KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 — The government has agreed to appoint a Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) youth representative as a member of Felda’s board of directors, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

He said the appointment serves as an acknowledgement of the role played by Felda youths in helping to develop the land schemes.

“To acknowledge the role of Felda youths, I agree, I have informed tok yeh (Felda chairman Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh) to appoint a Felda youth representative to Felda’s board of directors,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said this in his speech at the dinner and annual general meeting of Majlis Belia Felda Malaysia (MBFM), Kami Anak Felda (KAF) and Permuafakatan Siswa/Siswi Felda (PERSADA) at Menara Felda here tonight.

Besides Idris, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed was also present.

At the event, Ismail Sabri also approved allocations of RM300,000 to MBFM, RM200,000 to KAF and RM100,000 to PERSADA.

In his speech, Ismail Sabri also announced that Idris’s tenure as chairman, which is due to end on April 30, would be extended by another two years.

The prime minister said that currently only 440,000 out of the 2.1 million among Felda’s new generation were living at 317 settlements in the country as around 1.6 million had already moved out.

He said this had caused Felda to use foreign labour to manage the oil palm plantations and rubber estates, and the houses of some settlers had been left unoccupied as their descendants were not interested in carrying on their legacy.

He added that the new generation, especially youths, should carry on the legacy of early settlers to ensure that Felda settlements would not become empty.

“The government is aware of this matter. I always hear two main issues faced by youths in Felda areas, housing and job opportunities in those areas,” the prime minister added.

Ismail Sabri explained that the Felda housing issue did not only involve land matters but also financing faced by the second generation due to the lack of pay slips.

“That’s why the government introduced a new concept, to allow the second generation to build their own homes on existing lots, cheap and affordable to ensure that youths and the younger generation in settlements have their own homes. Otherwise, until when can we expect them to stay in their parents’ homes?” he said.

The prime minister said that during the National Affordable Housing Council meeting, he had instructed the Governor of Bank Negara to ease housing loan requirements for the second generation of Felda settlers.

“I have announced the One Family, One Home programme recently, but due to the strict bureaucracy surrounding loans, the government’s aspiration will not succeed due to bureaucratic nature of banks,” he said.

At the same time, Ismail Sabri hoped that the implementation of the Settlers Development Programme could be speeded up as the project would generate additional income for settlers, as well as create employment opportunities for Felda residents.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri said the government provided a clear policy to build human capital as well as future talent through the 12th Malaysia Plan, with emphasis on the use of digital and high technology.

According to him, youths need to be cultivated with spiritual and physical traits to shape strong personalities, as they were national assets who would determine the future of the country.

“I hope MBFM, KAF and PERSADA provide the best example to the youths not only in Felda but throughout the country. Make this a platform to hone leadership talents, because you are all future leaders,” he said. — Bernama