Asian Urban Information Center of Kobe

The 2004 Baseline Survey on Millennium Development Goals in AACs
Chapter 6  Kuantan, Malaysia



From historical accounts, Kuantan has existed since the early 1850’s[1], from initial settlements. In the beginning, Kuantan was better known as Kampung Teruntum. It was situated around the mouth of Sungai Teruntum. It was founded by Haji Senik[2] and his followers in the 1850’s. While living here, they worked on the swamplands that were situated at the present hospital site. They also caught fish, and they opened up a small business. The evidence that showed that the area was turned into a residential area is the grave of Cik Timah[3], which was located near the Esplanade Gardens of Kuantan town centre.

Apart from that, it was also said that there was a village upstream at Kampung Teruntum, which was opened in 1854 by some Malays from the district that was known as Kuantan in Sumatera. They were headed by Encik Besar[4]. The place was then known as Kampung Orang Kuantan, or The Village of those from Kuantan. Later, the name was shortened to “Kuantan” only, and lasts up to this day (See Figure 5.1).

Figure 5.1. Early settlement of Kuantan

[1] Abdullah Abdul Kadir Munshi (1851-1852), Kesah Pelayaran Abdullah ke Kekantan (Abdullah's Voyage to Kelantan), Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1960, pg.38.
[2] Haji Senik was Islamic scholar who was originally from Patani in Southern Thailand.
[3] Cik Timah, who was the daughter of Haji Senik, was buried at this particular cemetery. When Esplanade Gardens was set up there, it affected a part of the cemetery, and so Cik Timah's grave was moved to Beserah, where it remains uo to this day.
[4] It was related by Tuan Syed Abdul Rahman through Mr. A.M. Hyde (Kuantan District Officer-1937) in the book, Port Weld tp Kuantan, by S. Durairaja Singam F.R.G.S.

Kuantan from 1860 to 1970

The development of Kuantan from 1860 to 1970 was the result of the following factors:

  1. The Center for the Mining and Collecting of Tin Ore and Other Raw Materials
  2. Kuantan started to develop when tin ore was found at the Gambang and Sungai Lembing districts. Tin mining has been carried out at Sungai Lembing since pre-historic times. However, no intensive mining of tin was carried out until the Malays and the Chinese increased these activities in the 19th Century. The tin mining area in Gambang was opened by the Chinese in the early 1880s while the mining area in Sungai Lembing was opened in 1868 by Lim Ah Sam (people also called him Baba Assam). In 1887[5], tin mining was intensively carried out by the company,. In July,  The Pahang Corporation Limited (PCL).

    Tin ore was brought from Gambang to Kuantan via Sungai Belat at Gudang Rasau[6], whereas the ore from Sungai Lembing was brought to Pasir Kemudi by train, and then by steamships to Kuantan to be exported to Singapore. To fulfil the needs of the tin mining activity, several areas at the fringes of the Kuantan river were developed as an administration center and as a center for the collection of tin ore, in addition to providing port facilities, a customs office, market, district administration office, shops, and so on, that were situated around Jalan Besar, Jalan Mahkota, and the bank of Sungai Kuantan (See Figure 5.2).

    With this development, the town began to be inhabited by Chinese, while the Malays who first opened the initial settlements on the banks of Sungai Kuantan moved to the outskirts of the town such at Tanjung Api, Tanjung Lumpur, Beserah, Tanah Putih.

    Figure 5.2. Early settlement of Kuantan

    [5] This company was closed in 1896 and replaced by the Peterson Siom Company until 1906. In July,1906, the management of the Sungai Lembing tin mine was taken over by the Pahang Consolidated Conmpany Limited until 1942, and then by the Pahang Investment Public Limited Company which was closed in September 1986.
    [6] At the downstream end of Sungai Belat, several buildings were built to store the items that were brought by the Chinese junks and boats from the mouth of the Kuantan river. The building was known as the warehouse. Because there were many Rasau trees at the bank of the river where the warehouses were located, the place became known as Rasau Warehouses.

  3. Modernization and changes in administration
  4. The interference of the British in the administration of Pahang in 1888 started the era of the Residence system. As in other states in Malaya, the British concluded a treaty with the Sultan of Pahang, which stipulated that a British officer would be in residence, and his advice must be followed in all matters except religion and local customs. Through this Residence system, the administration of Pahang was divided into several areas, among which was the Kuantan district. The Kuantan district was administered by a district officer (that is, W. G. Maxwell from 1805 to 1896) who had considerable power in matters pertaining to land development, taxation, and society. To facilitate the administration of the district, the District Office building was built at the Tourist Square, and then moved to the office of the Penghulu (the Village Chief Head), i.e. the District Office building in 1907.

    On the second of March, 1953, the Pahang Government Majlis (Council) Meeting decided to move the centre of state administration in Kuala Lipis to Kuantan. With the efforts and firmness of the Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Muhammad Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Ahmad, as Menteri Besar (the State Chief Minister), and Tun Abdul Razak bin Dato’Hussein, as the secretary of state at the time, the plan to move the administration centre was immediately executed. With that, on the 27th of August, 1955, the Sultan of Pahang, KDYMM Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Al Mutasim Billah Al Sultan Abdullah officially announced Kuantan the new centre of administration and capital of Pahang. From the date of that announcement, Kuantan developed at a more rapid rate. As the capital, Kuantan not only became the centre of administration, but also provided various facilities such as education, communications, trade, housing, and so on, until consequently, as a result of that development, Kuantan became the focus of attention of tourists.

    As a center of administration, the government offices and all facilities were provided in the areas around Jalan Gambut and Jalan Masjid, while the houses of government workers were built around Jalan Telok Sisek, Jalan Tanah Putih, Jalan Haji Abdul Rahman, and Jalan Dato’Lim Hoe Lek, from 1948 to the 1970s. Other basic facilities developed were Post Office, Police Station, Kuatan Prison, Rest House, District Office buildings, Sultan Ahmad 1 Mosque, Kuantan Airport, Kuantan Port, Kuantan Central Market, General Hospital, etc.

  5. Communications System and Transportation
  6. The primary means of communication and transportation in Kuantan were through water and land routes. Communication via water routes was by the use of the local boats called jalak penambang, while land communication was concentrated only on the town and nearby areas. Communication in the Kuantan district was by the use of tarred main roads, while communication between Kuantan and Beserah, Gambang, and Sungai Lembing was by the use of small roads or jungle tracks or by the coastline when the tide has ebbed.

    In 1908, the Kuantan-Gambang Road, which was 18.5 miles (30 kilometers) long, was completed. However, vehicles had to cross the Kuantan River (Sungai Kuantan) at Tanah Putih, by using the ferry, which was officially opened on the 5th of September, 1910. With the completion of this road, Gudang Rasau was neglected, and Kuantan started to be developed. Transport from Sungai Kuantan to Kuantan was carried out by the PCCL Company, which provided transportation facilities by truck and rail from Sungai Lembing to Pasir Kemudi, and then by sea, using steamships, to Kuantan port, which was situated at Tanjung Api.

    In November 1918, the highway from Kuantan to Kuala Lipis through Jerantut was completed. The completion of this road facilitated travel between Kuantan and other places on the West Coast. Before this, the officers and those in Hulu Pahang who wanted to go to Kuantan had to go to Sungai Pahang by boat or raft to Pekan, and then walk from Pekan to Kuantan. The other means of getting to Kuantan was by taking the road through Kuala Kubu to Port Swettenham and sailing through Singapore to Kuantan.

    The highway system from Pekan to Kuantan (at Batu 6, Jalan Gambang) that stretched for 30 miles (48 kilometers) was opened in 1933. However, vehicles still needed to cross the Kuantan River at Tanah Putih by ferry. Highway communication from Kuantan to Kemaman was started in the early years of the Japanese administration in the Malay States, and officially opened in 1947. With the completion of this highway system, people from Kemaman and Terengganu were able to come and do business in Kuantan.

    With the improvements in highway communication and with the coming of trade ships from Singapore, Kuantan became a focal point for traders. When the bridge linking the opposite sides of the Kuantan River was built on the 2 July, 1967, replacing the ferry that was used prior to this, Kuantan developed at a more rapid rate.

    The airport was built at Batu 9, Jalan Gambang as the most important means of transport by air at the time.

    The advancements in communication and transport simultaneously helped the development of Kuantan until it became an important town, not only as a centre of administration and trade, but also as a factor pulling people to migrate.

  7. Educational Facilities
  8. Early (pre-war) education in Kuantan was not as developed as that in the Bentong and Kuala Lipis districts. This was caused by a backward system of communication as well as a less attractive economic development, an uneven distribution of inhabitants, and the existence of various ethnic groups.

