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close this bookAgricultural Expansion and Pioneer Settlements in the Humid Tropics (UNU, 1988, 305 pages)
View the documentAcknowledgments
close this folder1. Introduction
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close this folder2. Spontaneous and planned settlement in south-east Asia
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View the documentThailand
View the documentClearing and settlement in the highland-lowland transition zone of northern Thailand
View the documentMalaysia
View the documentThe Philippines
View the documentIndonesia
View the documentConclusion: government-sponsored versus spontaneous settlement
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close this folder3. Types of spontaneous pioneer settlement in Thailand
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View the documentThe causes of pioneer settlement
View the documentExpansion of farm land by local peasants within their village territory: the example of Nong Samong
View the documentLand colonization by peasants outside their village territory: the example of km 79
View the documentColonization by medium- and large-scale farmers: the example of the Chon Buri Hinterland
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close this folder4. The forest colonization process: case studies of two communities in north-east and south-east Thailand
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View the documentThe problem
close this folderCase study 1: history of settlement and in-migration
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View the documentSettlers and occupation groups
View the documentSettlement pattern and the community
close this folderCase study 2: history of settlement
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View the documentSettlers and occupation groups
View the documentSettlement pattern and the community
View the documentConclusion
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close this folder5. Differentiation and dynamics of land-use systems in a mountain-valley environment: a area, case study of new colonization areas in the Upper Mae Nam Pa Sak catchment Thailand
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close this folderDevelopment of land-use systems
View the documentAgricultural production conditions in the study area
View the documentLand clearance and emergence of present land-use systems
View the documentProblems and potential avenues of development of present land use
close this folderLand-use development in the Scarp-Valley zone
View the documentThe traditional land-use system
View the documentClearance of the Scarp Zone and intensification of farming in the Valley Zone
View the documentConclusion
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close this folder6. Man in the mangrove forest: a socio-economic case study in Southern Thailand
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close this folder7. The Jengka Triangle: a report on research in progress
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View the documentEvaluating the Jengka Triangle experience
View the documentThe urban subsystem in the Jengka area
View the documentPreliminary observations
View the documentThe second-generation "problem"
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close this folder8. Energy use in West Malaysian rural villages, with special reference to Felda villages
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View the documentDescription of the selected villages
View the documentComparison of the economic energy situation in the villages
View the documentHousehold budget allotment for energy costs
View the documentEnergy supply and the use of alternative energy sources
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close this folder9. Are Malaysian land settlers (new) peasants? Antropological observation of a nascent Community
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View the documentPresentation of a Felda scheme
View the documentDefining the peasantry
View the documentFelda settlers versus malay peasants
View the documentEmergence of a new community
View the documentConclusion
View the documentNotes
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close this folder10. Resource use of frontiers and pioneer settlement in southern Sumatra
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View the documentSumatra's role in pioneer settlement in Indonesia
View the documentPioneer settlement in the Mountain Zone
View the documentPioneer settlement in the peneplains
View the documentPioneer settlement in the swamps of the eastern lowlands
View the documentConclusions
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close this folder11. Ex-military settlements in Indonesia and the emergence of social differentiation in frontier areas
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View the documentInitial efforts
View the documentEarly settlement pattern
View the documentThe Sapta Marga concept applied
View the documentTowards integration
View the documentConcluding remarks
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close this folder12. A survey of government pioneer land settlement programmes in south-east Asia
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View the documentObjectives of land settlement programmes
View the documentOrganization of land settlement agencies
View the documentImplementation concepts and practices
View the documentIntake of settlers
View the documentConcluding remarks
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close this folder13. Un exemple de colonisation des terres marginales: le cas du nord-est Ivoirien
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View the documentLe paysage naturel: realités et mythes Le paysage naturel: realites et mythes
View the documentLe paysage humain et social
View the documentProblematique économique et la question des terres Problematique economique et la question des terres
View the documentLes initiatives publiques et les nouvelles conditions du développement dans le nord-est
View the documentLe projet de développement intégré du nord-est
View the documentRésumé
View the documentConclusion
View the documentBibliographie sommaire
close this folder14. The land Tenure and agrarian system in the new cocoa frontier of Ghana: Wassa Akropong case study
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentEvolution of the customary tenure system
View the documentThe migrant farmer and land access
View the documentSize of holdings
View the documentResources
View the documentLand use
View the documentFarmers perception of tenure problems
View the documentConclusion
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close this folder15. Colonization in Central America
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View the documentObjectives and dangers of colonization in the humid tropics
View the documentEcological regions Of Central America
View the documentThe process of colonization In Central America
View the documentCountry situations
View the documentThe process of land conversion
View the documentResearch and implementation needs
View the documentConclusion
View the documentNotes
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close this folder16. Organized settlement on the Amazon frontier: The Caquetá project in Colombia
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View the documentThe project
View the documentProject characteristics
View the documentTarget population
View the documentDevelopment or stabilizing strategy
View the documentThe environmental issue in Colombia
View the documentMaterial accomplishments of Phase II
View the documentProject investment and cost
View the documentSocio-political events in the project area
View the documentStability of the production model
View the documentEnvironmental effects
View the documentEnvironmental costs
View the documentFrontier stabilization alternatives
View the documentFrontier management technology
close this folder17. The colonization and occupation of Brazilian Amazonia
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View the documentRecent economic development and governmental policies regarding the Amazon
View the documentAmazonian colonization from 1964 to the present
View the documentThe border and social conflicts
View the documentNotes
View the documentReferences
View the documentParticipants and contributors

