|Agricultural Expansion and Pioneer Settlements in the Humid Tropics (UNU, 1988, 305 pages)|
|12. A survey of government pioneer land settlement programmes in south-east Asia|
As indicated earlier, all the ASEAN countries concurrently carry out different types of resettlement projects involving different implementing agencies. Often the organizational structures of these agencies within the same country differ depending, of course, on the importance attached to each of the projects concerned (Bahrin 1984).
Policy formulation and implementation of the land settlement programmes have been the responsibility of specially instituted organizational machinery, and one of the causes of the regular policy modifications could be the frequent changes in the machinery. Another cause could be the proliferation of its component agencies. all pursuing independently the same objective without sufficient resources either to centralize or coordinate their various efforts. In Indonesia, the responsibility for the planning and implementation of the transmigration projects was transferred from one ministry to another and from one department to another, with obvious important repercussions on matters of policy (Bahrin 1973, 49).
One of the direct consequences of these departmental and ministerial reshuffles was that little work was done, the lack of continuity in administration precluding even a reasonably effective implementation of the projects. The other relevant fact that needs mention is that, besides the agency in charge of transmigration, resettlement has also been carried out by two other agencies, although on a definitely smaller scale. These two agencies have confined themselves to the resettlement of either veterans of the Revolution or ex-army personnel, the former by the Biro Rekonstruksi Nasional and the latter by the Corps Tjadangan Nasional, later renamed and reorganized into the Biro Penampungan Bekas Angkatan Tentera (Bureau for the Resettlement of Ex-Servicemen). Their functions have been little known and seldom co-ordinated with those of the Department of Transmigration. It must, however, be pointed out that the types of settlement project undertaken by the latter department since independence have been many, differing in details of implementation. Schemes for general resettlement, or transmigrasi umum, have been the major undertaking, the participants being resettled with the maximum government support and assistance, while the local resettlement schemes, or transmigrasi lokal, have been retained for those resettled with their province of origin. There have been others, such as resettlement schemes for ax-prisoners, for repatriates from Surinam, and for those settlers migrating to the schemes mainly on their own and with the minimum of government assistance (referred to under the term transmigrasi spontan, or spontaneous transmigration). Recently, there has been a move to reduce the types of project to only three, resettlement schemes of a general nature, sectoral or special settlements, and spontaneous settlements.
In 1972, a new resettlement programme was initiated in Indonesia known as the Village Resettlement Programme. The main aim of this programme was to resettle people in new villages with the objective of providing them with a better quality of life. These people were living in dispersed and isolated areas that were either too few or too inaccessible to be provided with social infrastructural facilities. Resettlement areas may be located within the same island or the same province. This programme is the responsibility of the governors of the respective provinces (Inter-Governmental Coordinating Committee 1983, 5). It must be noted that, on paper, all the various agencies and departments involved in transmigration must work through the co-ordinating agency, that is, the Department of Transmigration (Tjondronegoro 1983, 5).
Changes also took place in the organizational machinery in the Philippines, with similar attendant ill-consequences. When the concept was first introduced in 1939, the agency entrusted with the planning and implementation of settlement schemes was called the National Land Settlement Administration (NLSA). Now the responsible agency is the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) (Bahrin 1971, 23). As in Indonesia, such nominal changes were accompanied by policy changes. The Philippine government had also been involved in resettlement schemes for exservicemen and axdissidents. Popularly known as EDCOR Farms, these schemes were placed under the administration of the Land Authority in 1967.
Following the armed rebellions of the "national minorities," the martial law government of former President Marcos initiated a number of specialized resettlement projects:
(i) SPARE resettlements, or Special Programme of Assistance for Relocation of Evacuees from areas affected by civil disorders
(ii) CNI Settlements and Reservations administered by the Commission of National Integration
(iii) PANAMIN Projects, resettlement established under the Presidential Assistance to National Minorities
The departmental changes in Thailand have been relatively few. When the Department of Public Welfare was established in 1940, it was administered under the Prime Minister's Office for nearly a year and was than transferred to the Ministry of
Public Health for seven years until the Royal Decree of B. E. 2482 (1941) placed it under the Ministry of Interior, where it remained. As well as the Department of Public Welfare, the departments of Land Co-operatives and Land Development, both under the Ministry of National Development, are also involved in resettling people on public lands. Although they belong to separate ministries, their activities are all governed by the Act on Land for Making a Living, of B. E. 2511 (1968), commonly known as the Land Settlement Act (Department of Public Welfare 1971, 7). Listed below are some of the different settlement projects that have been implemented.
