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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Felda Settlers' Fight is our Fight too

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FELDA was formed in 1956. It’s an experienced player in the palm oil industry. It has the knowledge how to conduct business. Such as taking over a company or buying stakes in an ongoing business.

The usual practice when taking over a company is to put a price on it and that is usually done by analysing its share value as quoted on the stock exchange. That was how FGV bought over the 51% share in FHB.  As to the share value of Eagle High, this has been talked about by others.

It is the contention of the general public, that if share value is used, Felda could have bought at a cheaper price or with the same money acquire a bigger proportion of the outstanding shares and even negotiate for controlling interests. As it is, Felda is actually lending money to Peter Sondakh.

The question now, why should an experienced player like FELDA abandon its well honed skills and  opt to use enterprise value? If so, why wasn’t this new found miracle method used in buying out KPF? KPF would have gotten a much higher price than it did. It was selling off 51% of the shares then.  

There’s a Malay saying on this. The monkey in the forest you breastfeed, the child at home starves. Eagle High is the monkey you breastfeed, KPF the child, you starve.

The felda settlers must fight for their rights taken away from them- their economic rights represented by the investment arm- Koperasi Pemodalan Felda. It receives income and reinvests it. It is their investment arm. From the streams of income, KPF was able to give out dividends, on average in the teens of percent. ( 15-18% pa). That is now gone. The right to livelihood must be defended.

Something was stolen from them. That is the injustice of it.

Secondly, it’s the institution of felda itself- set up in 1956 to provide, expand and protect the interests of settlers. This entails protecting what was given by state governments to Felda which, without settlers would not be given land for example, grants, and other facilities it received. This means, there is an integral link between settlers and felda. What hurts felda, hurts the settlers too.When FELDA is plundered, setllers are raped.

The link must be jealously guarded. Now, the institution is snatched away from them because some people want to restructure felda to become a vehicle making money for themselves and abandon the settlers.

As to the felda settler as an individual, he should not be treated in any special manner. He now lives under the same regiment as before. He harvests the land, sells the products to felda mills now taken over by FGV. The same regiment and the same arrangement. Except now he sells to mills owned by FGV , using lorries owned by FGV and sell at a price negated with FGV based on extraction rate of FFB. The extraction rate is the business between the seller and buyer. Just like before. If there are disputes, bring them to court.

So, lets be clear, the settler’s individual lot is not the focus of this fight- the individual lot like that of others outside felda, is fought under the general right for justice, good government, rule of law, democracy etc.It is a common fight which Felda settlers must join.

Setllers must support the fight for these as common citizens facing the same general predicament.  What is being done to Felda and KPF is because we have allowed a kleptocrat to rule Malaysia and violate the trust given him, abuse the power we entrusted him and defy the freedom we gave him.He has freedom to manage the country as he sees fit, but must realise the limits imposed. Even our Monarchy is a constitutional monarchy.

As to felda. the focus of this fight is grounded on;(a) the injustice of having a source of income stolen from them- KPF and the rights enjoyed by KPF previously, (b) the rape and dismembering of Felda the institution.

The FELDA settlers should now realise- no one wants to look after you. You are solely responsible over your destiny. You use social organisations, groups, government, to achieve collective aims which are not possible if pursued alone. Now that the government is against, victimizing you, you must align with political parties, NGOs and groups challenging the government of kleptocrat Najib.

The FELDA settler is responsible for his own lot and that is how he should be thinking. It’s by his own efforts alone, that he rises from the common crowd. He still is among the crowd, but he must have an uncommon way of thinking.
He has nothing to do with the listing of FGV because either as an individual or group, they don’t own a single share in FGV such that, what happens to FGV, either making money or losses is not their business.

But they have an indirect interest when the investment arm which they own- 220,000 of settlers, family members and FELDA employees are members of KPF. KPF is their enterprise- its being short-changed and arm twisted into giving up its share in FELDA Holdings. Something belonging to you is stolen.
We join you in the fight to correct this injustice.  That was unconscionable. It deserves to be opposed. It remains a thorn in the flesh.

KPF- koperasi permodalan FELDA, the investment arm of FELDA settlers was removed from being a share holder in FELDA Holdings. The entire 51% share in FELDA Holdings was transferred to FGV. It was given a paltry sum of RM2.2 billion. How was this figure arrived then? Did KPF employ an independent assessor? Was enterprise value per hectare used at all? The representatives of the settlers who put up their hands in support for the transfer of share of FGV must be cursing themselves now. They are the real haramjadahs.

FGV went to to be listed earning almost RM10 billion from the initial public offering. KPF got nothing but RM2.2 billion from the transfer of its 51% in FELDA Holdings before listing. After listing not only it has lost the 51%, the 37% share promised to it in FGV also disappeared. Suddenly an entity called FELDA Asset Management Holding was put in place to manage the interests of FELDA settlers. But it got nothing near 37%. As at August 2016, FAHC share was 12.42%.  Koperasi Permodalan FELDA is registered as owner of 211 million shares which is equivalent to 5.89%.  if you combine KPF and FAHC’s share- it is only around 18%.

Where’s the fabled 37% promised to KPF? The 211 million shares are now worth RM337.6 million. AtRM4.55 the value was RM960 million. It has suffered a paper loss of RM622 million.

In order to understand how FELDA get itself into the present mess, we have to start from the beginning.

That will be the next chapter...

Posted by Ariff Sabri (with permission)

2 comments:

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