JASIN, Aug 8 2017 (Bernama) - It is the norm for Hassan Haron, 73, and Hassan Mahmod, 68, and their other settler friends in Felda Bukit Senggeh here to stop by a stall in the area to relieve their tiredness and fatigue after a whole day of toil at their plantations.
But the two Hassans, the early pioneers of the scheme around 1975, sighed deeply upon hearing the topic of discussion of the settlers, gravitating around the latest incentives of the Felda settlers, which were announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak recently.
Warmed by his coffee, Hassan Haron started to elaborate on how the incentives actually were a fresh breath of life for himself, Hassan Mahmod and other settlers at Felda Bukit Senggeh.
"What is worrying me is the balance of debt with Felda, namely, fertiliser, replanting and housing, so when PM announced one of the incentives, writing off debt, it felt like receiving a fresh breath, like I was just able to breathe properly.
"The waiver of loan is our good news here because many are debt-ridden but we appeal against too tight a condition to waive the debt to the point the loan waived is small or disqualify many," he told Bernama.
On July 23, PM announced six incentives to the settlers, among others, in the form of loan waiver, incentive payment, creation of a special fund and grants and housing incentive.
The incentives included waiver of replanting loan of RM5,000 for settlers opting to replant via Felda, involving an allocation of RM519 million, other than a special fund on waiver of excess replanting loan involving an allocation of RM300 million for a five-year period starting 2017 until 2021 to write off the operating cost debt exceeding expectations of RM40,000.
Hassan Haron said Felda was everything in his life and he had spent his life to develop Felda project, as such his love for Felda was very deep and hoped Felda could continue to be an umbrella for his children and grandchildren.
"With the facility provided by the government via Felda, I am able to raise 11 children who are successful in their lives. My youngest is already 30 years old and is working, so I hope Felda will continue to help the subsequent generations," he said.
Settlers met, during a Bernama visit to Felda Bukit Senggeh, said they had an estimated debt of RM19,000 to RM100,000 (each) but they did not know the actual amount as they did not receive an official statement and all the settlers hoped it could be issued quickly.
The worry faced by Hassan Mahmod has eased considerably upon finding out the incentives were set to lighten his debt and hoped the government could speed up the implementation of the incentives to help Felda settlers nationwide.
"Imagine, prior to this, I also did not know how much my loan amount is. Indeed, it is very worrying thinking of how to pay back, definitely it was a new light when PM announced the incentives. Truly thankful.
He said the incentives announced was proof that Felda was definitely close to PM's heart and the government was always concerned about the welfare of Felda settlers nationwide.
"We, Felda settlers, all love the government and the Felda project but at the same time all responsible in implementing the numerous incentives for Felda must emulate the PM's love to ensure Felda continues to progress for our grandchildren," he said.