Jalaluddin Abdul Malek, Sengboon Lim, Zurinah Tahir


Citizen participation is a much contested and conflicting term, whereby the general consensus highlighted its value for a democratic society. However, various complex issues regarding its understanding and implementation from power holders and citizens alike are abundant in practice. Therefore, this paper aims to make sense of the issues of citizen participation from the perspective of different stakeholders, such as power holders and have-not citizens. Purposive sampling on 45 informants was utilized in this study to facilitate a qualitative research design using in-depth interviews. Meanwhile, open and axial coding allowed the formation of themes regarding the understanding on the specific phenomenon of citizen participation in city programs conducted by the local authorities of the state of Selangor, Malaysia. The themes that surfaced as issues included the dependency on government resources, mismatch of interest, organized and collective citizen force, and life cycle approach and realistic volunteerism. This study contributed to the enrichment of knowledge on citizen participation issues, clarifying for citizens and power holders alike in fostering genuine participation that truly benefited all. Additionally, it underlined findings fundamental for further academic quantitative participation research.


Keywords: Citizens’ dependency, conflicting needs, organized and collective opinion, power distribution, realistic volunteerism.

Cite as: Abdul Malek, J., Lim, S., & Tahir, Z. (2019). Understanding the issues of citizen participation.  Journal of Nusantara Studies, 4(1), 1-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol4iss1pp1-22

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