Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung. Lim Kit Siang, at the dialogue to issue membership cards to 45 members at Felda Kota Grlanggi 4, (30 km from Jerantut) and to meet the protem committee of DAP Felda Gelanggi 4 Branch in Felda Kota Gelangi 4 on Saturday, 12.9.1987 at 3 p.m.
DAP calls on Felda to democratise the 300 Felda schemes to allow the 100,000 settler-families, involving some 600,000 people a greater freedom to decide and run their own affairs
Felda, which has passed its 30 year anniversary, is facing the crisis of middle-age, after settling some 100,000 settler-families, involving some 600,000 people, in about 300 Felda schemes.
States with the most number and oldest Felda schemes, like Pahang, Johore and Negeri Sembilan, are now having the most grievances and complaints from Felda settlers, and there is a need for Felda and the Ministry of Land and Regional Development to set uo a special task force to deal with the problems of Felda settlers.
One of the greatest problems is the preparedness of FELDA to ‘democratise’ the 300 Felda schemes so that the 100,000 settler-families can have a greater and more meaningful say about their life and affairs in the Felda schemes.
Although at present, the Felda schemes have JKKR- Jawatan Kuasa Kemajuan Rancangan – the JKKR representatives have not be able to play a meaningful or dynamic role for two reasons: Firstly, in many cases, the JKKR members do not have the confidence and trust of the settlers; and secondly, the JKKR members do not have meaningful participation in decision-making process in the Felda schemes, as the powers are firmly held by the Felda administrators, even in schemes where the Felda settlers have fully repaid their debts and are theoretically owners of their own land!
This is why there is the trouble in Felda Taib Andak in Johore where Felda settlers who have repaid their debts after 15 years could also face the prospect of being sacked from the scheme. I just cannot understand under what law an owner of his own land could be evicted from his property?
I have ask the DAP 1990s Movement Task Force, headed by Sdr.Ahamd Nor, DAP Deputy Secretary-general, to visit Felda Taib Andak in Johore in two weeks’ time to find out what is happening there.
After 30 years, Felda administration and bureaucracy have hardened and instead of being servants of the Felda settlers, have become their masters. This is unhealthy, for it defeats the Felda objective of developing viable, autonomous and dynamic communities who can stand on their own feet.
If there is no $2.5 billion BMF scandal, every Felda settler in Pahang can get another 10 acre of land
One of the biggest grievances of the settlers in Felda Kota Gelangi 4 is the breach of promise by the Felda authorities to fulfil its promise of giving the settlers 7 acres of oil palm and 5 acres of cocoa.
Many settlers in Felda Kota Gelangi 4 do not even have an acre of cocoa, being allotted only 7 acres of oil palm.
What is the reason for the Felda’s breach of promise? It is because of finance?
The government has been claiming that it is in a very difficult financial situation, with great foreign debts on the one hand, and low government incomes on the other.
There is no doubt, however, if the government had been responsible and trustworthy, not allowing corruption and scandals to drain away the country’s funds and resources, there would still be a lot of money in the country for the people’s development.
For instance, if the $2.5 billion lost in the BMF scandal had been used for Felda, every settler-family in Pahang, which has the most number of Felda schemes and settlers, can get another 10 acre of land without difficulty.
This is why Felda settlers cannot isolate themselves from national developments and events, for their future is intimately and inseparably linked to what is happening outside the Felda world.
Dap forms Felda Bureau under chairmanship of Ahamd Nor to help Felda settlers in their complaints and grievances
In view of the increasing incidence of Felda settler complaints, which had not been able to find expression in Parliament and the various State Assemblies, the DAP has formed a DAP Bureau on Felda Affairs to help settlers in their complaints and grievances.
The DAP Bureau on Felda Affairs will be headed by DAP Deputy Secretary-General, Sdr. Ahmad Nor, and the bureau will keep DAP MPs and Assemblymen informed of the problems and aspirations of the Felda settlers, so that they could be brought up in Parliament and the State Assemblies.
The establishment of the DAP Bureau on Felda Affairs marks another important milestone in the DAP’s systematic programme to expand and reach out to the rural areas to secure rural support after the 1986 general elections.