Test 2

by Aun Jie
(Hobart, Tasmania, Australia)

Original Text: Test 2


Setting the theoretical context
The way we understand and acquire knowledge influences the way we understand a phenomena (Bryman, 2008). Therefore, in this chapter, I will explore and provide the theoretical presumptions that have influenced my interest and inquiries in modernisation and built cultural environment in Malaysia. I will use this understanding to link modernisation to Asian values change which influenced physical changes of cities; and subsequently on how urbanisation threaten existing built cultural environment which has detrimentally caused permanent cultural identity change in Malaysia.
2.1 Globalisation
No doubt we are now living in an age of global change; different societies and culture homogenised through global networks of communication, trade and transportation, to the extent that societies are so dependent on each other, they are not fully able to handle global crisis if left on its own (Raud 2007). For example, recent natural disasters in Australia or political unrest in Egypt can have tremendous effect on a family in Indonesia or even a factory worker in China, or maybe a cheap plastic toy made in Malaysia can brighten up the day of a child in India. ‘Globalization both homogenises and fragments’. On one hand, it allows for the integration of events, values, knowledge and technology but on the other hand, it further fragments identities, societies and ethnics and thus causes cultural conflicts (Zawawi 2004, Raud 2007).
According to Riggs (2003), even before the mid-1990s Asia economic crisis, scholars and activists have claimed the Asian ‘growth miracle’ was merely a rhetorical device and used to exhibit their new-found independence and freedom from their western colonised era. Beneath the massive foreign investments, rapid economic and urban growth was ‘a sea of malaise and social inclusion’. For example in Thailand, Bell (1992 cited in Riggs, 2003) uses the term ‘maldevelopment’ to describe its development as a violation towards important values such as equity, economic democracy, ecological balance and human decency. Another example is in Vietnam, where Kolko (1995) quoted ‘... those who gave (in) and suffered the most and were promised the greatest benefit, have gained the least. The communists are abandoning them to the inherently precarious future of a market economy’. These critiques are only some examples that were against the development in Asia. In other words, many believed that growth in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia should not be seen as an exemplar of growth but an indication and a warning of the dangers of over-rapid development and export-led capitalist growth.
However, not all scholars are so critical about Southeast Asia growth; they merely call for a greater balance – ‘Modernisation without development’. Scholar from this stream sees development to have created social problems and state intervention that previously did not exist. For example, small farmers with low productivity cannot cope with the market demand for food; and this forces the interventions from governments who will then create an industry to provide and meet the demand of the market which existed only to tackle a problem. In short, development created more problems and issues that need to be tackled constantly. However, this concept was also flawed; its critiques challenged it by stating if ‘underdevelopment’ or the absence of modernity is considered as a positive attribute, then how can development proceed and advance to a more superior stage where modernisation is? (Riggs 2003)

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Revised Text:

Setting the theoretical context

The way we understand and acquire knowledge influences the way we understand a phenomena (Bryman, 2008). Therefore, in this chapter, I will identify and explore the theoretical presumptions that have influenced my interest and inquiries in modernisation and that have built the cultural environment in Malaysia. I will use this understanding to link modernisation to Asian values change, which influenced physical changes in cities; and subsequently how urbanisation threatens the existing cultural environment which has caused detrimentally permanent cultural identity change in Malaysia.

2.1 Globalisation

No doubt we are now living in an age of global change, different societies and cultures are homogenised through global networks of communication, trade and transportation. This is to the extent that societies are so dependent on each other, they are not fully able to handle a global crisis if left on their own (Raud 2007). For example, the recent natural disasters in Australia or political unrest in Egypt can have a tremendous effect on a family in Indonesia, a factory worker in China, or maybe the cheap plastic toy made in Malaysia that can brighten up the day of a child in India. ‘Globalization both homogenises and fragments’. On one hand, it allows for the integration of events, values, knowledge and technology, but on the other hand, it further fragments identities, societies and ethnics and thus causes cultural conflicts (Zawawi 2004, Raud 2007).

According to Riggs (2003), even before the mid-1990s Asian economic crisis, scholars and activists claimed that the Asian ‘growth miracle’ was merely a rhetorical device and was being used to exhibit their new-found independence and freedom from their Western colonisation era. Beneath the massive foreign investments, rapid economic and urban growth was ‘a sea of malaise and social inclusion’. For example, in Thailand, Bell (1992 cited in Riggs, 2003) uses the term ‘maldevelopment’ to describe its development as a violation of important values such as equity, economic democracy, ecological balance and human decency. Another example is in Vietnam, where Kolko (1995) quoted ‘... those who gave (in) and suffered the most and were promised the greatest benefit, have gained the least. The communists are abandoning them to the inherently precarious future of a market economy’. These critiques are only some examples that were against the development in Asia. In other words, many believed that growth in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia, should not be seen as an exemplar of growth but an indication and a warning of the dangers of over-rapid development and export-led capitalist growth.

However, not all scholars are so critical of Southeast Asian growth, they merely call for a greater balance – ‘Modernisation without development’. Scholars from this stream see development to have created social problems and state intervention that previously did not exist. For example, small farmers with low productivity cannot cope with the market demand for food, and this forces interventions from governments who will then create an industry to provide and meet the demand of the market which existed only to tackle a problem. In short, development created more problems and issues that need to be tackled constantly.

However, this concept was also flawed, critiques challenged it by stating, "if ‘underdevelopment’ or the absence of modernity is considered as a positive attribute, then how can development proceed and advance to a more superior stage where modernisation is?" (Riggs 2003)


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