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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Taman kampung kuantan, a study of Malay urban participation in West Malaysia Dizon, Jesus A. N.


This study is an analysis of Malay urban participation in one locality. It includes a discussion of urbanization, ethnicity, and government policy in a Malay context. The study discusses social cohesion and differentiation in a Malay locality and how they influence the urban participation of the group studied. The discussion of the urbanization process in the Malay peninsula shows that the Malays are late-comers in urban development. This is a result of their colonial history. Immigrant Chinese and Indians developed the towns on the west coast of the Malay peninsula under British colonial administration. It was only after the Second World War that rural Malays increased their participation in urban activities by migrating to urban areas. The Malaysian government is encouraging the increased participation of Malays in urban activities, particularly in the commercial and industrial sectors. This study shows that the Malays in the locality studied are unlike the classic rural to urban migrants. The Taman Malays are urban to urban migrants. They have brought with them other urban experiences and skills. In spite of this, however, their occupations are still similar to the type of occupations Malays have filled during the colonial period in urban areas, i.e. they are mostly teachers, clerks, policemen, and laborers. This is attributed to the limited opportunities and structural constraints faced by Malays in urban areas. The study shows that Malays utilize ethnic institutions and government support in gaining a foothold in their urban environment. Malays are a minority in west coast towns in terms of population distribution, settlement pattern, and economic participation. The kampung is the territorial manifestation of Malay presence in towns. Handicapped by the presence of a majority of non-Malays in urban areas, the Malays do not find it easy participating in urban activities. They depend on government support for housing, jobs, business premises, and loans for their economic development. Ethnic institutions are the primary institutional framework for the participation of Taman Malays. This is shown by the types of associations found in the locality. The associations serve to mobilize ethnic interests and unify the Taman residents. The associations serve as links between the kampung and the rest of the urban community, as well as between the kampung residents and the government. The need for expressive social interaction through associations is viewed in this study as a result of the difficulties posed by the multi-ethnic, economic, and political structure of urban areas on the west coast. The urban participation of Taman Malays is described as incorporating both traditional and non-traditional patterns of social relationships. This is shown by the analysis of their social networks. Networks within the locality reinforce participation in the traditional social order, while those which extend beyond the locality or ethnic group facilitate change and participation in the larger urban system. The differential involvement of the Taman Malays was influenced by such factors as geographic mobility, ownership or rental of houses in the locality, and social status. The friendship pattern and social networks of the Taman Malays shows the declining significance of the neighborhood in the social relationships of urban Malays. The kinship patterns of the Taman Malays show the traditional preference for the nuclear family type of household, but conditions of urban living have limited the interaction with extended kin. Household relationships are also being influenced by urban conditions where the husband and wife are both working, greater sharing of decision making about the household and child care is evident among the Taman Malays. The Taman Malays are unified by ethnic institutions and interests. They are vertically organized to the government through community and associational mechanisms. Stratificational differences among the Taman residents have not disrupted the ethnic unity which has characterized Malay urban neighborhoods.

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