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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Settlers score victory against Felda contractor

For 23 intrepid settlers seeking justice, the court's verdict in their favour represents a big win.

SEREMBAN: Some 23 Felda settlers scored a victory when the High Court here today set aside an injunction preventing them from clearing their own land without outside interference.

High Court Judge Rosnaini Saub said in her verdict that she set aside the injunction filed by a sub-contractor as the settlers are the beneficial owners of the Felda land.

Rosnaini also said the settlers of their respective plots have fully settled all outstanding amount owed to Felda.

She added that Felda was supposed to return their plots to the state government so that the latter can issue individual titles to them.

The 23 Felda settlers from the Felda Raja Alias 2 had challenged the injunction filed by the sub-contractor, Huat Hing Rubberwood Sdn Bhd.

According to Surina Suhaimi, the lawyer for settlers, Felda had appointed Koperasi Serbaguna Felda Felda Serting Dua Bhd as its contractor for cutting down the rubber trees and clearing the land, including the plots cultivated by the settlers.

“Koperasi Serbaguna then sub-contracted the job to Sheeco Sdn Bhd. Sheeco sub-contracted it to Huat Hing Rubberwood.

“But the 23 Felda settlers wanted to appoint their own contractor to do the clearing,” she said.

Lower price

Huat Hing then filed the injunction and on Nov 30, 2010, the court granted it an interim order against the settlers.

Thus, the settlers were prevented from interfering with the work of Huat Hing in clearing up the land.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Suhaimi Said, a PKR supreme council member and head of the PKR Felda bureau, said the ruling was a landmark victory for the Felda settlers.

“Today is a big victory for them. Now they can appoint their own contractor and clear their own land. They can also do the re-seeding themselves without the interference of Felda or its sub-contractors,” he said.

He said that the settlers had objected to Felda appointing the sub-contractor to cut the rubber trees , clear land and do the re-seeding because the price set by the Felda-appointed contractor was lower than the one offered by the contractor appointed by the settlers.

“The price offered by the Felda-appointed contractor is only RM28,000 per seven acres compared with the RM35,000 offered by the settler-appointed contracter,” said Suhaimi.

Similar predicament

PKR Felda bureau secretary Rebin Birham urged more Felda settlers in a similar predicament to come forward and get justice from the court.

“We in PKR are ready to help the settlers fight for justice. We want the settlers to get back whatever rights they have to their land. Felda is currently trying to deny them their rights by not following the rules spelt out in the Group Settlement Acts (GSA).

“According to the GSA, Felda’s role is only to manage the land (rubber or oil palm) but the real beneficial owners of the land are the Felda settlers themselves,” Rebin said to applause from the 23 Felda settlers and their families.

Rebin said that although the settlers today won their battle against the sub-contractor, it was in reality a victory against Felda because its appointed contractor was its proxy.

“When the settlers want to appoint their own contractor to carry out the jobs, Felda refused to listen to them.

“Instead, it went ahead and appointed its own contractor without bothering with the wishes of the settlers,” said Rebin.

Previously, two groups of Felda settlers won their case respectively against Felda at Federal Court and Kuantan High Court last year.

They are from Felda Kemahang 3 and Felda Sungai Koyan 2 and 3 respectively.

Also present to lend the support for the Felda settlers today are Telok Kemang MP and Negri Sembilan PKR chief, Kamarul Baharin Abbas ; Sikamat PKR state assemblymen, Aminuddin Harun (PKR); Negri Sembilan PKR Youth chief, Mohd Nazree Mohd Yunus; and Jempol PAS chief, Abdul Rahman Ramli.- FMT

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