Felda set­tle­ments still BN bas­tions?


FED­ERAL Land De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (Felda) set­tle­ments have al­ways been Barisan Na­sional’s (BN) ma­jor vote bases.

Judg­ing from the say­ing “who­ever has Felda set­tlers’ votes gets to rule the coun­try”, it can be seen that un­less the winds of change blow in these set­tle­ments, it is hard for the Op­po­si­tion to un­seat the BN gov­ern­ment.

In the 13th gen­eral elec­tion (GE13), BN won 48 of the 52 par­lia­men­tary seats that have Felda set­tle­ments, which ex­plained why the na­tional front was able to hold on to power de­spite the winds of change blow­ing in ur­ban and sub­ur­ban ar­eas.

This time around, Felda vot­ers, who num­ber some 1.2 mil­lion, can still be the king­mak­ers, Sin Chew Daily re­ported yes­ter­day.

But given the re­cent land scan­dal in­volv­ing Felda, ris­ing cost of liv­ing and in­creased bur­den on set­tlers fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the goods and ser­vices tax (GST), con­stituen­cies with Felda set­tle­ments may no longer be taken for granted as safe seats for BN.

Pakatan Hara­pan, led by its pres­i­dent, for­mer premier Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the is­sues sur­round­ings Felda Global Ven­ture Hold­ings Ber­had and the Felda man­age­ment, is mak­ing in­roads into Felda set­tle­ments and has ex­pressed con­fi­dence in win­ning at least 20 par­lia­men­tary seats in Felda set­tle­ments in Penin­su­lar Malaysia.

Eight of these seats are lo­cated in Jo­hor and the rest are in Pa­hang (four), Perak (two), Kedah (two), Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan (two), Malacca (one) and Tereng­ganu (one).

Ma­hathir’s in­flu­ence is not to be un­der­es­ti­mated. In the past, op­po­si­tion par­ties could not even gain ac­cess to Felda set­tle­ments, let alone hold ce­ramah or con­duct door-to-door cam­paigns there dur­ing elec­tions.

But be­cause of Ma­hathir, PH is not only al­lowed to en­ter these set­tle­ments, its ce­ramah are draw­ing crowds.

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