| Agricultural Expansion and Pioneer Settlements in the Humid Tropics (1988) |
|7. The Jengka Triangle: a report on research in progress|
Evaluating the Jengka Triangle experience
In the light of the fact that the Jengka Triangle is Malaysia's oldest regional land settlement scheme and that 1985 is the year set by the project's planners for its "completion," and bearing in mind that regional planning on a much larger scale than the Jengka Triangle has become widely accepted in Malaysia in the flush of the enthusiasm that followed the "discovery" by Malaysian politicians and planners, upon the publication of the Jengka Triangle Report in 1967, of the many "advantages" of large-scale regional planning and development, the authors of this report believe that it is timely to take a second look at the Jengka Triangle experience with the purpose of eventually making an overall critical evaluation of the use of this type of regional development strategy in Malaysia.
With this in mind we studied aspects of the Jengka Triangle development experience to see what lessons can be learnt so that corrective measures may be proposed for current and future regional-level rural settlement projects. In this the authors recognize the necessary limitations of their enterprise. A thorough evaluation of every facet of the Jengka Triangle experience will require resources, and a range of expertise, well beyond what the authors will ever be able to muster. This has, therefore, necessarily dictated that our evaluation be limited in scope, tentative in nature, and but a pointer to areas that need to be looked at in greater depth.
A pilot survey conducted in March 1984 on the planned urban service centres of the Triangle, and their comparison with spontaneous marketing and service centres that have sprung up on the fringes of the Triangle, pointed immediately to one possible major "failure" of the project in the key area of regional growth centres and urban development.
Likewise, in the course of interviewing settlers in the component land settlement schemes within the Triangle, answers given indicated that the children of settlers- the second generation-and the expressed aspirations of parents for their children revealed an upward social and spatial mobility that had profound implications for the announced original purpose of FELDA settlement projects of ensuring the establishment of a landowning rural population which, through its commercial, economic activities, would support and complement parallel commercial, industrial, and service developments in the major urban centres.
These two issues, then, became the focus of attention of fieldwork undertaken in September 1984 and March 1985 in the Triangle. What follows are some preliminary findings from these surveys.