The judge says the land authority did not shortchange them.
SEREMBAN: Fifteen settlers in a Felcra scheme in Jelebu have lost their three-year court battle against the land authority in a case in which 13 of them claimed to have been shortchanged in the sale of rubber wood harvested from their land.
The other three are claiming loss of income since they pulled out of Felcra to work as independent settlers.
In a verdict delivered yesterday, judge Rosnaini Saub of the Seremban High Court said there was no fraud involved.
She said the three had quit Felcra before the suit was filed and therefore had no right to make any claim.
As for the others, she found that the Felcra management had adequately explained to them the processes involved in the selling of logs that were felled to make way for replanting.
Rosnaini also ordered the plaintiffs to pay costs of RM15, 000.
The settlers, who were represented by Azalea Zakaria, said they would appeal the decision.
All 15 were settlers at the Lakai 1 scheme in Jelebu. Their case was similar to several that Felda settlers have won against their authority, and the 15 had gone to court in July 2009 with high confidence that they would win.
“The fight is not over yet,” said one of them, 56-year-old Hassan Norman. “We will fight through all available avenues. We believe that we have a strong case and we believe in God.”
All 15 had joined Felcra in 1976. Each settler was entitled to 10 acres of land to be planted with rubber and a quarter of an acre on which to build a home.
The rubber trees were old enough to be chopped down in 2003. For the replanting, Felcra decided to switch to oil palm.
However, three of the settlers chose to pull out from Felcra to become independent settlers.
No land title
One of the three, Muhamad Nor Ismail, 56, said Felcra refused to give him his land title.
“I was not entitled to earn anything from my land,” he said. “They only gave me the living cost allowance of RM1, 000 and later, since the start of this year, this was raised to RM1, 300.
“I think it’s unfair as I had already settled all my debts with Felcra.”
The 12 plaintiffs who are still with Felcra are claiming that the authority should pay them for working on 16.5 acres each. Instead they were paid on the assumption that they each worked on only 10 acres.
Lakai 1, with a total rubber acreage of 1,650, was planned for 165 settlers. However, 51 would-be settlers pulled out when the scheme was ready for settlement in 1976, leaving only 114 to settle on the land.
“We tapped rubber on 1,650 acres, not 1,140 acres,” said one of the plaintiffs, Pasupathy Ellumalay, 54.
“When Felcra distributed the money after selling our rubber wood, they based it on earnings from 1,140 acres.”
Lawyer Azalea told FMT the three independent settlers were claiming RM245,000 each for loss of income since July 2009 and the 12 are collectively claiming RM599,000.
Felcra was represented by Abu Daud Abu Rahim.