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As with "urbanization," "poverty" is defined differently by Indonesia and Malaysia.6 Using the relatively simpler Malaysian approach, absolute poverty is measured on the basis of poverty line income (PLI), defined as "the minimum requirements for food, clothing and shelter and other regular expenditures that are necessary to maintain a household in decent standards of living" (terms are not defined). The PLI is adjusted for differential living costs between the regions of Malaysia, so that it is higher for Sabah and Sarawak than for the Peninsula. For 1990 it was set at M$544/month for a household size of 5.4 in Sabah and M$452 for a household size of 5.2 in Sarawak. Rural mean income was estimated to be 60 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively, of urban income in the two states (Government of Malaysia, 1991b: 100).
In Indonesia a number of different poverty measures have been proposed, beginning with the well-known estimates of Sayogyo (1975), in which income was measured in terms of rice-purchasing power. The poverty line ("poor" households) was set at 320 kg of milled rice equivalent (mre) per household per year in rural areas, and 480 kg in urban areas. Households receiving an income below 240 kg mre in rural areas and 320 kg mre in the cities were described as "very poor." Such a measure might have been suitable in rural Java perhaps up to 1970, but it has been argued that, especially in urban areas, people today have a very different perception of "needs." Although satisfaction of basic food requirements remains important (and the actual mix of foods may be more varied), other essential expenditures will also be made, even by the poorest. It is claimed that Sayogyo's 50 per cent differential in living costs between urban and rural areas is too high, while differences in prices between different regions of the country must also be taken into account.
Booth (1993) and Bidani and Ravallion (1993) have discussed a number of other indices put forward, including those of the World Bank (1990) and the most recent BPS (Central Bureau of Statistics) estimates. In 1992, for the first time, BPS made figures available by province for the proportion of the population in poverty. The basis of the BPS poverty line is the cost of purchasing 2,100 calories of essential foods, to which are added a number of other items such as rent, fuel, clothing, transport, and schooling, again kept to lowest levels.
Bidani and Ravallion (1993) have followed the BPS in choosing a "reference food bundle" of items commonly consumed by the poor that would yield 2,100 calories. A person is deemed "poor" if unable to purchase such a bundle, which is valued at local prices in each region. They then sought the typical value of non-food spending by a household just capable of reaching the 2,100 calorie limit. This was again locally priced and added to produce a composite poverty line more accurate in regional terms. It was discovered that urban prices were only 12 per cent above rural and that six regions had higher food prices than Jakarta, including most of Kalimantan. This measure will be used in this chapter, as it is more sensitive to regional differences in the incidence of poverty in Indonesia. The overall monthly per capita poverty line income (urban + rural) varied from Rp20,010 in West Kalimantan to Rp16,343 in South Kalimantan, or Rp100,051 and Rp70,275, respectively, on a household basis (Bidani and Ravallion, 1993).
Patterns of rural and urban poverty in East Malaysia
In 1990 the incidence of poverty in Sabah was given as 34 per cent, with rural levels reaching 39 per cent and urban 15 per cent. Figures for Sarawak were a much more moderate 21 per cent overall, with rural poverty 25 per cent and urban 5 per cent. When examined by ethnic group (or at least Bumiputera7 against Chinese), Bumiputera were seen to be still experiencing the higher levels of poverty - 41 per cent in Sabah and 29 per cent in Sarawak. In contrast, only 4 per cent of Chinese fell below the poverty line in each state.
Although the rural poverty figures are far above urban levels, it is worth remembering that the "underbounded" nature of the cities means that people living in urban fringe areas, many of whom are housed in squatter settlements, are automatically classed as rural. Hence it is very likely that urban poverty is considerably higher, and rural poverty somewhat lower, than the figures indicate. The Bintulu study mentioned by Ko (1991) found that most of the poor were located outside the Bintulu Townland but within the "real" urban area, and had a poverty incidence of 21 per cent, which was much higher than official levels.
