shall forever be a democracy,” he said.

Kit Siang: Harapan will make Felda even better
5 Mar 2017 – Malaysiakini

Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?