The Felda saga is unending and the latest group to cry foul involves some 340 settlers from Felda Kepis in Negri Sembilan.
KUALA PILAH: It seems the issues plaguing the Felda settlers throughout the country is never-ending. Almost every month there there are new cases of various types of mismanagement involving Felda.
Two weeks ago, 200 Felda Bukit Rokan Utara settlers cried foul over their Felda management's failure to maintain the oil palm estates. They claimed the trees were not bearing fruits although they were planted eight years ago.
Amidst this low or no yeild, the Felda settlers were burdened with mounting debt from RM120,000 to RM157,000 for various costs and expenditures incurred by Felda.
The latest group of 340 settlers to cry foul are from Felda Kepis, which is about 25km from here.
At a press conference on Tuesday, they vented their anger on the Felda management for the "fishy" manner in which it was making payments to the settlers.
According to Felda Kepis Settlers Action Committee chairman, Mad Zin Mahat, in September 2010, matured rubber trees belonging to the settlers were chopped down and their lands cleared to facilitate the re-seeding of either rubber or oil palm.
"Once the process of cutting down the rubber trees was completed, the rubber wood was sold. All this process including appointing the contractors is done by the Felda management.
"But what irks us that until today we are not informed on how many companies participated in the tender and how much each company quoted its price for cutting down the rubber trees and selling the wood. Each settler owns 10 acres of land," he said.
Mad Zin said although each sett! ler was paid between RM30,000 and RM39,000 for the wood, what was "not right" about the payout was that the quantum differed from those disbursed to settlers in a nearby Felda scheme.
"Yes, the settlers near here got a minimum of RM30,000 and a maximum of RM39,000. However, the Felda settlers in Felda Bukit Rokan Barat, which is not very far from here and whose rubber trees are much thinner than us, received a minimum of RM94,000 and a maximum of RM104,000. Something is not right in our deal here," Mad Zin said.
�! ��If you want it fast, use a helicopter'
Another furious settler, Rahmat Sulaiman, 55, complained about Felda's failure to re-seed the land after it was cleared.
Said Rahmat, a father of four: "From the day my rubber trees were chop down and my land cleared, the only thing Felda, through its contractor, has done is levelling the terrace.
"Until today the supposed re-seeding of the rubber trees has not been done yet.
"When I asked a Felda officer here why there was a delay in re-seeding process, he asked me to re-seed myself using the "cangkul".
"When I asked the same question to the 'mandor' who was appointed by the Felda management to supervise the re-seeding, he told me "kalau nak cepat pakai helicopter' (If you want it fast, use a helicopter)".
"Is this the way they answer when we trust them and give the whole process of re-seeding to Felda? I'm so angry with the irresponsible answer by Felda."
Meanwhile, lawyer T Kumar, who is representing the Felda settlers, questioned the management for its failure to inform the settlers of the actual price the contractors paid for to Felda and for not showing the settlers the sales and purchase agreement signed between the two parties.
"Why is the secrecy when it is the Felda settlers' right to know how much the actual value for the rubber trees/wood belongs to them?" asked Kumar.
Kumar, who is also the PKR ! deputy s ecretary-general, told FMT that the Felda settlers were also not given the financial statement of the re-seeding process and that they did not even know how much they now owed Felda.
"I urge Felda to start the re-seeding process, give the financial statement to settlers and declare what is the actual selling price of the rubber trees/wood.
"If nothing happens, then the Felda settlers don't have much choice except to bring this case to court," Kumar said.