BUKIT KAYU HITAM: After nearly 10 years of helping New Villages, it was easy for Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng (pic) to find inspiration for his research to earn his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
The former Tanjung Piai MP visited nearly every single New Village in the country when he was the political secretary of the Housing and Local Government Minister from 1999 to 2008.
“I went to nearly all 450 of them, some as far as Kelantan and Terengganu, and I know all the difficulties they face.
“So when the question of what to research for my PhD in Public Management arose, the answer was easy. New Villages became my inspiration, ” he said.
Wee received his scroll yesterday from the Ruler of Kedah and Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Chancellor Al Aminul Karim Sultan Sallehuddin Sultan Badlishah.
It took him four years of hard work to attain his scholarly eminence.
He said that New Villages are the legacy of the final years of British rule in Malaysia, when the colonial government faced a Communist threat.
“Long ago, villagers lived in kampung houses and farms far from each other.
“It was hard for the British to protect them from the Communists and there were also some villagers who felt sympathy for the guerillas and helped them.
“So, the British solution was to build New Villages and force nearly 500,000 villagers in the countryside to live there, ” he said, adding that this was in the 1950s, before Independence.
When the Communist threat was dealt with, Wee said New Villages were left to fend for themselves without proper development planning.
“Today, there are more than a million residents in New Villages and they are of all races.
“Their most critical problem is that practically all of their young are moving out and the average age of New Village populations is much older than elsewhere in the country.
“We developed a master plan to help New Villages when I was in the Housing and Local Government Ministry and did a lot to help them, but more must be done.
“More inclusive policies are needed.
“Through my PhD research, I found many possible solutions and I am now eager to give proposals to the Government, ” he said.
Wee, 55, is a true blue Johorean, his hometown being Pontian.
He has a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Sunderland, England and in 2013 earned his Master’s in public administration while he was still Tanjung Piai MP.
Wee was Pekan Nanas state assemblyman from 2004 to 2008. He was first elected to Parliament when he won the Tanjung Piai seat in 2008 and became Deputy Youth and Sports Minister until June 2010.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, in a Facebook posting, congratulated Jeck Seng on receiving his PhD.