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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

ESTATE LIFE - WILL NEVER BE THE SAME


Post-Merdeka in the times of Tan Siew Sin as Finance Minister, he made it easier for the Chinese to leap-frog from landless into land owners of estates that had been sold by colonials and fragmented into much smaller pieces (10ac to min-estates) of land which were affordable by many. Loans to purchase the lands were facilitated because they could them as collaterals. These are first class lands meaning they are fertile. Overnight the Chinese owned more land than the Malays.

The fragmented estates are worked or managed differently, more by family members. Many of the Indian workers became redundant and were ejected out of the estates to eke a living in towns and elsewhere. It was traumatic shock to find themselves suddenly jobless. This was made worse for lack the skills on new trades. The government, at this juncture failed to alleviate their predicament.

The colonials had alienated fertile land to build estates for rubber mainly in those days. And purposely, the Malay kampongs with rather infertile lands are located at the periphery of the estates. The Malays would provide additional workforce as estate workers apart from the predominantly Indian coolies, mandores and lower rank staff. The Chinese were given contracts to clear the land, planting, and infractrutural and other developments.

My kampong was squeezed between 2 estates, Francis Estate and another that I do not remember the name. The Hospital Assistant (HA) in the former, Abraham (Indian) was like a doctor to us. We called him 'Tuan Dressa'. I recalled my elder sister had a skin(?) problem and we went to see him. Once a while open-air Indian movies were shown in the estate and we cycled the laterite road to see them. Several of the Indian estate boys would play soccer with us in the afternoons at the school padang.

I had on two occasions to be attached to H&C estates for vacation-training during College of Agriculture days.
Tun Razak realising that the Malays own small plots of infertile lands introduced FELDA schemes whereby each family is given 10ac of established land with rubber or oil palm. The settlers just move in with their families and belongings into wooden, 3-room homes provided.

Raised labourers' quarters, built in 1908 and pulled down in 1946.







The Coliseum, Kuala Lumpur is the place for the estate managers for their setengahs and binges whenever they could make it. Most big towns have their favourite water holes.

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