rural development

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Malaysia Paddy Fields Are Najib’s Battlefield to Woo Voters by  Shamim Adam June 20, 2016

Priced-to-Sell Felda Jumps in IPO Debut: Southeast Asia by   Ranjeetha Pakiam

Palm oil / commodity production and Malaysia electoral politics - WSJ feature on Genting donations to YR1M, Bersih asks for EC investigation

There are various connections for smallholder agribusiness (large economic sectors) with Malaysia electoral politics - notably Felda rural politics, and also Felcra and Risda:

Recently the WSJ features the linkage of donations by a large public-listed plantation group to 1MDB linked charity with funds allegedly flowing to boost Prime Minister Najib's electoral efforts in GE2013

WSJ: Fund Controversy Threatens Malaysia’s Leader - debts run up by state development fund 1MDB have roiled Malaysia’s markets and led to calls for its leader to step aside; By Tom Wright June 18, 2015 10:34 p.m. ET; KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—A state investment fund is at the center of a burgeoning political and financial controversy that is roiling markets and leading to calls for the ouster of Malaysia’s prime minister....

Nazri legitimises the act of a robber, says Pua by malaysiakini, Senior minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz's statement on the use of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) fund to bankroll 13th general election has left the nation in disbelief, for he merely legitimised the act of a robber, an opposition MP says.  Nazri has legitimised the act of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, DAP Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said in a statement today.  The tourism and culture minister even thanked the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which reported the use of the 1MDB fund for the general election of 2013, for setting the record straight. "If the report carried by WSJ is proven true, then it is good, as it shows the money was not lost. Then why do you (critics) say the money is lost?  What's wrong with (Finance Ministry wholly-owned 1MDB's) money being spent on the people?" Nazri (photo) told Malaysiakini yesterday.  But what was exposed by WSJ also showed that the companies that benefited from 1MDB's generous acquisition offers have separately contributed to a “charity” controlled by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, said Pua, who is also DAP national publicity secretary.  The leading international financial paper further claimed that some of these donations were then channelled to activities related to the Barisan Nasional’s election campaigns.  Worse, there is nothing in the Companies Commission (SSM) documents pertaining to YR1M, a company limited by guarantee, that it is in anyway related to the government, he said.   "Instead, YR1M looks like a private vehicle controlled entirely by the prime minister.  "Why should these allegedly ‘charitable’ deeds be handed out by this private vehicle, and not directly and transparently by the government?" he asked......"Indeed, based on the above, the prime minister, Genting Bhd, 1MDB and YR1M must not only be investigated by the Election Commission for committing electoral fraud as demanded by electoral reform group Bersih. "They must also be investigated by both the police and the Malaysian ti-Corruption Commission for possible embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and corrupt practices," Pua added.

‘Haram’ money used by Umno to win GE13? By Yoursay; WSJ: Najib used 1MDB's funds for GE13; YOURSAY ‘WSJ is merely stating what Malaysians have already known.'  Abu Iman: If that is the case, Umno used 'haram' money to win GE13.... Swipenter: One would have thought that Umno would have huge piles of slush funds stashed away for use in elections. ...

EC tells Bersih to lodge report if 1MDB backed Najib’s GE13 campaign BY MOHD FARHAN DARWIS Published: 21 June 2015 4:55 PM; The Election Commission (EC) today questioned the actions of election watchdog Bersih 2.0 which had accused it of failing to introduce necessary reforms to rein in unfettered electoral abuse and corruption, following a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had indirectly bankrolled the prime minister's 2013 election campaign. EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said Bersih 2.0 should collate evidence and lodge reports with the relevant authorities if it felt the WSJ report had merit.

Bersih: Did 1MDB funds help BN steal GE13? Updated Jun 20, 2015 10:17pm; Electoral reform group Bersih today expressed shock over a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report claiming that 1MDB's funds was used for election campaigning through intermediaries. "The WSJ report comes as a revolting truth of how the 13th general election was stolen from the people of Malaysia," its steering committee said in a statement today.  Bersih said the WSJ report implied that 1MDB may have been used as a government-controlled election slush fund for Umno.  "This is totally outrageous and an abuse of power because brazen dirty tactics have been used to manipulate voters’ trust.  "It also raised the issue of whether this is just the tip of the iceberg. Are there any other government-controlled money used in similar manner?" it said....


Political Economy of Felda and GE13

I recently submitted to Kajian Malaysia the final paper. Was aided by my research associate Vasiliki Mavroeidi.  

Khor Yu Leng
Segi Enam Advisors Pte Ltd, Singapore
Email: khorreports[at]
This paper is about the political economy of FELDA and its important place in the electoral politics of the 13th General Election held on 5 May 2013. In a heavily contested election, the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional has held on to power by winning by a 22-seat majority, despite its worst performance with the loss of the national popular vote and questions about irregularities.  However, the hope of Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition, to make inroads in BN’s proverbial FELDA “fortress” vote bank was disappointed. Instead, there were swings toward BN. Winning FELDA areas is important to building up its rural base, in order to win enough seats to govern. In the midst of urban rejection, UMNO has retained stronger control in key rural areas, turfing out and keeping out the opposition coalition from its FELDA stronghold, with Mazlan Aliman of PAS reporting on the difficulties of reaching FELDA women voters and in allaying rural voter fears about DAP Chinese rule. In FELDA settlement areas the ruling coalition is seen to have preferential access by way of its links with FELDA’s administration. The windfall from the FELDA Global public listing seems to have been an important boon. However, there are interesting regional differences, notably between Pahang and Johore. Here, the parallels between oil palm replanting economic decision-making and voting behaviour of FELDA settlers is intriguing. Efforts to lure the FELDA youth vote seems to have been flummoxed with so-called money politics, including the offer of new lands for homes for younger voters. At the same time, UMNO-BN may want to repeat its FELDA electoral success by performing IPO “encores” to generate financial bonuses with two other key land development agencies – FELCRA and RISDA. Combined with FELDA, these three agencies may have control and influence of up to 19% of Malaysia’s voters.
Keywords: FELDA, palm oil, rural development, political economy, electoral politics