A Shattered Dream

Chapter 1

The First Hurdle - The Saddest Episode In My Life

(Pg. 2)

Then out of the blue in Nov. 1998, through a law firm in Muar, they demanded the dissolution of Hock Chuan Ladang Getah. Their demand was met in December 1998. But I rebuked their contention that Hock Chuan was a partnership, operating a family business and that their late father was an active partner.

When the plantation was first acquired, it was entitled to receive rubber replanting cess from Rubber Industry Small Holders Development Authority (RISDA). It was the advice of RISDA that, for ease of their administration and for the convenience of operating the plantation, a partnership was formed. Therefore the said partnership was formed solely to manage the said plantation and since incorporation, it had never been involved or participated in any other businesses, family type or others. It was a partnership for a single undertaking.

Since the purchase of the plantation and the formation of the partnership, all affairs relating to both were handled and managed solely by my second brother. Though some visits to the plantation were made by the other two co-owners/partners, they should not be considered as taking an effective role in the running of the said plantation and partnership.

In subsequent correspondence, the two minor co-owners made known their intention through their lawyer as follows:

1. They were not interested to jointly redevelop the land after the expiration of the lease in mid June 1999 even though they were made aware that replanting with oil palm would require only minimal capital but would at the same time enhance the value of the land. The earlier the replanting was undertaking the earlier would be the returns.

2 They insisted on termination of co-ownership of the land.

They also disagreed to allow me to take over from my second brother in managing the plantation.

In view of the above, and in the absence of an agreeable proposal to sub-divide the land, the alternative would be for the co-owners to buy or sell their undivided shares in the land. However they still insisted on the sub-division of the land.

With some difficulty, a meeting was arranged in PJ on 26/2/99 and was attended by the two minor co-owners, their lawyer, my second brother’s representative and I to discuss ways to resolve the outstanding issues.

At this meeting the two minor co-owners submitted another proposal to sub-divide the land. They proposed that Lots 3686, 3685 and part of lot 3684 be given to them.

I agreed to study this proposal, but suggested that concurrently a valuation of the land be carried out as an alternative option if the sub-division of the land could not be resolved. This was agreed. On 2/3/99 I sent a letter to all parties concerned the main points discussed which are listed below:

Record of meeting held on 28 Feb 1999

Option to resolve the outstanding issue relating to Pagoh Estate

Two options were discussed and agreed . further actions were to be initiated concurrently.

Option 1 – Subdivision of land based on preliminary sketch presented by your clients

During the discussion your clients proposed that Lots 3686, 3685 and part of 3684 to be given to them. However, as no dimensions were provided for the proposed subdivision of Lot 3684, no decision on this was made except that my brother and I would consider it and after further studies by me, a revised proposal would be submitted. The studies require the services of a computer and appropriate software and I undertook to do it at my own cost.

Option 2 – Valuation of land for the purpose of sale & purchase by co-owners.

In the event that Option 1 above can not result in an amicable resolution of the outstanding issue, this option would be adopted.

The adoption of this Option requires the services of a reputable Valuation Consultant. I undertook to contact two firms to enquire about fees etc and would communicate with you on Monday, 1/3/99.

Replanting of the estate

Your clients had categorically refused to agree to our proposal on replanting. Irrespective of whether the outstanding issue on Pagoh Estate is resolved or not, replanting would benefit all co-owners. We therefore reserve the rights to claim against your clients for loss of future earnings due to delay in replanting.

However, after quotations were obtained from two reputable Valuation Consultants, the two minor cp-owners, through their lawyer, refused to approve any of them claiming that the meeting only agreed to the appointment of a Valuation Consultant after the sub-division proposed by them had been explored first.

Nevertheless I appointed a firm of reputable Property Valuers who had sub-offices in Melaka and Batu Pahat to carry a valuation of the land in the plantation. The Valuers subsequently submitted a report stating that the value of the land in the plantation was about RM27,500 per acre.

I reported my findings to the two minor co-owners and offered to purchase their undivided shares of the plantation at RM30,000 per acre or they could buy up our 80% of the undivided shares at the same rate. However, through their lawyer, they adamantly rejected my offer and insisted on their proposed sub-division or pay a compensation based on RM60,000 per acre.

They made many about-turns after the meeting on 26/2/99. In frustration and after realizing that an amicable solution could not be achieved, I wrote the following to their lawyer in reply to one of his letters.

(A) Options 1 & 2

• To resolve the outstanding issues we have in our discussion on 28/2/99 narrowed the choices to two. If Option 1 fails it is only appropriate that Option 2 is adopted; this was what I understood it to be. To me, any other interpretation is a mean afterthought!

• The discussion (on 28/2/99) also agreed that actions on the two options were to be initiated concurrently. I see that you have not disputed the choice of the word “concurrently”. I would expect that, if actions were to be initiated “concurrently” when my revised proposals are completed, the valuation report would also be ready at about the same time.

In this respect, please be informed that by 6/3/99 I have generated six alternative proposals (including the complete details of your clients’ proposal) on the subdivision of Lot 3684 and ready for further discussion between my brother and me. If prompt approval to appoint the Valuer were given after my fax to you dated 1/3/99, our recommendations on the subdivision and the valuation report would be safely on your table by now!

The details of the two choices must be made available together; as otherwise how does one make a thorough evaluation when the detail of only one is available?

• For your information, works involved in the drawing up of preliminary proposals on subdivision are well within my capacity as a qualified and experienced Engineer. Judging from the quality of the proposal submitted by your clients, perhaps it would be more appropriate for you to advise your clients to get the services of a qualified Land Surveyor if they wish to submit any proposal on subdivision in future.

(B) Replanting

• We cannot see the logic how replanting may “derail the objective of termination of co-ownership of the land”.

(C) Your Clients’ Instructions

• Your clients’ insistence that “they would like to consider my proposed subdivision plan first before making a decision on causing a Valuation” is unreasonable, arbitrary and not in keeping with the spirit of the meeting. The meeting undisputedly concurred that actions on both Options were to be initiated “concurrently”. Giving approval to the appointment of a Valuer by your clients is part and parcel of the initial action to be taken by your clients.
• As a matter of principle, please take note that I will not submit my revised proposals on subdivision, even though they are ready, unless approval is given by your clients to appoint a Valuer as per my fax to you dated 1/3/99. Please also be informed that my brother and I have rejected the proposal submitted by your clients on the subdivision of Lot 3684

• Furthermore, I take strong objection to your clients’ insinuation that I, as an Engineer, was not capable of computing land areas without the services of a Land Surveyor.

(D) Finally

• I consider myself a practical man and as such I do not dwell on rhetoric. The matter was first raised by your clients in 1997. Isn’t it high time to resolve it?

• In one of my letters to your clients, I have expressed my doubts over their sincerity and commitment in wanting to resolve the outstanding issues. Reading your letter of 13/3/99 I am now more convinced of their lack of sincerity and commitment in dealing with the issues at hand.

With the above disagreement, the attempt to find an amicable solution was thus aborted.

I had earlier studied the proposal submitted by the two minor co-owners at the meeting mentioned above and had considered a number of options. It was found that sub-dividing Lot 3684 as proposed by them would make the remaining portion of this lot into an irregular shape. The obvious solution was either for them to acquire the remaining portion of Lot 3684 or to sell their entitlement of this Lot to the other co-owners.

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