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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Giving the city a touch of class

The Greater Kuala Lumpur (GKL) plan is a good start to lay the foundation towards raising the bar of livability for the capital city and its surrounding conurbations to become a world-class global city.

The GKL is a noble and ambitious plan that, if planned and executed properly, will be a boon to the overall quality of life for the people besides the significant spillover benefits to the country’s economy.

The 279,327ha GKL will cover districts under 10 municipalities, namely Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selayang, Ampang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang, Kajang and Sepang.

Under the plan, GKL will be a sprawling livable city and economic hub with more open space, improved waterfronts and superior public transportation system, possibly with underground trains.

The overall plan is to expand the city into clusters outside the capital city of Kuala Lumpur through better improved infrastructure and public transport system, including light rail transit (LRT) and mass rail transit (MRT) lines. Other proposals include establishing an international financial district near Bukit Bintang and the re-development of the Sungai Besi air base and the Sungai Buloh Rubber Research Institute (RRI) land.

For such a grandiose and ambitious plan to work, it is mandatory to have a well thought-out and thoroughly-researched master plan that takes into consideration all the important attributes and characteristics of the shape and type of global city that GKL aims to become.

Cities need to be constantly renewed and have to uphold multiple roles to keep up with the changing needs and demands of the present and future generations.

This is a golden opportunity for all stakeholders, that include the public, consumer groups, the planning and approving authorities, and industry groups, to come together to work towards an iconic master plan that is economically, socially, culturally and environmentally sustainable and viable.

While the spinoffs in terms of wealth creation are expected to be extensive, maximising profit should not be the priority.

Contrary to the common believe that only the big, tangible projects should be given greater attention, equally important are the basic attributes and non-tangible items that can be counted upon to make the difference between success and failure of such a major plan.

Instead of being bogged down by just the “hardwares” such as the big projects, due attention should also be paid to elements that constitute the heart and soul of our city which in effect makes up its unique identity.

The city needs to be well-planned with components for work, play and relax. There should be a balance between development and other softer attributes, which include a wholesome and holistic living environment, a lively local arts and cultural scene, museums, art galleries and libraries, among other things.

It is also important to have well thought-out plans to ensure amenities for physically-challenged people, the elderly and infirmed, children and expecting women, are in place.

To attain the status of a global city, an “overhaul” is needed to lift the service and maintenance culture among Malaysians.

A high level of service among the frontliners, including the immigration officials, cab drivers, hotel personnel, and waiters and waitresses, will paint a good image for the country among visitors.

Likewise, a good maintenance culture will ensure that at every level of the society – from the public to the private sector and the local authorities – will play an active role to ensure all the facilities will be kept in tip-top working order.

Many people will agree that an overhaul and upgrading of the public transportation system is long overdue. Diligent effort has to be expended to ensure the ambition of building up a comprehensive and integrated transportation and connectivity plan to synchronise the LRT and proposed MRT network will work well with the other modes of transport, including the taxi and bus networks.

Meanwhile, land has become a scarce resource in the city’s development process and this has contributed to the escalating cost of land and rising property prices.

The proposed redevelopment of the 160ha Sungei Besi airport and the 1,320ha RRI land in Sungei Buloh should help to ease the land-scarcity problem.

Having the opportunity to developing these large parcels of land will enable better integration of services, infrastructure and other components that are more long term and sustainable.

It deserves careful and conscious planning that incorporate world-class standards to become a showcase of development for the country.

·Deputy news editor Angie Ng hopes the Greater Kuala Lumpur plan will have all the right attributes to improve the overall quality of life of the people.

By The Star

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