‘Rebel’ Felda settlers told to return to the fold

Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad has urged the 17,679 settlers who had not sold their products to Felda and who had sued Felda to use opportunity given by the government to return and work together with Felda.

He said while the settlers want Felda to be more efficient and focus on its responsibility, at the same time they must be fair and have integrity in developing the institution as a big ‘family’.

“Therefore we encourage these settlers who make up 15% of the total to return fand cooperate with Felda within six months.

“Besides they will enjoy the six incentives that were announced today, as this will empower the institution when they return to sell their products to Felda,” he told reporters after the National Felda Settlers Day celebration here today.

Shahrir was commenting on Prime Minister Najib Razak’s announcement that the settlers were given a chance to return and work together with Felda within six months beginning next month.

Najib said the settlers who returned to collaborate with Felda would be eligible to receive the six incentives that will begin in February 2018.

Shahrir said among the factors prompting the settlers act in that way because they were avoiding to pay their loans since the loan repayment would be deducted from their product sales value.

“We hope the offer will change their perception on Felda because they must be aware that their loans which were mostly for their subsistence were made based on their consent,” he said.

He said the 17,679 settlers’ subsistence loans were among the highest from the creditors under six schemes provided by Felda, which exceeded RM80,000 each.

“In Felda, there is no interest on the loans. The repayment amount will be deducted when the settlers sell their products to Felda… If they do not sell their product to Felda, how can their loans be reduced,” he said.

Shahrir also pledged to ensure that the agency is managed with integrity and to focus on bringing progress to the settlers.

He said although he was only appointed as Felda chairman in January, he was well versed in Felda’s management as he was the political secretary to prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein, the founder of Felda.

“I want to bring back the aspirations and the original values so that the integrity and focus is practised to bring Felda to a higher level,” he said.

The launch is the highlight of the celebration which began on Friday. It was attended by Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and more than 25,000 Felda settlers.

Shahrir said the original values include the collaboration between the administrators and the settlers who which have brought much success to Felda.

“This resulted in land reform and brought the majority of the population out of poverty. All of us must be involved so that the goal of contributing to the economic strength of Felda and the country can be achieved.”-24/7/2017

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