By Erda Khursyiah Basir
The new generation of Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers must uphold and continue the legacy built by their parents to ensure the perpetuation of the land settlement programme.
However, for this to happen the younger generation needs to be given the necessary space and opportunities to make them feel that they are an integral part of the scheme, said Kami Anak Felda (KAF) president Fakhrurrazi Mohd Habib.
“Felda is now 64 years old. Previously, the focus has mostly been on the older settlers. I feel the time has come to involve the new Felda generation as well.
“This is because they are the heirs and they are the ones who are going to take over the settlements and continue with Felda’s struggle,” Fakhrurrazi told Bernama in an interview.
Fakhrurrazi, who is a third-generation settler from Felda Gedangsa in Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor, said out of the112,638 settlers and their dependents residing in 317 Felda land settlements nationwide, only 54 percent of them are actual settlers.
“And among the settlers, only 18,000 to 20,000 of them are still healthy with their average age being 68,” he said.
With the dwindling number of settlers – who are already getting on in years – the situation demands the handing over of their responsibilities to their children and grandchildren, he added.
Fakhrurrazi also suggested that the term “successor settler” be assigned to the heirs of aging settlers to show that they too have the responsibility to manage their settlements.
“By using an appropriate term, they (heirs) will indirectly feel obligated to uphold Felda’s cause,” he said.
Pointing to the theme for this year’s Felda Settlers Day, Peneroka Perintis, Berani dan Suka Cabaran (Pioneer Settlers, Bold and Love Challenges), he said the new Felda generation should also, likewise, be courageous and ready to face challenges similar to those experienced by their elders.
“They must realise that the Felda legacy must go on. They must emulate the pioneer settlers who showed a great deal of courage although they were poor and stayed in isolated areas. But they went on to become an exemplary and respected community,” he added.
Urging the younger generation to “return” to Felda, Fakhrurrazi said at least one member of the family should take over the role and responsibilities of their parents who were Felda settlers.
“By saying ‘return to Felda’ I don’t mean that all the children of settlers should return to their settlements and live there. One of them can take over. It will also reflect the younger generation’s willingness to devote their time and energy for the good of Felda,” he said.
IMPROVE HUMAN CAPITAL
Fakhrurrazi also opined that luring the younger generation back to Felda was not a difficult task but the integrated efforts of various parties would be needed to convince the young people, particularly those who have migrated to urban areas, to return.
“They must be made to understand how important they are to Felda. The Felda settlements are not like what they used to be once upon a time. In terms of infrastructure, we have all kinds of facilities that benefit the Felda community such as schools and clinics,” he said.
There is, however, a need to improve its human capital involving, in particular, the children of Felda settlers.
“The problem is they are not so interested in carrying on with the work done by their parents. The huge challenge we are facing is to convince them that the assets owned by their families should not be put to waste,” he said.
Gabungan Wawasan Generasi Felda’s Motorsports Association deputy president Mohd Faizol Fuad Mohd Sallehhan, meanwhile, said the next-generation Felda heirs should be given continued support to enable them to contribute to the agency’s progress.
“This support includes allowing them to voice out their opinions and views on how Felda can improve,” he said.
Mohd Faizol Fuad, a third-generation settler at Felda Soeharto, Selangor, said the economic status of the Felda community has improved as more business opportunities, both online and conventional, have been made available to them.
“The children of Felda settlers can go far as various opportunities and platforms have been created, including through Felda non-governmental organisations, to help them to develop their talents and capabilities,” he added. – BERNAMA
- Writer is a journalist BERNAMA.