MSCP Speaker Series: Urban Green Cover and the Cambodian Migrant Labor Experience in Malaysia

Join us for the third MSCP Scholar Speaker Series. Room 9-450A, 12:30pm -2:00pm, lunch will be served. Topics of presentation and discussion will include:

Dr. Kasturi Kanniah
Green Cover Change and Sustainability of Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur (KL) is the largest city in Malaysia and the rapid development of KL has caused large amount of green cover loss since 1980s. In order to reduce the drastic loss of urban green cover, the Department of Town and Country Planning of Peninsular Malaysia established official statutory protection for the green space through gazetting them. Nevertheless, it was found that green cover loss does occur even within the gazetted area. Thus, the main objectives of this study were to monitor the changes occurred within the urban green spaces in KL with particular attention given to the gazetted areas. Satellite images (i.e. Landsat Thematic Mapper) covering the years 2001, 2010, 2014 and 2016 were processed and analyzed in this study to map and subsequently monitor the changes in KL green cover. The total green coverage in 2001 was 6,575 ha (27% of KL’s land area), which was reduced to 5,900 ha (24%) in 2010. This pattern was, however, changed in 2014 with an increase of 324 ha; and a large increase was found in 2016 (7,362 ha or 30% of KL). A more specific analysis of tree cover data shows that ~60% of the increase was contributed by trees planted along streets and at other locations. Despite the increase in tree coverage, analysis of the satellite images showed a significant decrease in gazetted public parks (~28.34 ha) and forest reserves (34.88 ha) between 2014 and 2016. Consequently, the current provision of green space per 1000 people in KL is only 0.4 ha which is far less than the targeted provision of 2 ha/1000 people by 2020. Obviously there is a need to increase accessible green spaces in KL to create a liveable environment in line with KL’s vision of becoming one of “the most 20 livable cities in the world” by 2020. 

Dr. Serey Sok
Unskilled Cambodian Workers in Malaysia: Challenges and Constraints in Achieving Appropriate Working Environment and Living Conditions
No one can describe exactly how many Cambodian workers there are in Malaysia. Authorities, individual officials and researchers offer their own variable numbers because there is no proper record-keeping system in either Cambodia or Malaysia. This research accordingly investigates: the arrival of Cambodian workers and their working conditions and living environment, as well as institutional support to improve working and living condition of workers from Cambodia in Malaysia. The research design was a survey, interviewing 122 workers from Cambodia, conducted in Johor Barhu and Kuala Lumpur. Participatory approaches, i.e. group discussions, in-depth interviews and key informants, were also employed to collect qualitative information. 

The research comes up with four main findings: (1) Cambodians have arrived in Malaysia in two stages: refugees (1979 and 1993) and work permitted by Ministry of Human Resources in 1996. Unfortunately, new workers have been suspended since 30 March 2016 due to abuses. (2) In average, general workers spent 8-hour days while domestic workers and unregistered workers spent between 12 and 15 hours per day. Among all, domestic work was the worst type; they were not entitled to have any holiday. (3) Workers did not benefit much from lifestyle, and living environment of Malaysia. In general, the workers were not able to access health care and public services due to their high cost and legal status. With the exception of domestic work, Cambodians could interact with each other in their communities, i.e. Ulu Tiram and Sugnai Ppulus. (4) The governments and NGOs of both countries have recently paid attention, especially trafficking and human rights issues. Some legal frameworks such as MoU and SOP were developed to improve working and living conditions of Cambodians in Malaysia that will be valid in 2017.