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Najib’s Felda Windfall Leaves Pakatan at ‘Wits End’

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Najib-Razak podium_FeldaHe promised and now he has delivered. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has announced all 112,635 Felda settlers will get the forecast windfall payments totalling RM15,000 per family, to be paid out in three instalments.

The announcement is a body blow to Pakatan Rakyat and Pakatan-aligned National Felda Settlers' Children's Association (Anak), which has waged a baseless scare campaign telling settlers the payments would never come and if they did, they would saddle them with unmanageable debt.

It has also prompted Pakatan to perform yet-another backflip over the issue. Having rejected the windfall proposal earlier outright, it has now changed its tune in the wake of the Prime Minister's announcement to declare that the payments are in fact, not large enough.

PKR strategists Wong Chen said what the settlers are "actually receiving is only 30 percent of the funds that FELDA will gain from the listing".

The truth is that the settlers are receiving 100 percent more than Pakatan and Anak said they would get.

The Prime Minister couldn't resist taking a shot at the Opposition, which might have thought its negative tactics surrounding the Felda listing was a vote-winner ahead of GE13. He reminded his audience of around 10,000 farmers in Pahang that Pakatan had done everything it could to deny them today's windfall.

"The opposition are at their wits' end of what to do now (after the announcement today).

"They had tried to deny settlers prosperity," Najib added.

Najib made it clear the windfall is manageable and crucially, does not involve public money.

"These (payments) come from Felda's own strength. We do not utilise government funds.

"Kita usahakan transformasi, bukan reformasi (We are about transformation)," he said.

The next step is the listing on the Malaysian stock exchange of Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH), which is expected to raise $3 billion.

In the run up to GE13, Najib is happy to have his Government judged on its economic management and pro-business credentials as both the Felda and Lynas issues demonstrate.

In both cases it would have been easier to sit back and let the status quo prevail, but Najib has long made it clear he is prepared to take the difficult and at times controversial decisions if they are in the national interest.

In announcing the windfall Najib mentioned his father, the architect of Felda back in the 1950s.

"The listing marks a new era and is a step forward from my father's dream," he said.

Malaysia is now the world's second-largest palm oil producer and the sector is valued at RM82 billion.

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