Whereas both rural and urban poverty have steadily declined in Sarawak since 1976, and this trend is expected to continue, in both numbers of poor households and percentage of the population included, in Sabah the situation is different. Both the percentage of those in poverty and the numbers of poor households actually rose between 1984 and 1987. By 1990 the percentages had marginally improved but numbers of poor households continued to grow (Government of Malaysia, 1989, 1991b). While the Mid-term Review of the Fifth Malaysia Plan (Government of Malaysia, 1989) identified padi farmers, rubber and coconut smallholders, fishermen, and estate workers as groups prone to poverty, a local study in Sabah added shifting cultivators and general agricultural workers to the list (Mohd Yaakub Hj. Johari, 1991). Given that the poverty line is based on money income, and that returns from small-scale agriculture and fishing in particular are notoriously low, these concentrations are not surprising. However, one might query the appropriateness of such income measures with groups such as shifting cultivators and padi farmers, who may not "feel" as poor as their income might indicate if they are able to secure their own subsistence.
It is notable that estate workers appeared more prominently in the poverty figures for Sabah than for Sarawak. This highlights the difference between the two states in their use of foreign labour, with 90 per cent of Sabah's estate workers being Indonesian or Filipino (Kler, 1992). As Kow (1992) has noted, wage levels in the Sabah estate sector are low, which is one of the reasons local farmers are not interested in employment there. A survey carried out in 1988 indicated that 86 per cent of the 49,000 workers on 280 agricultural estates earned between M$101 and M$300 per month. Although these wages might appear reasonable to Indonesian or Filipino workers when compared with their rates back home, they automatically put the immigrants below the poverty line in Sabah, which has a much higher cost of living (Kong, 1992). In the urban areas of Sabah, Zulkifly Hj. Mustapha (1989: 268) found a proliferation of informal-sector activities, which he ascribed to "an employment crisis due to the slow speed of labour absorption and low rate of growth in modern urban economic activities, particularly in relation to industrialization, and the high rate of immigration (illegal migrants) and internal population mobility (ruralurban migration). " Although he noted that most illegals moved into informalsector occupations, all ethnic groups have apparently been involved. However, there is no doubt that the inflow of large numbers of poor and largely unskilled migrants from Sabah's neighbours has placed enormous stress on urban facilities and helped to maintain the persistently high levels of poverty, both urban and rural.
Patterns of rural and urban poverty in Kalimantan
The proportions of the population of Kalimantan that fell below the poverty line in 1990 are shown in Table 10.2, based on Bidani and Ravallion (1993). Although these figures are not strictly comparable with those from the Malaysian territories, they are at least based on a similar set of basic expenditures (according to the norms prevailing in each society) and adjusted for regional living costs. Whereas, in general, Indonesian poverty levels have been falling over time (using Sayogyo's measurements for example), no temporal sequence is possible with these figures. They do, however, give credence to the belief expressed by Booth (1992a, 1993) that the highest poverty incidence is no longer to be found in Java, but is found in parts of the Outer Islands. The rates for West Kalimantan are second only to East Nusa Tenggara (Irian Jaya and East Timor being omitted), with Maluku and south-east Sulawesi not far behind. These other provinces are in eastern Indonesia, which has had high poverty levels for some time.
Table 10.2 Proportions of the population below the poverty line, Kalimantan provinces (1990)
|Province||Urban + rural||Urban||Rural|
Source: Bidani and Ravallion (1993).
Table 10.3 Indices of poverty at the food poverty line,alimantan (1990), adjusted for cost diferentials
|Province||Urban + rural||Urban||Rural|
Source: Bidani and Ravallion (1993).
The levels in rural West Kalimantan are surprising, but reflect the local high food prices. On the food poverty measure alone, without the addition of other costs, 24.9 per cent of the population of rural West Kalimantan and 11.1 per cent in Central Kalimantan are unable to afford the minimum level of 2,100 calories (Table 10.3). At the other extreme, the people of urban areas in South and East Kalimantan have few problems in meeting calorie requirements.
Given that 75 per cent of West Kalimantan's population is still engaged in agriculture, forestry, or fishing, and 71 per cent of that in Central Kalimantan (Statistik Indonesia 1992), it is not surprising that incomes are low. The decline in rural poverty in Java has largely come about because of the increased availability of non-agricultural wage employment. Booth (1993: 80) comments that in the Outer Islands "much of the income accrues from particular sectors whose linkages with the rest of the regional economy are quite limited." Thus developments such as mining provide few employment opportunities for local people, and the profits are often drained away from the province. Such statements are certainly true of Kalimantan, especially East Kalimantan, where so much of the development has been of an enclave nature. Those who have benefited have been mainly immigrants, the majority of them urban. The interior Dayak population has shared little in this bonanza, hence rural poverty levels in that province have also remained rather high.