    At the end of the 19th century and in the early 20th century, companies belonging to the Europeans that were working the rubber estates, tin mines, and so on, started to spring up. The Chinese were attracted to these activities, and eventually they inhabited the tin mining areas in Sungai Lembing and Sungai Gambang. They opened Chinese schools, which were one of the earliest schools to be built. The earliest Malay school to be built in Kuantan was at the end of the 1890s. Around 1904 to 1905, this school was moved from its original site (at the corner of the old market site, close to Jalan Lebai Ali) to the new site at Padang Lalang. At that time, this school was named Sekolah Melayu Padang Lalang.

    After 1903, until the Japanese occupation, eight schools were built. In 1938, schoolboys at the Padang Lalang School were transferred to the Teruntum Malay Boys’ School, Jalan Gambut and the Padang Lalang School was made into a Malay Girls’ school. This school was then closed, after the new building for the Galing Girls’ school was completed in 1948.

    Between 1945 and 1957 more national schools were built, such as Sekolah Kebangsaan Galing (1948), Sekolah Kebangsaan Jabor (1950), Sekolah Kebangssan Sungai Ular (1951), and Sekolah Kebangsaan Cerating (1952).

    Under the English administration, only one English school was built, and that was in 1920. There were only ten students, who studied at the Government’s Paddy Warehouse building at Jalan Wall (Jalan Mahkota). In 1924, the actual building was built at Jalan Wong Ah Jang, and was named, Sekolah Sultan Abdullah. Other early English schools were opened by Christian missionaries, such as the Methodist Girls’ School (1938), St. Thomas School (1950), and Assunta Convent (1956).

    When Kuantan became the state capital in 1955, in line with the standard of state capitals, the state government opened many other secondary schools (English), which were provided with facilities such as hostels and canteens. Sekolah Menengah Sultan Abu Bakar was opened in 1957. This became one of the most famous schools in Pahang, and overshadowed even the Sekolah Menengah Cliffort, Kuala Lipis. Other schools were opened in the later years, such as Sekolah Menengah Abdul Rahman Talib (1963), Sekolah Menengah Alor Akar (1965), and Sekolah Menengah Ubai (1965).

    The level of education in Kuantan continued to develop, and education became even more important. This was in line with the National Education Policy, which emphasized education at the national level. In line with this policy, science, technical, and vocational subjects were taught at the secondary schools concerned[7].

    [7] Consequency, the Sekolah Menengah Vokesyenal, Politeknik Sultan Ahmad Shah, and Maktab Perguruan Kuantan were opened between the 1960s and 1970s.

  9. The Development of Local Government Administration in Kuantan
  10. Starting in 1900, many district and state administration systems in Pahang were given new life through changes in British administration policy. Among these was the introduction of the system of Local Authorities, which were responsible for municipal services and healthcare for the local residents.

    The introduction of the early Local Authority was based on the scope of power of The Sanitary Boards Enactment, 1916. According to the Pahang Government Bulletin, no.2167, dated 1 August, 1913, the Kuantan Sanitary Board was set up, while the Gambang Sanitary Board was set up in 1928 under the Government Bulletin no. 5157. Both Local Authorities were responsible for the regulation of cleanliness, health, and development in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

    In 1930, The Town Boards Enactment (FMS. Cap.137) was established to replace The Sanitary Boards Enactment, 1929. Hence, indirectly, in 1937, the Kuantan Sanitary Board was replaced with the Kuantan Town Board (Lembaga Bandaran Kuantan) where the locus of authority was identified under the Government Bulletin no.181 (dated 1 May, 1952) and then replaced with Government Bulletin no.226 (dated 4 June, 1953).

    December, 1953, through the Government Bulletin 454, the status of the Kuantan Town Board was raised to the Kuantan Town Council. This bulletin was then replaced by the Pahang Bulletin LN.14 under the Town Council of Kuantan Order, 1960, dated 3rd April, 1961, which specified that the membership to the Kuantan Town Council was 18 people that were chosen by vote every year. On the 17th of August, 1961 (W.K.356), the state authorities appointed Dato’ Abdul Aziz bin Ahmad (also acting as Pahang Menteri Besar at the time) as the Yang DiPertua Majlis Bandaran Kuantan (President of Kuantan Town Council).

    On 3 December, 1953, through the Government Bulletin 454, the status of the Kuantan Town Board was raised to the Kuantan Town Council. This bulletin was then replaced by the Pahang Bulletin LN.14 under the Town Council of Kuantan Order, 1960, dated 3 April, 1961, which specified that the membership to the Kuantan Town Council was 18 people that were chosen by vote every year. On the 17 August, 1961 (W.K.356), the state authorities appointed Dato’ Abdul Aziz bin Ahmad (also acting as Pahang Menteri Besar at the time) as the Yang DiPertua Majlis Bandaran Kuantan (President of Kuantan Town Council).

    This post was then contested and held by means of rotation by representatives of two major political parties, UMNO[8] and MCA[9]. Among Kuantan Town Council’s Presidents that were chosen through votes from 1961 to 1969 were Tuan Haji (Dato’) Abdul Azia bin Ahmad (UMNO), Dato’ Lim Chin Hui (MCA), Mr. Mohd Ali bin Tahir (UMNO), and Mr. Kong Siew Hock (MCA). The system of votes ended the continuity of administrative power of the District Officer as the Chairman of the Kuantan Town Council.

    [8] UMNO or United Malays National Organisation currently is the biggest political party in the Barisan Nasional (National Front Party) coalition. For detail on UMNO visit: and Barisan National visit
    [9] MCA or Malaysian Chinese Association is the second largest political party in the Barisan National coalition. For more information on MCA visit

    On 6 April, 1967, the total administrative area of the Kuantan Town Council was extended to 10 square miles (W.K. 129). The increase in area was in line with the rapid rate of development of Kuantan town as well as Kuantan’s role as the capital of Pahang. Until the 1st of September, 1969, through the Town Council of Kuantan (Transfer of Function) Order, the state authorities declared the total handing down of power of the Kuantan Town Council to the Menteri Besar (The State Chief Minister) to elect the Chairman of the Kuantan Town Council. With that ended the system of appointment of the Yang DiPertua (Chairman or President) by election, and in its place, the beginning of an era of administration by Local Authority that was held by MCS (Malaysian Civil Servants or PTD) officers, appointed by the State Government. Among the MCS officers that were appointed as the Chairman of the Kuantan Town Council were Mr. Abdul Rahim bin Abu Bakar (1969-1972), Mr. Abdullah bin Haji Kia (1972-1973), Mr. Mustafa bin Halimi (1973-1975), and Mr. Hoesne bin Hussain (1975-1979).

    On the 1 September, 1979 (through the Pahang Government Bulletin no.376 and Gazetted Plan No. 1145), the status of Kuantan was raised to Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK) with an administrative area of 125 square miles (324 square kilometers). This rise in status was influenced by the following factors:

    • The rapid rate of development of Kuantan Municipality that included the areas outside the Kuantan Town Council
    • The inclusion of the administrative areas of the Local Council of Tg. Lumpur, Gambang, and Beserah, as well as the Sg. Lembing area, Paya Besar, Balok, Chendor, and so on in the Kuantan Municipal Council.
    • The taking into effect of the Local Government Act, 1979 (171 Act); Town and Country Planning Act, 1976 (172 Act); Roads, Drainage and Buidings Act, 1974 (133 Act), as well as other laws to replace the Town Boards Enactment, 1930 (FMS.Cap.137).

    With the increase in status, the new administration system was introduced under the Local Government Act, 1976, which provided for the post of President, which was held by the Yang DiPertua (that was, the Menteri Besar or State Chief Minister) and aided by 24 Council Members (Section 10(1) of 171 Act). From 1979, the post of President was held by Dato’ Abdul Rahim bin Abu Bakar (1979-1981), Dato’ Hj. Abdul Rashid bin Abdul Rahman (1981-1982), Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak (1982-1986), and Tun Datuk Seri Utama Mohd Khalil bin Yaakob (1986-1997). Since then the post of President was fully occupied by the bureaucrat, which is the Malaysian Civil Services (MCS). This was to provide more transparencies and accountability in urban management as well as to reduce political influences in the decision making process. The post have been occupied by Dato’ Mohd bin Saib (1997-2001), Dato’ Haji Hashim bin Abdul Wahab (2001-2004), and currently by Dato’ Muhammad Safian bin Ismail (from 2005).

    On 18 February 2004 under the Gazetted Plan PW 3406, the state government decided to increase MPK administrative boundary from 324 square kilometers to 2,065 square kilometers. This will enhance urban services at the hinterland including some Felda[10] schemes.

    [10] Furthere information on Felda (Federal Land Development Authority) visit the web site at


Kuantan, located 250 km. away from the federal capital of Kuala Lumpur and 350 km. from Singapore by roads, is a state capital of Pahang Darul Makmur. It is situated on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and located approximately 3°53’ North and 103°21’ East in the tropical rain forest country. Throughout the year, Kuantan receives temperature between 24°C and 34°C. Rainfall is high in the Monsoon Season (i.e., from October to February).

