- Published: November 20, 2022
- Updated: November 21, 2022
- Language: English
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Pick any rural area that you are familiar with. Describe its socio economic background including approximate broadband penetration. Describe occupations that are existing there, demographics and geographies lay out including major buildings and geographical locations.
What are rural areas? According to an online source, the definition of rural areas is areas that are largely isolated in an open country with low population density. Many people often have a misconception between the terms “ countryside” and “ rural areas”. Countryside is often referred to rural areas that are open. Areas such as forest, wetlands and others that have low population density are associated with rural areas. However the definition between the terms countryside, rural and urban areas differ from one country to another. In Malaysia’s early days, urban areas often equated to gazetted administration districts with a population of 1000 or more inhabitants where most of its economy are mainly professional-based. Most of the people living in urban areas work as
Figure : Malaysia – Rural Populationdoctors, lawyers, engineers and others. However, this definition is no longer applicable in today’s world. In Malaysia, the economy of the rural areas on the other hand is mainly agricultural-based. Most of the settlers are smallholder operators in agricultural sector and labourers. The smallholder agricultural sector includes oil palm plantation, rubber plantation, fishermen, and estate workers, just to name a few. From Figure : Malaysia – Rural Population graph, it can be seen that there are many rural settlers in the 90’s. However, according to World Bank statistics, it is reported that in the year 2008 itself, the population of rural settlers was 8007029. 29 people. From the graph itself, it can be seen that after the year 2000, the rural populations start to decrease. One of the reasons that cause the reduction of rural population is the migration of rural settlers to urban areas.
Since decades ago, the main occupations of the rural settlers in Peninsular Malaysia are fishing or farming. Most of these settlers live in villages which are often known as kampongs. These villages consist of houses that are built on stilts with wooden or bamboo walls and floors, and thatched palm roofs. However, just as urban areas, there are higher income earners too in these villages. Higher income earners are often to live in houses that have either tin or tile roofs. Since the main occupation of these villages is farming, most of the rural settlers grow rice. Thus, rice will be their staple food. In Malaysia, most of the rural settlers are farmers due to the ideal climate and environment in Malaysia throughout the year that allows paddy to be planted. Besides paddy cultivating, fresh vegetables plantation and fishing in nearby streams or rivers are part of their daily chores. Raising rubber trees for rubber collection is carried out to increase the family income. Those living along the coast will earn their living through fishing. In Sabah and Sarawak, the rural settlers differ from Peninsular Malaysia. In the western of Malaysia, most of the people live in isolated villages. They preferred to stay together in a large long house that can accommodate lots of families. Their daily chores include raising vegetables, hunting, fishing and gathering edible plants in the jungles. In most rural villages whether in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak, there will a few shops that will be operated by Chinese merchants. These shops will sell items that rural settlers could not produce. They include coffee, milks, utensils and others. However, in Sabah and Sarawak, some Chinese peddlers are willing to travel to the isolated villages by boat. Once they reached the isolated villages, they will exchange their goods with the forest products that the rural settlers have. Most of the rural settlers live in poverty. There are many factors that drive poverty among the rural settlers. One of the factors is multidimensional in nature ranging from social to economic factors. One of the researchers, Ungku Aziz (1964) stated that poverty is usually associated with lack infrastructures, low income, low productivity and unemployment. In conclusion, poverty in rural areas is due to lack of infrastructure development, welfare programmes and agricultural development.
Figure 1: Jengka Triangle LocationUntil today, in Malaysia there are many rural areas that are scattered around. In this write up, the rural area that is picked is FELDA Jengka. FELDA Jengka or Bandar Pusat Jengka is located in the state of Pahang, Peniinsular Malaysia as shown in Figure 1. Bandar Pusat Jengka is one of the major cities and is located in the centre of the triangle Jengka which is also known as Felda Jengka. Bandar Pusat Jengka is under the supervision and administration of FELDA. It is located near to Gunung Senyum Recreational Forest which serves as a tourist destination. Gunung Senyum is believed that since Mesolithic era, there are human settlements in this area. Next to Gunung Senyum is Gunung Puyuh which consists of 18 caves. FELDA stands for Federal Land Development Authority which is established in 1st July 1956 by the Malaysian Government to handle the resettlement of rural poor to much more developed areas. FELDA provide the initial models to the rural settlers to start their career in farming. This scheme is only applicable to ethnic Malays. Currently, according to a study carried out, FELDA is one of the world’s largest plantation owners. FELDA has about 811140 hectares of oil palms across Peninsular Malaysia.
The location of Jengka Triangle or FELDA Jengka where 25 settlements are found in this Triangle.
