华人新村系列(一)

Seminar on "The Development and Problems of Chinese New Villages of Malaysia"

By Dato' Ir. Fong Tian Yong

 

 

Dato' Ir. Fong Tian Yong was the guest speaker at the seminar entitled "The Development andProblems of Chinese New Villages of Malaysia" held at UTAR Perak Campus on 3rd April 2013.

 

The seminar was jointly organised by Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), Centre for Chinese StudiesResearch (CCSR) and Department of Soft Skills Competency (DSSC). The session kicked off with the introduction of the speaker by Ms. ChiokPhaik Fern, the moderator of the session.

 

Being trained as an engineer and currently the technical advisor to Tan Sri OngKar Ting (chairman of Malaysia-China Business Council), Dato' Ir. Fong was born in a settlement near Layang-Layang that is non-existent now due to the resettlement during the Emergency period. When he was the Deputy Director-General of the Local Government Department before assuming the current position, the development of the New Villages comes under one of his divisions, which include among others the Building Control Division and Health Engineering Division. Being in such position provided him the opportunity to work with residents of Chinese New Villages (NVs) and to understand the development and problems faced by the NVs in Malaysia

 

The speaker began his talk by outlining the topics of the discussion that included a general introduction, history of NVs, NV Master Plan and the way forward. In the general introduction, Dato' Ir. Fong provided the staff and students who were present in the room with the demography of NVs and the administration of NVs at the federal, state and local level.

 

Moving on to the history of NVs, Dato' Ir. Fong explained how the NVs were formed in response to the communist threat during the time of emergency (1948 - 1952) under British government. He also acknowledged the contribution of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) in assisting the British government to resettle the Chinese squatters as well as providing them with various kind of assistance such as transportation, financial and welfare support, building materials, farming tools and others. The speaker also described the social condition of settlers during the time of emergency by showing the audience the pictures of the NVs, central cooking (taiwokfan), villagers queuing for cooked rice ration, check point at the entry to the NVs, home guard ID, army guard post, declaration of white area, social activities ? opera show, funeral procession, celebration of Queen Elizabeth II birthday at Chinese primary school (Jementah, Johor), setting up of Kuomintang branch (Jementah,

Johor), communal well and pig style behind houses.

 

Highlighting a few NVs such as Sitiawan, Sg. Siput Selatan and Air Kuning, the speaker showed the pictures of poor house condition, infrastructure, social amenities and housing planning faced by the NVs. He then moved on to discuss the preparation of New Village Master Plan (NVMP) which involved a detailed sectoral study of NV physical planning, demography, socio-economic base, agriculture, land ownership, housing and social facilities, landscaping, and village administration. The Master Plan implementation started in 2005 and is expected to be completed by 2015. The Planaims to integrate NV physically, socially and economically with the mainstream in development of the nation as well as to consider the cultural, historical and heritage of the NV, to conserve special feature of the NV that are potentially made places of tourist attraction and to identify economic niches of the NVs.

 

Going through the pictures of local industries identical with NVs such as GunungRapat and its biscuit making, Muar and its gerisek making, youth training, housing development, and preservation of heritage building, Dato' Ir. Fong showed the development and modernization that have taken place in NVs. By showing the simplicity of life and the cheerful children in those days, he hoped to make the NVs to become lively and vibrant again, to have peaceful and tranquil environment for residents to enjoy their leisure time, as well as to train up the new generation by engaging them with sports and schooling.

 

The seminar has introduced the staff and students who were present to the NVs, their socio- economic conditions, and the efforts taken by the government and professionals to revive NVs. With a better understanding of NVs, the staff and students could engage with the NVs in a morepragmatic and meaningful way.

 

 

Figure 1: Prof.Ho Khai Leong, Dean of IC Spresented Dato'Ir. Fong the first publicationof NV Project Chinese New Villages of Kulaijaya, Johor".
From left: Ms. Lok Bee Lan (DSSC Department Head) & Ms. Chiok Phaik Fern (moderator of the session).
From right : Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wong Wun Bin (author of the book & Head of Malaysian Chinese and Cultural Studies Unit, CCSR).


 

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