Authors: Sivapalan Selvadurai, Novel Lyndon, Sarmila Mohd Sum, Suhana Saad, Azimah Abd Manaf, and Zaimah Mohd Ramli
Abstract: Modernization and capitalist penetration in developing countries have impacted rural communities differently. The Penan natives who are settled in peripheral and isolated areas close to the forest area are on the receiving end of development. The authority-defined development discourse has enabled the collusion of state and capital interest. However lay-defined discourse provides an alternative understanding and contestation to these discourses. This paper examines the development discourse of the Penan natives who have settled in the Belaga Area of Bintulu, Sarawak. This research has employed the phenomenological approach using abductive logic based on idealist ontology and constructionist epistemology. A total of 24 head of households from 6 villages were involved in this research that utilizes the non-probability sampling technique. Data in this research was collected using the technique of in-depth interview and informal group discussion. The findings revealed that the Penan natives are displaced and isolated from mainstream market development and as such their exposure to the market ideals requires adaptation of skills, information, education and even welfare provision which are still distant to them. The loss of cultural and natural resource lays bare the insecurity and dependence of the Penan natives, who were once depended upon by the rest. Findings also revealed that the Penans are for development that entails sustaining their existing ecological relationship with adequate provision of amenities and infrastructural development such as long house, schools, recreational areas, roads, and other utilities. However they are against development that disrupts their livelihood and habitat, with activities such as logging, oil palm plantation and major infrastructural projects. As such the nature of development and ‘development for whom’ is the contested development discourse. Contrasting worldviews held by the Penan natives for a sufficiency and ecological model of development can provide alternative views to mainstream development discourse. At the same time efforts to adapt and enable a gradual transition to the mainstream development needs to sustain their habitat, which forms a key cultural and political identity in view of their marginal and minority native status.
Keywords: component; formatting; style; styling; insert (key words)