Effective Institutional Arrangement in Rural Development: Malaysia.
MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Rural has always been a centre point in discussions on development. Although much efforts and time have been given in studying various aspects of the rural life, rural problems such as high income disparity between urban and rural still exist as long standing problems that need to be further studied and addressed. The main aim of this study is to look at the rural development problems from the institutional aspects in particular its institutional arrangements as it’s has been identified as the most important contributing factor in the problems associated with the agricultural projects by the World Bank. Therefore for the improvement in rural development, effective, well design and suitably targeted institutional arrangements are essential.
For that matter, study on problems faced by the rural communities was carried out in three districts in the West Malaysia that is the District of Kota Tinggi in the State of Johore, the District of Rompin in the State of Pahang and the District of Jempol in the State of Negeri Sembilan. The villagers from these districts comprising of those from various background and the officers of the agencies involved in rural development in the districts were interviewed for clearer picture of the problems faced by the local communities. Face to face interview was applied for the primary data and data form the secondary sources was used as support for the arguments. Qualitative approach in particular thematic analysis was applied in this study in order to develop an understanding of the meaning and experience dimensions of human lives and social worlds in particular the development’s problems facing the rural communities. The primary data was analysed using Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software or CAQDAS, in particular NVivo.
The study as other studies on rural development revealed that rural community in the study areas are facing diverse and complex problems. However, from the perspective of most respondents, the most profound problem faced by the local community in the study areas is weakness of the local economy. It was suggested by 89.8% of the respondents. This was followed by weakness of the rural development agencies (88.1%), weakness of the community based institutions (81.4%), negative attitudes of the local population (76.3%)
and weakness of the local leadership (74.6%). The study has also demonstrated that the government is very much involved in determining the direction of development in the study areas as the rural people are also dependent on them to bring development to their areas. Although, efforts have been made to develop rural areas through infrastructure, economic and human capital development, continuing emphasis has been given to infrastructure and basic amenities where satisfactory progress has been made in this aspect of development, comparatively less has been achieved in the economic development and human capital development. The study has also illustrated that the development process which involves three main organisations: the state-based agencies, the national-based agencies and the Village Development and Security Committee or the JKKK is ineffective. This is primarily because at the grass roots level, JKKK is a weak community base institution that is unable to play a more significant role in rural development. Agencies are heavily bureaucratic in nature that made their co-operation and co-ordination difficult. Their division in the form of sectoral based agencies has limited their concentration on economic development, mainly on cultivation of commodity crops, while limitations in terms of financial resources and manpower limited the concentration of state-base agencies such as the district office mainly to infrastructure development and basic amenities.
These are the main findings that must be taken into account by the rural practitioners in outlining and implementing plans for rural development. There must be a concentrated political will taken to diversify the rural economy. Emphasis must also be given to empower the community base institution in particular the JKKK so that they can be a strong and effective development institution at grass-root level. Emphasis must also given to improve the co-ordination and co-operation between rural development agencies, as well as providing and encouraging local participation in decision making process at every level. This will eventually lead to the formation of effective institutional arrangement for rural development.
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