A recent BPS (1992) report on the characteristics of poor house holds notes that they were, in general, larger than average, with poor levels of education and primary sources of income from either agriculture or trade. A subsidiary report specific to West Kalimantan included the 27 variables used to classify villages as either "non-poor," "poor," or "very poor" by giving them a composite score. The variables covered such areas as village facilities and environment, level and ease of communications, and characteristics of the population such as birth and death rates and enrolments of school-age children. Using these scores, 52 per cent of West Kalimantan's 4,800 villages were classified as "poor," but only 27 were "very poor" (BPS, 1993). An atlas of poor villages published by the National Planning Development Agency, BAPPENAS (1993), using the same criteria, has placed large numbers of the interior villages in East Kalimantan and in the eastern part of Central Kalimantan in the "very poor" category.
The picture that emerges from these discussions of the nature of the urban places in Borneo, and of levels of poverty and relative deprivation, is a disturbing one. Despite the increased levels of industrial development, based largely on the exploitation of the island's resources of forests and minerals, the wealth generated has largely bypassed the indigenous populations of the interior, especially in Indonesian Kalimantan. Very few Dayaks live in the urban centres, except in Central Kalimantan, where industrial development is lowest. In Sabah and Sarawak the movement of indigenous people to the cities has been stronger, but most are still only marginally involved in the urban economy. In the East Malaysian states the capital cities are removed from the major industrial enclaves. In Sabah the competition from illegal immigrants for urban niches is strong and not slackening. Although rural-urban migration should not be essential for people's incomes to be raised above poverty levels, the existence of strong urban-rural differentials is a clear sign of stagnation and lack of opportunity in the rural areas. Although the logging industry has offered non-agricultural employment, in general wage levels available to locals have been low. A similar situation prevails in the newer plantation forests and, in Kalimantan, Javanese transmigrants are regularly brought in as a labour force to work these forests. Estates and land-settlement schemes in East Malaysia have likewise proved unattractive to indigenous people, although some in situ schemes for village improvement have shown possibilities. Even in better-off South Kalimantan, existing rural industries have been undermined by centralization and the all-embracing grasp of the large cartels on available resources.
A further disturbing feature is the indication of imminent decline in the sustainability of the industrial structure, based on actual shortages of raw materials. It has already become clear in Sabah that the forests will soon be unable to meet the demands of even the limited local market and the industries set up to serve it. Such indications have now also surfaced in both East and West Kalimantan, where log supplies are becoming more distant and more expensive to extract. So far, plantations are lagging and their timber, when it becomes available, will require different technologies leading to different outcomes. Sumatra, with some of its pulp and paper plants already in place and several more planned, is in a better situation than Kalimantan to face a future drop in the dominance of plywood. The oil industry too is feeling the impact of declines in exploration. Although natural gas and coal are still abundant, rapid rates of extraction will quickly lower their life expectancy.
Perhaps other activities such as eco-tourism offer better possibilities for the future and for the involvement of the indigenous people of the interior. Although Sarawak and Sabah are placing more emphasis in that direction than the Kalimantan provinces, in both Malaysia and Indonesia there has been a lack of sensitivity in the promotion and maintenance of minority cultural practices, which signals caution in proceeding too quickly.
1. Presumably this comes by sea. Neither Brookfield nor Potter has seen any evidence of timber transport on the road between Pontianak and Kuching.
2. The situation of the orange growers is a further example of the attempts to impose Jakartabased controls on particular industries, with serious effects on rural dwellers in Kalimantan. The insistence that all sawmills be attached to timber concessions led to numerous closures of small rural sawmills for lack of raw material, or their relocation in cities such as Banjarmasin where they at least had access to offcuts from the large plants. The banning of exports of rattan, while ostensibly to encourage local processing, resulted in a rapid decline in prices so that growers and collectors no longer harvested the product. This led to a shortage of raw materials for existing plants, which were themselves subject to severe controls on the quality of the processed item. Producers of rattan carpets in areas of the north Hulu Sungai, where the industry had been an important source of village income, suddenly found that export licences were available only to a few city factories. Although it was necessary to control overproduction for the main Japanese export market, the rural industry was almost wiped out as carpets became unsaleable except on local markets. It is worth noting that con siderable recent urbanization has occurred as a result of such dislocations of rural manufacturing.