Felda settlers versus malay peasants

In attempting to determine whether FELDA settlers are peasants, one ought to go through the literature written by social scientists on the Malay peasantry on the one hand and that dealing with FELDA settlers on the other. It is interesting to note that neither body even raises the labelling issue; studies dealing with the Malay peasantry do not mention FELDA settlers in one way or another (Firth 1950; Fatimah Halim 1980; Wan Hashim 1983; Zawawi 1984). De Koninck is the only author who clearly takes sides by including FELDA settlers among Malay peasants (de Koninck 1986),'4 while Zulkifly's position is ambiguous; he implicitly treats them as a distinct category when he writes about "the peasantry and the smallholder sector" (Zulkifly 1983, 43-44), yet his smallholder sector includes the village rubber smallholders. In my view, the latter cannot be regarded as distinct from peasants, while the land tenure system in FELDA schemes makes equating settlers with village smallholders debatable.15

As to the studies devoted to FELDA settlers (Alladin Hashim 1979; Abu Hassan Othman 1982; Rokiah Talib 1983; Singh 1968; Bahrin and Perera 1977; Bahrin 1981, 1982; Yui Huen Kwan 1980), none tackles the issue of their structural relationship with (other?) Malay peasants.16

The next step towards answering the initial question involves the processing of our own ethnographic data in the light of the four dimensional definition outlined above.

To start with, the first criterion as expressed by Shanin (1971, 14), "the family farm as the basic unit of multi-dimensional social organization," poses problems. In FELDA schemes, while the nuclear family does represent the basic social and residential unit, it does not act as a working unit, at least in oil palm schemes; the male settler is the main, if not the only, producer as women are physically unable to handle the fruit bunches, which can weigh up to 50 kilos or even more. Besides, as stated earlier, the income generated by the settler's labour is not directly proportional to the latter because of the block system that treats income and production on a team basis. In the same way, while each settler is meant to work within the limits of a particular piece of land," it would be difficult to regard this as "family land," not only because-during the period of repayment of the loan at least-the relationship to the land is closer to share tenancy than to a full ownership right but because such land has neither been transmitted via kinship ties nor been bought from a known individual; neither has it been gained from the forest by the personal efforts of the settler himself. Put another way, the legal relationship that ties the settler to the land is mediated via FELDA, whereas in a Malay village community the land either belongs to the cultivator himself or to some person whom he knows; the mediator is not an anonymous entity. We will come back shortly to the crucial problem raised by the tenure of land in FELDA schemes.

