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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Joint effort needed to make KL a world-class city

BUILDING Kuala Lumpur into a world-class liveable city will need clear, cohesive and holistic efforts and plans by all stakeholders and the authorities involved.

It is a huge exercise where all issues and challenges should be duly looked into and addressed. Kuala Lumpur has the potential to join the league of other leading global cities if all the relevant stakeholders put on their thinking caps and get their act together.

Doing an honest audit on what are its strengths and weaknesses will be a good start to find out where it stands compared with other cities around the globe. We can expect a long “to do” list that has to be executed cohesively to get the desired results.

A holistic master plan with the necessary strategies and plans can then be drawn up and it should leverage on the city’s key strengths and steps taken to address its weaknesses.

Among some of the key assets that Kuala Lumpur command are its friendly and culturally diverse people and their way of life, a wide array of culinary cuisine offerings and relatively lower cost of living.

For the shopaholics, it is also a shopping haven with nice shopping malls featuring world renowned brands and wide array of merchandise.

Instead of just focusing on the hardware side of things and jumping into more physical projects to trump up its global city status, due attention must also be given to its software.

While Kuala Lumpur can trumpet about having good infrastructure hardware such as one of the world’s best airports and buildings, the software that include the values and integrity of the people and the government, corporate governance and transparency standards, and consistency in government policies also need sprucing up.

Government policies should be long-term and consistent at all levels, especially at both the federal and state levels, as inconsistent and flip flop policies have long been frowned upon and are still bones of contention for foreign investors.

Other important “software” issues that need immediate attention include the level of security and safety in the city, the people’s general well being and their quality of life.

If we look around housing estates today, whether in Kuala Lumpur or the Klang Valley, the once “open and carefree” neighbourhoods have been replaced by fenced up and barricaded estates that are guarded around the clock.

This shows a general sense of insecurity and haplessness among the people.

Shoring up the safety and security index in in the country has been made one of the National Key Results Areas under the Government’s national priority areas of focus for a national transformation. It is now time to turn it into reality rather than just a target.

Another key area of focus is to put in place an efficient, reliable and well integrated public transport system for Kuala Lumpur and the other satellite towns.

Having the ability to move easily and comfortably around our cities will save resources and boost productivity for the country as less time is wasted on the roads when there is less congestion and traffic jams.

It will also attract more high net worth visitors and investors to the country.

The Government’s initiative to build a mass rapid transit system is a much awaited project that will certainly raise the liveability bar for Kuala Lumpur.

Most global cities are also renowned for their other software such as their rich culture and performing arts, well maintained parks and green lungs, and facilities for other wholesome leisure activities.

To alleviate the congestion in the city area, it will be appropriate for the authorities to restrict high density developments in already overcrowded areas, and be proactive in providing more public areas and parks for recreation and leisure activities.

For a better liveable environment, projects should be rated according to their scale of sustainability and how they can add value to the people and the environment.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng believes the challenge for Kuala Lumpur is to ensure the city’s old and new co-exist and blend seamlessly with each other.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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