PUTRAJAYA, Sept 2 ― Parti Putra Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) today called for an investigation into possible corrupt practices over state land in Raub, Pahang amid an ongoing court case pitting durian farmers in Raub against the Pahang government and a state-linked company.
The Malay party’s vice-president Datuk Hamidah Osman filed a report with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) asking it to look into the lack of action against the farmers who are said to have illegally occupied the state land for agriculture over a span of 40 years.
“How is it possible for such things to be happening on a piece of land as big as 11,000 acres, and they are unaware there is this issue until the matter recently propped up?” Hamidah told reporters at the MACC national headquarters here.
She was referring to the Forestry Department.
“What are they doing; why were no reports made?” she asked.
Hamidah suggested corrupt elements within the Forestry Department that led to encroachment of the Pahang state land.
She also called for stern action against the farmers whom she said continue to be cultivating their crops without a licence instead of accepting the legalisation scheme offered by a state-linked private company.
“There is always a solution, either through a company or the land is given directly to these farmers.
“Our question is, there is a law and by right, these 111 farmers should have action taken against them and be brought to court because they have breached the Forestry Act,” Hamidah said, referring to the judicial review application filed by the Raub farmers that is set for hearing next month.
She said instead of negotiating with the farmers, they should be punished.
The land dispute in Raub made headlines this year after the state government sought to reclaim the land occupied by the farmers for large scale cultivation of Malaysia’s iconic Musang King durian variety.
The farmers cried foul, accusing the state authorities of unfair treatment in removing them from the lands they have been cultivating for decades now that the Musang King durian industry has become a money spinner.
However, Royal Pahang Durian Resources PKPP Sdn Bhd, the private company empowered by the Pahang government to engage with the farmers in a land legalisation scheme, insists it is offering a fair trade deal that will enable the planters to gain a decent profit.
MORE TO COME