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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

From FELDA to FELCRA, and What’s next?


by Adib Zalkapli@www.themalaysianininsider.com

After mounting a high profile campaign against Felda, PAS is organising a gathering of Felcra settlers this weekend as part of its attempt to win more Malay votes.

The Islamist party is expecting some 1,000 settlers to turn up at the event, which is to be held at the Bandar Seberang Felcra settlement in Perak. The party’s bureau land and regional development territory chief Mazlan Aliman claimed that Felcra, have been mistreating their settlers like Felda.

“They are facing the same problem as Felda settlers, they are getting low dividend and caught in unfair deal. So what we will do here is to educate them on the problems they are facing,” Mazlan told The Malaysian Insider.

He said that some 1,000 settlers are expected to attend this weekend’s rally, the first to be held in a Felcra settlement.“There will be ceramah and presentation of paperwork, many central PAS leaders will also be attending,” he added.

He said that there are about 90,000 Felcra settlers nationwide, concentrated mainly in Perak.“This is another way of reaching out to the rural Malay voters,” said Mazlan who also heads Anak, a group representing the interest of the children of Felda settlers.

“We hope this gathering will proceed peacefully and not disturbed by the authorities,” he said claiming that attempts have been made by Felcra management to stop settlers from attending the event.

Felcra or Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority was formed in 1966 and tasked withdevelopment of privately owned idle land in an attempt to improve economic condition of largely rural Malays.

The agency also opens new settlements and plantation for landless rural population. It was turned into a government-owned company Felcra Berhad in 1997.

PAS together with its partners in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have been harping on Felda’s alleged mismanagement of funds in an attempt to win the votes of more than 100,000 settlers.The largely Malay settlers backed BN in the last general election, resulting in PR’s defeat in rural, Malay-majority constituencies where most Felda settlements are located.

PR has intensified its efforts to win the Felda votes since Election 2008 with various rallies and recruitment drive. Its Malay-language party newspapers have gone on a drive to highlight settlers’ woes in the various Felda settlements across the country.

The BN government has responded by holding up permit renewals and telling the party mouthpieces to restrict sales to party members.

PAS’s Harakah has agreed to the rule but PKR’s Suara Keadilan is being published under different names every week to avoid prosecution as it has yet to get a permit. A one-off publication can be printed without a permit.

PR has found the party newspapers and gatherings as the most effective way of reaching out to rural voters to overcome the lack of access to mainstream media, most of which are owned by BN parties.

courtesy of Din Merican

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