PETALING JAYA: Umno supreme council member Puad Zarkashi has hit out at Muhyiddin Yassin for being “clever” in criticising Prime Minister Najib Razak over the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), alleging that the PPBM president himself was not interested in the issue.
He claimed that Muhyiddin had not bothered to delve on Felda and some rural matters when he was deputy prime minister from 2009 till his resignation in 2015.
“It is a fact that Muhyiddin when he was deputy prime minister was not interested in Felda,” he said.
“Felda was not close to his heart because Felda is the legacy of Tun Razak (second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein) who is the father of Datuk Seri Najib,” he added in a statement today.
Puad claimed that Muhyiddin had become uncomfortable at hearing about the incentives for Felda settlers announced by Najib on July 23.
In a statement on July 28, Muhyiddin had questioned the six incentives, saying that what Felda needed was a comprehensive recovery plan.
“The giving of incentives on a ‘one-off’ basis before the general election is not a true solution,” Muhyiddin said, adding that they could only bring temporary relief.
Puad also accused PPBM chairman and former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad of paying less attention to Felda in his 22 years as a “dictator”.
He claimed that Mahathir had during his rule almost privatised Felda, and was prevented from doing so due to objections by former Felda group chairman Muhammad Alias Raja Muhammad Ali.
“Najib and Tun Razak wanted to bring Malays out of poverty. Felda was one of their strategies,” he said.
This was in contrast to Mahathir and Muhyiddin who were quick to criticise the six initiatives meant for the benefit of the settlers, he added.
Puad also accused Muhyiddin of not giving due attention to remote rural schools when he was education minister.
“It was the same when he was education minister. He never visited a school in the interior,” Puad, who was deputy education minister under Muhyiddin from April 2009 to August 2013, said.
He claimed that Muhyiddin had only once stopped by at SK Ulu Lubai in Limbang, Sarawak, by using a helicopter.
“Therefore he was not well versed on issues facing schools in the interior areas,” he added.
“He was shocked when I showed him a photograph of me walking for eight hours to travel through jungles and hills to visit the SK Saliliran in Nabawan, Sabah,” he added.
“That was why Muhyiddin did not do anything at all about the ministry’s policy that all electrical generator sets in the interior areas must be switched by 9 pm for savings.
“Because of that, pupils in the village hostels could not study or attend tuition classes at night as the power supply was off,” Puad said.
He claimed Muhyiddin only found out about it when Puad informed him of the matter before the policy was changed.
On July 23, Najib announced a RM5,000 payment for each of the 94,956 eligible families in Felda settlements, amounting to a total outlay of RM475 million by the government.
Additional funds amounting to over RM950 million would be used to erase the debts of the farmers by among other things, reimbursing a portion of loans taken to buy shares in Felda Global Ventures (FGV), a listed unit of Felda, Najib said.