(i) Ordinary settlements for the landless
(ii) Southern development settlements to resettle Thais on unoccupied lands in the vicinity of the Thai-Malaysia border
(iii) Resettlement schemes for those forced to evacuate their homes as the result of the construction of multi-purpose dams
(iv) Settlements for evacuees from sensitive areas (These are joint projects between the authority in the affected province and the Department of Public Welfare and are designed to bring people under the protection of the government by removing them from areas affected by communist insurgency.)
(v) Hill tribe resettlement schemes to improve the welfare of the "national" minorities
In Indonesia, the bewildering number of changes of names and responsibilities have obscured the move to reduce the types of projects and agencies engaged in land settlement. In Malaysia, a different pattern has emerged. When the idea of land settlement was first introduced in Peninsular Malaysia in 1956, the government created FELDA, whose function was restricted mainly to giving advice and loans to local authorities directly engaged in land settlement. Before its reorganization in 1960, FELDA had, on its own, established only Bilut Valley Land Scheme in Pahang. When the overall performance of the authority and its local associates was found to be unsatisfactory, the government abolished all the local development boards and entrusted FELDA with the responsibility of developing and settling areas of over 1,619 ha. At the same time, the government felt that the efforts of FELDA alone would not be sufficient to meet the demand for land in the country and it therefore encouraged, by providing federal loans and grants, the various state governments to open up land on their own.
During the last twenty years, Malaysia has seen a proliferation of agencies engaged in land settlement. This reveals the importance of land settlement as an instrument of national development in general and rural development in particular. Consequently, Malaysia has a large number of land development projects for its relatively small size. Many of these projects have been implemented independently of one another and, until recently, they were not co-ordinated in any way. In late 1971, the federal government set up a Land Development Co-ordination Committee with the aim of streamlining and dovetailing all the efforts of land development in the country. The benefits that could be derived from such a committee were, however, rather vague and definitely limited. This committee was dissolved in 1973 when the Ministry of Land Development was created. It must be emphasized, however, that this Ministry has been responsible only for the various resettlement projects organized and administered by the federal government. Those planned and implemented by the state governments have remained outside the ministry's jurisdiction. In addition, the government has implemented five regional development projects where the development of land resources into agricultural holdings plays a dominant role. Whereas much of the land development is carried out by existing implementing agencies, a share is also being undertaken by private companies. These extensive regional development projects-Jengka, Kesedar, Ketengah, Dara, and Johor Tenggara-are being administered by autonomous corporations.
The frequent departmental changes and the many agencies busy resettling people independently must seriously compromise the realization of national goals. In most instances, the limited number of qualified personnel has to be spread thinly amongst the various organizations, thus impairing the effectiveness of their collective contributions. Since many of these organizations work independently of each other, unhealthy rivalry has often been created, a development which cannot be advantageous to the government as a whole. Rather, interdepartmental cooperation in fulfilling the varied tasks of land settlement is fundamental to the success of the programme.
In the implementation of land settlement projects, several departments are usually required to participate; for example, the Department of Forestry to look into the exploitation of timber before the land is released for settlement purposes, the Bureau of Soils, Land, and Mines to oversee the alienation of the land, and the Department of Agriculture to recommend the crops to be grown. To get a new settlement started, there must exist sufficient co-operation and co-ordination so that the projects can be launched efficiently within the minimum time. Land settlement must be more than just the simple process of putting people on any unoccupied piece of land which is capable of being cultivated by settlers using only unsophisticated farm implements. Because many, if not all, of the settlement agencies do not possess the needed personnel and jurisdiction, they have to depend or call upon the services and good offices of other departments. When it is impossible to do so, even the initiation of a settlement scheme will be beset with all sorts of difficulties.
Such has been the experience of the Tanay Resettlement Project in the Philippines, where the Bureau of Forestry, Bureau of Land, Commission on National Integration, and the Land Authority are, separately, interested in the same piece of land. The resulting lack of co-operation amongst these government departments has become the issue, the work of settling the participants and improving their welfare becoming an incidental reference (Bahrin 1969, 50-58).
