Skip to main content

Give and you shall receive more in return – these words exemplify the Pillai family who are known for their philanthropic work.

The Pillai siblings are following in the footsteps of their father, N. Rengasamy Pillai, who in the 1950s donated 700ha of land to those in the then Teluk Anson in Perak to build schools, places of worship and burial grounds.

Continuing their father’s legacy, the family generously donated 482ha to be distributed for free to former settlers of The Great Alonioners Trading Corp Bhd (Gatco) scheme here.

Lotus Group managing director Datuk R. Ramalingam Pillai said the family considered the donation – valued today at RM120mil – as part of their corporate social responsibility.

“My late father had instilled in us that if you are prepared to give, you will stand to receive more.

“And since he donated that 700ha of land, giving has been a family tradition, ” he said.

The Lotus Group acquired the 1,500ha of land belonging to the bankrupt Gatco through a public auction in 2006.

The Gatco saga started in 1976 when the company set up by the National Union of Plantation Workers started a scheme to grow sugarcane.

It then obtained a 66-year lease from the Negri Sembilan Economic Development Corp for the land and invited individuals to invest RM7,600 in the scheme. Bumiputra settlers were charged RM4,000.

Under the scheme, the settlers were each promised a house to be built on a 0.4ha plot of land and 3.2ha of land to grow sugarcane.

However, the scheme failed and in 1981, Gatco applied to the state government to allow the settlers to switch to either planting rubber or oil palm trees. Since Gatco was unable to service its loans, it was declared bankrupt two years later.

The settlers then filed several legal actions to get the land back but were unsuccessful.

Ramalingam said the Pillai family was happy to bring closure to those involved.

“The settlers have been waiting for some 45 years and we are happy to have played our part in helping them. Many cried openly when they received their land titles from Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun, ” he said.

Under the first phase of the agreement, Lotus agreed to give 139 original settlers 1.6ha of land each while those who acquired the land from the settlers would be given 0.8ha.

Aminuddin, who presented the land titles on Tuesday, said the state government also agreed to waive a RM8mil premium fee on the property donated by Lotus.

“It is my hope that you will pay the quit rent on this hard-earned property of yours to ensure it is not seized by the government.

“You can also work with Risda to plant rubber trees on your property, ” he said.

Gatco Estate Action Committee chairman R. Papiyah expressed his gratitude.

“We are grateful to the Lotus Group and the state government for this closure, ” he said.

Some 400 people invested in the scheme when it was first launched.


Source  : TheStar