The Legacy of MARDEC: Origin, Development and Contributions to the Natural Rubber Industry unfolds the exciting story of the growth of the MARDEC from a rudimentary rubber processor into a massive conglomeration with global operations and many joint ventures with outstanding international partners. It also documents events in its development and expansion that culminated in the privatization of the MARDEC. The book concludes by emphasizing MARDEC’s achievements and reasons for privatization. It traces the landmark achievements of the MARDEC in the midst of many trying conditions to emerge fully as a privatized body. Credit to this book is the reference to several individuals who have helped shape the MARDEC’s development. Realistic attention is given to these individuals, government agencies, and institutions. Their roles in conceiving and delivering diverse policies, and MARDEC’s ability to adopt timely business strategies and implement plans but with varying degrees of success to face these challenges have been effectively researched.
The book is commended for a number of other reasons. Among them are that the first chapter traces briefly the discovery of natural rubber in the Amazon, the deliberate search for seeds and seedlings, and how the quest to plant rubber spread to Asia and Africa. It then proceeds to consider the early research conducted in Europe and the United States of America that helped advance natural rubber usage. With the advent of the industrial revolution, natural rubber’s indispensable position as an industrial raw material was recognized and this is pithily accounted for. The chapter also interestingly traces the domestication of natural rubber in Malaya and considers the pioneering role of the Chinese, the Indians, the British capitalists as estate rubber planters, and eventually the Malays, as well as Indonesians, who became important smallholders.
In the process of conducting the research for this book, and from discussions and interviews with many individuals, it was soon obvious that a couple of chapters tracing the very beginning of the rubber industry and its spread to Malaya would be germane to the story, and serve as background to the development of the MARDEC. It is readily acknowledged that several authoritative books have documented the early history of natural rubber. However, the brief references in this book to this early history are only an attempt to present a coherent story; and there is no attempt to go into detail nor discuss the causes and effects of past historical events.
Neither does The Legacy of MARDEC: Origin, Development and Contributions to the Natural Rubber Industry attempt to discuss all issues that are directly relevant to the rubber industry. Topics like the early Stevenson rubber restriction scheme of the twenties or the later International Rubber Agreement of the eighties, details regarding the SMR Scheme and its several modifications, the introduction of new rubbers and expansion in product and technology research, and other key subjects are deliberately omitted as each of these requires lengthy discussion. If at all there is any mention of these in passing, it is only because they have a bearing on the MARDEC story. There is also no detailed study of the processing of smallholders’ rubber, or MARDEC’s global marketing channels and trading in rubber. Studies on these subjects are available in scattered publications, and most of them demand separate and critical studies. Naturally, as a historical account, this book does not provide details on rubber processing technologies nor the manufacture of the many products that the MARDEC deals with.
The Legacy of MARDEC: Origin, Development and Contributions to the Natural Rubber Industry traces the policies and describes the conditions under which the MARDEC was formed. It also looks into the strategies that shaped its growth and the many formidable problems it had to overcome. Many individuals and their roles are acknowledged. These individuals were veritable forces in moulding the MARDEC and in ensuring its advance. They were committed to their tasks and were courageous and judicious in discharging their responsibilities while dealing with many contradictory and competing forces. Sometimes, a restrictive political atmosphere constrained their activities. Attention is given to these intricacies and the strong and consistent responses of the individuals who managed the corporation. Some accounts of personal incidents or reactions are also included to add colour and flavour to the narration. The book is therefore not just about the origin and growth of the MARDEC but also about the individuals who played a prominent part in its development. The style adopted is therefore not so much academic as a narrative style, as it is the retelling of an exciting and interesting true story, mostly from the perspectives of individuals who were part of the story.
Researching for and assembling relevant material was an arduous task, especially within the time constraint. Many individuals provided rich and interesting accounts, Personal interviews and vigorous exchange of emails were a source of useful and rare information. Newspaper reports served to provide useful background information while information from published research articles and relevant books retrieved from several libraries helped to authenticate the narrative.