Demand abolition of Felda debts, Najib tells settlers

Former prime minister Najib Razak speaking about Felda settlers debts last night. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has urged Felda settlers to demand that Pakatan Harapan meet its election promise to abolish their debts owed to the agency.

Speaking at a dialog in Alor Gajah, Melaka, he questioned why the PH-led government had not been able to abolish the debts despite having raised RM120 billion in loans and taking more than RM102 billion from Petronas.

In its election manifesto, PH had promised to eliminate Felda settlers’ debts. This was among the 10 pledges it had vowed to fulfill within 100 days of governing the country.

Najib said he estimated that the settlers’ debts amounted to some RM8 billion and questioned why PH was unable to erase these debts. “Surely they can spend RM8 billion (for the debts). Promises must be fulfilled,” he said.

He said the Barisan Nasional administration which he led could have taken a few billion from Petronas to abolish Felda’s debts in stages.

BN did have plans to eliminate the debts, but had never made it part of its political capital. The plans never materialised, as voters, especially the youth, were swayed by PH’s promises to do away with Felda and student debts.

“Now they regret, they tell their children ‘listen to us, we want to vote BN’,” he said, adding this was why the tide had turned in BN’s favour in recent by-elections, with the opposition drawing in votes from the youth.

He urged the people to claim what was promised to them. “If they promised to abolish Felda settlers’ debts, we must demand they honour it,” he said at the dialogue, which was streamed live on Facebook.

Najib reminded the people that Felda was close to his heart as the agency was started by his father, Malaysia’s second former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak.

He said BN’s plans to abolish the settlers’ debts had been discussed with former Felda chairman Shahrir Samad.

“If BN was still ruling, the welfare of Felda would have been looked after better than by Pakatan Harapan.

“That’s why I appointed him (Shahrir) as Felda chairman. I know his abilities, he is honest,” Najib said. In a jibe aimed at Shahrir’s brother Khalid, Najib said Shahrir was “much better than the current federal territories minister, big difference”.