Hornbill Unleashed

August 21, 2012

The end of balik kampung?

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Patrick Lee

Rural-urban migration has its downside and the writer suggests that a better quality of live and jobs may eventually see the demise of the ‘balik kampung’ trend.
Every year, millions of Malaysians leave Klang Valley and travel back to their hometowns during Hari Raya or Chinese New Year. The massive exodus is reminiscent of biblical times.

Hundreds and thousands of cars, along with express buses and motorcycles plug the highways and trunk roads, turning them into massive parking lots. Trains and airports too will be pouring over with home-bound travellers.

During this time, much of the Klang Valley, especially Kuala Lumpur, will be empty. Shops and restaurants will be closed, and for the only time in the year, traffic will be amazingly smooth.

A few decades ago, the streets of Kuala Lumpur would have been so empty that you could actually lie down in the middle of the street without worrying about getting run over.

On top of that, neighbourhoods will be peaceful and children will actually be able to play football in the streets.

But the trend is fast changing and in another 20 or 30 years time may no longer exist, because by then people from all over the country will call the Klang Valley their home.

For many years Kuala Lumpur was just the country’s political and economic capital.

But with industrialisation having stepped in, factories and commercial centres mushrooming, this once agrarian state is now a rising tiger economy.

To pull in workers, houses and flats were built around the capital, luring people from across Malaysia to come and work here.

Rural-urban migration

People from the small towns of Perak, Johor, Pahang and even Kedah would leave their semi-rural areas and stay in these newly-set-up townships within Subang, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam, Damansara and so on.

Year after year, this pattern would repeat and more companies would open their shops in the Klang Valley creating a need for more people to fill their ranks.

The government at the same time would encourage more companies to come in, clearing land and creating new business and residential districts. KL, and its satellite suburbs would in turn grow bigger.

While all this was going on, people who moved here begin to get comfortable with the idea of living in the capital.

Let’s for instant take Azman. He was once from Raub, Pahang. He moved to Jalan Ipoh during the 80s or was it the 90s to work in a nearby factory.

A loyal son, Azman would send money back to his parents. Over the years, Azman  met Shazlina from Batu Pahat, Johor, and after a few years, they decide to perform the akad nikah.

After a while, he would be promoted to become a supervisor at his factory, with better pay and benefits. With a new wife, he might be able to buy a house (they were so much cheaper back then), and somehow, have children.

Like clockwork, the family would balik kampung to Raub every year during the Hari Raya holidays.

As time goes by, his parents, perhaps due to old age, would eventually pass away. Or, in wanting to share his better life, may join him in Klang Valley.

Either way, a subtle but very significant change occurs at that point. Azman, will from then on no longer have a strong tie with Raub, even if he did go to school there or swam in its rivers when he was young.

Rapid urbanisation

He would have a sense of nostalgia every time he passes the old market, or have a cigarette in the old uncle’s coffeeshop, but KL is now his home.

His home is now in KL where his wife may be about to deliver their third child at Hospital Kuala Lumpur. His siblings too may have moved nearby, all his kakis (friends) are around in KL and he is also expected to be promoted to regional general manager.

In a nutshell, all of this points to Malaysia’s rapid urbanisation.

Today, 71% of Malaysia’s population live in cities – twice as many as there were in 1980 (34.2%).

There are also over 7.1 million people in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur alone (a quarter of the country) according to the 2010 Population and Census Report.

Although a number of these people are local Selangorians or KL-ites, a large chunk may have come from other states.

There is little evidence to support this claim. Except for the observations of a few experts, the government has never studied the numbers behind domestic migration.

But if you ask your friends and your colleagues where they came from, a good number of them may say that they’re not from Selangor. Some have even come from East Malaysia.

As Malaysia progresses, more and more people, lured in by the promise of a better life, will come together in KL.

While other cities in the country may develop slowly, small towns and villages here may lose their appeal.

People will have little reason to come to these places, unless they have some business or holidaying to do in the area.

With more people moving to the Klang Valley, and many of them following Azman’s example, the balik kampung trend might either fade away, or exist only between suburbs in the city.

This is not a bad thing. It is simply the way of the world, and an idea to consider in an urban and developing future.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, everyone.




    “This is not a bad thing. It is simply the way of the world, and an idea to consider in an urban and developing future”


    Such shallow ideas! Do you have to follow the trend? It is all based on the western consumer cash economy and great dependency on exports.

    This together with the Taib led land grabs has created a great exodus from rural Sarawak and Sabah to Malaya that is killing and disintegration the rural economic base and society.

    There is a lot of merit in the democratic communal societies which Taib & gang has been destroying with land seizures.

    This is part of the Malayan colonisation process- jobs are not created in Sabah and Sarawak because of government sanctioned use of “illegal migrant workers” in the oil palm plantations and factories. So our workers are left out.

    Even worse Borneonisation was quickly thrown out in 1963 and civil service jobs have mostly been given to Malayans as they Malayanised the civil service- a major employer. This is one big broken promise they made since Malaya colonised Sabah and Sarawak coming 49 years on 16 September 2012.

    So where can the education and young and able “employables” they go?

    The result? Thousands go on their berjalai to Malaya. Also Singapore, other parts of the world.

    May be “they” could carry out proper agrarian reform and built up Sarawak agriculture to make us self-sufficient and stop relying so much on imported food for a start. If you look at Salcra and Felcra we can forget about reform in these areas since it is being privatized and the participants are the big losers.

    This will help to create jobs and wealth for Sarawak rural people. But instead we have land grabs and oil palm plantations. We have a colonial plantation economy!

    Malayans are happy! They got all the best paid jobs in our own country Sarawak! They work in Petronas which controls and steals our oil and gas.

    So Sarawakian wake up from our hibernation!

    Take back what is ours- the jobs, oil & gas, our land !

    Take back our country!

    Comment by OUR SARAWAK — August 21, 2012 @ 11:06 AM | Reply

  2. When balik kampung, do remember to share this information on ‘Barang Naik’ as explained in a pdf file in this site:


    Comment by JS — August 21, 2012 @ 11:06 AM | Reply

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