In most Malaysian Development Plans, Kuantan has been designated as a growth centre for the eastern region[11]. At the east side is South China Sea, north is Trengganu State, west is Maran and Jerantut Districts, and south is Pekan District (See Figure 5.3). Kuantan District, of which the city is a part, covers an area of 2,967 square kilometers. Of the total district size, 2,065 square kilometers has been designated as the Kuantan Municipal Council (also known locally as MPK) administrative area. It means those area come under the MPK jurisdiction, to a greater extend, will receive MPK services. The remaining area has been gazetted as a permanent forest reserve which serves as the water catchment area for Kuantan and Maran.

[11] Eastern egion of Peninsular Malaysia covers Pahang, Trengganu and Kekantan states.

The topography of Kuantan is low and gentle at the coastal areas and undulating and hilly in the west bound. Due to the landform, about 26 percent is swampy, 34 percent is area below 76 meters above sea level (flat area), 15 percent is between 76 to 150 meters, and 26 percent is above 150 meters or high land area.

Figure 5.3. Location of Kuantan and municipality area


In 1957 Malaysia gained independence from Britain. Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a population of 24.5 million in 2003 and a land area of 330,242 square kilometers. The head of state is the Yang DiPertuan Agung (King of Malaysia) who is elected by and from amongst the hereditary rulers of states for a five year term. The federal parliament, based in the capital Kuala Lumpur, is bicameral. It comprises the Senate, which has 70 non-elected members – two from each state (26 members nominated by the State Legislative Assembly to represent 13 states) and 44 members appointed by His Majesty the Yang Di-Pertuan Agung on the advise of the Prime Minister, and the House of Representatives, which has 219 members elected for terms up to five years . The head of government is the Prime Minister. As depicted in Figure 4, Malaysia practices a three tiers governmental system, i.e. the federal, state and local governments.

Figure 5.4. Malaysian Government originisational and institutional structure

  1. Consequences of the Athi Nahappan Report[13]
  2. In 1976 the Malaysian government had adopted the Athi Nahappan Report and started restructuring all local authorities. The Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171) in essence sought to end aerial fragmentation and to achieve uniformity of local government administration throughout the nation. Restructuring was envisaged to result in 12 municipalities and 90 district councils, each administered by a state nominated council of at least 8 members with maximums of 24 members for municipalities or 12 members for district councils in addition to the mayor or president[14].

    [13] Nahappan, Athi. (Chairman) (1968), Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry to Investigate into the Workings of Local Authorities in West Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Government Printers.pp.270.
    [14] Details on the hospital of town planning and local authorities in Malaysia can be extracted from Professor Lee Lik Meng writing at: Lee Lik Meng et-al. (1990), Town Planning in Malaysia-History and Legislation. Penang: University Saints Malaysia.

  3. Modus Operandi of Local Government in Malaysia
  4. As shown in Figure 5.4 the Federal Constitution gives jurisdiction over local government to the states. However, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government is responsible for implementing all laws and regulations pertaining to local government, the development of local government policy and the implementation of all local government functions. The powers are granted to the minister by the federal constitution and the Local Government Act 1976. The constitution also provides for the National Council for Local Government, which is a forum for federal, state and local authorities to coordinate policies, strategies and actions relating to local government.

    Three main laws governing local government in Peninsular Malaysia are:

    • Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171)
    • Street, Drainage and Building Act 1973 (Act 133)
    • Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172 with the amendment under Act A933 and Act A1129)

    Additional to the above, other laws that being used are:

    • Road Transportation Act (Act 333)
    • Foods Act (Act 33)
    • Cinema and Public Leisure Places Enactment 1936
    • Lodging and hotel Enactment (Chapter 187)
    • Other 25 Gazetted By-Laws, Rules and Procedures

    Local government in East Malaysia operates under different acts; namely, Sabah Local Government Ordinance 1961 and Sarawak Local Authority Ordinance 1948. Table 5.1 depicts the distribution of local authorities in Malaysia.

    Table 5.1. Distribution of local authorities in Malaysia (as in year 2004)

  5. City Governance, Administration and Decision Making Process
  6. Cities are led by mayors, while municipalities and districts are led by presidents (Yang DiPertua or also known as YDP). The state governments, elected every five years, appoint mayors, presidents (YDP) and all councilors. The appointments are for three-year terms and it is uniform throughout the country.

    The council decision-making process is through a committee structure determined by the local authority, including the committees provided for in legislation. Until 2004, women comprise 15 percent of councilors in Malaysia. Executive powers lie with the mayor or president. Both the mayor and president are appointed by their state governments (the Minister of Federal Territory appoints mayors in the case of Kuala Lumpur) on either a part-time or full-time basis.

    Individual local authorities recruit their own staff but in some cases there is deployment of MCS staff to local government. Occasionally senior MCS staffs are appointed as mayors or presidents of the local government in Malaysia. A typical staffing structure has deputies, a secretary and heads of department reporting directly to the mayor or president. Most local authorities prepare and approve their own budget. However, under the Act 171, the Auditor General examines each local authority’s account.

    Likewise, local authority is responsible for public health and sanitation, waste removal and management, environmental control and protection, town planning and development control, urban design and building control, social and economic development, and general maintenance functions of urban infrastructure. Local authority is also responsible for raising and collecting taxes and fees. Major incomes are from assessed taxes (60 percent), license fees and charges (25 percent) and federal government grants (15 percent). In 2002, the aggregate revenue for Malaysian local authority was RM3.166 billion (USD 833,158,000[16]). And, the aggregate expenditure was RM3.547 billion (USD 933,421,000). The main expenditure was on emoluments (38.2 percent), services and supplies (39.5 percent), capital expenditure (9.2 percent), grant and compulsory contributions (7.9 percent), and others (5.2 percent). Here, local authorities are permitted to set deficit budgets.

    [15] The municipality function for Labuan and Putrajaya have been taken over by the development corporation agencies like Labuan Development Corporation and Putrajaya Development Corporation.
    [16] The currency conversion is still RM3.8=USD1 until 2005.

  7. The Operations and City Governance of Kuantan Municipal Council
  8. Until this article is written, MPK is led by the President (YDP[17]) with 24 Councilors (only four Councilors are women) who are appointed by the Pahang State Government. The functions of councilors are to formulate policies and rules as well as to decide and monitor the running of MPK as described under the Act 171. Additional to President and Councilors, MPK is supported by a Municipal Secretary and 11 heads of departments (see Figure 5.5). Presently MPK has 1,260 staff (i.e. 907 permanent and 353 contract staff) in five categories of services (see Table 5.2). When MPK was established in 1979, it had 963 staff. The annual growth of staff was around 5% until year 1996. With the government effort to privatize some of the public services like waste disposal management, a nation-wide company was created in 1997 to undertake rubbish collections for all local authorities in Malaysia. Thus in 1998 MPK record indicated a drastic decrease of staff. This was due to some of the staff was seconded or absorbed by the waste management company namely Alam Flora Sdn. Bhd[18]. As a result of this, the city’s management capacity[19], or the ratio of staff to population,  has dropped from 0.0073 in 1980 to 0.0057 in 1990, 0.0025 in 2000 and 0.0022 in 2004.

    [17] See page 7 on the current name of the President (YDP)
    [18] See
    [19] City management capacity here can be defined as the city performance management which is based on the staff to population served ratio. Here the higher ratio is better.

    Table 5.2. Staff and population growth of Kuantan

    As indicated before, most local authority’s revenues are from taxes and fees. MPK revenue for year 2004 was USD17,087,307.00. Of the total, 68 percent was the assessment tax, 29 percent was on non-tax revenue, and 3 percent was from non-revenue receivable (federal government grants). The 2004 expenditure was higher in comparison to the income which was USD17,613,760. Supplies and services take 57 percent, followed by salary or emolument – 35 percent, and others – 8 percent (see Figure 5.6 on the growth of revenue and expenditure from 1995 to 2003). Since assessment tax is the main income to MPK, it is found that until year 2003 there are 76,818 asset holders in Kuantan (see Figure 5.7).

    Figure 5.5. Organization chart of Kuantan Municipal Council

    Figure 5.6. MPK revenues and expenditures from 1995 to 2003

    Figure 5.7. Total assets (properties) in MPK area as published in 2003


Presently, as has been identified by MPK, there are three major urbanisation issues in Kuantan namely traffic and transportation problems, water supplies shortage and housing slums. These make the major priorities for MPK to solve within its local plan period of 2004 to 2015.

  1. Traffic and transportation issues
  2. The rapid growth of Kuantan[20] with a tremendous increase of vehicles such as motors, cars, busses and lorries since 1980s has caused traffic congestions in major roads. Major roads in the town area have very high traffic volumes and to a greater extent exceeded the maximum capacity. The 2005 Kuantan District Local Plan Study has indicated a tremendous increase of traffic volume at peak period along Kuantan-Maran road (8.1 kilometers) with 3,380 vehicles per hour; Kuantan-Sungai Lembing road (3 kilometers) with 3,565 vehicles per hour; and Kuantan-Kemaman road (4.8 kilometers) with 2,586 vehicles per hour[21]. The increase of traffic volumes in Kuantan city was due to the opening of East-West (Kuala Lumpur-Kuantan) highway.

