Sunday, August 14, 2005

Promoting Awareness for Community Recreation: A Case of Central Shah Alam

Associate Professor Kamarul Bahrain SHUIB
Department of Park and Amenity Management
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam

And: Habsah HASHIM
Department of Town and Regional Planning
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam

For IFPRA Asia-Pacific Congress 2002
Parks and Recreation in the Information Age
21st. – 24th. October 2002,
at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore


This paper attempts to explore the possibility of introducing and promoting community recreation. The study analyzes park and recreational areas within central Shah Alam, covering section 2 until section 24. Community recreation involves positive discrimination i.e. meeting the needs of particular interest groups; decentralization of services; community development and integration of services. Leisure and recreation are viewed not only in terms of sports, but also at the wider scale to cover arts and crafts, cultural heritage, nature and local features etc.


Community refers to “a group of people living in the same area under the same local government and laws. These people are bound together by a common environment and are held together by psychological as well as economic, social and cultural bonds” (Meyer et al, 1969 p. 185). Community can be defined in two ways i.e. as a descriptive term and as a value term. In descriptive term, community means “a group or network of people who share something in common”. The common aspect may take the form of territory (locality – neighbourhood, village) or in the form of interest (job, religion, ethnicity). As a value, community is characterized with “connectedness, through a sense of membership, through shared activity and decision-making and through a shared understanding of the world”. The emphasis is on sharing, cooperation and social solidarity (Butcher, 1994, pp. 13 – 14).

Recreation comes from the Latin word, recreare which means to create anew, to become refreshed. Recreation is therefore, “a “renewing” experience – a refreshing change from
the workday and the daily routine. …. implies that the participant is recreated physically, psychologically, spiritually, or mentally; that he or she becomes refreshed or enriched; that he or she is revitalized and more ready to cope with the routines and trials of life” (Jensen and Naylor (1986, p. 2). A total recreation experience involves four phases. First is the anticipation phase that occurs prior to the event; enthusiasm develops and often stimulates reading, study and much conversation. Second is the planning phase that involves the actual preparation – equipment, food and clothing, travel etc.; it can be an educational experience. Next is the participation phase that is the actual activity and duration of the event. Finally is the recollection phase that may take the form of thought, expression (written, pictures, slides, movies) and describing the experiences that have occurred.

Central Shah Alam: The Community and Recreation Areas

The development of Shah Alam dated way back in 1963 when the Selangor state government officially agreed to open a new town in Sungai Rengam (later named Shah Alam). This new town is to become the state capital, replacing Kuala Lumpur that had become the national capital. Shah Alam was declared as Selangor state capital on 7th. December 1978 with an area of 41.69 square kilomenters (16.10 square miles). This primarily rubber and palm oil plantation area was developed by the Selangor State Development Corporation. The Shah Alam Municipal Council took over the administration according to Section 3 of the Local Government Act, 1976 on the same day as Shah Alam being declared as the Selangor state capital. On the 10th.of October 2000, Shah Alam was officially declared as a city, the seventh city in Malaysia.

Central Shah Alam is the original designated area covering sections 1 – 24. It covers and area of 6970.63 acres and inhabited by 156,405 population in 1999. The population has increased tremendously from only 20,000 in 1980. To date housing development in this area is almost complete except for parts of Section 7 and 13, and bungalow lots in section 8. Shah Alam is predominantly a Malay city. In 1995, 69 percent of its population are Malays, 18 percent Chinese, 20 percent Indians and 1 percent other races (Town Planning Department, MPSA, 1997). A household sample survey done in 2001 shows that 65 percent of the respondents are in their midlife i.e. between the age of 30 and 44 years and the mean age is 40.3 years old.

In terms of recreation areas and open spaces by residential sections, an analysis of the detail layout plans derived the acreage as shown in Table 1 on the next page. In total, the provision of 9.17 percent open space is slightly short of the requirement 10 percent of the total acreage. Only sections 4, 8, 9,18 and 24 exceed the requirement of 10 percent open space.

Not only are the actual provision of open spaces is less that the 10 percent requirement, a further comparison with the open space standards reveals that the provision of public open space is inadequate in all of the residential sections except in section 4. Refer to Table 2 and 3 for detail data.

