Politics

Defeats in Felda areas knocked out BN

Felda-Adela

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – May 16, 2018: Two years ago Umno was warned of tension building up against it in the Felda settlements and what happened on May 9 during the general elections proved this prophecy to be correct.

On what has since been dubbed as a historic day for Malaysian politics, the former Barisan Nasional ruling coalition in which Umno has a dominant and controlling role lost at 19 parliamentary seats where 205 of the 319 Felda settlements are located.

This despite Felda settlers being widely known before that as a sure support base for a BN government which regularly distributed all manner of goodies which it thought would keep their loyalty intact. Last year, for example, the 119,000 settler families were given a total of RM73.75 million in duit raya.

Since it was opened in 1956, Felda or the Federal Land Development Authority, has resettled thousands of the rural poor into newly developed areas where they were given the opportunity to own smallholdings to grow cash crops.

Although precise information on the voting patterns of settlers in the constituencies where BN lost is currently unavailable, the fact that 15 of 19 of them were known to be BN’s stronghold was indicative of the severity of the anti-BN groundswell amongst them.

Even more telling was that voters’ turnout in almost all 19 seats was above 80 per cent, with the highest being that for Kuala Selangor at 87.7 per cent.

Felda areas won by Pakatan Harapan in the 14th general elections

 

Winner

Votes won

Registered voters

Turnout

Kubang Pasu

Amiruddin Hamzah (PH-Pibumi Bersatu)

29,984 (40.6 per cent

73,881

83.2 per cent

Kulim Bandar Baharu

Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-PKR)

23,159 (34.8 per cent)

66,587

83.2 per cent

Sungai Siput

Kesavan Subramaniam (PH-PKR)

20,817 (37.8 per cent)

55,002

 Information unavailable

Tanjung Malim

Chang Lih Kang (PH-PKR)

24,672 (36.0 per cent)

68,468

81.2 per cent

Hulu Selangor

Leow Hsiad Hui (PH – PKR)

40,783 (40.4 per cent)

100,990

85.9 per cent

Kuala Selangor

Dzulkefly Ahmad (PH – Amanah)

29,842 (43.0 per cent)

69,397

87.7 per cent

Kuala Pilah

Eddin Syazlee Shith (PH – Pribumi Bersatu)

18,045 (36.2 per cent)

49,801

Information unavailable 

Tampin

Hasan Bahrom (PH – Amanah)

22,435 (36.9 per cent)

60,765

81.5 per cent

Alor Gajah

Mohd. Redzuan Md Yusof (PH – Pribumi Bersatu)

29,330 (41.7 per cent)

29,330

  Information unavailable

Pagoh

Muhyiddin Yassin (PH – Pribumi Bersatu)

23,558 (45.7 per cent)

51,512

84.8 per cent

Sekijang

Natrah Ismail (PH – PKR)

19,559 (42.9 per cent)

45,596

84.5 per cent

Labis

Pang Hok Liong (PH – DAP)

16,709 (41.4 per cent)

40,356

80.8 per cent

Segamat

Santhara Kumar Ramanaidu (PH – PKR)

24,060 (43.5 per cent)

55,350

83.4 per cent

Simpang Renggam

Maszlee Malik (PH – Pribumi Bersatu)

18,157 (41.3 per cent)

43,998

83.4 per cent

Kulai

Teo Nie Ching (PH – DAP)

55,312 (55.8 per cent)

99,147

86.4 per cent

Tebrau

Choong Shiau Yoon (PH – PKR)

64,535 (52.5 per cent)

123,033

85.7 per cent

Bentong

Wong Tack (PH – DAP)

25,716 (38.2 per cent)

67,359

83.4 per cent

Raub

Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji (PH – DAP)

20,659 (35.8 per cent)

57,723

81.4 per cent

Temerloh

Mohd Anuar Mohd Tahir (PH – Amanah)

23,998 (32.0 per cent)

75,081

82.8 per cent

“If we lose Felda, we will lose the election,” said Pahang Puteri Umno member Datuk Shahaniza Shamsuddin, recalling the exact phrase when she spoke at the general assembly in 2016.

The settlers’ grouses back then were mainly about high cost of living, off-putting replanting loans repayment schemes, the Goods and Services Tax and problematic housing schemes for second generation settlers.

“I think the previous government had done their best for the settlers but the results seemed to suggest otherwise. The younger generation is no longer supportive of BN and Umno, that much I am certain of,” said Shahaniza.

“For example in my area, I bagged little votes from those of channel three and four,” added the newly elected Kuala Sentul assemblywoman in reference to the age-specific polling channels in which the old are sorted to channel one and two.

While Shahaniza felt that the previous government had done enough for the settlers, those whom The Mole talked to throughout a 21-day pre-election cross-country coverage had, interestingly, echoed the exact grouses she aired two years ago.

In fact, some were more concerned with these issues rather than the more recent controversies afflicting Felda such as the Jalan Semarak land deals and the hotel purchase in London.

“This is a new dawn, it proves that Felda voters dare to change,” said president of the Pakatan Harapan-leaning National Settlers Children’s Association (Anak), Mazlan Aliman.

Mazlan added that the previous government made a huge mistake in replacing Felda chairman Tan Sri Isa Samad with Tan Sri Shahrir Samad as the latter had no personal connection with settlers.

“If one does not have the soul of the settlers, then it is difficult to understand and solve their grievances. Shahrir did his best but the damage was too severe. He was carrying a deadweight on his shoulders,” said Mazlan who is an Amanah supreme council member.

While no one knows for certain if BN’s grip on Felda settlements has been weakened, what happened in the 19 constituencies shows that the settlers’ needs and demands should not be taken for granted.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]