3. However, Bock (1881: 23), who visited Samarinda in 1878, described it in his diary as "the most miserable place I have ever seen; the natives and their buildings correspond in squalor." There were houses on both land and water (on rafts), but all located close to or on the river. There were only two larger buildings, the Sultan's palace, a wooden, iron-roofed structure, run down because it was seldom occupied by the Sultan, who normally lived some kilometres away at Tenggarong, and the town governor's residence, which was the only substantial and well-furnished house in the town. "Everyone," Bock wrote, "is a trader," although presumably he excluded the poor from this statement.
4. All the log-exporting Chinese entrepreneurs operating on the coast of New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in 1991 came from Sibu (B. J. Allen, pers. comm.). Sibu entrepreneurs are also at work in the Solomon Islands. There are close family linkages among these small-scale timber-working companies, and they can accumulate the funds needed to reward Papua New Guinea political leaders for their granting of access to national resources.
5. There is something of a parallel here between urban investment in Malaysian Borneo during the modern timber boom and urban investment in Amazonian Brazil during the rubber boom from 1880 to 1912. Though less flamboyant, the Yayasan Sabah tower perhaps bears comparison with the famous opera house in Manaus.
6. Discussion is confined to Borneo. The situation in the eastern Peninsula is very different for the legal population, where only the Malay rice-and-rubber farming groups of the older agricultural regions still retain a high proportion below the official poverty line. However, the large population of illegal immigrants is in a different category, and there is no information whatever concerning them. The discussion regarding Sabah in this section may, however, well apply.
7. Literally "rulers (or sons) of the soil," this term applies to all members of ethnic groups supposedly indigenous to Malaysia. Chinese (and Indians) are excluded, including the "Straits Chinese" who have been present in the western Peninsula since the sixteenth century, much longer than some Malay groups such as the Minangkabau, most of whom have migrated to the Peninsula since the eighteenth century. The term also embraces the indigenous people of Malaysian Borneo. In terms of the New Economic Policy of 1970-1990, Bumiputera status conveyed significant advantages in terms of access to education, land, financial assistance in entrepreneurship, and government employment.
Bearing in mind the origins of this book, as described in the Introduction, we focus our treatment in this concluding chapter on trajectories through impoverishment and endangerment toward criticality. We do so on the basis of categories proposed by the project leaders at an authors' meeting in Mexico City in April 1993. Although it was too late for us to change the plan of the book at that stage, we have at least followed this helpful design, which we believe to be in common with other books in this series, in our Conclusion.
The period of war, decolonization, nation-building, rebellion, and ethnic strife between 1941 and the mid/late-1960s represents such a divide in the history of this region that we draw a clear separation between what went before and what has since evolved. Much of the story recounted in this book has taken place in only some 30 years, not 50-70 as in other case-studies. However, we have also described change over the preceding century, devoting one whole chapter to this topic and making several other references to earlier events. Not only did a large part of the regional transformation take place during that previous century, but discussion of this quite recent past helps to put rapid changes of the post-1960 period into context. Historical evidence led to the methodological conclusion that trajectories can be reversed when driving forces and conditions undergo major change. One example is the strong suggestion of widespread cultivation, before the twentieth century, on land now heavily forested. A second is modern stabilization of land that has been eroded, first under annual cash crops, then under early estate rubber.
The most threatening environmental changes
The high rate of timber-cutting threatens both the environment and the life support of people dependent for employment on a fastwasting resource. In terms of effect on the environment, the greatest single threat is to biodiversity. In relation to the lowland forests, only quite limited but important reserve and national park areas still retain anything comparable with the biological diversity that once characterized the whole region. Within the former lowland forests some entire forest habitats have been eliminated. The actual loss of species, however, is quite unknown.
