PJ tops again

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

MORE and more peo­ple, to­gether with their fam­ily mem­bers have been flock­ing from vil­lages to towns for eco­nomic rea­sons and sur­vival. Owing to this ru­ral-ur­ban mi­gra­tion, it is in­evitable that the ur­ban dwellers pay more and more at­ten­tion to the ques­tion of live­abil­ity. Hence, there are in­sti­tu­tions that rank the live­abil­ity of cities.

The rep­utable ones are Economist In­tel­li­gence Unit (EIU), Mercer Global Live­able Rank­ing and Mon­o­cle. They are in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions. Con­se­quently, not all the cities of smaller coun­tries are listed. For ex­am­ple, EIU only listed Kuala Lumpur and Pe­nang though there are 13 cities in Malaysia.

The cities are Kuala Lumpur, Pe­nang Is­land, Ipoh, Shah Alam, Pe­tal­ing Jaya, Jo­hor Baru, Malacca City, Kota Kin­a­balu, Alor Star, Kuala Terang­ganu, Miri, Kuch­ing North and Kuch­ing South.

A new out­fit was formed re­cently. It is the World Wildlife Web-Earth Hour City Chal­lenge (WWW-Earth Hour City Chal­lenge). It is a com­pe­ti­tion among cities that have taken steps to min­imise the use of re­sources and at the same time en­gage their com­mu­ni­ties to make pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts.

The WWW-Earth Hour City Chal­lenge is dif­fer­ent from the es­tab­lished live­able cities rank­ing out­fits. It runs a com­pe­ti­tion among the cities within a coun­try. It also pays more at­ten­tion to the cities in the United States.

For Malaysia, only four cities are in­volved in the WWW-Earth Hour City Chal­lenge. They are Kuch­ing North, Malacca City, Pe­nang Is­land and Pe­tal­ing Jaya. No clar­i­fi­ca­tions have been given about why the rest of the cities are not on the list.

Of the four cities, Pe­tal­ing Jaya, com­monly re­ferred to as PJ, has once again been named the Na­tional Earth Hour City for 2016. It was also pro­claimed as the win­ner last year. The ef­forts of the Pe­tal­ing Jaya City Coun­cil of­fi­cers must be com­mended.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port about the WWW Earth City Chal­lenge, among the things done by the of­fi­cers are as­sess­ment re­bates for eco-con­scious res­i­dents. The city coun­cil has also en­cour­aged the res­i­dents to make full use of the PJ City Bus in­stead of be­ing too de­pen­dent on cars for trans­port.

De­spite PJ be­ing the top-ranked city ac­cord­ing to WWW-Earth Hour City Chal­lenge, there are still com­plaints by the res­i­dents. For ex­am­ple, a news­pa­per re­ported on Oct 13 that a leader of a res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tion ar­gued that there is a need to im­prove se­cu­rity. An al­lo­ca­tion of RM765,000 for closed­cir­cuit tele­vi­sion cam­eras is not ad­e­quate.

The mayor of Pe­tal­ing Jaya, Mohd Az­izi Mohd, is aware of the de­mands of the res­i­dents. Ac­cord­ing to him, the 2017 Bud­get for Pe­tal­ing Jaya City Hall is RM479.49 mil­lion. This is RM82.31 mil­lion more than the 2016 bud­get.

It is use­ful to re­call that about nine years ago, a news­pa­per pub­lished that “Pe­tal­ing Jaya has the high­est crime rate in Se­lan­gor”.

Fur­ther­more, Malaysians are not noted to be civic con­scious. Even in Pe­tal­ing Jaya, a city of many col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, it was re­ported that dur­ing a food fes­ti­val, the traf­fic po­lice is­sued “some 400 sum­monses” and the MBPJ is­sued an­other 300 sum­monses.

Al­though there are air­con­di­tioned and rel­a­tively clean pub­lic buses in some towns and cities, Malaysians still pre­fer to drive to their work­places, de­spite the fact that it is costly to park in ar­eas that are near their places of work.

For ex­am­ple, in Pe­nang, de­spite the air-con­di­tioned buses and rel­a­tively cheap fares with re­bates for se­nior ci­ti­zens, the Rapid buses are usu­ally not full.

The bulk of the bus pas­sen­gers are the poorer se­nior ci­ti­zens and for­eign work­ers. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers and mid­dle-in­come work­ers still use their cars as the means of trans­port.

In the past, Malaysia did have its own live­abil­ity rank­ings. All the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties were in­volved in the live­abil­ity rank­ings run by the Fed­eral Town and Coun­try Plan­ning Depart­ment. Sadly, it only lasted a few years. So far, the of­fi­cers of the Town and Coun­try Plan­ning Depart­ment have not given any ex­pla­na­tion as to why the yearly rank­ings had been ter­mi­nated.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment, more specif­i­cally, the Min­istry of Ur­ban Well­be­ing, Hous­ing and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment should di­rect the Fed­eral Town and Coun­try Plan­ning Depart­ment to re­vive the rank­ing of the 13 cities and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties ev­ery year or once in two years. Bet­ter still, if an NGO or a univer­sity in­volved in ur­ban mat­ters sets up a di­vi­sion to rank the live­abil­ity of the cities in the near fu­ture.

Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee is in­ter­ested in ur­ban gov­er­nance, hous­ing and ur­ban plan­ning. Com­ments: let­ters@the­sundaily. com

Com­muters in PJ have the op­tion of us­ing its free bus ser­vice.

Mohd Az­izi

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