TAN SRI ELYAS OMAR
Third mayor of KL (1983-1992)
AS ONE of the longest serving Kuala Lumpur mayors, Tan Sri Elyas Omar has had a hand in the city’s rapid development.
Elyas said that to continue to thrive, the city must now shift its focus towards improving the quality of life of its people.
“In the last 40 years, Kuala Lumpur has grown from a quiet town into a bustling metropolitan and it has rightfully taken its place among major capitals of the world.
“But, like any other thriving city, it is still growing and will have to change and evolve with the times.
“Although the city has achieved much in the past decades, there is still much to be done to make it into a more dynamic, presentable and ultimately, liveable city.
“For example, in past years the focus has been on creating newer and bigger buildings. But now the emphasis should be on improving and upgrading the existing infrastructure.
“There are many dilapidated and unsafe buildings which, if need be, should be torn down if they no longer have any preservation value,” Elyas said.
He added that they should instead be converted into SoHos that would inject vibrancy into the area.
“The nature of development should be less physical and more geared towards social development,” Elyas said.
He also said that more effort should be put into developing the city as not just a business centre, but also a cultural hub for the country.
“KL is a melting pot of races and cultures. There is much more we can do to harness its inherent potential.
“We should have more arts and cultural centres, as well as theatre complexes as there is a growing demand for these kind of activities,” he said.
More importantly, he added, there was a substantial talent base in the city that could be on par on an international level.
“It is the same with sports. We have a lot of talent, but we need proper sports complexes and fields for them to train and hone their skills,” Elyas said.
He added that more parks and community centres should be created for people to get together.
“The people of KL have achieved much in the past four decades and we should rightfully be proud,” he said.
DATUK SERI RUSLIN HASAN
Seventh mayor (2004-2006)
KUALA Lumpur still has a long way to go before it can become one of the most liveable cities in the world, said former mayor Datuk Seri Ruslin Hasan.
Ruslin who was mayor from 2004-2006 said that while Kuala Lumpur had been improving compared to other cities in the region in aspects such as transportation, cleanliness and greenery could be better.
“As KL is a matured and a capital city, more money should be spent on these aspects,” he said in a phone interview with The Star.
His main concern was over Kuala Lumpur’s transportation system, especially since it has undergone a population boom in the last decade.
There are an estimated 1.7 million people living in Kuala Lumpur at the moment.
“The main problem has always been transportation. There are just too many cars on the road.
“More lines should be added to the rail system so that people can go in and out of the city easily,” he said.
He praised the Government for upgrading the rapid transit system, although he acknowledged that it was in a mess at the moment.
“When the LRT and monorail were being built, there were complaints but the people benefitted once everything was completed. Give it a few years,” he said.
Ruslin said he was also concerned over cleanliness in Kuala Lumpur and hoped that rubbish collection, especially, would be improved.
“It’s a basic problem that has not been solved. There should be more enforcement of anti-litter programmes,” he said, adding that citizens also played a part in maintaining the city’s cleanliness.
Ruslin also said that the landscaping in Kuala Lumpur was “a bit boring” because too much development was causing the city to be less green.
“It must be greener. Previously, it was done properly and we learned new ideas from countries such as Indonesia,” he said.
He also admitted that it was easier for him to comment on the various aspects when not involved.
“Maybe when I was working in DBKL and was mayor, people were saying the same things as I am now, “ he said, adding that he hoped cultural and sporting aspects would also be given more emphasis in the future.
TAN SRI AHMAD FUAD ISMAIL
Ninth mayor (2008-2012)
KUALA Lumpur has come a long way in its 40-year history as a Federal Territory, but there are still many issues that need to be tackled, said former mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail.
Ahmad Fuad said aspects such as tourism, maintenance and environment should be further improved.
“The city has made great strides in promoting itself as a tourism destination and has become well known as a shopping haven. We are able to organise and host international-level music and sporting events that have become a part of the city’s identity.
“But there are still other aspects of tourism that we can develop and enhance. The city’s arts scene needs a boost, in that we need more places where emerging artists can display their creations.
“Even our traditional handicraft should be given due recognition before we lose them to modern times,” he said.
He added that more emphasis should be given to issues faced by residents in the city’s Public Housing (PA) and People’s Housing Projects (PPR).
“During the early years, the Government was concerned about eliminating poverty by providing housing to those living in squatters or illegal settlements,” said Ahmad Fuad.
“By placing them in PAs and PPRs, some of this issues were solved, not realising that this would create a host of other problems.
“Aspects such as cleanliness, maintenance, vandalism and social ills have cropped up and are getting worse.
“To be fair, the Government, and in a large part, DBKL have acknowledged these problems and are working towards addressing them. But this cannot happen without the support and cooperation of the community living in these areas.
“To start, they must first be empowered to take pride in the place that they are living in, and not just see it as a roof over their heads,” he said.
On working towards a greener city, Ahmad Fuad said: “Hopefully, with the emerging MRT and LRT extension lines, people will be less inclined to drive their cars everywhere. This could also promote walking as it is a habit that should be inculcated.”
“The landscaping in the city also needs a boost and could be used as a tourist attraction since we have so many varieties of plants available,” he added.