Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Relationship to the River: The Case of the Rural Communities Residing beside the Tembeling, Pahang and Muar Rivers

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Relationship to the River: The Case of the Rural Communities Residing beside the Tembeling, Pahang and Muar Rivers

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present study attempts to identify the views of the rural community living near to Tembeling-Pahang-Muar river, regarding their relationship with the river. This study is qualitative in nature: a total of three focus group discussions were conducted among selected villagers from Kuala Tembeling, Kuala Tahan and Kundang Hulu villages. Four themes emerged from the analysis, namely sources of income, mode of transportation, less appreciation among the younger generation for the river, and the need for river development. Through the identification of this data, it is a hope that a broader understanding of the relationship between the local community and the river could facilitate river development programmes and strategies.

Keywords: river relationship, community development, river development

1. Introduction

In modern times, rivers have come to play a less important role in terms of community development. In contrast, rivers were traditionally one of the tools used for regional economic development, as they served as the main route for traders from across the country to come to strategic areas and offer their wares. The advancement of mechanical technologies, such as cars, lorries and motorcycles, and the invention of tar road, have provided a better and more comfortable means of transportation for the community, which has in turn resulted in less dependence on rivers. Such inventions provide avenues for a wider exploration of socio-economic opportunities for the community. In addition, in a local study by Abu Samah et al. (2011), it was reported that the negative attitude, lack of river sources, and environmental changes are the main causes for the waning interest of communities with respect to rivers. However, despite this low interest, there are still a number of communities, particularly those who reside near to the rivers themselves, that still have some kind of relationship with the rivers.

Since few communities still rely on rivers for their socio-economic activities, there is a need to regenerate interest in this natural resource. Many studies on rivers focus on the scientific aspects of them in terms of their content, purity and properties, but give less consideration to social aspects. As a response to this, this study attempts to explore the social aspects of rivers by means of identifying the views of the community on their relationship with rivers. The specific communities considered will be the Kuala Pahang, Kuala Tembeling and Kundang Hulu, who reside near to the Tembeling, Pahang and Muar rivers, in Malaysia.

1.1 Socio-Economic Activities at the Tembeling, Pahang and Muar Rivers

Tembeling River is a famous spot for tourism activities, particularly where it flows along the National Park at Kuala Tahan, which enables some of the locals to generate their income via eco-tourism activities. Among the famous eco-tourism activities are water rafting and boat rides. In addition to eco-tourism, locals rely on Tembeling River for its sources of protein such fish and shrimp, and, in relation to this, as a source of side income if there has been a surplus catch. A small portion of locals are identified as river fishermen, either on a full- or part-time basis. Tembeling River is also a mode of transportation for some. A jetty is located at Kuala Tembeling River, and tourists can use boat services at this spot to reach National Park at Kuala Tahan. Some locals, particularly those residing near the upper part of Tembeling River in villages such as Mat Daling, Kuala Sat and Bantal, still rely on boats as their main mode of transportation.

Pahang River is still relied on by a number of groups who reside near the river. Pahang River is one of the most famous spots for aquaculture activities, particularly in relation to freshwater species such as Patin (Pangasius Sutchi). Districts such as Pekan and Temerloh are well known for their aquaculture products, and, to the present day, Pahang remains one of the leading states in term of entrepreneurial aquaculture activities and productivity in Peninsular Malaysia (DOF, 2010). …

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