MACC to investigate claims of Gatco settlers

BAHAU: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will investigate claims made by a group of settlers who invested in a 1,500ha scheme here back in 1977 to see if there was corruption when the land was disposed of 13 years ago.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad said a special task force would be set up to probe claims made by the group whose members had invested in the Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco) scheme then.

"From the briefing given to me by the group, there seems to be some element of

corruption and abuse of power as to how the land was disposed of," he said.

However, Dzulkifli said that he will have to be fair and give all parties connected to the case a fair hearing before a conclusion can be made.

"But I will have to be fair and we will peruse all documents before we can conclude anything," he told reporters on Sunday after meeting the group at Kampung Serampang Indah, which was formerly known as Kampung Gatco.

Dzulkifli also pledged that the MACC would look into their case seriously and added that action would be taken against any wrongdoers if there is sufficient evidence to do so.

The conflict over the ownership of the Kampung Gatco land hails back to 1977 when the Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco) was incorporated.

The company was formed by the National Union of Plantation Workers for the purpose of a land development scheme for its members.

This land was acquired from the Negri Sembilan State Economic Development Corporation under a 99-year lease.

As part of the scheme, settlers paid a RM7,600 deposit each for their allocated plot of land.

However, the scheme failed and Gatco went bankrupt.

The appointed liquidators began negotiations to sell the land and it was sold to Thamarai in 2006, kicking off the dispute.

Another group of settlers then appealed to the state government to intervene and after several rounds of negotiations, Thamarai agreed to part with 480ha and that the land was to be distributed to the settlers for free.

Any settler who agreed to the arrangement was given 1.6ha of land. However, those who had acquired the property from the original owners would get 0.8ha each.

John Cantius Francis who represented the group opposed to the arrangement,  saying that they could not accept it as they were initially promised 4.4ha of land each.

"In 1983 this was reduced to 3.2ha after Gatco decided to plant rubber instead of sugarcane," said Francis who was also present at Sunday's meeting.








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