THE second generation of Felda settler families is ready to choose Pakatan Harapan (PH) at GE14, saying poor management of the agency has burdened their lives for too long.
Jamaliah was one of 300 attendees at the launch of the Jelajah Selamatkan Felda (Save Felda roadshow) organised by the Felda Settlers’ Children Association (Anak), a group representing second generation settlers, in Felda Sungai Sayong, Kota Tinggi last night.
The event was attended by Anak president Mazlan Aliman and PH leaders, including Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and PKR Johor chairman Hassan Karim, who spoke on current issues involving Felda.
The Felda vote is spread out over 54 rural parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia.
Established in 1956 as a poverty eradication-cum-agriculture development scheme, there are Felda settler families in their fourth generation.
The first generation of settlers received 10 acres of land from Felda to plant rubber or oil palm. This generation is estimated to make up 30 to 40% of Felda voters.
Their children, meanwhile, make up between 50 and 60% of Felda voters.
Felda’s problems, however, have come to light in recent years. They involve huge debts borne by settlers over earlier replanting schemes and overpriced property purchases by Felda subsidiary Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FIC).
The latest scandal to come to light is the dubious transfer of prime land owned by Felda in Kuala Lumpur that was sold for RM270 million to a company given the power of attorney to develop the land, without Felda receiving a sen.
Another attendee Hasnah Mahmud said she could not wait for GE14 to make a change in the country.
“I feel excited for the upcoming election. God willing, I am ready to make a change.”
She said even though she had attended several activities by government-sponsored Gerakan Persatuan Wanita Felda (GPW), she has decided not to vote for the government of the day.
“GPW tries to drum up support of young women for BN, but I have made my decision.”
Meanwhile, Muhammad Khairul Omar said he left Umno to join Bersatu as he was disappointed with Felda’s failure to manage settlers’ plantations, as well as the unreasonable debt incurred by his parents’ generation.
“Tonight’s event is full of ceramah by leaders such as Mazlan but to redeem Felda is not easy. As Mat Sabu says, Felda settlers are hard-headed people.
“But this time I am confident there is no other choice. There is no longer a place for Umno in Felda and among settlers,” said the second-generation resident of Felda Penggeli Timur, Kota Tinggi.
Despite such sentiments, there are still those among second generation settlers who doubt the extent of support towards PH.
“Tonight’s reception was good but I am worried that settlers still do not accept the opposition. So I hope this fight is not for nothing.
“The problems affecting Felda are clear. We can only hope more settlers can accept the opposition compared to before,” said Mohd Nizam Mohd Noor, also from Felda Penggeli Timur.
He said he and his peers started to change their minds and become more open to the opposition since GE13.