Other than open spaces at the neighbourhood level, there are also other recreational facilities in central Shah Alam as shown in Table 4 below. There are also privately managed recreation areas i.e. Wet World Water Theme Park at section 14, Section 11 MBSA Hall, Matsushita Mini Stadium at Section 21, SUK Club at Section 6, Shah Alam Club and the Royal Golf and Country Club at Section 13. There are also a mini stadium and sports complex in University Techology MARA (UiTM) Campus in section 1.
Table 4: Recreational Facilities in Central Shah Alam

Public Policy and Service Provision in Recreation

The local authority is usually responsible for the administration and management of public recreation services in the urban areas. There are various aspects of administration and management of recreation as discussed by Meyer et al. (1969). Recreation areas and facilities have to be developed, maintained and controlled; recreation centers and services must be planned, promoted, operated and managed; personnel have to be employed, trained and supervised; policies, regulations and accountability of public spending must be properly outlined.

There are two distinct approaches in public policy and service provision i.e. the traditional bureau-professional model and the more recent community-practice model (Butcher, 1994). The main characteristics of the two models are outlined in Table 5 below.

Advocates of the community practice model had highlighted the weaknesses of the bureau professional model. Among the weaknesses are that it fails to adequately meet certain needs (especially the disadvantaged); it does not encourage innovation and experimentation; and unable to promote cooperation and integration in service delivery. The community practice model seems to be a better approach in public policy making and recreation service provision.

Recreation Service Provision in Shah Alam

There are ten departments in the Shah Alam City Council. The Landscape department is responsible for park and recreation areas. It has two units i.e. the Landscape unit and the Park and Recreation Maintenance unit. The roles of the department are to maintain parks and recreation areas; planning and management of landscape projects; processing landscape plans and management of nursery and Orchid Park

There are also several committees established by Shah Alam City Council. One of it is the Landscape Planning Committee. The functions of this committee are to recommend to the Council aspects of enhancement and recreational facilities; recommend to the Council steps to improve and maintain the attractiveness of Shah Alam in relation to its role as the state capital and to check, study and suggest to the Council regarding all the landscape plans submitted for planning approvals.

There is also a new department in charge of community in the Shah Alam City Council. There are four units in this department i.e. Public Relation unit, Sports unit, Community Development unit and Culture and Tourism unit. The roles of this department involve public relation matters; handling public complaints, producing press release & organizing events; introducing and marketing of the Council’s activities and coordinating and organizing activities.

The Landscape and the Community departments are important in trying to promote the idea of community recreation in Shah Alam. Though the current management is still very much top-down, bureau professional style, there are efforts to reach out to the local community like the establishment of “1221 Club” for youths in 1994, organizing activities in Laman Budaya since 2000 and the introduction of IT community centers in 2001. There needs to be a more concerted effort and innovative new ideas to be planned and implemented in the effort of promoting community recreation.

Community Recreation

The community recreation program refers to “the total experiences of individuals and groups resulting from community action in providing areas, facilities, leadership, and funds” (Butler, 1976, p. 231). Organization of community forces for recreation includes the establishment of groups such as the community recreation council, community recreation association, neighbourhood recreation clubs etc.

Les Haywood (1994) describes four main characteristics of community recreation. The first and most important feature is the concern to meet the leisure needs of specific groups especially the disadvantaged like the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the poor etc. Secondly is the adoption of community-orientated approaches that involve decentralization of services and devolution of responsibility. This approach is able to give greater consideration to local needs and demands and to be more sensitive to local neighbourhood concerns. Community development is the third characteristic of community recreation. Its’ aim is to provide and encourage formation of local community groups to allow for participation and consultation regarding policies affecting their daily lives. The inculcation of a sense of belonging made community development an important tool in promoting community recreation. The final characteristic of community recreation is the use of integrated approach to the provision of public services. The coordination and working together of various agencies resulted in better utilization of limited resources while fulfilling the various needs.

Promoting Community Recreation in Shah Alam

Promoting community recreation in Shah Alam would be very challenging because awareness on community organization is low and there are negative attitudes towards community work. Focus group discussion done among the women in Shah Alam revealed many negative attitudes, for example, “not interested, let others do it, have no time” etc. Based on the current scenario, the task of promoting community recreation would involve changing attitudes and mindsets. This requires creative and innovative programs capable of attracting public interests. The programs would not only be fun, but would also enhance the general well being of the community.

An active community group is the most important determinant of success in any community recreation program. To date, there are 33 community groups registered at the Shah Alam City Council. Mosques’ and suraus’ committee constitute another form of community organization that could also be included. In trying to encourage participation and involvement, a competition in conjunction with some important events like the Independence Day or Celebration of Shah Alam City could be launched. Every participating community group should organize a recreation activity for a certain target population, reflected in the composition in their community. It may be for the children, youths, women, the elderly, the handicapped etc. The winner will be awarded with a development grant to fund any project in their community. This will hopefully ignites some interests among the local residents and community groups and indirectly increases awareness towards community work.