    [20] The state of Pahang has an urbanization rate of 19 percent in 1970, 26.1 percent in 1980, 30.4 percent in 1991, 42.1 percent in 2000 and 44 percent in 2005 according to Department of Statistics, Malaysia
    [21] The Kuantan District Local Planning study (2004-2015) was undertaken by a planning firm called ANZ Planners Sdn.Bhd. All data used here are based on the producted report "Deraf Laporan Teknikal Rancangan Tempatan Daerah Kuantan, Pahang 2004-2015".

    To improve traffic congestion in the city, MPK has undertaken various traffic management measures. These are the formulation of comprehensive transportation policies, the relocation of transportation related facilities like bus and taxi stations; dispersion of enterprises, industries and offices in the city centre; imposing the requirement of traffic impact assessment (TIA) study for large-scale development projects; and to provide a comprehensive planning through the preparation of Kuantan District Local Plan as required under the Town and Country Planning Act.

    To ensure all these measures can be achieved and eventually improving the overall transportation systems, MPK will develop a comprehensive master plan or a blue-print for road networks and circulations; widening and upgrading the existing roads and infrastructures; and mounting public awareness campaigns on safe driving, promoting the use of public transportations particularly in the down town areas, regularly informing public to avoid traffic congested roads, and encouraging car-pooling among car owners.

  3. Water resources and supply
  4. It is ascertain that water management is another issue in Kuantan. The city has experienced problems with supplying water. The major reasons for the restricted water supply are the use of older asbestos pipes that are deteriorating, supply plants that are already at capacity, and difficulty of maintaining the present pipe network. Most of pipes lie under urban roads and which this situation would turn into low water pressure. Increasing in demand and lack of funds for the local authority also contribute to the problem.

    Therefore, MPK has outlined remedies to upgrade 4 main water reservoirs and replace asbestos pipes with mild steel pipes in order to cater the problem of water supply in its area.

    To facilitate water usage, the water supply department will adopt an incremental payment system for residents based on their usage. The reserve will be true for industry, which will be benefiting from a policy of more water used, the less they pay. This policy is to encourage industry growth. A final suggestion, which is in the initial stages of negotiation, is to allow the federal government to take over water management or to privatize the systems.

  5. Slums
  6. To date, MPK has identified 9 locations in Kuantan as slum areas. These places, with a total area of 150 acres of government and private lands, give shelter to 2,023 people. The average household income for those who stay in the slum areas is USD105 (RM388) to USD243 (RM900). Some of the slum’s residents are under the Malaysian Poverty Line Income of USD142 (RM529[22]) per month per household. The conditions of slum areas are congested, poor building structures, and lack of basic utilities and infrastructures such as electricity, water supply, roads and sanitation systems. Since most slum areas are strategically located, they restricted the development of new infrastructures like roads, drainage, river improvement, etc. They also hampered the beautification of city programmes and cleanliness by MPK.

    [22] The Malaysian Poverty Line Income was produced by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister Department. For Peninsular Malaysia, it was RM370 in 1990, RM425 in 1995, RM510 in 1999 and RM529 in 2002. While, Sabah and Sarawak states have different published rates.

    Although it represents only less than one percent of the Kuantan population, the city government wishes to improve the quality of life of the slum dwellers by resettling them to the low cost housing or public housing schemes around Kuantan. Some action plans have been drawn under the government housing policies and programmes. Among others, in future, MPK will ensure a contribution of 30 percent of low cost housing units by developers or land owners for developing land of more than 2 hectares. Other requirements also include the selling of a low cost housing unit to slum dwellers at a price of not exceeding USD9,210 (RM34,000). Presently there are 10,000 units of low cost house being built. It is hoped that by 2010, a target of 53,900 units can be constructed and sold.


The National Physical Plan study by the Department of Town and Country Planning Peninsular Malaysia has indicated that Malaysia urban population has grown rapidly from 54.7 percent in 1995 to 61.8 percent in 2000[23]. It is also expected to increase to 66.9 percent by end of the year 2005. Generally, in comparison with the 3 censuses of 1980, 1991, and 2000, all states including Pahang recorded an increase in percentage for 1980 – 1991 period. Kuantan population is influenced by its status as the state capital of Pahang. In addition, Kuantan serves as a growth centre and conurbation of eastern region as commercial, industrial and as well as tourism centre. The completion of Kuala Lumpur – Kuantan highway also gives an impact of the population growth in Kuantan.

[23] The statement was made by Mr. Mohd Fadzil bin Mohd Khir, Director General of Federal Department of TOwn and Country Planning Peninsular Malaysia in a paper titled "Vision and Challenges of Local Government: Moving Towards the Future Cities in Malaysia", International Conference on Achieving Innovation and Best Practices in Urban Management, 8th-9th March 2005, Ipoh, Malaysia

By year 2000, the total population of Kuantan is 358,261 people and only 255,974 people if compared to year 1991. It will be expected to increase 503,450 people by the year 2010. The growth rate at Kuantan’s population in year 1991 to 2000 is 3.81 percent compare to national growth rate which contribute only 2.26 percent.

Table 5.3. Kuantan population from 1980-2015

Figure 5.8. Number of Kuantan population from 1980-2015


In January 2005[24], Malaysia launched a report on its achievement of MDG which had been declared by the world leaders at the United Nations Millennium Summit held in New York in September 2000. MDG appeared as the principal means of implementing the Declaration by making a strong commitment to the eight goals – poverty eradication (MDG 1), achieve universal primary education (MDG 2), promote gender equality and empower women (MDG 3), reduce child mortality (MDG 4), improve maternal health (MDG 5), combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (MDG 6), ensure environmental sustainability (MDG 7), and develop a global partnership for development (MDG 8). Generally all MDGs have been accepted by most countries of the world, however, the process of implementation and collection of data remain a big issue to be deliberated. This is particularly on MDG 8 which much touches on each country’s sovereignty and rights.

[24] The Malaysia MDG Report was launched in the International Conference On Achieving The Millennium Development Goals In Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur on  28 January 2005.

In early 2005 under the AUICK initiative, a study team[25] comprises of IIUM researchers and MPK staff had conducted data collections and analysis of the Kuantan MDG performance and achievement. Some of the data were modeled and analyzed by using software called STELLA[26]. Some of the results are discussed here:

[25] The study was headed by Assoc. Professor Dr. Alias Abdellah of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUN) with other researchers including Professor Dr. Ismawi Sen (IIUM), Mr. Nur Azraei Shahbudin (IIUM), Mr. Alias Mohd Salleh (MPK Town Planner) and Mr. Abdul Rahim Manaf (MPK Public Health Officer)
[26] Prior to this, AUICK had organized a training on STELLA Modeling by Professor Dr. Gayl D. Ness in Khon Kaen, Thailand from 21 to 25 November 2004.

  1. MDG 1: Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Poverty is multidimensional. It is, of course, more than a lack of income. Poverty is also associated with the lack of access to basic education, health services and information, shelter, clean water and sanitation. Economic growth increases the income of the population and tends to reduce the number of poor people. Economic growth also increases the government’s revenue, which can be used to provide basic social services and infrastructure. But economic growth alone is rarely a sufficient condition for poverty reduction.

    In 1970, Malaysia was predominantly a rural agricultural society with sharp spatial and ethnic disparities in income and social well-being. It set for itself an ambitious development goal of eradicating poverty in just 15 years from 1970, when half of all households were poor, Malaysia more than halved the incidence of absolute poverty. In another 15 years from the mid-1980s, Malaysia again more than halved the level of absolute poverty. By the early years of the new millennium (2002), just 5.1 percent of households were poor.

    In Malaysia, the incidence of absolute poverty has traditionally been determined by the reference to threshold poverty line income (PLI). This PLI is based on what is considered to be the minimum consumption requirements of a household for food, clothing and other non-food items, such as rent, fuel, and power. There is no separate PLI for urban and rural households. The proportion of all households living below this threshold is the proportion living in poverty; that is the Poverty Rate. Poverty Rates are available for household categories only; they are not available for individuals separately.

    The incidence of poverty is monitored through the Malaysian Household Income Survey (HIS). The HIS is conducted once in every two to three years and is primarily designed to collect information on household earnings, income sources and other social data. Poverty Rates, as measured using Malaysia’s PLI, differ from those implied by the US Dollar a day (purchasing power parity) poverty line used by international organizations. There are always conceptual empirical problems in deciding what contributes a minimum standard of living, as well as data problems in measuring it. In comparison with the USD1 PPP standard poverty line, the Malaysian PLI, when converted on the basis of USD1 PPP, results in a higher poverty rate because of its higher standard of living below which households are counted as poor. The Malaysia’s Poverty Line is shown in Table 5.4.

