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Power and Participation in Kampong Bharu: Reconstructing Governance through the Creation of an Urban Development Corporation

Zainal, Noranida (2019) Power and Participation in Kampong Bharu: Reconstructing Governance through the Creation of an Urban Development Corporation. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This research contributes to our existing understanding of how agencies of government create spaces for greater public participation in urban regeneration, and what effect these new spaces can have on urban governance. Through an examination of one such government agency – an Urban Development Corporation in Kuala Lumpur – I show that while these participatory spaces could be an approach to embrace social justice through empowering the community, in reality they were loaded with conflicts and power struggles which eventually led to the practice of influence and manipulation in the decision-making process. I argue that the invitation for community participation was merely rhetorical and instead it was employed as a mechanism to shape the conduct of others towards targeted ends. Urbanisation and urban development have not only increased the competitiveness of countries, but also created challenges to existing modes of government and governance. It is increasingly common for different models of urban development planning to be adopted across and within cities in response to these tensions and contested practices which often linked to simultaneous state restructuring. Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, is no exception in facing the challenges and contestations of urban planning practice. In order to achieve the national aspiration of making Kuala Lumpur globally competitive, the government is emphasising strategies to provide a conducive environment for the city to grow through coordinated urban development plan. One of the transformation strategies for Kuala Lumpur is the redevelopment of Kampong Bharu, a traditional Malay-dominated village situated strategically in the golden economic triangle in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Despite many unsuccessful events, the government has continued to work on developing Kampong Bharu; with the result that the Federal Government initiated a redevelopment strategy through the establishment of the Kampong Bharu Development Corporation (KBDC) under the Parliament Act in 2011. While the government is determined to make the development plan for Kampong Bharu a success, the community of Kampong Bharu, and particularly its landowners, has been very much divided on the implementation of the redevelopment plan. The set-up of KBDC seemed to promote the practice of inclusive urban governance as it provided spaces for community participation through a series of public engagements and consultations, as well as via the practice of representation through the appointment of community representatives as members of the corporation. The involvement of many stakeholders, however, has fostered conflicts and power struggles amongst the actors involved in the planning process and the spaces created were less meaningful and unable to empower the community to participate effectively in decision-making process. At the same time, representation was highly limited and actually provided new ways for the government to manipulate the community through the practice of governmentality in the interests of promoting certain targeted aims of the government. This research reveals how the establishment of a UDC reconstructs governance in urban development planning. The arguments raised in this research revolve around four main concepts: power, participation, governance and governmentality. The change in governance structure through the establishment of a UDC laden with conflicts and power struggles has eventually turned the spaces for participation into ones of manipulation and control. This research also offers comparative insights relevant to the governing practices of UDCs in other countries.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: power, participation, governance, governmentality, urban redevelopment, Urban Development Corporation, UDC
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Urban Studies and Planning (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Noranida Zainal
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2019 09:32
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2019 09:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24480

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