The occupational criterion that is part of the definition of peasantry being rather flexible, it still applies to FELDA settlers' work; although specialized to the extreme, work in the scheme is clearly agricultural. 18

However, questions emerge when one considers the identification of peasants with a traditional culture which includes a village community. One of the decisive factors of Malay village culture is a pattern of residence organized along kinship ties and according to a specific perception of the natural environment (e.g. the role of the river19 or of the sea front in the location of the village). In FELDA schemes, the residential organization has no social basis, and the actual location has nothing to do with the people's worldview. Malay culture plays no part in the location of dwellings in relation to each other or in relation to the natural environment.

Further-and here we come back to land to make a basic point-even though such was not the case before the advent of British colonialism, land is a commodity in a Malay village, and, if one may say so, it is a "living" commodity. It has both a historical and a socio-economic value. It has a historical value in the sense that the cultivated territory as a whole tells the story of a settlement process for a given community, and each particular lot tells the story of a long line of individuals, of their efforts, their failures, and other biological data, such as the number of their dependents, etc. Moreover, land has socio-economic aspects because it can and does circulate; it can be divided, taken away, accumulated, or rented, and as such it is a medium of communication between villagers, a medium that is ruled by a complex host of social forces including customary law.

In FELDA schemes, land is allocated on an individual basis, but even when the loan has been totally repaid,20 it never becomes private property as it does in a village. Until now, the agency has been granting a form of group ownership; for the future, it seems to be in favour of a shareholding system. Whatever alternative, the settler only acquires the right to maintain one lot: the latter cannot be divided up or sold or rented, and nothing but the main crop can be grown on it. Yet, as long as the settler lives on the scheme, he can have his agricultural work carried out by someone else, whether a settler or not, or he can choose one from among his heirs to succeed him. However, if he decides to move out of the scheme, he forfeits any right to the land, both plantation and house lot, as well as to the house itself. Land is thus immobilized,21 "deep-frozen" into an artificial equality, insensitive to the passage of time and to the impact of socio-economic forces, and, as Raison wrote, "such a systematic immobilization can prevent the scheme from ever having a life of its own" (Raison 1968, 62). Yet, as the same author himself admits, such a tight control on land is a necessary condition of land settlement schemes if one wants them to be successful ventures both for the organizing agency and for the settlers (Raison 1968, 61). This is only one aspect of the rigid economic supervision generally exerted on settlers' activities which further results in a curtailing of spontaneous community dynamism.

Such restriction is especially conspicuous in the political sphere. The only avenue for settlers' representation is the institution of the block leaders (ketua belok), who are elected by and amongst the block members. In traditional villages, leaders enjoy religious significance (being orang lebai, "pious men," or imam, prayer leaders) and/or economic status (being landowners and sometimes cattle owners or civil servants); such criteria play very little part in the selection of block leaders. One could argue that ex officio members of the JKKR-the scheme development body-conform to the socalled traditional qualifications, being school head, government midwife, scheme policeman, however, apart from the school imam, who is both an ex officio JKKR member and a settler, none of the other officials (who are posted on the scheme) really shares the settlers' needs and problems, and none has any reason to defend the settlers" claims if any come to their notice. As to the block leaders who do sit on the JKKR as well, few of them have the assets deriving from education and official position that the other JKKR members possess, and because of that, most of them lack the oratory selfconfidence and competence of the latter.

The block leader, then, plays the rather vulnerable part of a go-between, ever open to criticism, and when he fails to satisfy the expectations of either party (his fellow block members or FELDA cadres), he is no longer accepted. Tensions sometimes run so high that resignation is the only alternative left open. It also happens that a particular block can be managed smoothly. Yet, in all cases, the block leader is in a rather uncomfortable position from which he derives no prestige. In fact, it is worth noting that most block leaders are "ordinary" settlers in a further sense: they are often satisfied with the income obtained from plantation work and do not necessarily look for extra income, they may not even be the most industrious settlers in their respective blocks.22 So neither in economic nor in political terms can the block leader meet the conditions required to be a "leader of men" (penimpin), and the settlers are not assured of effective representation. The scheme community thus lacks some of the factors that usually permit the development of political life in spontaneously organized settlements.23

It seems, therefore, that the major attributes of a peasant community are lacking-land mobility, cultural integration into the natural environment, reflection of the social order in the spatial distribution of the population, political dynamism. It is thus at least questionable to use the label peasants when discussing FELDA settlers.