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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Beefing up Malaysia’s quality of life index

Much more can be done to ensure Malaysian cities move up the ranks of the world’s cities and be a beacon to attract high net worth individuals and skilled professionals to set up homes.

In a recent study by Mercer, a global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services, Kuala Lumpur ranked 75 in the 2009 quality of living global city rankings based on a categorised point-scoring index covering 215 cities.

Singapore, which ranked 26, was the top scoring Asian city followed by Tokyo at 35.

Singapore’s high quality houses and apartments, and wide range of international and private schools to cater to its expatriate community, have been cited as contributing factors.

As a city that boasts an airport with excellent facilities and connections as well as an efficient and extensive public transport network, the republic scored the highest worldwide for its city infrastructure.

Beijing also moved up three places in the rankings, from 116 to 113, largely due to improvements to public transport facilities following the Olympic Games last August.

Knight Frank’s World Cities Survey placed Kuala Lumpur at 34 out of 40 cities surveyed recently.

Its ranking of the world’s leading cities is to provide an accurate measure of the locations that matter to wealthy individuals choosing first or second homes.

Besides economic success, the ranking for a world city is based on the attractiveness of its built and natural environment, its universities, freedom for think tanks and political activists to discuss and disseminate ideas, freedom of the press, safety and maintenance of public spaces, and facilities for wholesome recreation. Although Malaysia can pride itself for its strengths and assets, it should also work on overcoming its weaknesses and shortcomings, and in the process, raise the quality of life index for the people.

Among its assets include a highly resourceful, talented and educated population who have shown their strength, readiness and resilience in facing the good and bad times including the latest bout of global economic upheavals, well-developed infrastructure facilities, rich natural resources, and strong intellectual development capability.

Compared with many other higher cost countries, Malaysia can also boast of its relatively high standard of living at lower costs, cultural diversity, and racial harmony.

It should also leverage on its strength as one of the most politically stable countries in the region by ensuring both the federal and state governments cooperate and work together to ensure projects and policies are efficiently implemented and executed for the people’s well-being.

Kuala Lumpur and Penang are already the top favourites for the expatriate and international communities as they are home to quite a number of multinational corporations and regional offices.

It will be good for other cities around the country to make use of their comparative advantages to share the popularity spotlight.

There is still much work to be done to beef up the overall quality of life index, including curbing crimes to ensure personal safety and security, and sprucing up the living environment with better quality public projects and facilities and housing schemes.

There is also a need to ensure that more environment-friendly and sustainable projects are built to maintain the natural environment as much as possible.

The quality and designs of projects also need to be beefed up to international standards and promote more Malaysian-themed architecture.

Much has been said about the inadequacies and shortcomings of the public transport system in the various cities including Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Penang.

It is high time that the various modes of public transportion, including the light rail transit system, buses and taxis, complement each other so that more city folks will use the facilities. This will only happen if the public transport system is greatly enhanced and is highly complementary.

With so much at stake, it will certainly do much good for Malaysia’s international ranking if the necessary efforts are expended sooner than later.

·Deputy news editor Angie Ng hopes that Malaysians of all creed and from all corners of the country will join hands in every endeavour in the spirit of 1Malaysia.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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