PETALING JAYA: Nineteen out of the country’s 52 Felda seats – whose voters are said to be kingmakers in the Malay heartland – fell to Pakatan Harapan in GE14.
These constituencies with Felda settlements are Malay vote banks that normally back Barisan Nasional.
“Several issues involving Felda Global Ventures Bhd (FGV) and others raised the ire of voters in Felda settlements,” National Felda Settlers’ Children’s Association (Anak) president Mazlan Aliman said.
“This is especially true among the younger voters.”
Mazlan, who is also Amanah supreme council member, said such sentiments had led to 19 constituencies with Felda voters falling to Pakatan.
“We almost reached our target of having 20 seats. Nevertheless, this opens a new chapter in history, proving that Felda voters are brave enough to make a change,” he said.
Mazlan said the focus now was to help Felda regain its former glory.
“The rakyat have entrusted Pakatan.
“Now is the time to repay the trust as Felda is now in crisis and riddled with problems,” he added.
Among the constituencies with Felda voters that were won by Pakatan include Kubang Pasu and Kulim Bandar Baharu (Kedah), Sg Siput and Tanjung Malim (Perak), Ulu Selangor and Kuala Selangor (Selangor), Kuala Pilah and Tampin (Negri Sembilan) and Alor Gajah (Melaka).
Others were constituencies in Johor, namely Pagoh, Sekijang, Labis, Segamat, Simpang Renggam, Kulai and Tebrau while Pahang constituencies were Bentong, Raub and Temerloh.
Political analyst Prof Datuk Seri Dr Syed Arabi Syed Abdullah Idid said the swing in support was part of the “wave of change” which happened around the country.
“In previous elections, Felda settlers were loyal to Umno as they felt they were established by the party.
“But numerous issues related to Felda have made them jittery,” he said.
Dr Syed Arabi said at present, the settlers felt disappointed with some elements in Umno.
“So if Pakatan can offer a ray of hope and ease their disappointments, they would appear to be their protector,” he said.
Another analyst Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod said Felda voters who swung to Pakatan were part of the perceived “Malay tsunami”.
“It could also be a sign of protest against the Felda management over many recent scandals,” he said.
He noted, however, that major seats in central Pahang still went to Barisan.
But he acknowledged that the voting trend among settlers had changed tremendously in GE14.
“I believe they wanted change. But if the new Government fails to eradicate the problems in Felda, their support may revert to Barisan in GE15,” Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal said.