Kenari Maluri allowed to intervene in Semantan Estates dispute

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on July 9, 2019.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Kenari Maluri Sdn Bhd — a company which claims to represent the majority of Semantan Estates (1952) Sdn Bhd’s shareholders — has yesterday been allowed by the High Court here to intervene in Semantan Estates’ judicial review application.

Hence, they will be a party to Semantan Estates’ judicial review proceedings, which has been set on Aug 15. The decision was made by Justice Datuk Nordin Hassan in his chambers following submissions by the parties.

Kenari Maluri’s lawyers Datuk Edward Ng Boon Siong and Jason Ng Kau told The Edge Financial Daily that there was objection from the liquidators but their motion had been supported by the government’s lawyer.

“Hence the judge decided to dismiss the objection and allowed us to intervene,” said Boon Siong.

Kenari Maluri’s group director and chairman Datuk Tun Hasnul Azam Tun Hamzah, when met after the proceedings, said “yes, we are in and will see [you] again on Aug 15”.

Judge Nordin had on May 29 fixed the date to hear the merits of Semantan Estates’ claims to retain beneficial interests and cause to transfer ownership of the 106.7ha land along former Jalan Duta (now Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim) after the court granted the company leave on May 13.

The company sought to intervene in the judicial dispute because it wants to provide a win-win solution to a pre-Merdeka land dispute over the large tract of prime land on the former Jalan Duta here. It has also claimed it is friendly to both the plaintiff and defendants — namely the government and six other defendants.

Semantan Estates had in 2017 named the Malaysian government, federal lands commissioner, minister charged with the responsibility for land in the federal territory, natural resources and environment minister, director-general of the lands and mines department, director of lands and mines (federal territory) and federal territory registrar of titles as respondents.

The government was represented by Ungku Alfiati Zabeidah Ungku Ismail yesterday, while Semantan Estates was represented by counsels Ira Biswas, Janet Chai Pei Ying, and Adelin Phung.

The company filed judicial review on the grounds that the government and other respondents had failed, neglected, omitted and refused to comply with Semantan Estates to give effect to a 2009 court order.

They had sought leave from Judge Nordin’s court for an order of mandamus to compel the respondents to do the following:

Transfer and cause to be transferred the 106.7ha in Mukim Batu to Semantan Estates free from encumbrances and liabilities

Execute and cause to execute to effect the transfer of the said land, and Issue and cause to issue the document title of the said land to Semantan Estates.

Besides this, the company also sought leave for:

The preparation, change, cancellation, deletion, correction or amendment of the registrar document of the land title and to register proprietorship of the said land to Semantan Estates, and

Returning and making arrangements in respect of returning and handing over the possession of the land to Semantan Estates, which is recognised as the lawful proprietor and owner of the land.

Two affidavits of support by Lim San Peen and Jim Lai Chee Chuan were filed in support of the judicial review application.

It was reported in 2009 that then High Court Justice Zura Yahya ruled that Semantan Estates retained beneficial interests in the 106.7ha land along Jalan Duta, which the government had taken unlawful possession of, which meant it had trespassed on the said land.

This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

On Nov 22 last year, the apex court, led by Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, dismissed the review filed by the Malaysian government, six years after the initial Federal Court decision was made.