Figure 1: Location of Jengka Triangle Development Area http://www. nzdl. org/gsdl/collect/ccgi/archives/HASH9312. dir/80636e01. gif
Figure 2: Jengka Triangle Development Area
Jengka was first found in the year 1967 and today its population is reaching almost 300 thousand people. Jengka is located in between three regions namely Temerloh, Maran and Jerantut. This small town obtained its name from a nearby river called Sungai Jengka. According to some residents there, this river obtained its name from a story where a woman by the named Yang Jangka who drowned in this river. The Lembaga Kemajuan Wilayah Jengka (LKWJ) administered this town from the year 1967 to 1997. Then from 1997 until today, Jengka is administered by Majlis Daerah Maran (MDM). Bandar Pusat Jengka got its name from Jengka town. Jengka town originally is a settlement that specially built for workers who work in Kilang Syarikat Jengka Sdn. Bhd. (SJSB) in 1969. Kilang Syarikat Jengka Sdn. Bhd. (SJSB) is a subsidiary of the Pahang State Government.
Jengka settlers came from all over Malaysia since 1986. They are the poor people who have the living standard of below poverty level. According to a study done, the majority of the FELDA Jengka settlers’ ancestors are mostly deployed from the northern states such as Perak, Perlis, Kedah and Penang. However, there are some who came from eastern states and southern states such as Kelantan, Melaka, and Selangor, just to name a few. This will leads to a blend of different cultures and traditions as different settlers from different states will try to preserve their ancestry customs and culture. Besides the majority Malays settlers, there are also Chinese and Indians settlers. Table 1 shows the breakdown of the Jengka settlers by state origin. It can be seen that most of the settlers are from the state of Pahang itself.
Table 1: Jengka Settlers by state of origin
Today under the administration of FELDA, in Bandar Pusat Jengka itself, there are about 25 FELDA settlements. They include FELDA Anggerik Jengka 1, FELDA Cempaka Jengka 2, FELDA Dahlia Jengka 3, FELDA Kemboja Jengka 4, FELDA Kekwa Jengka 5, FELDA Keembong Jengka 6, FELDA Kenanga Jengka 7, FELDA Kesidang Jengka 8, FELDA Kesumba Jengka 9, FELDA Mawar Jengka 10, FELDA Melati Jengka 11, FELDA Melor Jengka 12, FELDA Puteri Malu Jengka 13, FELDA Raya Jengka 14, FELDA Semarak Jengka 15, FELDA Sena Jengka 16, FELDA Seri Pagi Jengka 17, FELDA Seroja Jengka 18, FELDA Siantan Jengka 19, FELDA Tanjung Jengka 20 , FELDA Teratai Jengka 21, FELDA Terkis Jengka 22, FELDA Tonkin Jengka 23, FELDA Jengka 24, and FELDA Jengka 25. These FELDA settlements are located a few kilometres away from each others. In each settlement there are about 300 to 500 of settlers occupying.
Each of the male settlers is known as “ Peneroka FELDA” and their wives are known as “ Penerokawati”. The wives of the settlers are under the supervision of a manager that is appointed by the FELDA. For example in FELDA Jengka 25, there are about 152 families living in this settlement. FELDA Jengka 25 opened its door in the year 1986. The years before that, which is in between the year 1983 and 1984, development and deployment in FELDA Jengka 25 begin. In this settlement, farming land is divided into two categories which are Level 002 and Level 004. Level 002 consists of 95 people and Level 004 consists of 57 people. Level 003 do not have any settlers. The main occupations of the FELDA settlers are mainly agriculture based as more than half of the populations in FELDA Jengka are involved in agricultural activities. Table 2 shows the distribution of settlers in the FELDA Jengka Triangle according to scheme. From Table 2, it can be seen that FELDA Jengka settlers are mainly involve in oil plantation and rubber. Thus, it can be concluded that in Jengka Triangle the main crops are oil palm and rubber.
FELDA Jengka 24 is one of the 25 settlements in FELDA Jengka. It is found that up to year 2008, the population of this settlement is about 5000 people. Most of the settlers are involved in small businesses through the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) which was established few years back. Most of the older generations that settle in this settlement are involved in land cultivating, and working in farms and orchards. The younger generations have further their studies at the tie tertiary level in other states. Some of the younger generations seek jobs in big cities like Kuala Lumpur. As stated in the beginning of the writing, plantation sector is the source of income for most settlers in Jengka Triangle. Most of the settlers in FELDA Jengka 24 and also others settlements in the Jengka Triangle regions are involved in oil palm plantation. Besides involving in oil palm plantation, the settlers are brave enough to take the risk of investing in agarwood tree plantation. Agarwood is said to be one of the most expensive and good quality plant product. It is said that this plants required eight months to reap and a total of five years are needed for the trees to be cut. All the settlers work very closely with FELDA in this sector. Mature oil palms will be collected by the settlers and will be transported to FELDA’s Oil Palm Processing Plant to be processed. FELDA play an important role in ensuring that the settlers will be paid for their hard work. Besides, it is also found that there is an average of 13 shops per scheme. Most of the shops sell basic necessities such as rice, sugar, canned food and others. There are also shops that operate as coffee shops that sell various types of cakes, drinks and noodles. Sundry shops and coffee shops are commonly found in the settlements. Besides, sundry shops and coffee shops, there are shops that repair motors, hardware shops, bookshops and others. Recently, a youth from FELDA Jengka involved in aquaculture field. Leech farming has been initiated by Mohd Khairul Nizam Che Anuar and his friends. They will rear leeches in canvas containers and after 60 days, they will sell these leeches at the price of RM200 per kilogram. These leeches will be processed into leech oil.
