This letter, highlighting the plight of residents of Felda Sungai Buaya, Rawang was first published in the New Straits Times somewhere in December 2000.
I am writing on behalf of settlers of Felda Sungai Buaya. Currently there are about 300 families residing in this Felda Scheme which began in 1960. Each family was given about 425 acres and 4,845 acres of land for housing and agricultural activities respectively.
Over the years, the settlers of the Felda Scheme (Peneroka) lived moderately by cultivating rubber crops in their designated land areas with the assistance of Felda. In 1986 land titles were given progressively to settlers depending on individual remitance of development fees to Felda. By 1990 almost all settlers were proud owners of their land.
The settlers lived peacefully and moderately until 1990, when a developer (close to state & federal Government) offered to purchase their agricultural and also land where their houses are situated for a massive real estate development.
The promised purchase price would make each Peneroka an instant millionaire. The settlers found the offer too much to resist and agreed to sell their land, which were their life and soul for decades.
With the advice of developer and others, the residents formed a company that would represent all residents in all transactions related to sales and purchases of the land. The company would also handle all payments to the settlers from the developer.
Agreements to sell their land was signed in 1994 and each resident were also given 1,000 shares of the company. The first phase only affected their agricultural land and the residents still maintained their houses in the settlement. According to the agreement, payments for the land was to have been paid progressively for four years and would have been completed by the year 1998.
However, now, six years after the agreement was signed, only about 30% of total payment was made. The reasons given were many including non-payment from the developer and economic crisis.
Some of the directors of the company, who were once felda settlers themselves, still resides in their lavishly renovated homes in the Felda with luxury cars in the compound while few of the directors fled elsewhere to avoid the onslaught of settlers. Demands for explanation from other residents were either not entertained or they were told to wait for announcement by post.
The residents then sought the assistance of the member of parliment, state assemblymen and even the then Menteri Besar but none of them helped to take the cause to the responsible parties. The residents suspects that people in the high places are also involved in what perceived to be an attempt to deceive the settlers. The TV3 even highlighted the issue in the Buletin Utama news back in 1997.
Several meeting held by this company with the residents resulted in heated exchanges between the residents and the directors (ex-settlers).
The latest meeting few months ago ended abruptly with the police arriving at the scene to calm down the situation. A crew from a local television channel were also there to cover the event and even interviewed many affected settlers but strangely, it was never broadcasted.
The settlers also attempted to hire lawyers to take this issue to the courts but it was too costly and some lawyers hesitated to take up the case.
Many residents are struggling to make ends meet with only small plots of land left behind their houses for agricultural activites. Most of the residents are already too old to work and depended on their children.
The residents have exhausted all avenues and can only hope that justice will prevail one day but many worry that they may not be alive to see it happen or benefit from the sale of their precious lands.
Hope that the authorities will look into the plight of these 300 felda settlers who were unjustly treated and manipulated.
After about 8 years, no solutions seems to be in sight. Nothing has changed despite the issue being highlighted in the press and TV channels. The residents voted overwhelmingly to the opposition in the last elections hoping that Pakatan Rakyat will at least fight for some form of compensation.
Many residents and land owners had passed away not enjoying the fruits of their labour while many are too old to enjoy anything anymore.
The developer , Land & General has since gone down after the 97-98 crisis. We are still seeing such manipulations by huge conglomerates and well connected companies. In this case, the previous MP for the area was a deputy minister and he was powerless to do anything.
It's sad that Selangor State government (past and present) is more interested in playing the blame game, filing law suits for defamation for some trivial articles, playing politics over road names etc rather than solving real people issues like this, in Felda Sungai Buaya.