Neoliberal Forests

So here, “Malaysia’s indigenous people to get land rights for first time” (, we see a classic example of neoliberal decentralization. Malaysia’s government is devolving control over land and resources to a local level, allowing for indigenous people to hold permanent title to their land. At the same time palm plantations are being implemented on this land to provide these people with income. So the government is devolving land ownership to a local level, but at the same time devolving the externalities associated with the management of natural resources and the environment to those who have little money, training, or experience in dealing with them. The government is also imposing cash-crops upon land that may not have grown them before, potentially creating new and unforeseen environmental and social externalities for these indigenous people to deal with. Though the local people involved may benefit from wage labor and the like, I would bet that those who will truely be accumulating here are not indigenous. It is those who will export and trade these cash crops that will make the money. Though I do believe that indigenous people should be able to manage their own resources, often government titling of private property breaks down complex property regimes that may be a melange of common and private ownership and use.

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The neoliberal agenda to privatize and control seems to be played out in this case, perhaps creating more trouble than good.

Posted by Alice on November 24th, 2008 • • Comments Off

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