    Table 5.4. Malaysia's poverty line, 1990-2002 (USD per month per household)

    1. Trends in poverty rates
    2. Malaysia’s poverty rate has declined dramatically over the past three and a half decades. About half of Malaysian households lived below the poverty line in 1970, falling to 16.5 percent in 1990 and just 5.1 percent in 2002. The MDG target, to reduce the proportion of the population living below the poverty line by 50 percent, between 1990 and 2015, was achieved in 1999 when the poverty rate declined to 7.5 percent. Both the speed and the magnitude of the decline were ahead of the MDG target.

      As for the State of Pahang, the incidence of poverty rate has declined from 43.2 percent  in 1970 to about 4 percent in 2002, the lowest rate in east coast regions. This shows that, the population of Pahang in general, and Kuantan in particular, are getting more income and the number of poor people is decreasing. In addition to this, the GDP per capita for Pahang also increased from USD 570 in 1970 to USD 1999 in 2002.

      At the same time, Kuantan district also has shown progress in eradication of poverty. We can see the distribution of household income in Kuantan in Table 5.5.

      T5.5 Distribution of household income in Kuantan, 1987-2010 (USD/month per household)

      Overall, in Kuantan District, the average household income projected to climb from USD 277 in 1987 to USD 617 in 2010. This translates into average annual growth rate of 3.5 percent. Thus, households earning USD 105 and below will decline from 11.4 percent to 5.1 percent in 2010. This indicates an improvement in quality of life in Kuantan District.

    3. Prevalence of Underweight Children
    4. The decline in the incidence of poverty in Malaysia is revealed by trends in other direct measures of welfare, especially nutrition. Improvements in the average levels of nutrition are likely to reflect improvements in the nutrition of low-income groups, since nutritional levels do not change substantially at higher income levels. The weight of children can be a useful indicator of the level of welfare prevailing in a country. It provides a good indication of the level of health services, as well indirectly reflecting income levels, environmental influences on the food habits and knowledge of nutritional and sanitary needs, coupled with factors contributing to a child’s physical and mental capability. Chronic hunger has never been a serious problem in Malaysia since the last World War 2. Thus, information regarding the MD’s target on “Halve the proportion of people who suffer from extreme hunger” is not collected. If, there is such a case, it will be then categorized as “isolated cases”. As for this target, we can consider Malaysia in general and Kuantan in particular has achieved the MDG target.

  3. MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education
  4. In Malaysia, primary education of girls and boys between the ages of 7 and 12 refers to formal education that emphasizes the acquisition of strong reading and writing skills as well as solid foundation in basic mathematics and sciences. The children will spend six years at primary school, followed by three years at lower secondary from 12 years old. After completing lower secondary, they will spend two years at upper secondary beyond which there are range of tertiary options. Education is provided free to every child of school-going age, for a period of 11 years, with promotion at the primary schooling being automatic.

    The MDG target is to ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike will be able to complete a full course of primary education. Three related population based indicator are used to assess progress towards the MDG of universal primary education. The indicators are:

    • The Net Enrollment Ratio in Primary Education – the ratio of the number of children of primary school age to the total population of children of primary school age. Net enrollment ratio below 100 percent may provide a measure of the proportion of school age children who are not enrolled at primary level.
    • The Proportion of Pupils Completing Year Five – the percentage of a cohort of pupils enrolled in primary 1 at the primary level of education in a given school year and who complete year five. This indicator measures the education system’s internal efficiency and success in retaining students from one grade to another.
    • Literacy Rate of 15-24 years old – the percentage of population aged 15-24 who can read and write. This youth literacy rate reflects the outcome of primary education over the previous 10 years. It is also taken as proxy measure of social progress and economic achievement.

    As documented in the Structure Plan Municipality of Kuantan study (1990-2010), in 1990 there were 56 units of primary schools and 21 units of secondary schools. Later, in 1999 the numbers had grown to 65 units of primary school and 23 units of secondary school. While in 2004, the Kuantan Local Plan study (2004-2015) has observed a continuous growth. There are 78 units of primary schools and 36 units of secondary schools. Presently, most schools (i.e. primary and secondary) are running double sessions due to insufficient numbers of school and classroom spaces. Based on the planning standard of 7,500 people per school (with an average of 800 pupils per school, 35 pupils per classroom, and a school size of 4.1 hectare) the study has projected Kuantan will only need an additional of 9 primary schools in 2015. The MDG 2 achievements are as follows:

    1. The net enrollment ratio in primary school
    2. The educational attainment of primary school age in Kuantan is improving throughout time. In 1980 there were 23,815 primary school pupils entering while the primary school age population was 31,671. The net enrollment ratio for that particular year was about 67%. Particularly, in Kuantan the ratio increases throughout the year. It is recorded that in year 2000, 47058 primary school pupils entering out of 50,678 primary school age population. 92% of net enrollment ratio in recorded in year 2000. The substantial investments in schooling have resulted to the increase of net enrollment ratio in Kuantan.

      Figure 5.9. Net enrolment ratio in primary school

    3. The proportion of pupils completing five years
    4. In Malaysia, as reported, the proportion of pupils starting primary 1 who reach primary 5 was consistently above 97 percent over the years between 1990 and 2001. For Kuantan City, the data on children who reach primary 5 is not available; instead, the data on children who reach primary 6 has been used. The data will represent children who finished primary 5 and started primary 6 (see Table 5.6).

      Table 5.6. Kuantan population from 1980-2015

      The proportion of children who finished primary 6 is increasing throughout the year. The highest would be 94.9 percent in 2004 and the lowest would be 88.5 percent in 1999. This shows Kuantan City is more than ready to achieve the target by year 2015.

    5. Literacy rate of 15 to 24 years old
    6. With the expansion of education opportunities, literacy, the ability to read and write, has become almost universal among youth. In the State of Pahang, the literacy rates of persons aged 10 and above have reached over 90 percent in the year 2000 as compared to 1991, where the literacy rates are about 88 percent. Nevertheless, improvements in literacy levels are occurring in all states and differentials are narrowing.

      As for Kuantan, the literacy rate among its population is also increasing from 1980 to 2000. This is due to the improvement in the education system as well as support from the central government especially the Ministry of Education (MOE) in providing highly conducive environment to acquire knowledge. This includes providing proper infrastructure to secure access to schools, supporting needs of the rural poor and promoting the use of ICT and internets among students. The data on literacy rate in Kuantan is shown in Table 5.7.

      Table 5.7. Literacy rate of population aged 15-24 in Kuantan from 1980-2000

  5. MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
  6. The MDG 3 target is to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment and to eliminate disparities in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and at all levels of education no later than 2015. There are four key indicators used to monitor progress of the MDG to promote gender equality and empowerment of women. The indicators are:

    • Ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary education and tertiary education: Defined as, ratio of enrollment rates of female students to male students. This is to standardize for difference in the sex ratio at birth. It is a measure of the equality of opportunity of the education system.
    • Ratio of literate women to men, aged between 15–24 years old: Defined as the ratio of the female literacy rate to the male literacy rate for the age group 15 to 24 years old. This indicator measures progress towards gender equity in literacy and learning opportunities for women in relation to those for men. It also measures a presumed outcome of attending school and is an important indicator of women’s empowerment.
    • Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector: Defined as percentage of total employment in the non-agriculture sector including industry and services. This reflects both equal employment opportunity for women.
    • Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament: is the number of seats held by women in political arena. This shows the opportunities women have in political and public life.

    Gender equality has not been an issue in Malaysian. Generally, women and girls since post-independence era have enjoyed equal opportunities with men and boys in access to basic social services. Since 1970, gender disparity education had largely disappeared due to the equally access to education. Women in Malaysia have been mainstreamed into development processes and by playing a variety of roles and contribute to national development and prosperity.

    1. Gender equality in education
    2. Since the beginning of 1990s, Malaysia’s enrollment rates of girls have been equal to or have exceeded boys at all levels of education. At primary level, where enrollments are universal for boys and girls there is gender equality. At secondary level, enrollment rates of girls were higher than boys. Whereas, at tertiary level, there has been an increasing trend in enrollment rates of girls compared to boys. This is mainly because girls performing better than boys in public examinations. Besides that, some of the boys prefer to work after finishing secondary level of education rather than continue pursuing their studies in university or college.

      During the decade 1900–2000, the ratio of girls to boys in secondary schools increased in all states in Malaysia. For State of Pahang, the ratio has increased to almost 105 percent in the year 2000, compared to below 100 percent in the year 1990. This shows that the number of boys is slightly higher than the girls. As the percentage increased, it shows that the number of boys increases.

      As for Kuantan City, we can see almost the same result as for Malaysia. In primary school, the ratio of boys to girls is now almost equal, declining from 1.38 percent in the year 1980. For secondary level, we can see that, the number of girls enrollment is rising more rapidly than boys from 1.38 in the year 1980 to 0.95 percent  in 2004. This is mainly because, boys tend to drop out school and also some of the boys continued their studies in boarding school outside Kuantan City.

      The data for the ratio of girls to boys in schools are shown inn Table 5.8 and 5.9.

