Pahang Govt Firm On Legalisation Scheme For Illegally Occupied Durian Farmland




The Pahang state government said it will not give in to anyone opposing the legalisation scheme for durian farmers currently illegally occupying land in Raub
“The state government will not bow to any pressure from any party who opposes the legalisation scheme because the state government has been making losses and compromises for too long,” said Pahang state secretary Sallehudin Ishak said when contacted by Malaysiakini today
He was responding to allegations made by the "Save Musang King Alliance" (Samka), a group formed by durian farmers who do not have permits to occupy land in Raub
The farmers had claimed that they had tried unsuccessfully for many years to apply for land titles and licenses from the relevant authorities and instead are now being offered an “unequal contract” under the legalisation scheme
The state government had previously announced that the land the farmers were illegally occupying would be leased to the Royal Pahang Durian Produce-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDP-PKPP) in order to “legalise” the land
RPDP-PKPP is reportedly a joint venture between the Pahang royalty-linked Royal Pahang Durian Group (RPD) and the Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Negeri Pahang (PKPP)
It was reported that RPDP-PKPP has been awarded the lease and rights to use 5,357 acres of land in Raub for 30 plus 30 years
In July, RPD and PKPP announced that they had come up with a mutually beneficial solution for the farmers
This involved the durian farmers being offered a sub-lease of 10 plus 10 plus 10 years (with further 30 years extension subject to the state authorities’ approval) allowing them to continue farming there instead of being evicted for illegal occupation of land
However, the farmers claim that the contract they were offered included exorbitant levy prices, applying for an entry permit to enter their durian farms, not being permitted to trade freely nor share their harvests as well as possibly being forced to make reparations if they chose to stop farming
“A levy of RM6,000 per acre (with roughly 30 matured durian trees) will be imposed on the farmers. In other words, a farmer with 10 acres of land will have to pay a rent of RM60,000 this year
“Unfortunately, in the name of ‘legalising the land’, the private corporation can easily carve up the fruits of farmers’ labour while completely disregarding the efforts and costs put in by the farmers,” Samka said in a statement today
They also claimed that the farmers must sell their harvests to the private corporation at a fixed amount every year
They are also allegedly not permitted to trade freely nor store their harvests and this included saving harvests to be shared with friends and families
“An entry permit is required for the farmers to go into their durian farms. Also, the farmers could even be forced to make reparations if they choose to stop farming
“Therefore, by signing this unequal contract, personal freedom, property and fruits of labour are all controlled by the private corporation thus leaving the farmers to be the ‘modern slaves’ under the private corporation,” they pointed out
Sallehudin, meanwhile, told Malaysiakini that the terms set by the private company were actually of less monetary value than the government land being illegally occupied by the farmers
“If the government wants to reclaim the land without any compensation, it will not go against any law. So they (the farmers) should be grateful and not make accusations
“The state government still has the option to confiscate their durian harvests without compensation and charge them in court if they still insist on occupying the land illegally,” he noted
Malaysiakini has attempted to contact RPD for their response to Samka’s allegations. - Mkini

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