Experts: Public park push requires proper maintenance


Walk in the park: People enjoying a leisurely stroll at Taman Tun Dr Ismail Park. The Housing and Local Government Ministry plan to build 100 Madani recreational parks nationwide this year. — LOW BOON TAT/ The Star

PETALING JAYA: Besides setting up more parks, those existing ones should be maintained to ensure their quality, say town planning experts.

The Placemaking Malaysia unit under the Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) said public parks play a crucial role in fostering community well-being, interaction and development.

However, it also said successful parks are not merely about quantity but rather the quality of space offered that should incorporate three essential components: hardware, software, and ‘orgware.’

“We are great at hardware for larger parks, but not so much for smaller or pocket parks. Our parks often fall short with the software (activities and programming) and the orgware (maintenance and management) in ensuring long-term upkeep of even basic cleanliness and safety, alongside effective activation of our parks,” the group told The Star in a statement.

Citing the work done on Lake Gardens by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) in maintaining spaces like Lake Gardens and advocating for upgrades that prioritise community needs, the group also suggested a re-evaluation of existing public spaces.

“It is good to upgrade existing parks and improve their functionality as a place for the community and to inculcate a sense of community.

“We must also be sensitive to ensure that the ‘software’ is not introduced at the expense of the local community,” it added.

On Wednesday, Housing and Local Government Minister Nga Kor Ming said the government is targeting to build 100 Madani recreational parks nationwide this year with an allocation of RM50mil.

He also said that his ministry is in the process of expediting the process to gazette 23,433ha of open space to be turned into public green areas.

MIP said this target is achievable with proper strategies, which include taking into account both public and private recreational parks of all sizes and potentially “sub parks” across Malaysia.

It should start with research on the areas with the poorest communities, it said.

“We would suggest starting there to develop a better quality public realm. For example, a park for every People’s Housing Project (PPR) created in tandem with the residents,” it added.

Universiti Malaya urban and regional planning senior lecturer Dr Noor Hashimah Hashim Lim agreed that it is highly recommended that parks be built inside or around PPR flats.

She said that there have been studies showing the link between motivation and mental health and recreational opportunities for youth and children.

However, the state of any such facilities within the lower-income group’s residential areas needs to be improved, she added.

“Most PPR flats do have green areas allocated. However, the condition, management and functionality of the equipment definitely have a lot of room for improvement,” said Noor Hashimah.

While lauding the move to introduce more public parks, she said Malaysia still has issues with maintaining the facilities at existing parks.

“Not only that, often times, there is a mismatch between the suitability and functionality based on their intended users,” she added.

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