Overseeing a new town when that town is Putrajaya where the Prime Minister lives is not easy. Putrajaya Corporation president Tan Sri Azizan Zainul Abidin will tell you that, writes MERGAWATI ZULFAKAR.
EVERYTHING is new – buildings, facilities, concept of development and migrants.
One thing is not new though – complaints. Like any other town, Putrajaya has its parking woes, expensive food and high rental.
The perception that Putrajaya is a civil service town is another problem facing the corporation. And Azizan readily admits that Putrajaya is “dead” at night.
Why such a problem when half the government has moved to Putrajaya and the current population is 30,000 and growing?
“The Chinese love to eat out, unlike the Malays who make up the majority of the population in Putrajaya.
“We have allowed some of the eating places to be open until 10pm but there are hardly any customers in the evenings,” he said in a recent interview.
Private businesses, Azizan said, forget that the Government is a big spender and major buyer of goods and services.
“You must be located in Putrajaya to be closer to the Government and to have regular communication.
“Most of the businesses here are just to meet the daily needs of residents like mini markets, laundry and restaurants. In terms of providing the daily needs, it is quite satisfactory. But we need to see bigger businesses setting up their offices here,” he added.
“Wrong perception also contributes to the problem. Probably it is also the result of our own description of Putrajaya as the centre of the Federal Government.
“It is a town. A lot of people fail to see that. It is a town that needs more than government offices or the staff; it also needs the components of business that support the population,” he said.
Azizan said the corporation would be promoting Putrajaya to create awareness among the private sector and eventually he hoped the private sector would locate here in greater numbers.
Parking woes are emerging. Those working in Precinct 8, the only commercial centre which has been completed, have difficulty finding parking during office hours.
Azizan thinks that the problem will be resolved by next month when Precinct 16, which offers more commercial facilities, is opened.
“At the moment, we can’t provide parking for everybody. We have located the facilities within walking distance of the residents but the people are still taking their cars.”
One piece of good news is that the corporation has no plans to charge for parking at the moment.
Azizan said that as president of the corporation, he has an official residence but it is too big for him and his wife. He bought a link house instead.
“I meet residents and they voice their complaints like rental being a bit high. With the opening of the Precinct 16 commercial complex, we hope this will result in keeping the rental from shooting too high,” he added.
While he agrees there may be difficulties with parking and rental, Azizan begs to differ on the price of food at foodcourts and restaurants.
“It depends on where you eat. Selera Putra (at Dataran Putra, a tourist attraction) is not meant for residents. Civil servants have their canteens where they get much cheaper food.
“What people do not realise is that the standard of hygiene of the Taman Selera here is higher. The corporation provides the cleaning service to outlet operators so that they don’t have to worry about extra work and hiring workers.”
The crime rate is relatively low, and confined mainly to house break-ins and drug addiction.
To alleviate the problem, the corporation encourages residents to set up neighbourhood watches.
He said a neighbourhood watch in Precinct 8 has resulted in almost zero crime rate with only one case – a stolen pair of shoes.
On the rise of Putrajaya, Azizan said: “I am excited for the people. The idea came from the Prime Minister. It is his vision.
“We were able to move the administrative capital because we have a leader who is bold enough to get it implemented. As an implementer, I am excited to see this project has become a reality.
“It is a beautiful place. What is more exciting is that it is the product of our own people, our engineers, architects, landscape artists.
“At one time, critics of the project said no one would live in Putrajaya. We have proven them wrong.”
It will be a busy year for Putrajaya. Among the activities lined up are two weeks of celebrations for Federal Territory Day and National Day and the hosting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference summit.
Maybe then Putrajaya folks will see more buzz in this unhurried town.