The bad condition of public housing schemes, including broken-down facilities, has often been highlighted in the media.
Over the years, the authorities did what they could to improve conditions, though not necessarily in the most coordinated or a “whole-of-government” approach.
Think City, a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, was set up to improve urban living, among other things.
Its focus then was the well-being of residents in pre-war shophouses in George Town, Penang, but it is now widening it by looking at improving urban living in Johor Baru, Butterworth and Klang Valley through dialogues with stakeholders.
Think City managing director Hamdan Abdul Majeed announced what is probably Malaysia’s first public housing liveability conference that will take place tomorrow at Pusat Kreatif Kanak-Kanak Tuanku Bainun in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.
The one-day event aims to hold constructive discussions on issues that require multi-stakeholder approaches to resolve issues.
“Cities are not necessarily easy places to live in, even though as a nation, we have made good progress.
“Malaysia is a reasonable success story in housing its people, compared with some other countries where slums may be commonplace and many city children do not have access to schools,” said Hamdan.
He argues it is now time to shift the debate from focusing on the number of affordable homes built to fostering thriving communities.
“We must be careful not to marginalise or stereotype communities, albeit unintentionally.
“There are examples where good intent has yielded social time bombs or created highly conflicted environments,” said Hamdan, who is keen to push for quality discussions on public housing, in particular people’s housing project (PPR) schemes.
During the conference, Think City hopes to build on its existing work centred around its Rights to the City programme which is supported by Citi Foundation.
The right to the city is an idea credited to Henri Lefebvre in his 1968 book Le Droit à la Ville, and the philosophy espoused is that people should reclaim the city as a co-created space rather than having a top-down approach and leaving everything to market forces.
“We hope to bring about systemic change, not just put on a coat of paint to fix the symptoms,” said Hamdan.
Speakers for this free event include Adam Ling (Unicef Malaysia social policy specialist), Ellisha Othman (Thrive Well managing director), Lim Shiang Cheng (RTI Malaysia country technical lead), Prof Siti Nursheena Mohd Zain (Universiti Malaya’s (UM) Institute of Biological Science), Dr Asrul Mahjuddin Ressang (UM Built Environment Faculty deputy dean), Nik Ruiz Razy (Malaysia Institute of Planners council member) and Assoc Prof Dr Suhardi Maulan (Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia).
Also set to give their views are Assoc Prof Dr Naziaty Mohd Yaacob (universal accessibility advocate), Noor Hayati Ismail (Perwacom Prihatin secretary) and Noorrimah Mohamad (PA Seri Kota residents association chairman).
They will look at issues ranging from rebuilding community resilience to creating safe and thriving spaces in public housing areas.
“We urge developers, businesses, civil society, MPs and other stakeholders to join us in helping to foster community living,” said Hamdan.
For details on the Rights To The City Public Housing Liveability Conference, go to www.thinkcity.com.my/R2C