KUALA LUMPUR: Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has dismissed as wishful thinking the intention of the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact to gain a foothold in Felda schemes.
He said the Pakatan Harapan desire would not materialise because Felda settlers are strong supporters of Barisan Nasional (BN).
The opposition’s hope of winning seats in these areas in the 14th general election is nothing more than wishful thinking as the settlers have full faith in the current BN government, he said in a post on his blog, sskeruak.blogspot.com.
Salleh said the Felda settlers knew that the BN government led by UMNO is the best ruling party to manage the country as it had brought much good, especially in helping the Malays consistently through financial aid and subsidies, annual bonus payments and looking after their welfare.
“With the kind of faith that Felda voters have in the (BN) administration, Pakatan Harapan’s hope of gaining ground here is merely wishful. This is because the settlers know that supporting Pakatan Harapan will jeopardise their future,” he said.
Salleh, who is also UMNO treasurer, said that Felda was very dear to the Malays because it had helped them progress and had improved the standard of living of the poor Malays in rural areas.
“Because of the Malays’ strong feelings for Felda, it is now synonymous as the fixed deposit of the ruling party,” he said.
“This was seen in the outcome of the 2013 general election. The percentage of Felda voters who voted for UMNO-BN was very significant: the highest percentage was in Sabah (92%), followed by Johor (86%), Perlis (78%), Negeri Sembilan (77%), Perak (75%), Melaka (74%), Kedah (74%), Selangor (73%), Terengganu (67%), Pahang (67%) and Kelantan (61%),” he said.
He said Felda was started on July 1, 1956, by the second prime minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, to eradicate poverty among the Malays through development of land with the cultivation of oil palm and rubber.
“Since then, Felda has grown rapidly with 850,000 hectares of plantation, 38 subsidiary companies, 75 palm oil mills and seven mills to extract palm oil. Felda controls 20 per cent of the world palm oil market and has an annual income of RM15 billion,” he said.
Salleh added that the continuing support of the Felda voters for the BN administration would make it difficult for Pakatan Harapan to win seats in Felda areas in the 14th GE.