FARMERS in Bidor Stesen New Village in Bidor, Perak, finally tasted success when their crunchy and succulent guavas become chew phai foh (famous in Cantonese) after years of experimentation with seed and soil.
“The journey has been difficult. But the reward is sweet and we have made good friends in MCA who helped us a lot,” said village chief Keh Choon Sung, 70.
MCA grassroots leaders, including Tanjong Malim division chief Datuk Loke Yuen Yeow, have been assisting the villagers to settle their daily problems and bring in development.
Loke, the incumbent Tanjung Malim MP, is making way for party secretary-general Datuk Ong Ka Chuan as the Barisan Nasional candidate for the constituency.
Loke accompanied Ong for a walkabout in the village recently. They were joined by Sungkai Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk S. Veerasingam. Both candidates went house-to-house to introduce themselves to the voters.
Keh said the majority of residents in the village were MCA and Barisan Nasional supporters. They have a wish, though.
“Although our guavas, papayas and vegetables are in demand locally and overseas, we are illegal farmers on state land. We have appealed many times to the Government to recognise our contribution to the na-tional food supply and let us occupy the land legally,” said Keh.
He added the farmers were always looking over their shoulder, fearing that the authorities would charge them for illegal farming or reclaim the land without warning.
“However, we will not waver in our support for Barisan. Having Datuk Ong Ka Chuan as the candidate for this area makes us more optimistic. Land issues always take time and we will be patient,” said Keh.
He added that a recent development in the state involving illegal farmers inspired his fellow villagers because Ong was part of the MCA team securing the breakthrough for the farmers.
On Feb 1, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi handed over land leases to 931 farmers illegally planting on state land at new villages in Jeram, Kuala Bikam, Kanthan, Malim Nawar and Coldstream. It was the biggest government project to legalise farmers.
The 30-year lease was modelled after the Ulu Yam solution in Selangor, where farmers were given 30-year land leases and the area deemed a national permanent food agriculture park.