Friday, October 8, 1999

Johor Govt has not paid Stamford Holdings anything

Business Times

NEITHER the Johor Government nor the Perbadanan Kemajuan Ekonomi Islam Johor (PKEINJ) has paid any sum to Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd in respect of the land acquisition belonging to the company, Johor Government legal adviser Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim and PKEINJ counsel Mr Roger Tan said yesterday.

They were clarifying a news report on the settlement reached between the State Government and Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd on Wednesday.

It was reported that the High Court had ordered the Johor Government and four others - Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (the Menteri Besar then), businessmen Syed Mokhtar Albukhary and Datuk Yahya Taib, and PKEINJ - to pay Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd RM405 million as compensation for the acquisition of a 2,064-ha piece of land belonging to the company.

Stamford Holdings, a plantations company, through its director, Gan Tee Kian, filed the suit in the High Court on February 4, 1995, claiming that Muhyiddin, Syed Mokhtar and Yahya contravened the provision of the Land Acquisition Act in acquiring the piece of land through PKEINJ.

Abdul Aziz and Tan, in separate statements released in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, said the Johor Baru Land Administrator made an award sum of RM239.099 million over the said lands. "This amount was deposited with the High Court on December 28, 1995 and the interest accrued amounting to RM10.585 million was similarly deposited on March 15, 1996.

"Subsequently, when Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd challenged the Land Administrator's award, the said award sum was revised by the High Court by RM63.565, thereby the total acquisition costs amounted to RM313.351 million and the said differential sum of RM63.565 million was likewise deposited on November 12, 1996.

"This total sum of RM313.251 million was fully paid by Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd.

"The additional payment of RM92.115 million represents the additional amount mutually agreed between Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd and Kelana Ventures as the fair value of the said lands under the Land Acquisition Act 1960," they said.

Johor Government, PKEINJ: No money paid to Stamford

New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR, Thurs. - The Johor Government and Perbadanan Kemajuan Ekonomi Islam Negeri Johor today clarified that neither of them had paid any money to Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd over a land case.

They issued separate Press statements, pointing out that newspaper reports today were inaccurate in stating that the Johor Baru High Court had ordered them to pay RM405 million as compensation and settlement of the case.

The newspapers had reported that the High Court yesterday recorded a consent order between the Johor Government and four others, including Youth and Sports Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Stamford Holdings.

It involved a case where the Johor Government had acquired 6,544 acres of land from Stamford Holdings for Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd, a joint venture company of PKEINJ and Aras Terus Sdn Bhd.

Stamford Holdings had then sued the State Government, Muhyiddin, PKEINJ and two businessmen, Syed Mokhtar Albukhary and Datuk Yahya Talib, challenging the acquisition.

The Johor Baru High Court yesterday recorded a consent order on payment for the acquired land and the suit was dropped.

In a Press release today, Johor State Legal Adviser Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim stated that the facts of the case are as follows:

"On 14 February 1995, the Johor Baru Land Administrator made an award sum of RM239,099,583.00 over the said Lands. This amount was deposited with the High Court on 28 December 1995 and interest accrued thereon amount to RM10,585,894.90 was similarly deposited on 14 March 1996. Subsequently, when Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd challenged the Land Administrator's award, the said award sum was revised by the High Court by RM63,565,982.20 thereby the total acquisition costs amount to RM313,251,460.10 and the said differential sum of RM63,565,982.20 was likewise deposited on 12 November 1996. This total sum of RM313,251,460.10 was fully paid by Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd.

"The additional payment of RM92,115,606.80 represents the additional amount mutually agreed between Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd and Kelana Ventures as the fair value of the said Lands acquired under the Land Acquisition Act 1960."

In another Press statement, PKEINJ's lawyer Roger Tan Kor Mee also said neither the Johor Government nor PKEINJ had paid any sum to Stamford Holdings.

He said no compensation in any form was paid in respect of Stamford Holdings' suit as the company had agreed to drop the suit after the settlement was reached.