A greater threat, arising both from logging and from changes in shiftingcultivation practice, is, however, that due to fire, discussed in depth in chapter 8. As shown in chapter 9, it is even argued in some quarters that all Kalimantan (and, by inference, all Borneo) is on a trajectory that will turn the island into a fire-climax grassland. The fact that there are quite large grassland tracts even in those parts of the great island least affected by drought indicates that this is not wholly fanciful. Against this, however, is the evidence of substantial recovery from fires in the past, even those of 1982/83 (Wirawan, 1993). Kartawinata (1993) has suggested that fire might be an element in the formation and persistence of certain forest types in the region, as well as of grassland. It might thus contribute to diversity. We saw also in chapter 9 that maintenance of grassland for grazing purposes has been more significant than is sometimes supposed.
The real problem concerns the nature of fire. Fire burns the forest edge when used to clear swiddens or when it arises as wildfire in grassland, and thus may contribute to a slow erosion of the forest. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that it is the substantial litter created by timber-cutting that has been primarily responsible for the development of destructive crown-fires in close forest, and that normally these are rare. If forest management is improved, or if timber-cutting ceases to be economic, this hazard might diminish. Our judgement is that there is a very real probability that larger areas of grassland will be created, but that the prospect of a "green desert" replacing the rain forest over great tracts of Borneo and the Peninsula is unlikely in the extreme. Some areas are critical, more are endangered, but impoverishment (albeit serious) is the condition of most of the remaining forest. Moreover, there are big areas in which agro-forestry systems of varying degrees of intensity have taken the place both of forest and of swidden, and in these areas - largely without merchantable timber - there is now enhancement rather than degradation.
On the question of impoverishment of the soil by cultivation, evidence is even more equivocal. The most "impoverished" areas are on land of very low initial quality, principally but not only kerangas. We saw in chapter 1 that there is considerable variety in the soils of the region, and some of these have certainly proved to be very robust under use. Erosion has been heavy in the initial stages of new land clearance almost everywhere, but subsequent treecrop performance has often been good even though some annual cropping may have failed. Mining and its related practices have wreaked total devastation on some areas in the past, and small-scale mining continues to do a great deal of damage. Modern large-scale mining, because it is very recent, is more environmentally conscious. The worst erosion is nowadays almost everywhere along the roads, in modern times probably contributing far more than erosion from agricultural activities.
Events that have served as signals
All the really big damaging events in the recent history of this region have taken place during either drought or flood. It is during drought that the major fire outbreaks have occurred, and the major erosion episodes have been during periods of exceptionally heavy rainfall; in the Peninsula, where they are best documented, the major floods of 1926 and 1971 both had important impacts on agricultural and development practices. All these major events have occurred during extreme phases of the Southern Oscillation, either the droughtproducing El Niņo or the flood-generating La Niņa.
The extent to which such "natural disasters" have been treated as signals in this region is perhaps unusual. The Borneo fires were at once attributed to human cause, first to shifting cultivators and only later also to loggers. The heavy silt loads in the Peninsular flood events were readily seen as symptomatic of erosion due to mining or forest clearance and, by the 1970s, also to the urban construction boom that had already begun. However, we need to go beyond our immediate region to see the extent to which officials and scholars alike have been ready to look for underlying human causes of disaster, rather than focus attention on the immediate natural trigger. Between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there were a number of locally severe famine events in Java, all or almost all of which occurred in relation to adverse weather conditions (Brookfield, 1993). However, both officials and politicians at the time, and subsequent academic interpreters, have focused on economic transformation, insensitive and rapacious policy measures, and impoverishment as the true causes of these events. The most widespread event, in 1902, led to both local and island-wide inquiries into the reasons for "declining welfare" (Commissie, 1903; Onderzoek, 1904-1914). Some changes in policy, and investment in irrigation, resulted from this concern.
More recently, torrential rain from a tropical storm crossing southern Thailand in 1988, to become a cyclone in the Andaman Sea, caused catastrophic flooding, landslides, and heavy mortality. Even though subsequent study has shown that most of the damage took place on land longcleared and cultivated, the popular and official reaction was to blame the timber industry. This led to an immediate ban on logging throughout Thailand. Moreover, though evasions continue to be tolerated, this ban has not been lifted. Regionally, this is perhaps the clearest example of a "signal" in modern experience.
