chapter  3
29 Pages

Rural Poverty and Policy Interventions Under Trusteeship

The architects of the strategy of Malaysian rural poverty redressal have chosen to ignore the structural determinants of the problem. Instead, they have equated rural poverty with low productivity, choosing to regard it primarily as a technical problem stemming from imperfections in economic organisation, reinforced by traditional values. More specifically, the policy-makers have been conditioned by a deep-seated conviction that rural farmers and producers have traditionally been at the mercy of the middlemen extracting excessive margins in what Ungku Aziz has called the 'monopoly-monopsony exploitation'. I Thus, it was felt that the padi farmers were victimised under the pad; kunca credit system which, effectively, led to their perpetual indebtedness.2 The rubber smallholders were similarly exploited by unscrupulous dealers cheating with weights and grading as well as pricing.3 In the fishing industry the traditional system of fixed profit-sharing was always subject to abuse by boat-owners at the expense of the crew.4