Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Kerdau: Where is the comfort zone?
Will BN retain Kerdau state seat in this by-election? The answer is YES and NO.
YES if Umno, notably the government is able to tackle issues hovering settlers in Jengka Felda scheme. During PM Najib's visit recently, a few issues (some call it too petty) were brought up by the settlers, among which is the minimal return they get from the privatisation of some work scopes.
NO if not much is done to address it.
The settlers will provide about 2,200 voters on March 6 polling, and by looking at Umno's track record in Kerdau in the last two general elections, it doesnt look like a comfort zone to me, and also to many.
The majority for BN was reduced significantly from 2,565 in 2004 to 1,615 in 2008 national poll or almost by 50 per cent. If the settlers' vote is taken into account, BN needs them all this time around.
But whether all of them will choose BN, is still in doubt. As their grievances are yet to be resolved, more questions left unanswered with regards to their local management and the manner in which their land and crop are being handled.
The issue of Felda 2nd and 3rd generations aside, Technoplant's method is under question as it reduces their income significantly. Doing it all by themselves ensures them more returns as the Felda subsidiary - appointed to manage replanting programmes at all schemes - so far fails to help them during the 'transition' period.
As oil palm is taking over rubber in many Felda schemes, the settlers monthly income has not been very satisfactory ever since Technoplant does the job for them.
In Jengka 22, for instance, about 200 settlers have grouped together under PLUS (Persatuan Ladang Urus Sendiri) as a protest to Technoplant. Refusing the Felda subsidiary to manage their estates does not only guarantees them higher monthly returns but cuts down unnecessary expenditure.
They have been there for more than 20 years, some more than that, and this people know what is best for their land and for their families. Felda should take a thorough look into this aspect of land administration and introduce a better one.
Many believe BN will win Kerdau again but another reduced in majority will definitely spell danger to the ruling party in the next national poll.
We should understand that not everything that looks good on paper is practically applicable. As settlers, they are more concern over their rice bowl rather than opening up to technology which will force them to opt for Grade C rice from Grade B!