Community recreation should also be seen in a broader sense; it need not only refers to sports and games. Recreation in other forms, like arts and crafts, cultural activities etc. should be introduced. Butler (1976) provides a list of recreation activities. Some of the activities that may be suitable in Shah Alam are as follows:

Social activities Arts and Crafts Nature and Outing Activities
Table / Card Games Basket weaving Camping / Picnicking
Reunions Cake decorating / Cookery Excursion / Trips / Travel
Block gatherings Carving / Ceramics Fishing
Costume party Embroidery / Sewing Gardening/ Flower arranging
Pot-luck get together Papercraft Pet shows
Treasure hunts Toy making Nature studies

Music Drama Literary & Language
Choirs Carnivals/Charades/ Festivals Book Clubs
Action songs Fashion shows Creative writing
Percussion bands Mask making Lectures / Ceramah
Kompang / Hadrah Puppetry
Talent show Wayang Kulit / Kuda Kepang Collecting activities
Concerts & Shows Story telling
Making musical instruments Service activities

In providing for the recreational needs of the local community, the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS), the developer of central Shah Alam and the Shah Alam City Council have to identify areas that can be utilized for recreational activities. Analysis shows that the current provision is inadequate for the current population in most of the residential sections. Proper sports and games facilities must also be provided, fields and courts must be in good condition and properly maintained. Traditional games must also be popularized among the urban community. Suitable areas for such activities must be identified in each neighbourhood. Some of the games, sports and children’s play are as follows:

Low organized games Gymnastics and stunts Sports
Hide-and-seek Bag punching Bicycle riding
Cat and mouse Rope jumping Jogging
Tag games Trampoline / Tumbling Self-defense
Relays (kejar-kejar) Calisthenics Roller skating / skate board
Police and thief Swimming
Group or team games
Individual and dual games Baseball Traditional games
Badminton Basketball Congkak
Baseball pitching Hockey Marbles
Frisbees Netball Top spinning
Hopscotch Soccer Kite flying
Table-tennis / tennis Volleyball Sepaktakraw

Finally, there needs to be some kind of integration between the local authority (Shah Alam City Council) and the local community. Shah Alam City Council has to shift its role from the direct provision of services to being an enabler that facilitates programs. The community groups should take over the programming and management responsibilities. The community focus management approach maximizes opportunities for community development and enhancement of the quality of life, with positive discrimination in favour of disadvantaged and deprived groups. Planning and programming of activities should stress on creativity, responsiveness to change and integration of resources.


Community recreation may be new in the Malaysian cities. It may be difficult to introduce given the current situation in the public sector management and also the attitude of the local residents. However, it has tremendous benefits and will enhance community living at the neighbourhood level. Existing recreational facilities would be fully utilized, while the need for further development of new facilities will be justified. A mature and democratic society (one that is consensual and community oriented) and a fully caring society and a caring culture, a social system in which society will come before self are two challenges of Vision 2020 which may be fulfilled by promoting the concept of community recreation.


Butcher, Hugh (1994), The Concept of Community Practice in Haywood, Les (editor), Community Leisure and Recreation : Theory and Practice, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd.

Butler, George D. (1976), Introduction to Community Recreation (5th. Edition), New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Haywood, Les (1994), Concept and Practice in Community Leisure and Recreation in Haywood, Les (editor), Community Leisure and Recreation : Theory and Practice, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd.

Jensen, Clayne R. and Jay H. Naylor (1986), Opportunities in Recreation and Leisure, Lincolnwood, Illinois: National Textbook Company.

Majlis Perbandaran Shah Alam (1995), Panduan Permohonan Kelulusan dan Piawaian Perancangan (Jilid III), MPSA, Jun 1995.

Meyer, Harold D., Charles K. Brightbill and H. Douglas Sessoms ( 1969), Community Recreation: A Guide to its Organization, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Town Planning Department, MPSA (1991), Penerangan Ringkas Bandar Shah Alam, Taklimat kepada Ahli Majlis MPSA, 21st. June 1991.

Town Planning Department, MPSA (1997), MPSA: Perancangan Fizikal dan Pembangunan Shah Alam, October 1997

Note: Due to incompatible formatting, Tables have been removed from this paper.

1 comment:

kamarul said...

Hi Chah,

Thanks for sharing our paper to the international e-community. I hope park and recreation in Malaysia will be promoted further by highlighting issues of concerns at the local level.