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Objectives of land settlement programmes
Organization of land settlement agencies
Implementation concepts and practices
Intake of settlers
Tunku Shamsul Bahrin
Since the beginning of the twentieth century planners have toyed with the concept of industrialization as part of the development process in the various South-East Asian countries. Its slow introduction and adoption during the colonial period can be clearly understood and need not be belaboured here. Despite the improved rate of growth during the post-independence period, achievements in industrialization have remained modest. Whatever the reasons for this tardiness in industrial growth, the bulk of the South-East Asian population today is engaged in the agricultural sector and resides in the rural areas. Although attempts to increase the pace of industrialization have been intensified, planners continue to focus their work on the vast areas still covered by tropical rain forest. Development planners and advisers in the developing countries have seldom failed to notice the presence of large tracts of unalienated forest lands available for distribution. They have continued to be attracted by the prospect of opening such areas in their endeavour to solve the rural problem. In brief, the pioneer fringe has become a major attraction to governments in the developing world, including those in South-East Asia.
In South-East Asia, the process of developing land and
resettling people in the frontier areas is known by different
names in different countries. In the Philippines, it has been
called resettlement, land colonization, and sometimes new
settlements, whilst in Malaysia, the process is popularly known
as land settlement or land development. In Indonesia, projects
before the Second World War were known under the rubric of land
colonization, since then, as transmigration schemes. In Thailand,
the projects are known as co-operative land settlements or
self-help settlements. It is, however, not the intention of this
report to examine in detail all aspects of land settlement in the
region. It will be possible to have a general under
standing of the whole process if we can highlight some of the issues connected with the policy formulation and project implementation of land settlements in the four ASEAN countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. In particular, the discussion focuses on the following.
(i) Objectives of land settlement programmes
(ii) Organization of land settlement agencies
(iii) Implementation concepts and practices
(iv) Intake of settlers
At the outset, it must be appreciated that government aims and objectives in formulating and implementing resettlement programmes are both varied and complex. In the first instance, no government is being dictated by a single aim, and sometimes it is not even easy to identify principal and secondary objectives. It must also be noted that, whereas some aspects of each type of objective would be found in all the national programmes of the ASEAN countries, their emphasis may differ from one country to another and, from time to time, within the same country. This is, of course, inevitable considering the length of time that such programmes have been implemented and, in a way, indicates how governments can be responsive to changing situations and needs.
State organized land settlements were first attempted in South-East Asia by the Dutch in the then Netherlands East Indies in 1905. The objective at that time was to alleviate the population problem in Java and Bali and at the same time to open up agricultural settlements in the sparsely peopled parts of the archipelago.
Recently, however, the Dutch attempts have been construed as having more the objective of making available an adequate supply of labour for the development of estates in Sumatra than of relieving population pressures in Java. Whatever the motive, and despite their limited success, those early attempts provided a base for succeeding independent Indonesian governments to build on. The Indonesian governments, while repeating the theme of overcrowding in Java as their main motive for resettlement, have from time to time adduced other motives, some of which corresponded with those construed for the Dutch. For example, in 1951, in restating the concept of resettlement or transmigration within an independent state, the government also outlined a number of objectives "to increase the wealth and prosperity of the people through the transfer of population from one area to another, with the objective of achieving economic development in every field"; later, the objectives included "the labour supply needed for development in those areas that have scarce population, strategic objectives and to quicken the process of assimilation." Later still, the declared objective was reworded as, "to strengthen the peace and security, to increase the wealth and prosperity of the people and to strengthen the feeling of unity among the various groups as a United Indonesian Nation" (Swasono 1971). Currently, resettlement is used to spearhead economic development in Indonesia within the scope of regional development. In this context, transmigration is considered not in isolation but as a strategic part of the development programme for each province. In short, Indonesia's previous emphasis on the reduction of the populations of Java and Bali has been altered to rest more heavily on development than resettlement.
In the Philippines, land settlement was begun in 1939 by then President Quezon as a means of resettling farmers from the heavily populated areas of Luzon and the Bisayas to less populated regions, especially Mindanao. Although results were definitely limited prior to the outbreak of World War 11, the programme has been considered sufficiently important to be continued to the present day. After the Second World War, besides the demographic aspects, resettlement became a means of effecting large-scale rice and corn production to relieve national food shortages. Again, at the height of the Huk Rebellion in the mid-1950s, especially during the tenure of then President Magsaysay, land settlement was used to implement his slogan of "land to the landless." The unemployed and landless peasants were resettled in Mindanao as a part measure to counteract the Huk propaganda. In addition, Magsaysay organized the Economic Development Corps (EDCOR) settlements under the armed forces to resettle surrendered dissidents and demobilized soldiers. After 1963, land settlement became a part of the national land reform programme. In the 1970s, these projects were used to resettle those displaced following the armed conflicts in the southern islands.
In Thailand, the Department of Public Welfare was established in September 1940 to be responsible for acquiring, allocating, and administering public lands to Thai citizens, including the landless and needy, tenant farmers, and evacuees, who had lost their farm lands through the construction of dams under national development programmes. The land settlement programme launched in 1940 aimed to promote land ownership as the basis for security and a decent livelihood for the participants (Department of Public Welfare 1971, 1). One other of the objectives of the Thai government has been to use this programme to reduce forest destruction by the shifting cultivating hill tribes, by attempting to persuade them to settle down permanently in the schemes (Amarc 1975, 374).
In Malaysia, although land settlement as understood today is essentially a postindependence phenomenon, irrigation schemes involving the opening and development of new land had already been initiated at the end of the nineteenth century. This discussion, however, only examines the settlement programmes as implemented after independence in 1957. Such programmes were launched with the popularly known objectives of raising the standard of living and incomes of the rural poor. There was also the need to solve the problem of the backlog of land applications throughout the country. This factor, important but not so widely proclaimed, was indeed one of the major considerations behind the creation of the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), currently the largest and most important agency in the field of land settlement in the country. It was envisaged that FELDA would be able to assist those states having inadequate staff and funds to process their backlog of land applications. Through this authority, loans and other assistance would be channelled from the federal government to the various state governments. After 1960, both the federal and the state governments set up a number of other agencies to carry out land development and settlement projects.
From the above, land settlement would seem to be a common development strategy amongst the South-East Asian countries, although differences in policy and objectives are quite evident. For example, considerations of security and national unity and increased rice production do not feature in the land settlement policy of Malaysia, unlike the situation in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It is in the policies that guidelines for effective implementation of the programmes are obtainable; inadequacies and problems in the programmes have resulted from vacillating or conflicting policies. Even in Malaysia, where land settlement is relatively recent, the policy changes have been far too many.
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.
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