      Table 5.8. Ratio of Girls to Boys in Primary, Kuantan 1980–2004

      Table 5.9. Ratio of Girls to Boys in Secondary, Kuantan 1980–2004

      An important outcome of the spread of education opportunities for girls has been a closing of the gender gap in literacy levels among youth aged 15–24. This achievement has also been made possible with mandatory schooling up to 11 years for all children. The data on ratio of female literacy rates to male literacy rates aged 15–24 years old is shown in Table 3.3. The ratio is decreasing since 1980. The results in Kuantan is quite similar to Pahang as for Pahang, the ratio is at about 1.01 in 2000. A slightly increased from about 99 percent in the year 1991.

      Table 5.10. Ratio Female Literacy Rates to Male Literacy Rates at Aged 15–24, Kuantan, 1980 – 2000

    3. Gender equality in employment
    4. While the number of persons in employment has risen over the past 20 years, the distribution between males and females has remained disparity. Male still dominate the employment sector in Kuantan City despite the increasing number of female students in secondary and tertiary level. However, the number of females in employment is increasing every year. The data of employment is shown in Table 5.11 and Figure 5.10. The total number of employment has increased from 47,814 in 1980 to 120,230 in 2000, an increased of 40 percent. The female proportion has increaFigure sed slowly from 26 to 30 percent.

      Table 5.11. Male and female employment in Kuantan, 1980-2000

      Figure 5.10. Number of Employment in Kuantan, 1980-2000

      In terms of occupational category, the number of females also has increased throughout the years. By 2000, just 8.5 percent of employed women had agricultural occupations, compared with 24.5 percent in 1980. By contrast, the proportions in clerical occupations were 65.1 percent in 2000, compared with 46.9 percent in 1980. Among other types of occupations, clerical occupations have the highest number of women working in this field. Over time, although women are least represented in administrative and managerial occupations, this group of females workers is on an increasing trend. Similar trends can be seen in almost all occupational categories with the exception of the agriculture and production related occupational categories. However, the Professional and Technical occupations has declined slightly to 39.3 percent in 2000 compared to 42.9 percent in 1990.

      Table 5.12. Distribution of employees males and females by occupational category, Kuantan, 1980-2000

      Figure 5.11. Share of female in employed population by occupational category, Kuantan, 1980-2000

    5. Gender equality in political life
    6. The representation of women in legislative bodies is one of the indicators of society’s commitment to women’s employment in MDG 3. Strong participation of women in political decision-making process can enhance women’s empowerment and promote gender equality. Since Independence, the number of female candidates elected to political-decision making bodies in Malaysia has increased, but only at a moderate rate. In 1990, just 5 percent of parliamentarians were female. In 1990 it has doubled to 10 percent and remained until 2004. On the other hand, the House of Senate has shown an increased in the proportion of female senators, from 18 percent in 1990 to 33 percent in 2004.

      Table 5.13. Representation of women and men in political life, Malaysia, 1990-2004

      For District of Kuantan, there are 3 Parliamentary seats and 8 State Assemblies Seats. Overall, in Kuantan, the male still dominated political decision-making arena. There are currently 4 females in Kuantan political arena, two in parliamentary seat and two in sate assembly’s seat. As for Kuantan Municipal Council, the number of female staff is constantly around 35 percent of total staff. As for the 24 elected City Councilors, four females have been appointed for the 2004 City Councilors post.

      Table 5.14. Representation of women and men in political life and city administration, Kuantan, Pahang 1990-2004

  7. MDG 4: Reduce child mortality
  8. The MDG target for child mortality is to reduce the level by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. In addition to measuring children’s well-being, child health and mortality indicators are key to assessments of a country’s overall development. Both under-5 mortality rate and infant mortality rate, two of the three MDG indicator of development process. Almost all deaths in childhood now occur before the age of 5, and the probability of dying by the age 5 is a comparable index across population subgroups. There are three indicators for monitoring the MDG 4 the indicators are:

    • The Infant Mortality Rate: Defined as the number of infants dying before reaching their first birthday per 1,000 live births in a given year. Infant mortality is an important component of under -5 child mortality. Not only does this indicator reflect health conditions, but also and critically, it is a robust and sensitive measure of the social, economic, and environmental conditions in which children live. One reason for this is that the post-neonatal contribution to infant mortality, that is, death after the first 28 days of life, is almost entirely due to exogenous socio-economic and environmental factors.
    • The under-5 mortality rate: This indicator is the probability of a child dying before reaching its fifth birthday. As an indicator, provides similar insights into broad range of development factors, and has the added advantage in that it captures almost all mortality of children below age 15.
    • The proportion of 1-year children immunized against measles: The third indicator is the percentage of children under 1 year of age who received at least one dose of measles vaccine. This indicator provides a measure of the coverage and the quality of the child health-care system. Among is an essential component for reducing child mortality.

    1. Trends in infant and child mortality
    2. Malaysia’s infant and child mortality rates have declined dramatically over the past three and a half decades since 1970, even in that year, levels were much lower than those currently prevailing in most of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Current infant and child mortality rates are at 6.2 and 8.6 respectively per 1,000 live births in 2002. On the other hand, for the State of Pahang, the under-5 mortality rate declined from 64 to 11.8 per 1,000 live births between 1970 and 2000, a decline of 18 percent.

      In Kuantan City, the infant mortality rate and under-5 mortality rate is declining every year. This is due to the improvement of child health and the reduction of child mortality have been national development goals ever since the First Malaysia Plan, and the policy vision of good health has been supported by a range of programmatic inventions. Besides that, the health sector programs have been integrated with other sectoral programs, in particular, rural development, infrastructure, water and sanitation, housing and agriculture. National development program have in turn been enhanced by the development of rural health services that have provided ever greater access to basic child health care.

      Table 5.15. Infant mortality and under-5 mortality rates, Kuantan, 1996-2002 (per 1,000 live birth)

      Figure 5.12. Infant mortality and under-5 mortality rates, Kuantan, 1996-2002 (per 1,000 live birth)

    3. Measles immunization
    4. Measles immunization for infants was made a national program in 1986, as part of the expanding program of immunization (EPI) for children, following a trial on measles vaccines and its program implications, conducted by the Ministry of Health Malaysia and supported by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR). Measles vaccine is provided free of charge through government health facilities and is given within a standard immunization schedule specifically to reduce death from measles complication of pneumonia in children. The data on immunization program for Kuantan is shown in Table 5.16.

      Table 5.16. Immunization coverage for Kuantan, 1996-2002

      Beginning in 2002, new immunization schedule has been introduced by Ministry of Health Malaysia. Immunization such as Hib, DPT is given to babies aged 2, 3 and 5 months old, whereas, MMR is given at 1 year of aged. The achievement in Hep B Dos 3 immunization coverage in 2002 shows an increased of 114.5 percent in 2002 compared to 107 percent in 2001. Other than that, Triple Antigen Dos 3 immunization coverage also increased.

  9. MDG 5: Improve maternal health
  10. Ever since the Safe Motherhood Initiative was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987, with the aim of reducing the unacceptability high levels of maternal mortality evidenced in many developing countries, there has been heightened national and international concern to improve maternal health. MDG 5: Improved Maternal Health has evolved from the Program of Action of the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Demand (ICPD).

    There are two indicators recommended for monitoring progress towards MDG 5 to improve maternal health and its related target of reducing by three quarters between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR). The indicators are:

    • Maternal Mortality Rate: Defined as the number of women who die from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes) during pregnancy and childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, per 100,000 births.
    • The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel: This indicator is the percentage of deliveries attended by personnel trained to give the necessary supervision, care and advice to women during pregnancy, labor, and the post-partum period. Skilled health personnel include only those who are properly trained and have appropriate equipment and drugs. This indicator focuses on access to professional care during pregnancy and childbirth. It has strong inverse relationship with the MMR.

    1. Trends in maternal mortality
    2. Malaysia has demonstrated progress in its steady and sustained declined in maternal mortality. A steep decline in Maternal Mortality Ratio occurred between 1970 and 1980 when it fell from 141 to 56 per 100,000 live births, a decline of 40 percent. This continued throughout the 1980s such that by 1990 the Maternal Mortality Ratio was just 19 per 100,000 births, or an 87 percent decline.

