Loss of investment and other damages suffered due to dealing with SEDC Perak
If it is not any of the departments' job, whose is it then? SEDC had refused to respond to any forms of communications since the lease came into effect.
"It is not our job, it is the job of the journalist and press. We are just visiting."
The words uttered by an officer from the Pejabat Tanah Daerah Lenggong today when they arrived with an official government car and his 'rombongan' to visit the old Ladang Teh Lenggong site that had been partially turned into a monoculture eucalyptus plantation. The contractors of this plantation had been encroaching on up to 10 acres of a sustainable agriculture and living education center established by a European national since 2008. This encroachment had been occurring repeatedly for more than 12 months with destruction of crops and soil contamination with chemical herbicides. After 18 police reports and multiple reports lodged at the Land Office over the span of 1 year, they finally arrived to utter those words without inspecting the encroached land.
After submitting a proposal for this education project, SEDC had offered land to start the education center and subsequently a lease was signed for partial lots in Lenggong which was designated for proposed long-term development of an 'organic valley'. At that point, SEDC was not the legal owner of the land however they said it is a 'formality' to transfer the ownership. The legal landowner was Perbadanan Pembangunan Pertanian Negeri Perak. Attempts to secure investors and bank loans were rejected because of this land ownership discrepancy. Until today, SEDC is still not the owner but it merely has the authority to be the landowner by way of a state order in 2003 to surrender all ownership rights owned by state agencies to one body - the SEDC.
Significant vandalization and squatter problems had been present prior to the start of project, changes in land acreage by SEDC was done during lease terms and for one year, the contractors of a project approved by SEDC had been repeatedly destroying the land and assaulting people of this education center. Every relevant government agency had been contacted - Forestry Department, the Police, Land Office, Department of Environment, Lenggong State Assemblyman, Perak State Exco, the common landowner which is the Perak State Economic Development Corporation. And similar responses come almost in unison from them all, "It is not our job."
If it is not any of the departments' job, whose is it then? SEDC had refused to respond to any forms of communications since the lease came into effect. From their negligence and the non-action of all other relevant authorities, losses of RM500,000 had been incurred. Now SEDC has decided to terminate the lease agreement based on unpaid rentals. Payments of these rentals had been suspended after all options to resolve these problems plaguing the ability to run the project as a going concern had been exhausted. Even when outstanding rentals are prepared to be paid, they had refused to communicate and respond. All they had responded was to refund the project lease deposit and have their lawyer write a letter to deny all allegations of the disputes in the contract.
I signed a contract with SEDC Perak and there has been many discrepancies.
1. Contract starts and charges lease fees prior to the signing of agreement.
2. SEDC is not and was not a legal owner of the land, we have been assured that it is "just" a formality, yet when we approached our investors and banks for loans, we were told such contract holds no validity. It has made it very difficult to start and sustain our project. Till today, land is registered under PPPNP.
3. Contract signed is discriminatory. It refuses any rights to the leaseholder and states that it can be terminated without compensation even though I have complied with the nature of the project as stated in the contract. Foreign investment is to be guaranteed by Malaysia-Czech International Treaty of Protection of Investment.
4. Discrepancy in acreage - our contract states that we are leasing 39.6 acres, yet on plans issued by SEDC, area has been shrunk to 37.5 acres. We haven't been notified, nor it is reflected in the lease fees or the contract.
5. Prior to signing of agreement, we have requested change of terms of the contract such as duration and reduction in rent. We were told that this contract is only temporary and will be revised three months after commencement of the project. No revision has been made.
6. At the time of commencement of the project, site has been vandalized, and there were squatters who prevented us from using of the land and caused further material damages such as burned car, 6 killed dogs, intimidation with shotgun and other incidents. This has been highlighted to SEDC, yet they didn't provide any assistance nor acted to get the squaters out.
7. Neighboring project and its contractors has caused land encroachment, illegal logging and clearing, erosion and crop destructions on 10 acres of our lease land had been occurring for 1 year repeatedly. This caused us loss of income of RM350.000 due to crops destroyed, chemical sprayed and contaminating our organic soil and affecting our crops. Constant encroachment also cost time and loss of opportunity to carry out our daily education activities and causing threat of safety to our guests from the open burning and hostile workers. This safety threat affected the number of visitors to the farm causing us loss of income for continuously 1 year.
8. Since signing of the contract SEDC has refuse to communicate with us. No reply to letters, emails, even the properly arranged meeting with Dato Samsuddin through his PA in advance, I have been refused to meet Dato although I have been in the hall of his office and he was present.
9. Contractors' actions have resulted in massive erosion, landslides and deteoriation of water quality. Soil and hill assessment clearly indicates future landslides which endangers the Lenggong town due to mud flow caused by landslides blocking a river and coming down with large amounts of mud.
10. Development site under Pei Cheong Timber at Ladang the does not have the necessary approval from DOE, nor does it have a logging licence. Yet, it hopes to haul logged timber to process in a 10 km distant factory without paying royalties and duties to State.
11. SEDC has served us a termination notice to our agreement, so the contractor can move all timber without witnesses to their factory.
12. Reason given for termination of agreement is stated as not paying the agreed rental. We have suspended payments to SEDC after we have exhausted our options in resolving the above stated discrepancies, because otherwise we are criminally liable of mismanagement of company funds. We have provided a clear indication of our dedication to settle. A copy of the Bank Draft in SEDC's name fully covering the outstanding rental has been sent to SEDC with a request for an amicable solution. No response from SEDC has been received.
So far, our investment in Malaysia is around 500.000 RM.