FORGET IT, NAJIB WILL BACK ISA: ‘SECOND-GENERATION FELDA SETTLERS WANT ISA SAMAD OUT & SHAHRIR IN’

KUALA LUMPUR – A group of second-generation Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers has called on Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad to resign as chairman of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), amid an ongoing tussle between the management and board members of the plantation giant.

The settlers, who hail from Soeharto and Gedangsa in Hulu Selangor and Palong Satu in Gemas, Negeri Sembilan — where FGV’s embattled group president and chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Zakaria Arshad was raised, want Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad to replace Mohd Isa.

Hamaruddin Abdul Aziz, a representative of the second-generation Felda settlers, said Felda, as the biggest shareholder holding 33% stake in FGV, should have a representative on the scandal-ridden company’s board, where the settlers are also its minority shareholders.

“We question why there has yet to be representative(s) of Felda on the board of FGV as requested (by Shahrir),” Hamaruddin told a news conference today.

On June 8, Shahrir was reported as saying the entity, as FGV’s single largest shareholder, has submitted three names to be representatives on the FGV board, but that no decision has been made by the listed entity.

He had also said that the absence of representatives in FGV made it hard for Felda to get the latest updates on the group.

Currently, FGV’s nine board members are Mohd Isa, Zakaria, Datuk Dr Omar Salim, Datuk Yahaya Abd Jabar, Datuk Siti Zauyah Md Desa, Datuk Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid, Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob, Datuk Mohamed Suffian Awang and Datuk Mohd Zafer Mohd Hashim.

“We hereby urge Mohd Isa to step down and for Shahrir to be appointed as FGV chairman. There should be one chairman who is in both Felda and FGV,” said Hamaruddin.

The 47-year-old settler, who together with some 40 others, said they do not represent or are not represented by any organisation — including the National Felda Settlers’ Children Association (Anak).

“Zakaria took over [from Mohd Isa] when FGV was troubled with failed business investments and losses, but he was not scared to meet us. He went on a roadshow to all Felda constituencies, explaining his strategies for the group,” Hamaruddin said.

The settlers are of the view that there is no need to sack Zakaria, who has been accused of improprieties for allowing FGV’s clients to make late payments without the board’s approval.

“Zakaria has turned around the group of over RM81 million in losses to over RM2 million in net profit in its latest quarterly results.

“It [the alleged improprieties] is on the issue of procedure. It does not involve claims of corruption and abuse of power. He has got a good track record, over 33 years with us,” Hamaruddin said.

“The matter is also still under investigation. There is no need to ask him to step down. It is Mohd Isa, who is a huge liability for FGV, that is dilly-dallying the appointments [of Felda representatives on FGV board of directors],” Hamaruddin added.

 

He also called on other second-generation Felda settlers in the country to take the same stance.

“We will use proper channels (to lodge our proposals). We may come up with a memorandum, to be forwarded to Felda and other relevant authorities with regards to this issue,” Hamaruddin said, adding settlers may request to meet with Shahrir himself, depending on development of the issue.

“We feel responsible to our families, who are also FGV shareholders. Furthermore, we are the ones who will inherit the business in the future. From a share price of RM4.55 to RM1.74 today, we are concerned that FGV shares will fall further to 50 sen apiece soon,” he added.

Last Saturday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told Felda settlers in Kulai, Johor, that he wanted those involved in the FGV conflict to resolve the issues before Aidilfitri, which is expected to fall on June 25.

Yesterday, Zakaria and FGV group chief financial officer (CFO) Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha were given show-cause letters by FGV’s board over the long outstanding debt owed by Dubai-based Safitex Trading LLC to Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of FGV. The duo have seven days to provide a written reply pertaining to allegations mentioned in the show-cause letters.

FGV shares closed up one sen or 0.58% at RM1.74 today, with 14.16 million shares traded, giving it a market capitalisation of RM6.31 billion.

– http://www.theedgemarkets.com

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