Felda denies settlers at risk of losing land rights

KUALA LUMPUR: Felda today denied a news report which claimed that settlers were at risk of losing their land rights, and said that the contents in the article were inaccurate.

Mohd Yassin Mohd Yusof, head of the Legacy Unit, Felda Land Management Department, said the study cited in the report involved only 130 respondents in Felda Bukit Tangga, Kedah, and did not reflect the actual situation.

He said this is because there were 112,635 settlers nationwide, while the total number of Felda residents stood at 2.5 million.

“In this regard, this study cannot be used as reference material to introduce any new policies as it will be detrimental to all parties,” he said in a statement here today.

Last Thursday, Berita Harian, quoting a study by Assoc Prof Rohayu Abdul Majid , a senior lecturer with Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) claimed that there were legislative restrictions preventing any land transfer to the second generation (of settlers).

This, according to Rohayu, as reported by the newspaper, occurred because the land was subject to the Group Settlement Area Act 1967, thereby causing its status to be different from ordinary land under the Kanun Tanah Negara (National Land Code).

Yassin explained that Felda together with the land settlers and state land offices had been cooperating from the beginning as enacted in the Land Act (Group Settlement Area) 1960 in addressing the issue of inheritance and land ownership holistically.

He said the researchers should refer to Felda’s headquarters management to understand the contents of the Act before drawing a conclusion in the study which could invite polemics among Felda citizens on land inheritance issues.

He said the (Group Settlement Area) Act 1960 states that the settler’s land can be transferred, mortgaged and rented, but only the name of two persons may be registered in such property so that the land is not physically divided, thus risking its economic value.

However, he said the Act stated that the land of settlers could not be broken down into borders, leased and sub-leased partially or wholly.

On difficulty faced on land purchase or sale, Yassin said Felda did not authorise such deals because of certain conditions, and the owner must ensure that they are a citizen, aged 18 years and over, have no agricultural land above two acres or one lot of land.

He said settlers’ land could also be acquired by the government, among others, for the development of new towns, highways and the East Coast Railway projects under the Land Acquisition Act 1960 with compensation payable to the nominee registered as the land administrator or every eligible beneficiary.