When the Felda Model was introduced, many Malaysians in rural areas overcame poverty, thanks to earnings from oil palm.
Mohd Hussin Yahya is a man of few words, but his facial expression well articulates a sense of gratitude for the comfortable livelihood he now enjoys owing to his oil palm land. At his single-storey brick house built on a 0.1ha piece of land ensconced within Felda Scheme Krau 1 in Mempaga, Pahang, the 69-year-old breaks into a small smile when we comment that it feels like a bungalow by rural area standards.
A peek inside shows cemented flooring and tiled walls, complete with spacious halls and a flat-screen television set in the living room. It is a dream abode – one that he never quite imagined he would own considering his humble roots (he even lived without electricity and water supply).
Back then, his house was a simple wooden build-up bereft of modern conveniences, until about five years ago when he managed to save enough from his monthly earnings as an oil palm landowner to renovate and rebuild the place.
A Felda (Federal Land Development Authority) settler now for 30 years, his poor background had been key to his eligibility for land ownership. Prior to that, he was working as a labourer at a Felda mill in Trolak, taking home a monthly income of about RM300, and to better support his family, he became a part-time religious teacher and a mosque leader (imam) in the evenings.