So sad, Kota Kinabalu 13km away from happiest Sabah town

Satisfied city dweller: Jessieca with her daughter. She says she has little to complain about as her life in Putatan has been quite comfortable.

KOTA KINABALU: While a government study has ranked Putatan in the Top 10 happiest places among 114 towns and cities, the state’s capital just 13km away has been ranked the second lowest.

And the residents in Putatan seem to agree with the results of the Malaysian Urban Rural National Indicators Network on Sustainable Development (MURNInets) 2021 Happiness Index study.

Resident Jessieca Audrine Jimin, 34, is not sure if the results of the study are an indication of how everyone feels in Putatan, a suburb of Kota Kinabalu located near to the city’s international airport.

“But I won’t say that I am extremely sad or happy with the situation here. It’s just that I don’t have much to complain about,” said the housewife and mother of one who has been living in Putatan for about 10 years.

She said overall, her life in Putatan has been quite comfortable, with little disruption in water or electricity supply nor terrible flooding compared to other places.

“Maybe because Putatan is located strategically next to the airport and is closer to the malls and the tamu (weekly market) that many just feel more happy,” said Jessieca.

Kota Kinabalu resident Mellisa Lee, 33, does not see why city folk have so much to be unhappy about.

Lee said despite her low monthly income, she could still occasionally enjoy some of her favourite dishes from Japanese restaurants as well as go for short getaways.

“I am a bit surprised to know that Kota Kinabalu is among the lowest ranked cities in Malaysia. I personally don’t feel that way. Maybe it’s because I choose to see the beauty in every moment and the blessings in all shortcomings,” said the mother of two who enjoys the beach and sunsets.

Ranked the lowest on the happiness scale is Beaufort, which is some 97km away from Kota Kinabalu on the state’s west coast.

Beaufort resident, Azleha Abdullah, 42, feels the pain of those living in the district, citing how they have been struggling to cope with water shortage, recurring floods and slow development.

“These problems are so common that we’ve learnt to live without them, taking alternative ways to store water, using solar lamps and other means to deal with the shortage. We are frustrated and unhappy about all these.

“If these issues can be resolved, I think we’d be the happiest people in the world,” she said.

Prof Dr Murnizam Halik, Dean for Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Faculty of Psychology and Education, said the way forward is to identify the root causes of such happiness or dissatisfaction so that the situation can be addressed.

He said the data in the study should include reasons why people were feeling the way they did so that follow up measures could be taken.

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