Pakatan Harapan today launched a five-point manifesto targeted towards addressing issues affecting some 112,635 Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers nationwide.
PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli, who launched the manifesto at a Harapan Felda convention in Shah Alam, said top of the list would be efforts to reform and strengthen administration of the federal agency.
Throughout the convention, several speakers had raised concerns over the agency's finances and Rafizi said that Harapan aims to reclaim billions of ringgit allegedly lost.
"We will set-up a royal commission of inquiry on billions of ringgit in losses suffered by Felda, particularly under the management of (its former chairperson) Mohd Isa Abdul Samad," he said.
Any questionable investments found to benefit certain parties will also be cancelled, said Rafizi, who cited as example Felda's investments in Indonesia's Eagle High Plantations, linked to an Indonesian tycoon said to be a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
To further alleviate the settlers financial burdens, Rafizi said Harapan will also increase their monthly living allowance up to RM2,000 from the current RM1,000 to RM1,500 range.
At present, the allowance paid is in fact a loan extended by Felda to settlers while waiting for their oil palm yields, which would typically take seven years from time of planting.
"Given that the debt situation faced by Felda settlers is becoming more worrying, Harapan will review a system to write off a bulk of the debt, maybe up to 50 percent...," said Rafizi, who noted that the average settler will incur a debt of at least RM100,000 before their first yield.
In terms of land management, Rafizi said Harapan is also proposing a new system for settlers who die before naming an heir, resulting in their 10-acre of land being broken up into non-profit generating lots.
The system, Rafizi explained, involves issuing a sharing contract where land will be managed by Felda on a profit sharing basis with an heir.
Aside from opening new Felda settlements nationwide, Rafizi added that Harapan also aimed to set-up the first Felda university aimed at producing graduates in fields relevant to the palm oil industry.
Other Harapan leaders present during the day's convention include Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Some 200 Felda settlers and second generation settlers were also present to participate in the day's discussion.
Since early last month, Harapan and its ally Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) have embarked on a nationwide GE14 roadshow focusing on Felda settlements, featuring personalities including former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.-Mkini