‘Felda ignores poverty in Sabah’

Felda Sabah

Felda Global Ventures Holdings’ move to list 306,000 areas of Felda land in Sabah must be stopped, says PKR.

(FMT) — The state Barisan Nasional must stop the listing of 306,000 acres of Felda land in Sabah by the Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) and return the property to landless natives if it is truly committed to reducing the poverty levels here.

According to PKR Kota Kinabalu chief Christina Liew many of the natives in Sabah were landless and in dire need of such sustenance.

“So many of our natives are landless and in dire need of a piece of land they can depend on for their livelihood. If we divide 306,000 acres of land at 10 acres per family, 30,600 poor families will be benefit,” she said.

Liew was responding to a recent announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on April 7 that only state land under FGVH would be pledged and not the settlers’ lands.

Felda chairman Mohd Isa Abdul Samad confirmed this the next day and added that Felda would pledge state lands that are under the BN government and leave aside those lands in states controlled by the opposition if they did not wish to join the venture.

Reiterating her party’s stand on the issue, Liew said: “We Sabah PKR put on record our strong objection because we believe the FGVH will be pledging the 306,000 acres of land under Sabah Felda in its listing exercise; to raise RM6 billion to payout, among others, bonus for the settlers in Peninsular Malaya,” she said.

“We are very concerned that Felda will be pledging the 306,000 acres of Sabah land under the Sabah Felda to the FGVH. This is in breach of the agreement Felda entered with the state government in 1979 during the Berjaya government.”

She said that the agreement stipulated that in exchange for the 306,000 acres of land allocated to Felda, the federal body “pledged to develop land settlement schemes in Sabah for the local people, not illegal immigrant as what is happening now.”

She reminded that under the 1979 Felda agreement, Felda must form a select committee to manage the selection and appointment of settlers for the settlement scheme in the land allocated.

The agreement states that at least two members of the four-member select committee should represent the Sabah government with a Felda member as chairman but it was not known who are the two representatives from the state government in the committee.

Return land

It was also agreed that the settlers selected by the committee should be entitled to, among others, engaged in the development and maintenance of land allocated subject to payment of wages and dividend.

“To date only less than 10% of the 306,000 acres land allocated to Felda in Sabah had been developed. Yet Felda refuses to hand over the developed land to the original local owners or return undeveloped land to the state government which is in breach of the Felda agreement, said Liew.

“Instead, in the disguise of the federal government’s involvement in providing ‘basic infrastructure and facilities’ within the land settlement scheme, Sabah Felda (has) unilaterally taken total control of the 306,000 acres of land with no consideration for the original land owners and the state government.”

She said part of the terms of the Felda agreement included providing housing plots for families of the settlers in addition to wages.

Liew who is also a PKR supreme council member also accused Sabah Felda of not being transparent in its operations.

“We do not know what is happening to the management of Sabah Felda. Exactly how much land has been developed and returned to the original owners, how many of our local settlers have been selected, have benefited and living within the settlement scheme.

“How much profits it has generated from the 306,000 acres of land that have been planted with oil palm? No accounts was reported or disclosed on their annual returns. The people of Sabah have the right to know.

“It is Sabah’s land, under the management of Felda for settlement development purposes only. It should by right benefit the local natives and people of Sabah as part of the eradication of poverty for the hard core poor in Sabah.

“We demand that the state government steps up its effort to eradicate hard core poverty by taking back the land from Sabah Felda instead of letting them pledge our land to raise fund for their settlers,” Liew added.