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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 19. 2nd August 1973

Land Development Schemes

Land Development Schemes

Facing growing discontent among the peasants, which poses a serious threat to the status quo, the Alliance government has offered various promises. In the General Assembly of the ruling party, the United Malayan National Organisation, Razak bemoaned the plight of the land-hungry and unemployed rural youths. He said that the central government was formulating land distribution schemes in an effort to put an end to unemployment among rural youths. In contradiction, the Finance Minister, Tan Siew Sin said that the government would have to spend a sum of $(M)540 million in order to provide land for 100,000 youths, implying that they could not afford it. The Chief Minister of Trengganu, Ibrahim Fikri, simply refused to distribute land to the unemployed rural youths as promised by Rizak on the ground that land in Trengganu is reserved for foreign developers. His policy is to compel these young people to seek employment in foreign owned oil palm estates so that imperialism can exploit them to the utmost.

The Federal Land Development Authority (FLDA) has failed to provide land for the landless. Between 1956—1970, this land resettlement scheme could settle only a mere 20,000 families out of the 750,000 landless families to be resettled. Admitting the failure of FLDA, one Malayan economist estimated that the "few thousand that benefit each year made up less than 10% of the total that become landless every year." The scheme therefore cannot even cope with those who are made landless each year, let alone do anything for those millions already landless. Further, more and more of the land resettlement schemes are in trouble.

As a sop to the rural youths in Perak, some were given half an acre of land each under the special youth land schemes. Six thousand youths were allotted 2,981 acres for collective farming and instructed to live in a camp as in the army. Apart from this, some 5,000 unemployed rural youths in Kedah were conscripted by the authorities to work in the rice fields of big landlords as cheap labour force during harvest seasons.