In Indonesia, the absence of interdepartmental co-operation has posed problems during the socialization period of resettlement, that is, in the period between the arrival of the settlers and the time of handing over the project to the provincial government. It has usually been a condition that the settlers must be self-sufficient in their food requirements and the community be self-providing of essential social amenities before the scheme could be handed over to the local government. In other words, the settlements must be economically and socially viable before the regional governments are prepared to administer them. Usually the period allowed by the Department of Transmigration for this stage to be achieved is three years. The time allowed is of course based on the assumption that other departments will assist the Transmigration Department in the process of development. Unfortunately, this arrangement is operative only on paper. Assistance is slow to come, if at all, and delays in the attainment of that stage are only too common. One example is the provision of irrigation facilities in the various projects. Such facilities are to be provided by the Public Works Department and not by the Department of Transmigration itself. Since many of the projects are planted with rice, and since the availability of a regular water supply is more or less an essential pre-condition for achieving self-sufficiency in food production, the non-availability of water must mean a delay in achieving self-sufficiency and consequently in the handing over of the project. This problem usually arises because the Department of Public Works has different priorities from those of the Department of Transmigration.
Similar problems arising out of the lack of co-operation between land settlement agencies and other government departments are also experienced in Thailand and Malaysia. It has been observed that the existence of various settlement programmes by different government agencies often creates problems for these agencies when they find themselves engaging in land settlement programmes without clearly specified policies. In consequence, resettlement practice among them is very inconsistent. Some programmes are implemented independently, whereas others are implemented in cooperation with other agencies. In other words, the scope of the programmes is not well defined and clear-cut (Suthiporn and Worwate 1980, 120-150). A similar situation existed in Malaysia. Although in 1970 FELDA put up an impressive performance in respect of land development, the total intake of settlers was a source of worry to the authority. The cause of this shortfall was mainly the slow rate of infrastructural development, for which other public sector service agencies could be held responsible (FELDA 1970). To overcome these delays FELDA has been forced to set up divisions dealing with activities that, previously, were the responsibility of other government agencies.
For decades, large-scale resettlement programmes have been carried out almost entirely by public agencies, thus reflecting the weight placed on the social objectives of such programmes as opposed to the profit motive of private projects. Recently, however, private agencies, usually on a joint-venture basis, have been invited to participate in such projects. The nature of these joint-venture projects also seems to vary from country to country. In Malaysia, the joint ventures usually operate on equal participation, including the sharing of profits. Such projects are usually treated as wholly commercial ventures, where profit is the main, if not the only, motive. In 1981, a new feature developed in the participation of public companies in the administration of government land-settlement projects in Sabah. Following the discovery of some irregularities in the financial administration of the projects, and also taking account of the inefficiency of their running, the Sabah State Government invited a public-listed international company, Sine Darby, to take over the administration of all its land schemes for a fee. In the Philippines, a joint-venture project was established for the implementation of the Agusan Resettlement Project in 1970; the National Council of Churches of the Philippines provided both funds and expertise to the Department of Agrarian Reform. The motive, in this particular case, is one of welfare and little profit. In 1982, the Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Transmigration, launched a new programme called the Nuclear Estate Smallholder Programme, which encourages private investment and participation in the opening of new plantations. During Repelita IV, the government intends the private sector to develop estates covering 300,000 ha in four provinces: Jambi, Riau, South Sumatra, and West Kalimantan. Under this programme, private agencies will be given large tracts of land to develop and will also be required to assist in the development of surrounding areas for smallholder settlers, the total area of which will be significantly larger than its own. The costs of developing the smallholders' land will be paid by the Ministry of Transmigration through one of the state banks after the fourth year (Habir 1984).
Despite recent developments, it must be remembered that land settlement schemes are usually public projects, both in terms of financing and aims, and as such, it is essential that the government have a big say in its policies and administration. Too much emphasis on the profit motive may work against the social objective of the programme. Since a great deal of the work in the resettlement process will involve the participation of may public agencies, it is of great importance that agencies entrusted with the implementation of such schemes have strong government backing and even direct government involvement. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that the nature of the implementation of such projects demands greater flexibility of approach and action and implementation ought not be strictly tied to government bureaucratic operational procedures. It is to avoid such shortcomings and weaknesses that some of the agencies in South-East Asia are established as autonomous statutory bodies and not as regular government departments. While the choice of one or the other depends on the administrative history of and the prevailing conditions existing in each country, the autonomous bodies appear to function better, especially when government support and control are maintained and bureaucratic delays and inefficiency avoided.