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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Projects need to get moving to meet high-income goal

Competition among countries and corporations in various parts of the world is set to pick up steam in the bid to power stronger growth after the dreary past two years.

From Singapore to China and Dubai, new iconic projects are being added to drive higher value add to their economy.

Singapore’s two integrated resorts – Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands – are set to make big waves and take a big bite of the lucrative gambling and tourism market.

Genting Bhd’s Resorts World Sentosa will open its casino to the public tomorrow in time to capture the holiday crowd over the Lunar New Year holidays. Universal Studios Singapore will open to the public in early March.

The Marina Bay Sands by Las Vegas Sands Corp has targeted for an April opening.

Malaysia has also targeted at the services-related sector to steer its economy up a few notches.

But to date there are still no specific projects that have been drawn up to promote higher growth in the services sector. It is about time to do some serious thinking and get the projects moving if it is to meet its high-income and economic growth aspirations for the people.

That will need a lot of thinking out of the box and not just leveraging on the existing assets and resources.

Tourism is certainly one of the most lucrative and high potential growth sectors for the country but there is a need for newer products and destinations to be introduced.

We can perhaps look at some interesting arts and lifestyle centres that promote Malaysian arts pieces, handicraft, performances, and culinary delights.

To be successful, these places should have the magnetism to awe visitors with their charismatic charm, unique design and ambience.

Having more iconic landmarks like the Petronas Twin Towers will also be able to do wonders for the city’s landscape and attract more visitors.

Most importantly, these projects should be functional and can add value to the people.

There is quite a long list of such places and projects dotting various parts of the world today. Most of them are steeped in history while a number of them are newly built structures.

Quite a number of these buildings are among the world’s tallest – Taipei 101 in Taiwan, Harmony Tower Shanghai and our own Petronas Twin Towers. The current world record holder is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at 160 storeys high.

But not all are skyscrapers. Sydney is well known worldwide for its Opera House, and Harbour Bridge.

Some are just simple buildings within a unique environment like Shanghai’s popular tourist landmark, Xindianti that used to be an old community neighbourhood that has been given a new lease of life.

In fact, some parts of Malaysian cities including Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Penang have grown quite dreary and old.

They certainly can do with some revitalisation and a new lease of life.

With effort and creativity, they can assume multiple uses during their life span. Old buildings can be remodelled and put to new uses.

There are many old buildings that are either government or private owned that have been left deserted after the tenants moved out.

Rather than let them languish and degenerate, these old buildings should be given new lease of life or be redeveloped to add value to them.

If properly planned and executed, they can generate many new economic activities and revitalise the older parts of the cities.

Many of the buildings have been built centuries ago and have survived a long legacy and history. They provide an invaluable insight into the rich culture and practices of the people during those early days.

It is important to have well thought out restoration plans for them to capture their past glory and turn them into viable places of interest that blend well with the present environment.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng appreciates the legacy of many of the old buildings in our cities and hope we may soon have our own Xindianti-equivalent to showcase to the world.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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