      As for Pahang, the Maternal Mortality Ratio has reduced from 151 per 100,000 live births in 1980 to just 24 per 100,000 live births in 2000. Thus, this will have a direct impact on Kuantan City Maternal Mortality Rate because Kuantan is one of the districts in Pahang. Kuantan City’s has also shows declining trend in Maternal Mortality Rate. The Maternal Mortality Rate fell from 0.54 per 1,000 live births in 1996 to 0.38 per 1,000 live births in 2002, a decline of 70%. However, in 1998, there has been a temporary rise in Maternal Mortality Rate. This is due to adjustments in the recorded numbers of maternal death to take account of cause-of-death misclassification. This increased happens not only in Kuantan, but all throughout Malaysia. Further decline in the Maternal Mortality Rate will be slow as indirect causes of maternal mortality are more complex to manage and will need support of other disciplines for specialized skills, multidisciplinary case management and prevention of pregnancies of known high-risk factors. Other factors that contributed to the declining of Maternal Mortality Rate include:

      • The national commitment to improve maternal health which enabled the Ministry of Health to obtain adequate allocation of resources
      • Access to professional care during pregnancies and childbirth
      • Increasing access to quality family planning services and information

      Table 5.17. Maternal Mortality Rate, Kuantan, 1996-2002

      Figure 5.13. Maternal Mortality Rate, Kuantan, 1996-2000

    3. Birth attended by skilled health personnel
    4. Access to professional care during pregnancy and childbirth, particularly for the management of complications, is strongly related with MMR levels. The majority of maternal deaths are due to unexpected complications. Skilled attendance for all births is the only way to ensure emergency obstetric care for all those with complications. A skilled attendant is a professional trained health worker, usually a doctor, midwife or nurse.

      In Kuantan City, the proportion of births attended by skilled personnel has already reached above 90%. This is due to the government’s effort to reduce the MMR level by increasing the number of professional midwifery skills of birth attendants so that all women have access to high-quality delivery care. Besides that, the upgrading of health-care services and training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) as partner in health care with government –trained midwives has led to increase in the proportion of deliveries attended by trained personnel.

      Table 5.18 Deliveries attended by trained personal and maternal mortality rate, Kuantan, 1996-2002

  11. MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  12. AIDS or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is an infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Sometimes after the middle of the twentieth century, HIV infection developed into series of epidemic in a number of countries, mainly in Africa. By 1985, HIV/AIDS has developed into a full-scale pandemic around the world with a significant presence in every continent, and by 2002, some 3 million people had died of AIDS.

    The first case if HIV infection diagnosed in Malaysia was reported late in 1986. By 2003, the reported cumulative number of cases amounted to some 58,000. Of these, slightly more than 6,000 persons, or 11% had died of AIDS.

    Regarding with HIV/AIDS situation in Kuantan City, it is recognized as a public health problem. This is because, the number of HIV/AIDS is increasing every year. Figure 14 shows the trends in HIV/AIDS in Kuantan City. By the end of 2003, the number of HIV cases in Kuantan was 264 (refer table 19). Majority of the cases are male which is 94 percent of the total reported cases. The main transmission is intravenous drug use (87.12 percent) followed by heterosexual transmission (12.12 percent). The HIV rate infection rate is highest young adult of the age group 20 to 29 years, while the proportion of women affected with HIV is also increasing. This is due to lack of knowledge on sexual education among adolescent. According to Health Department of Kuantan, by ethnicity, the majority are Malays followed by Indian and Chinese.

    By the end of 2001, there were estimated 5,500 Malaysian children under age 15 orphaned by HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS and WHO global surveillance of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections estimated that the figure could be as high 14,000 children who have lost their mother or father or both parents to AIDS. The fate of these children, whether they face discrimination from, or are stigmatized by their circumstances, merits concern. At present, beyond the work of a few NOGs, there are no specific programs for children orphaned by AIDS.

    In order to address the HIV/AIDS problem, those found positive HIV/AIDS are given information and skill about healthy lifestyle, harm reduction practices and ability to cope with the disease and its impact. Gender based program targeting women and children, particularly the prevention of mother-to-child. Transmission of HIV program has helped and improved the chances of HIV Positive mother to deliver healthy babies. These programs not only provide free HIV testing and counsellings services, but also free anti-retroviral therapy to infected mother and infants. Awareness campaigns on “Women and AIDS” are being carried out and effort are being made to focus on behavioral change.

    Figure 5.14. Number of HIV/AIDS cases in Kuantan 1989-2003

    Table 5.19. HIV information for Kuantan City 2003

  13. MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
  14. Environmental sustainability is necessary to achieve and sustain economic growth, poverty eradication, and social development. Achieving sustainable requires systematic effort to avoid undesirable environmental impacts and enhance ecosystem management. There are numerous challenges, including minimizing the effects of pollutants; ensuring efficient utilization of land and consumption of natural resources; and containing congestion in urban areas and the associated problems of transportation, waste disposal and provision of social services. Reconciling environmental sustainability and rapid economic development that reduces poverty calls for informed policies and strategies that achieve designated goals and minimize unfavorable trade-offs.

    MDG 7, on ensuring environmental sustainability, sets three targets, namely to:

    1. Integrate the principles of sustainability development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources.
    2. Halve, by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
    3. By 2020, have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of slum dwellers.

    To measure progress towards these targets, a set of indicators have been proposed. Six key indicators are used here to monitor progress of the MDG to ensure environmental sustainability. These are:

    1. Proportion of land area covered by forest: Defined as a share of total area, where land area is the total surface area of the country less the area covered by inland waters, such as major rivers and lakes. Changes in forest area reflect the demand for land for other competitive uses. Forest fulfills various functions that are vital for humanity both in terms of goods and services.
    2. Area protected to maintain biological diversity to surface area: Defines as nationally protected area as a percentage of the total surface area of a country. Protected areas are vital for safeguarding biodiversity, supporting local livelihood, protecting watersheds, harboring the wealth of genetic resources, promoting recreation and tourism industries and providing areas for research and education, as well as fostering cultural values.
    3. Energy use (kg oil equivalent) per $GDP purchasing power parity (PPP): Defined as commercial energy used, measured in units of oil equivalent per $1 GDP converted from national currencies, using PPP. It provides a measure of energy intensity. The lower the ratio, the better the energy efficiency.
    4. Per capita carbon dioxide emissions: Defined as carbon dioxide emissions and consumption of ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFC).
    5. Proportion of population with sustainable access to an improved water source: Defined as the percentage of the population who use any of the following types of water supply for drinking: piped water, public tap, borehole/pump, protected well and spring or rainwater. It monitors access to improved water sources based on the assumption that improved sources are more likely to provide safe water.
    6. Proportion of people with access to improved sanitation: Defined as the percentage of the population with access to facilities that hygienically separate human excreta from human, animal and insect contact.

    1. Proportion of land area covered by forest
    2. The total land area for Malaysia is about 33 million hectares of which 19.5 million hectares or 59.5% of the total land area are under forest cover. Out of the 19.5 million hectares, 14.3 million hectares are gazzeted as Permanent Reserve Forest (PRF) and are managed under the Forestry Department of each state. The forest reserves are managed with the objective of maintaining the forest ecosystem in perpetuity, while allowing for the use of the forest products and services. Within these areas, there are classifications for different categories of use, such as for timber production, water catchments, soil protection, recreation, research and wildlife protection.

      As for Kuantan, according to the Forestry Department of Kuantan the total areas of land covered by forest are 260,528 hectares for the year 2003. This includes, Forest Reserve, State Land Forest, National Park Forest, and Forest on Individual Land Lot.

      The forest area in Kuantan had a few dramatic changes since 1980. We can see from the table and figure below.

      Table 5.20. Change in land area covered by forest

      Figure 5.15. Land area covered by forest 1980-2003

      As we can see in the figure above, the changes in forest area drop drastically in the year 1985, from 280,756 hectares in the year 1980 to 239,249 in the year 1985. This is mainly because the rapid development of Kuantan in that period of time.

      On the other hand, the forest area increased in the year 1995 to 266,947 hectares. This is because state land forest around Kuantan being change into Forest Reserve. This also includes, Forest Reserve, State, National Park Forest, and Forest on Individual Land Lot.

    3. Land area protected to maintain biological diversity
    4. Malaysia is a country that has been recognized as one of the 12 mega biologically diverse countries in the world. It is estimated that there could be over 15,000 known species of flowering plants, 286 species of mammals, 150,000 species of invertebrates, over 1,000 species of butterflies, 12,000 species of moths and over 4,000 species of marine fish. To ensure the protection and conservation of its biodiversity, Malaysia has created a network of protected areas that are representative of the ecosystems found in Malaysia. Kuantan, on the other hand have a few areas that need attention and careful protection. Not only for recreational or research purposes but most importantly as a water catchment area and maintaining ecological balance. Among the forests identified for these purposes are:

      • Cherating Mangrove Forest Reserve
      • Bukit Galing Forest
      • Bukit Pelindong Forest
      • Bukit Sekilau Forest
      • Bukit Penggorak Forest
      • Balok Forest Reserve
      • Bukit Kuantan Forest Reserve
      • Berkelah Forest Reserve
      • Tanjung Lumpur Mangrove Forest
      • Kemunting Mangrove Forest

      Table 5.21. Land area protected to maintain biological diversity 1980-2003

      Figure 5.16. Land area protected to maintain biological diversity

    5. Air pollution
    6. The quality of air and water directly affects the socio-economic condition of society. As a result of the rapid economic growth in Malaysia over the past two decades, air and water pollution is generally expected to become more challenging. Rapid urbanization and industrial growth account for the continued increase in air pollution. The sources of air pollution are from the transportation and industrial sector through the burning of fossil fuel. The increasing number of vehicles remains the main cause of deterioration of air quality, particularly in major towns.

