: A visit to any Felda settlement will provide solid evidence on how Felda settlers have successfully changed their lives to the better and how Felda has become a strong brand in Malaysia.
Thanks to the first generation of settlers whose blood, sweat and tears went into the oil palm plantation project and in opening the Felda land from scratch until it turned into organised settlements.
Today, the new challenge among Felda settlers is on how their children, the second generation, could make the settlement a better place without losing their Felda identity.
A Felda Chini 3 second-generation Mohd Khairy Barderin, 28, said the issue that troubled the second-generation is on who will continue their parents' efforts to manage the plantation because only one or two of the pioneers' children would have the opportunity to work on the plantation.
"This has led to many second- or third-generations of Felda settlers to move out or earn a living elsewhere," he told Bernama.
Mohd Khairy said he himself got a job offer in Kedah after graduating with a business management degree, but rejected it to remain in Chini.
Due to the lack of job opportunities within the Gugusan Felda Chini areas, he decided to open a 24-hour convenience store in Felda Chini - believing that it was something he could do to help create employment opportunities for Felda youths while encouraging them to venture into entrepreneurship.
"When they are only looking for job opportunities, many of these youths would not be aware of the various benefits available for them to venture into business, which in turn would help boost the local economy.
"Felda should do more to promote the aid and incentives that they have made available for Felda youths to start a business. There are still many who are not aware of it," he said.
He said today's Felda youths may not face the same challenges endured by the first generation of Felda settlers and may not have to roll up their sleeves to clear the dense forests and turn it into new plantation areas like their forefathers did since the introduction of the first Felda settlement in Lurah Bilut in Bentong, Pahang in 1958.
"Nonetheless, they need to play their roles in improving the image of Felda settlement, after being rampantly associated with social issues such as drug abuse and the activities of Mat Rempit or daredevil motorcyclists.
Meanwhile, Siti Hasmiza Adenan, 28, also from Felda Chini 3, said although many of Felda's new generation had migrated out from the Felda settlement, there were many others who were still keen to return and seek new economic opportunities within Felda areas.
She said they might be able to venture into business and create job opportunities, but housing would be the biggest issue for them as most Felda land had been given to their parents or the first generation of settlers to build their house and plantation.
"Not every settlers' children can stay in their parents' house. I think this problem can be solved by increasing the number of housing projects for the second generation by utilising the abandoned land or houses," said Siti Hasmiza, who is currently working in a telecommunications company in Kuantan.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Salleh Mohamad Arshad, 27, another second-generation settler, said he ventured into baking and pastry due to lack of available jobs in the Felda area.
He said the skills, which he developed since he was 15, had provided him with a good income.
After five years of hard work, he said he is now a proud owner of his own bakery.
"Job opportunity is scarce in this Felda area, this is the reason why I took note of what the local community wants and provide them with it. Now, I never have to keep my baking products for long. Usually, the bread I bake today will be sold out on the same day," he said.