MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Monday, January 31, 2011

Felda facing deluge of suits

Seremban court’s recognition of settlers’ rights may open the floodgates.

SEREMBAN: A court decision last Friday may have opened the floodgates to suits by Felda settlers who prefer to appoint their own contractors to clear their rubber land for re-seeding.

Teluk Kemang MP Kamarul Baharin Abbas, commenting on the Seremban High Court’s recognition of the right of 23 settlers in Jempol to reject a contractor appointed by the Felda management, said there were many similar cases involving thousands of settlers.

In Friday’s decision, judge Rosnaini Saub rejected Huat Hing Rubberwood Sdn Bhd’s bid to prevent the settlers from managing their own rubber plots at Felda Raja Alias 2 in Serting, Jempol.

Huat Hing had the contract to cut the old rubber trees for lumber. It was going to pay RM28,000 for seven acres, but the settlers said they preferred to deal with another contractor, who had offered RM35,000.

Huat Hing did not get the job directly from the Felda management. Felda had appointed Koperasi Serbaguna Felda Serting Dua Bhd, which sub-contracted the job to Sheeco Sdn Bhd, which in turn sub-contracted it to Huat Hing.

“This is strange,” said Kamarul Baharin.

“Something’s wrong somewhere. How come the Felda settlers can find a direct contractor to do the job, whereas Felda appointed a cooperative that doesn’t want to do the job itself?”

However, he added, this was not a unique case.

“There are thousands more Felda settlers nationwide who are facing the same predicament with the Felda management whenever it is time to cut down old rubber trees to make way for re-seeding,” he said.

Disgruntled settlers often take their complaints to opposition parties. Kamarul Baharin is a prominent member of PKR.

“In all the cases that have been brought to us,” Kamarul Baharin said, “the price offered by the Felda-appointed contractor is always lower than prices offered by contractors that the settlers have contacted themselves.”

However, the settlers would eventually relent to the Felda management, he added.

But Friday’s court decision, reached in chambers, could change all that, he said.

There is at least one more similar case pending in the same court. Last Jan 12, 32 settlers from Felda Palong 9, also in Jempol, filed a suit demanding their right to appoint their own contractors to fell old rubber trees.

The Felda management and its contractor are offering RM33,000 for the 10 acres involved, but the settlers say another contractor is offering RM46,000. - FMT

1 comment:

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