Population growth, migration, and the "frontier"
Borneo and the Peninsula have been regions of immigration from other areas throughout their history, but especially in the past two centuries. Actual demographic change among residents may have been quite variable well into the twentieth century, with areas of decline as well as of increase, but during the past 30 years fairly high growth rates have become universal. At the same time, large numbers have moved, or have been moved, into the former forest domain so as to relieve or escape poverty in adjacent regions of large population growth, outstandingly Java and Madura.
Peopling of the forests on this scale would not, however, have taken place so fast without the translation into policy of another driving force. Already in colonial times the forests of the region had come to be perceived as an underdeveloped frontier region for the territories that became Indonesia and Malaysia, especially the former. In the 1950s both countries developed plans for settlement in these forest lands and, from the 1960s through the first half of the 1980s, the "transmigration" and "land development" programmes of Indonesia and Malaysia were pursued with great vigour. At the same time, they also provided infrastructure and encouragement for substantial numbers of unassisted migrants to participate in the development of these national "frontier" regions. Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei, with their immigration controls, were only partial exceptions because all three have also experienced large illegal immigration. Latterly, this has become the main single force of real population growth in Sabah and in many rural areas of the eastern Peninsula.
Nested driving forces: The world to the region
Colonialism made the region as a whole a major supplier of a small number of tropical agricultural products, and one mineral, to the world market. This demand and the capital investment that came with it were the underlying global driving forces of economic growth, much of population growth, and most territorial expansion of settlement in this region for the whole period to 1942. Moreover, these same external economic forces quickly became reestablished in the late 1940s, and continued to support a measure of expansion right through the disturbed period that did not end until the late 1960s. Once this period was over, growth on the same basis accelerated with the addition of the new large-scale demand for tropical timber, which had the greatest impact on the forest frontier.
Writing a generation ago, Brookfield with Hart (1971: 206-209) described the economy of the Melanesian region to the east in terms of the outermost ring in a von Thünen "isolated-state-world" centred on Europe and the North Atlantic. Much the same might have been said of this region of the world, at least before 1942 if not in the postwar and early independence periods. The goods produced for the heartlands of the "isolated-state-world" had low yield in weight after relatively high-cost processing, and suffered the least cost increase with distance away from the market (Hall, 1966: xxxviii, 183). Major post-1960 changes included first the replacement or augmentation of the North Atlantic market by Japan, then other parts of NorthEast Asia, so that the rapid industrial growth of North-East Asia was transmitted to our region as a major increase in demand, with a widening of the range of produce sought. An additional force then entered in the form of the so-called "new international division of labour," promoting industry based on the low labour costs of a populous region, but one with an aboveaverage basis of infrastructure and education. In the same period, first oil, then gas, expanded in production to become major new sources of export income, energy, and national revenue. The new strength of the national economies was such that it persisted beyond the decline in oil and gas prices in the 1980s, and has survived the collapse of tin - the main mineral export of the colonial period - almost without remark in most of the regional economic literature.
Escape from the "outermost ring"?
Because industrialization was seen as the best means of escape from the "outermost ring" dependence on primary-produce exports, it was strongly pushed forward by national governments, which - especially in Malaysia - put a major part of revenues into the support of industrial development. We reviewed the mixed success of the industrialization drive in chapter 3, noting there how it became a major driving force in Indonesian Borneo, but not at first in the Malaysian parts of the region. The outcome, however, is that the two national economies have become much more diversified, and have been able to mobilize and attract resources so as to sustain growth through a period of severe depression worldwide. We are now in a position where it can be said of South-East Asia as a whole that it has the prospect of being economically the fastest-growing region in the world through the 1990s (Kamal Salih, 1993).
Much of this book has been concerned with the manner in which these changing driving forces have become differentiated in their impact on different parts of Borneo and the Peninsula, and on different population groups within that region. It would be tedious to attempt to summarize. However, no part of the region, and no group, has remained wholly unaffected. Driving forces other than population growth still originate in the world economy, but are increasingly Asian rather than North Atlantic in origin. Attempts to internalize their management within the region, mainly through industrialization, have had notable but mixed success. Yet, because the forests and former forests of Borneo and the Peninsula remain "frontier" within their own countries, they in their turn have retained the status of "outermost ring" within the smaller and more differentiated "isolated world" of South-East Asia. We return to this question in our final section.
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