      The quality of the air surrounding Kuantan town is slightly polluted by dust and dirt. Air quality monitoring station is situated at Bandar Indera Mahkota, Kuantan. The main sources of air pollution at the surveyed sites were industrial fumes and dust, especially from wood-based industries and he open burning of industrial waste. Sawmills, charcoal factories and brick factories were major contributors. Other than that, motor vehicles and construction works also contributed to air pollution.

      The data obtained from Department of Environment showing the air quality in Kuantan from the year 1997-2000. The data includes the concentration of Particular Matter (PM10), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). The results are shown in Figure 5.17 to Figure 5.21.

      Figure 5.17. Annual average concentration of particular matter (PM10) 1997-2000

      Figure 5.18. Annual average concentration of sulphur dioxide (SO2) 1997-2000

      Figure 5.19. Annual average concentration of nitrogen dioxide (SO2) 1997-2000

      Figure 5.20. Annual average concentration of carbon monoxide (CO) 1997-2000

      Figure 5.21. Annual average concentration of ozon (O3) 1997-2000

      All levels, expect that of Suspended Particular Matter and concentration of Ozone, were found to be below the Malaysian Standards. However, the result on Suspended Particular Matter shows that, it is decreasing to the meet with the Recommended Malaysia Guideline for Particular Matter (PM10), which is 50ug/m3. Besides that, the concentration of ozone also is decreasing below the Recommended Malaysia Guideline Level. This indicates relatively good air quality in Kuantan, despite the rapid development and increase in vehicular traffic. If the trend of air quality in Kuantan continues based on the results, we can expect a good quality of air in Kuantan in the future.

    7. Water quality
    8. The MPK area consists of 2 main river systems, the Kuantan River System and the Balok – Tonggak – Cherating System. Based on the data collected in 1996 to 2000, most of the rivers were slightly polluted. The sources of river pollution were mainly agricultural based industries, food industries, domestic and commercial waste as well as agriculture activities, logging and land development. Besides that, sewerage from households and attitude of some Kuantan residence who likes to throw rubbish into the river also contributed to the river pollution. Results for the Kuantan River Quality are shown in Table 5.22.

      Table 5.22. Kuantan River quality 1996-2000

    9. Water supply
    10. The main sources of potable water are Kuantan River and underground. Consumers in the Kuantan district are supplied by 11 separate water treatment plants located at Bukit Ubi, Pasir Kemudi, Bukit Goh, Kampung Pandan, Paya Bungor, Kuala Kenau, Kampung Kolek, Bukit Kunin, Kampung Penor, Alur Batu, and Semambu. The Bukit Ubi and Semambu treatment plants together supply more than 90.0 percent of the water demand in the district of Kuantan.

      In term of water, Kuantan City has no problem but to channel the water from the river is the main problem. Since the year 2000, the city has been facing the problem of lack of water supply. The city falls short by 3 million cubic meters of meeting total demand, and this has held Kuantan back from further development. The annual volume of water need and supply are shown in Table 5.23 and Figure 5.22.

      Other problems related to water supply are:

      • Condition of pipes are deteriorating due to 20 years of usage (AC Pipe approximately 80 percent)
      • The capacity of the pipes are not adaptable to high pressure
      • Maintenance of piping system is difficult because of its location under the road system. No co-ordination between relevant agencies.
      • Water supply cannot reach new development areas.
      • Lack of budget

      Table 5.23 Annual volume of water and supply 1980-2010

      Figure 5.22 Annual volume of water and supply 1980-2010

      Therefore, Kuantan Municipal Council has drawn up few action plans to address the problems. The plans of action are:

      • To upgrade 4 main water
      • Reservoirs intake with the total capacity of 45MGD. Total project cost is USD 52.6 million
      • Replace the existing AC Pipe to Mild Steel Pipe with total cost of USD 31.5 million
      • To manage water usage, the Water Supply Department will adopt an Incremental Policy Payment System for residents based on their usage. Residential Area: the more water usage, the more expensive the customers have to pay. Industrial Area: The more water usage, the less they have to pay.
      • To privatize the water management or to allow the Federal Government to take over.

    11. Sanitation
    12. In urban areas, Local authorities’ responsibility for the sewerage services was transferred to the Federal Government through the Sewerage Service Act 1993 (SSA) and the provision of sewerage services was privatized.

      In Kuantan City, Indah Water Consortium Sdn. Bhd regulates all sanitation requirements. The sanitation systems used within the study area are septic tanks, pour flush system, pit latrines, and latrines which discharge wastes direct into rivers. The septic tank is the most commonly used sanitation system and is used mainly in the urban areas. While pit latrines and direct discharge latrines are used mainly in the rural areas. There are indications that some houses in more remote areas are without sanitation facilities. Local communal systems exist and there are in the form of in hoff tank, facultative oxidation pond and package plant system, (eg. Extended aeration system) serving housing, estate, institutions, hotels, and larger commercial establishment.

      Table 5.24 Proportion of population with access to improved sanitation 1980-2000

      The principal problems of the current waste water management program are:

      • The increase in waste water quantities being discharge in the urban areas which cause organic and bacteria pollution problem in the receiving water, especially on Kuantan River and in the marine water close to the beach.
      • Most buildings, in particular those constructed before 1988, discharge only toilet wastes into septic tanks. Kitchen water is discharge directly into roadside drain or receiving water courses without treatment.
      • Septic tank owner seldom dislodge their tanks unless clogging occurs. Consequently high overflow of solids from septic tanks occurs and little treatment is imparted by the tanks.
      • Effluents from medical centers, are not properly treated. Effluents from these buildings can be health hazard.

      In order to cater the problems, Kuantan Municipal Council has drawn up few action plans to address the problems. The plans of action are:

      • All developers must follow the guideline for developers produced by The Ministry of Housing and Local Government; Every development more than 30 unit of houses must provide 1 centralized Sewage Treatment Plant System and for individual septic tank, dislodging service must be made every 2 years.
      • In long term plan, Indah Water Consortium Sdn. Bhd is preparing the Master Plan of Sewerage System of Kuantan City. At present, there are 2 locations that had been identified for centralized sewerage system.
    13. Access to secure tenure
    14. The government’s housing policy is to secure that households have access to adequate housing, and that houses are reasonable standard and afford ability. Financing schemes are also made available. In 1982, the Malaysian Government made it a policy that private developers build at least 30 percent low-cost house in housing development projects. The government has assumed the leading role in providing low-cost housing, through the Public Low-Cost Housing Program.

      Squatting is defined as the illegal construction or erecting of any building. In Kuantan, most of the unplanned slump area/squatter settlements are occupied along the river reserves and also on the vacant lands belong to private owners and government. There are 9 slum areas in Kuantan which cover an area of 150 square kilometers. The areas are inhabited by 2023 people in the year 2000. Most of their income per household is about USD 105 – USD 243. These areas are very congested and without basic infrastructure such as water supply, electrical and sanitation system. Because of this, Kuantan City is facing obstacle in term of development such as road, drainage, river improvement and others.

      Table 5.25 Number of people living in slum area in Kuantan

      In order to eradicate slums area, Kuantan Municipal Council and State Government made it a policy that every private residential land above 0.8 hectare (2 acre) must provide at least 30 percent of low-cost housing and the price cannot be exceeding than USD 9210 per unit with certain specification such as:

      1. Lot area : >93square meters  (>1000 square feet)
      2. Built up area : 65 square meters (700 square feet)
      3. No. of room : 3 rooms
      4. Number of toilets: 2 units

      Besides that, the government has targeted 53,900 units of houses to be completed for the period of 2000 – 2005 under the Low-Cost Housing Program by the National Housing Department and National Housing Sdn. Bhd. At present, there are 10,000 units that had been constructed in the city area.


That Kuantan is designated a conurbation center for the eastern region of Peninsular Malaysia helps the city grow and contribute to the development of the local economy. In addition, new committed developments coming in and positive economic growth encourage Kuantan to be developed at the level of a dominant city like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bharu and others. The growth of Kuantan City also will accelerate with the enhancement of road network systems from time to time. Inshort, Kuantan has been able to bring about development, enhance education and skills training, and also reduce poverty throughout the district. With these achievements, Kuantan has in fact met all of the Millennium Development Goals, and it is ahead of the target year of 2015. With the fulfillment of the target MDGs, however, there is a future challenge for Kuantan to continue to improve the quality of life of its people while protecting the environment.


This study was funded by AUICK and supported by Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK). The authors would like to thank Professor Dr. Gayl D. Ness, Mr. Masayuki Ishitsubo, Mr. Nobuyuki Morimoto, Dr. Richard Leete and Ms. Britt Barry for their generosity in supporting this study; IIUM and MPK on the resources, materials and supports; and AUICK on the funding.


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