The situation is heating up on the controversy surrounding Raub durian farmers who have been operating orchards with the absence of valid land titles, despite Pahang government’s announcement to delay the suspension of illegal durian farms as announced on the 24th of August. Barricades were set up at the entrance of the unlicensed durian farms the next day and the reason given was that the Pahang Land Office officials and Royal Pahang Durian Resources representatives wanted to carry out land survey and measurements. The police explained that road closure to the durian farms were temporary.
The Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) expressed its concerns regarding the recent developments in the Raub durian farm dispute and believed that the state government’s decision to lease the land in Raub to the recently formed Royal Pahang Durian Resources PKPP Sdn Bhd, a private company under Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Negeri Pahang (PKPP) and Royal Pahang Durian Group (RPDG) was said to be a controversial contract with unfair terms, set-up to privatize the land and to sideline the durian farmers whom have been struggling to obtain permits to legalize their operations.
According to media reports, the unfair contract requires the durian farmers to pay a land tax of RM6,000 per acre to the said company which is a drastic difference in amount from the RM50 per acre land tax previously imposed by Pahang state government.
Therefore, KLSCAH calls on the Pahang state government to resolve the current dispute in the interest of the country’s agriculture sector and local farmers as well as to renegotiate the terms of the unfair contract with RPDG.
KLSCAH deems the existing culture of rent-seeking among Malaysian government and businesses responsible for enabling government agencies to intervene and regulate economic activities through grey areas within the existing regulations to monopolize resources. Such action undoubtedly hinders healthy market competition, allowing the minority elites to extract huge profits while exploiting the living standards of those in the lower social class.
As such, Pahang state government should resolve the Raub land dispute through a mutually consented agreement and have a peaceful dialogue with the durian farmers as the dispute does not only affect Chinese farmers, but it also affects Malay farmers in the area.
It is noteworthy that many of the farmers were encouraged to cultivate the land there under the Green Book Programme (Rancangan Buku Hijau) initiated by Tun Razak Hussein, Malaysia’s second prime minister to ensure self-sufficiency. The use of pressure and coercion by the Pahang state government demonstrated the lack of support for farmers to cultivate the land as stated in the Green Book Initiatives.
Pahang durian farm dispute has been around for a long time and has unfortunately become a campaign tool for politicians to gain votes by promising to grant permits to the durian farmers, of which are still empty promises till today.
KLSCAH believes that the delaying tactics applied by the Pahang State Government will only further worsen the dispute and urges the state government to quickly organize a peaceful dialogue with the durian farmers to resolve the dispute. Otherwise, the dispute shall set as a precedent for other agricultural land disputes caused by unfair agricultural policies which would potentially affect domestic food supply chain and pose detrimental effect to the agricultural development.
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)