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Friday, August 27, 2010

8,000 showed up at 'Felda staged event' for PM Najib

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak may be impressed with the “massive” turnout of Felda settlers at a mosque at Bandar Baru Serting last night, but the numbers don't tell the true story.

About 8,000 showed up at his “berbuka puasa” but Jempol PKR chief Karip Mohd Salleh called it a staged event.

“Yes, the crowd may be about 8,000 or so but do you know that it is an effort to impress the media and the public, Felda had directed all its schemes in Negri Sembilan to each send two busloads of settlers to the event?”

"There are 49 Felda schemes in Negri Sembilan. Two buses of settlers from each Felda scheme would total 88 settlers. Multiple that by 49 Felda schemes, and you get 4,312 settlers”, he said.

"Add in the wives and children plus government servants, schoolchildren and Umno division supporters from all over the state... and you get another 4,000 or so visitors,” he added.

According to Karip, if Felda did not order the settlers to attend the function and rope in the schoolchidren as well, the crowd would number only about 4,000.

Karip said many settlers had asked him whether they should attend the "berbuka puasa" function.

"I told them that's our money. If Felda funded the cost of the food, that's the settlers' money. If the cost is borne by the government, it's still the rakyat's money.

"So I told them to go and enjoy the food. After all, it's our money,” said Karip, who is a settler from Felda Serting.

Poor excuse

Jempol PAS chief Abdul Rahman Ramli expressed surprise that no press conference was held.

Abdul Rahman, who is also a settler from Felda Raja Alias, believed Najib decided not to hold the conference because of unfavourable developments.

Recently, settlers in Felda Serting and Felda Raja Alias schemes had sued the management, thus tarnishing Felda's image.

"I believe he wanted to avoid being asked tricky questions by journalists on the suits filed by the Felda Serting and Felda Raja Alias settlers. Also, a court order to Felda to pay Felda Kemahang 3 settlers in Kelantan RM11 million,” he said.

Najib had said the Kemahang 3 settlers won the case because Felda's counsel failed to turn up.

But Abdul Rahman thinks this is a poor excuse.

"The reality is that Felda is not serious enough to protect the wellbeing of the settlers,” he said.

"The prime minister must admit that the court awarded the money based on facts and merit. I don't think the judge made the ruling simply because Felda's counsel failed to turn up,” he said

PKR infomation chief Latheefa Koya, who was one of the lawyers representing the Kemahang 3 settlers, questioned Najib's reasoning that Felda lost the case because its lawyers didn't show up.

"The court gave the verdict based on the evidence that Felda had cheated the settlers. Najib should take action against Felda based on the court's decision. Instead, he is trying to defend Felda,” Latheefa said.

At the function, Najib presented a mock cheque for RM37.4 million to be distributed to 112,635 settlers from 317 Felda schemes nationwide.

courtesy of FMT

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