He also gave the facts of the case which are largely similar to that stated by Abdul Aziz.

Thursday, October 7, 1999

Land case: RM405m consent order

New Straits Times
by Sim Bak Heng

JOHOR BARU, Wed. - The High Court today recorded a consent order between the Johor State Government and four others, including Youth and Sports Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd requiring the defendants to pay a total of RM405 million in compensation to the company over a land deal.

Judge Zainun Ali recorded the order after lawyers for the company and the defendants agreed to settle the matter in the judge's Chambers here.

The defendants (there are eight of them) were not "required to pay a total of RM405 million in compensation". The order merely authorised the paying out of RM313,251,460.10 deposited by and/or on behalf of the Land Administrator in the High Court of Johor Baru in Land Reference No. 15-208-95 to Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd agreed to pay Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd an additional RM92,115,606.80 within 18 months of the consent order. The sum was not ordered to be paid as damages.

The judge, Zainun Ali, did not make any award of RM313 million as compensation.

A cheque for RM313,251,460.10 was not deposited with the court yesterday (Tuesday). The aggregate sum of RM313,251,460.10 had been deposited with the court sometime in 1995.

In view of the final paragraph of your report, it ought to have added that on June 10, 1998, the Federal Court granted leave to the defendants to appeal to the Federal Court against the decision of the Court of Appeal given on Dec 11, 1997 (not Dec 12, 1997) and further ordered that there be a stay of proceedings in the Johor Baru High Court civil suit.

Nowhere in the court records is it stated that the suit was at the instance of an alternate director of Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd. Only the solicitors for Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd would be privy to such privileged information.

Stamford Holdings, a plantation company, through its alternate director Gan Tee Kian, had filed the suit at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 4, 1995.

It had named the Johor Government, Muhyiddin the then Menteri Besar, businessmen Syed Mokhtar Albukhary and Datuk Yahya Talib, and the Johor Islamic Economic Development Corporation (PKEINJ) as defendants.

The company had claimed that Muhyiddin, Syed Mokhtar and Yahya had abused the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1960, to acquire 2,640ha of its land by using the PKEINJ as a vehicle for the acquisition.

It had also claimed that Syed Mokhtar and Yahya had conspired with Muhyiddin to press for the land acquisition.

In the suit, Stamford Holdings sought a declaration that the land acquisition exercise was not done in good faith and was therefore null and void.

It also wanted the court to declare that the PKEINJ was not a body of persons entitled to invoke provisions of the LAA to acquire its private landed property.

Zainun awarded RM313 million as compensation to Stamford Holdings and ordered Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd, (a PKEINJ subsidiary) which acquired the land, to pay another RM92 million as additional payment.

State legal adviser Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim represented the Johor Government, Muhyiddin and the Johor Baru Land Administrator, while Roger Tan Kor Mee appeared for PKEINJ.

M. Pathmanathan appeared for Syed Mokhtar and Yahya while Datuk V.Sivaparanjothi represented Stamford Holdings.

Following today's order, the Johor Government has settled the full compensation to Stamford Holdings. A cheque for RM313,251,460.10 was deposited with the court.

Kelana Ventures, meanwhile, was given 18 months from today to pay its share of the damages to Stamford Holdings totalling RM92,115,606.80.

Zainun also ordered that the State Government and/or the Land Administrator alienate the land to Kelana Ventures within three months from today. The freehold land is in the mukim of Tebrau in Johor Baru.

Meanwhile, the court also ordered Stamford Holdings to hand over the land title to Kelana Ventures within two months from today, and pay retrenchment benefits to workers affected by the return of the land to Kelana Ventures.

The Johor Baru High Court had on April 15, 1995, struck out with costs Stamford Holding's suit, saying that the company had no reasonable cause of action against the five defendants.

The decision was, however, overruled by the Court of Appeal on Dec 12, 1997, which ordered all proceedings in the civil suit to proceed pending an appeal by the defendants.