The plight of the Musang King farmers in Pahang…

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Received via WhatsApp.

Press Statement by Save Musang King Alliance (SAMKA) on August 19, 2020

Royal Pahang Durian Scheme Exposed: Land levy at about RM 20,000 per acre from next year, Durian Farmers are forced into modern slave contract

  1. The Save Musang King Alliance (SAMKA), a group formed by durian farmers who have no permits, held a press conference yesterday in Raub and said that the private corporation (Royal Pahang Durian Resources PKPP SDN BHD) had adopted inhumane and merciless measures against the farmers, such as setting up control posts to limit farmers’ entry and forcing them to sign an unequal contract.
  2. The well-known Musang King durians from Raub are the fruits of farmers’ labour for the past decades. The accusation whereby the farmers had occupied the land without license was misleading because they had been constantly applying for land titles and licenses from the relevant authorities through propel channels. However, after the State Government suddenly announced that the land will be leased to a private corporation in the name of “legalising the land”, the farmers were left stranded as they were instead offered with an exploitative and unequal contract.
  3. The unequal contract includes:

A levy of RM6,000 per acre (with roughly 30 matured durian trees) in year 2020 will be imposed on the farmers. In other words, a farmer with 10 acres of land will have to pay a rent of RM60,000 this year. Unfortunately, in the name of “legalising the land”, the private corporation can easily carve up the fruits income of farmers’ labour without hard work while completely disregard the efforts and costs put in by the farmers.

Apart from that, from 2021 to 2022, the private corporation will purchase Gred A Musang King with the fixed rate of RM30 per kg from the farmers, which is significantly lower than the average market price of RM45 per kg. To answer this, the private corporation claimed that they will be paying the farmers RM40 per kg, yet the additional RM10 will be deducted for land levy. If this were true, by assuming that 1 acre of land will have 2,000kg of fruits, the rent will be RM20,000 per acre. In other words, a land with 10 acres will cost a levy of RM200,000 every year!

Such an exorbitant levy clearly reflected the private corporation’ greed for profits as the current levy for durian farms imposed by the Pahang State Government stands at about RM50 per acre, hence about RM500 for 10 acres. How could it be reasonable to have a private corporation seizing all durian farms for itself and collecting an exorbitant levy from the farmers?

The farmers must sell their harvests to the private corporation with a fixed amount every year. They are not permitted to trade freely nor hoard their harvests, and this includes saving harvests to be shared with friends and families. An entry permit is required for the farmers to go to their durian farms. Also, the farmers could even be forced to make reparation if they choose to stop farming. Therefore, by signing this unequal contract, personal freedom, property and fruits of labour are all controlled by the private corporation, thus leaving farmers to be the “modern slaves” under the private corporation.

  1. SAMKA said that the farmers have always been ready to cooperate with the State Government to develop the durian industry and willing to pay a levy imposed by the government for occupying the land in the past as well as utilising the land in future. The farmers are also willing to pay a commission to the State Government based on each kilogram of their durians in order to help increase the government’s revenue and conserve the environment and water catchment areas.
  2. The State Government’s scheme of leasing the land to a huge private corporation clearly proved the fact that illegal farms can actually be legalised. Nevertheless, by ignoring the exploitative and unequal contract offered to the farmers, the State Government favoured an unexperienced large private corporation over the experienced farmers who have been giving immense contributions to the local economy.
  3. Apart from that, this private corporation that is ready to grab a portion of the fruits of farmers’ labour did not even bother to send their personnel to Tras, Sungai Klau dan Sungai Chalit to have a dialogue with the local farmers. How could it be possible to achieve a win-win situation for both sides? Now, the private corporation and the State Government collaborated closely and even attempted to force the farmers to sign the unequal contract by issuing a warning notice to the farmers and stall owners.
  4. SAMKA also refuted the private corporation’s claim that 300 farmers had signed the contract in the media. The truth is that no farmers had signed the contract, but only some farmers paid the corporation in order to obtain an “entry permit” to go into their durian farms temporarily. As this was in no way an indication that farmers had agreed and signed the contract, SAMKA urged the corporation to stop lying to the public.
  5. SAMKA has appointed its lawyers and is ready to take the matter to the court against the relevant parties. Also, it would apply for an injunction in order to stop the State Government and the private corporation from taking any action against the farmers.
  6. SAMKA has prepared a memorandum and is collecting farmers’ signatures, in hope that His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong as well as Sultan of Pahang who cares a lot about the wellbeing of the citizens would be concerned about the “Musang King crisis” in order to save the people from hardship.
  7. SAMKA would also cordially invite the media to Sungai Chalit, Raub on August 24 in order to witness together how the State Government and the private corporation cooperated unscrupulously to forcibly take away the “Musang King Kingdom” established by the farmers with blood, sweat and tears since decades ago.
  8. SAMKA said that the Raub District is called “Musang King Hub” because it is the main producer of Musang King durians in the world. The so-called “illegal farmers” played an indispensable role in it as the “legal durians” that they had harvested made Musang King to be a world-renowned brand. The farmers’ only “wrong” is that no land titles nor licenses were given to them by the State Government even though they had been applying for decades. At this juncture, we do not wish sympathy from the State Government, but merely hope that it will not work with the private corporation and treat the farmers as “durian slaves” by sacrificing their blood, sweat and tears for personal gain.

Press Statement by Save Musang King Alliance (SAMKA) on August 19, 2020

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2 Responses to The plight of the Musang King farmers in Pahang…

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  2. Pingback: The predicament of the Raub Musang King farmers… | weehingthong

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