Najib pays Felda settlers RM100m as polls loom

By The Malaysian Insider

The Najib administration will pay out more than RM100 million in productivity bonus to Felda settlers for this year in what appears to be a bid to secure their votes in the next general elections. 

Speculation is rife that polls will be held in the second quarter of 2011 and the Felda vote is seen as vulnerable due to a strong campaing by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders among the settlers. 

The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) expects Felda’s finances to be a key issue during the Tenang by-election, as the state assembly seat has three Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlements — Felda Cempelak, Felda Cempelak Barat and Felda Tenang — which hold some 3,800 of the 14,511 voters in the constituency 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib  Razak said  the bonus payment of RM100,916,600 was in appreciation of the settlers’ contribution to the development of the country’s oil palm and rubber industry, besides as an incentive for selling their produce through Felda, the Federal Land Development Agency. 

He said the bonus was a minimum of RM400 up to the maximum of RM1,200, depending on the amount of produce sent to Felda. 

“The bonus payment will benefit 112,635 Felda settlers throughout the country and will be made in cash at the Felda offices in early January 2011,” Najib said in a statement. 

“The government hopes that this bonus payment will spur Felda settlers nationwide to work harder to increase productivity,”said the Prime Minister. 

Najib added that the settlers’ produce sent through the Felda land scheme management were valued based on that sent in from January to October 2010. 

The prime minister said 30,611 settlers brought in their oil palm and rubber produce to the Felda management while another 61,170 who were engaged in replanting would receive the maximum bonus payment of RM1,200 each. 

“This year too, Felda also gives special consideration to settlers in a number of land schemes experiencing low productivity due to unproductive crops or were waiting for their turns to replant. 

“This also includes settlers’ holdings acquired by the government for development projects and those with low crop productivity due to plant diseases or pest attacks.” 

About 2,000 settlers will be given this special consideration and they will each receive RM400. 

Both coalitions – BN as well as PR have begun on an intensive elections campaign to woo voters ahead of the 13th general elections.