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Rural Development in Malaysia-Issues and Problems Conf ronting MADA, FELDA and RISDA1

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Asia is predominantly a rural society. And yet, a quarter century ago, when the Asian countries emerged as politically independent nations from centuries of colonial rule, they adopted a development model2 which was indifferent if not inimical to rural development. Support for this model, which essentially permitted continuation of existing international economic relationships, came from two external sources-the developed countries of the West and the developed centrally planned countries.3 Recent years have also witnessed a heightened concern in the Third World countries over the problem of economic development. In most developing countries, past development efforts appear to have failed to bring about a real development breakthrough. Yet the recent spate of world economic crises, associated with global inflation-cum-recession, oil price increases, food shortages, instabilities in the world commodity markets, have hit many developing countries very hard, especially those in South Asia which have actually experienced a reduction in average per capita living standards over the past few years. In Malaysia, some even suggested that although money income has gone up, there are disquieting signs that the quality of life is deteriorating and that many people are finding it more and more difficult to satisfy their basic needs.4 Then the crisis of the world's agriculture and its peasant masses had led to the proposal of a number of development strategies in the rural areas (i.e. Redistribution of land; Abolition of rents and tenant arrangements; Landholding reform; Intensification of peasant agriculture; Family farms; Cooperatives; and Collective farms, etc.), all of which have been tried with more or less success in different parts of the world. Within this paper, we will specially look at the rural development efforts of Malaysia, especially some of the issues and problems encountered by some of it's rural development programmes.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Social Development and Administration, Universiti Sains Malaysia


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