Meet Peneroka (PALM OIL FARMER) in FELDA SEMENCHU

FELDA Semenchu is located 42km from Kota Tinggi city centre and 80km from Johor Bahru, it covers an area of 2775.72 hectares and the population is approximately 5600 people. Before 1974 the location of Semenchu was covered in forest, in 1974 the forest was cut down to make way for the palm oil plantation and the FELDA (Federal Land Development Authority) settlement. The settlement was the product of the Malaysian government as part of a scheme to improve the quality of life of the people of Malaysia and strengthen the economy. This scheme was implemented by one political party and backed by the prime minister Tun Abdul Razak and the remainder of the government. From 1974 approximately 25,000 people applied to live in the new settlement, after that a number of people were chosen to attend the interview process and from this people were chosen to move to Semenchu. The application had a number of criteria such as:

  • The applicant must be already married
  • The applicant must have children
  • The applicant must not own or have any claim over other land

The final decision as to who moved to the settlement was made by the state government and in addition to this they appointed a leader for the FELDA settlement who manages the community services and facilities for example waste management. In 1976 the first residents moved to Semenchu, there were 300 households established, in 1979 there was a further 328 households added to the FELDA.

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The name ‘Semenchu’ was chosen due to the number of Japanese soldiers buried on Block 28, ‘Semenchu’ was their name. The original houses were comprised of wood and following economic success the houses were expanded and made of more substantial building materials. The government provided the majority of the infrastructure in the settlement for example the community hall, roads, water and electricity. The government also built the houses and the residents paid back RM2900 for 20 years in order to own both land and the house. Some houses have improved their basic facilities further in order to make them eligible for the homestay programme; If it is managed independently they usually hire foreign workers usually from Indonesia which is a form of cheap labour therefore the profits are larger, only approximately 10% manage their land in this way. If the land is managed dependently then the peneroka (land owner) is largely dependent on the FELDA to continue production of the palm oil. Other economies present in the FELDA include fish, cow and goat farming as well as vegetable, chilli, mushroom, herb and Pitaya farming.

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One of the major issues is the aging first generation who can no longer work on the plantation need more help whether the second generation do not wish to work on the plantation, they would prefer to live in areas of more modern area such Johor Bahru or other such places. Therefore the FELDA relies only on the palm oil plantation which is not a sustainable form of economy due to competition from the Philippines and Indonesia.

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From the diagram above we can see that there are four main stakeholders in felda semenchu, the first stakeholder are the state government. The state government contributes in choosing the leader of the FELDA such as Mr Omar. The state government also contributes on the people selection in 1976. The second stakeholders are the district government and the leader of the FELDA. They role are to manage and supervise the FELDA and all of it aspect, such as palm oil plantation, administration stuff, and all about felda. Then the third actor is the community itself. They are the main targets of this program. The government tries to improve their quality of live. The state government coordinates this entire stakeholder because felda system is depending on the government management.

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Kampong Belimbing: From Head Hunter Tribe to Friendly Community

Kampong Belimbing is a small village in the southern part of Kuching, Malaysia that occupied by Bidayuh ethnic group. It’s about 60 km from Kuching City. The total area of this village is 42.70 acres. The population approximately 400 people now, most of them are Muslim. Sometimes before this village was called gelimbing, now it had changed to belimbing. Gelimbing and belimbing have the same meaning. Village people said that sometimes ago there are many belimbing trees in this village. But now there is only one tree left located near the “barok” or village hall.

They had been living in a long house made from wood since 1954 after they leave their original houses in the mountain as the result of social issues and religion. The housing design is a mixture of Malay and Bidayuh culture. Before practicing Islam, this community believes in traditional practice called pagan, they collected their enemy skull to do their ritual. Then they hang it in the roof inside their houses. That was the reason behind the head hunter nickname. Although today they have left their cultural tradition which is contrary to Islamic doctrine, but they still manage to keep their traditional dance, music and games.

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Kampong Belimbing Long House

Today they lived as a palm oil farmer under Malaysian Government Organization called FELCRA, and to improve their income the village agreed to join homestay program and tourism activities. With their motto “anak orang anak kita”, which means they consider everyone as their children, Kampong Belimbing transforms into a homestay village for everyone. They welcome people to stay and experience their harmonic live with nature. Tracking and hiking in the heavy rain forest to find the gorgeous Rafflesia Arnoldy flower is their main attraction. Besides they also bring us to the original houses of Bidayuh Ethnic group inside the mountain and also teach us their traditional dance, music and games. And last but not least their traditional food. The most important one we could learn harmony, respect, and a sense of belonging toward each other and nature. These norms were practiced to ensure the secure feeling inside the village and among the people.

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qwqwqLearning traditional dance and games

P1050692Tracking in the forest to find rafflesia arnoldy

Trough homestay, they had managed to develop their economic activities and to preserve their tradition and culture. The economic development of Kampong Belimbing has brought modernization to this village. It can be seen from the usage of some modern tools such as a washing machine, TV, DVD, and some even have home theatre. Some of them have managed to buy a car as transportation to the nearest city. It means today the community has been able to live a good life with sufficient income. Furthermore, it’s not only improves their quality of life but also manage to preserve their tradition, culture, and environment.

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Me and my homestay family

Kampong Belimbing Homestay: Jalan Padawan, 94700 Kuching, SK, Malaysia +60 82-863 796