By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung. Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Tuesday, 29.9.1987:
DAP welcomes Ghaffar Baba’s assurance that the problem of the 18 Felda Taib Andak settlers will be resolved in two weeks.
I welcome the assurance of Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, at the National Association of Smallholders (NASH) general meeting yesterday that the problem of the 18 Felda Taib Andak settlers in Johore, and the general dispute over the issue of individual land titles to Felda settlers, would be resolved in two weeks.
As I told the 18 Felda Taib Andak settlers when a delegation of DAP MPs and 7 DAP Assemblymen visited them to understand their dispute with Felda, we hope that the DAP’s concern for the sufferings of Felda settlers will “shame” and ”motivate” the Government and UMNO leaders to deal with the grievances of Felda settlers more sympathetically and humbly.
Over the year, government and UMNO leaders have become arrogant in regarding the Felda settlers as “simple-minded” people, whose views, feelings and aspirations need not be given attention. They believe that government and UMNO leaders know what is best for them, and Felda settlers who do not agree are either trouble-makers or fools.
This is again illustrated by the statement by Deputy Land and Regional Development Minister, Haji Khalid Yunus, who said yesterday that certain people were instigating the Felda Taib Andak settlers to demand land titles. Khalid said “these settlers are simple-minded people in their 50s, 60s and 70s.”
I have met these Felda Taib Andak settlers, and from my discussion with them, I do not find them ‘simple-minded”, although many of them are advanced in years – which is not unexpected, having spent 27 years on the scheme! Old age, however, is not ‘simple-minded’ or the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister who are also in their sixties will be ‘simple-minded’ by Khalid’s definition.
I think if there is going to be a satisfactory solution to the problem of the 18 Felda Taib Andak selttlers, Haji Khalid should be excluded from all discussions, for he is too biased to see the justice and legitimacy of the demands of the 18 Felda Taib Andak settlers.
If UMNO is not afraid of DAP branches in Felda, why is it hiding behind Felda to hold back approval?
I also welcome Ghaffar Baba’s statement that DAP is free to set up branches in Felda schemes, and that UMNO is not worried about this development. Haffar Baba speaks as a democrat, for in a democracy, there should be no obstacles to political parties, whether Opposition or not, from setting up branches anywhere in Malaysia.
However, it is clear that there are UMNO leaders, especially the Deputy Land and Regional Development Minister, Haji Khalid Yunus, who are worried about the DAP’s entry into the Felda schemes, for otherwise, why are they hiding behind Felda to hold back approval for the establishment of the DAP Branch in Felda Kota Gelangi Empat, near Jerantut in Pahang.
Haji Khalid has reason to be worried about DAP’s spread into Felda schemes, for the second Felda scheme the DAP has established a protem committee, and where 88 Felda settlers have sighned up to join DAP, is Felda Palung Sembilan in Khalid’s own parliamentary constituency in Negr Sembilan.
I hope Haji Khalid will abide by Ghaffar Baba’s democratic spirit, and stop using Felda to block the establishment of DAP Branches in Felda. In any event, Felda should know that they are liable to be taken to court if they allow hundreds of UMNO branches to be set up in Felda schemes but not DAP branches. This will tantamount to political discrimination and abuse of power.