Felda settlers are still struggling to make ends meet despite Pakatan Harapan’s electoral victory on May 9 and its promises to improve the settlers’ lot, said Persatuan Anak Peneroka Felda Kebangsaan (Anak) chairperson Mazlan Aliman.
Among others, Mazlan said Felda has failed to pay subsistence allowances to some 31,000 settlers who are replanting their crops.
“The subsistence allowance is like salary to settlers. It was not paid according to schedule. This has been the second time.
“Today is Aug 4; it should have been paid between the 23rd and the 24th of each month […]
“Whatever our perceptions towards settlers, we should remember that they are struggling to survive.
"They are suffering; trying to pay all their bills, their daily necessities, the expenses of their
schoolchildren, and so on,” Mazlan said in a statement yesterday.
He said he has already brought the issue to all the leaders involved, including the Felda’s regional managers, Felda director-general Ab Ghani Mohd Ali, and various ministers, but to no avail.
Each time, he said he was given a “standard” response saying, “Felda is facing a very debilitating financial crisis inherited from the previous government. Patience, we are handling it.”
Mazlan, who campaigned for Pakatan Harapan during the 14th general election, said many settlers had confronted him over the late payments.
“When settlers called me and started cursing, I try to be a good listener. Sometimes the more I explain, the worse I’d get scolded.
“(They say), ‘(Harapan) has become the government and is now in power, but they can’t even resolve the subsistence allowance issue? They used to promise all kinds of things…’ followed by their swearing.
“I am merely human. Imagine being scolded daily especially on social media,” he said.
Nevertheless, he expressed confidence in the new Felda chairperson Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor’s and the board’s leadership.
Mazlan said restoring Felda to its former glory is a difficult task that requires highly qualified people with corporate skills, and he is not the person for the task.
He said this in response to speculation that he had not made any recent public statements out of disappointment that he was not given any office in Felda.
“Yes, perhaps I am disappointed. But perhaps I’m even more disappointed and could not hide my disappointment towards how we and Felda are tackling Felda issues, especially the payment of subsistence allowances to some 31,000 settlers involved in replanting,” he said.
He pledged that Anak and other NGOs remain committed to safeguarding the interests of Felda settlers.