Table 2: Distribution of Jengka Settlers based on the scheme
In Bandar Pusat Jengka, there are about eight schools, two colleges and a university. The Government realized that education is really important in shaping the future of the younger generations. Besides, in Malaysia’s constitution, every citizens of Malaysia have the right to obtain a proper education. Thus, schools such as Sekolah Kebangsaan Jengka Pusat, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Jengka Pusat, Maahad As-Sultan Ahmad Shah Ad-Dini, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Jengka 6 and others were built. FELDA too provides monetary support for the settlers’ children who are furthering their studies to tertiary level. Besides, the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Cawangan Pahang – Kampus Bandar Jengka was built so that standard of living of the settlers in Bandar Pusat Jengka can be improved. The Government have been developed Bandar Pusat Jengka by introducing new facilities to accommodate the needs of the people living in Bandar Pusat Jengka. The Government realized that new facilities should be built in rural areas like Bandar Pusat Jengka to ensure that the rural settlers are not left behind in the country’s development. Bandar Pusat Jengka has been given many public facilities. They include Jengka Hospitals, Masjid Sultan Ahmad Shah, Bandar Jengka, public library, bus terminal Nadi Kota Bandar Pusat Jengka and Urban Community Polyclinic Jengka. Besides these facilities, the Government too have bring some of the Government agencies such as , Islamic Council and the Office of Customs Pahang , police station, Fire and Rescue Department , National Registration Department, Department of Road Transport, Office of National Energy and Office of the NSW Department of Water Supply to this area so that the rural settlers need not need to travel to the nearest town some 40 kilometres away to make a visit to any of these agencies. In addition to that, the Government too built some sports facilities such as golf courses, sports complex and mini stadium to allow the rural settlers to involve themselves in sports. Financial institutions such as Maybank, Bank Rakyat, Tabung Haji and Affin Bank just to name a few have established in Bandar Pusat Jengka. These financial institutions provide facilities such as loans, financial management and others to help the rural settlers to increase their crops production. The welfare and safety of the settlers in each settlement in FELDA Jengka is well taken care of by the Scheme Development and Security Committee (JKKR) which is formed under FELDA entrusted. The Scheme Development and Security Committee (JKKR) will uphold a high responsibility in giving co-operations and help to the settlers so that the settlers will be able to progress further which is part of the government’s aspirations.
In the recent Budget, the Government has allocated a huge amount of allocation to develop the rural areas around Malaysia. This is to ensure that the settlers in the rural areas will be able to obtain adequate facilities. It can be seen that in most rural areas, most of the residents are able to enjoy electricity and water supply in their homes. Currently the one of the Government inspirations is to connect the rural areas with the urban areas. In order to achieve this, penetration of broadband should be introduced to rural areas. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Centre Line Community (CBC) is introduced to FELDA Jengka 23 and 25 in April 2010. This main aim of this facility is to help the younger generations in the rural settlement to be ICT literacy and to fill their leisure time. By having internet facility in the rural settlements, the younger generations will be able to communicate with the outside world as bridging between the rural and urban community could be formed. This will able to widen their knowledge. CBC was introduced to rural settlements due to the inspiration from the Government to ensure that all Malaysians have knowledge about the internet and are able to connect to the world. Besides, this will bring changes to the mentality of the FELDA younger generations settlers. According to CBC FELDA Jengka 23 Manager, Mohd Shahrir Md Yusof, he said that this facility is a joint venture project between the Government with Suruhanjaya Komunikasi Dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) and Telekom Malaysia. Broadband penetration in rural areas such as FELDA Jengka has brought changes to the living standard of the settlers. With the internet facility at Centre Line Community (CBC), the settlers are able to save time, money and energy. Moreover, their daily activities such as paying monthly utility bills, business online payment (money transfer), communicate with outstation family members and products ordering by consumers; just to name a few will be easier to be carried out. With this broadband penetration in FELDA Jengka, the settlers need not need to travel more than 40 kilometres to the nearest town such as Termerloh to carry out their activities. Currently in FELDA Jengka 23 itself, the Government and other organizations have allocated 20 units of computers. The settlers are able to use the facility from 9am to 6pm throughout the week. Besides, the CBC too provides basic computer classes to educate the settlers on the operations of the computer and some of the programmes. According to Mohd Shahrir, there is a high respond from the settlers on this facility where the average users of the facility are more than 100 settlers per day. Besides FELDA Jengka 23, other settlements such as FELDA Jengka 24 too are equipped with the broadband facility. In FELDA Jengka 24, the CBC is located together with the Rural Clinic. According to Khairul Nizam Che Anuar or Along who is a youth living in FELDA Jengka 24, he said that he usually visit the CBC to surf the internet and to learn more about leech farming. CBC too can surf as a place where the settlers are able to meet up and communicate with other settlers. Thus, this will leads to a better bonding between the settlers. In FELDA Jengka 24, there are only two computers, a scanner and printer.
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