Husam accuses Putrajaya of abandoning rural folks

By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

Kelantan executive councillor Datuk Husam Musa hit the Galas campaign trail last night, defending the PAS government’s record in protecting the public interest for the past 20 years.

The Kelantan PAS deputy chief made land development authorities Felda and Felcra his main target, accusing the two federal agencies of abandoning its objectives of assisting the rural population.

At a gathering near what used to be a Felcra plantation, Husam told some 30 villagers of Panggung Lalat near hear that for two decades, thousands of hectares of state land was developed for oil palm and rubber with no returns to Kelantan or the rural villagers in the most remote part of the state.

“When it was first developed, they were supposed to bring in settlers. But when the plantation was opened no settlers were brought in,” said Husam who told the villagers he started the negotiation with Felcra in 2005, soon after he was appointed into the state administration.

“We told them, bring settlers in. Without settlers the land is considered commercial plantation,” he added.

Since 2007, more than 3,000 hectares of Felcra plantation has been surrendered to the state government. Kelantan had also received compensation of RM10 million from the agency.

Part of the plantation is now managed by the state investment arm, the Kelantan Mentri Besar Corporation or PMBK.

Husam said the state government would also set aside some of the former Felcra plantation for the local villagers, in keeping with the original objective of opening the land.

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