KL has to work at transforming itself if the capital wants to be recognised as a competitive city and stand proud among those known as ‘global cities’.
THE 2010 Global Cities Index, a collaboration between the journal Foreign Policy, management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, ranks 65 cities with a population of more than a million.
The index focuses on five key areas – business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience and political engagement.
In 2010, it ranked New York, London, Tokyo and Paris as the top four.
All four cities have maintained their positions since the Global Cities Index in 2008.
It also revealed that five of the world’s most global cites were in Asia and the Pacific. They are Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore and Seoul.
The others were three in America – New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – and two in Europe - London and Paris.
KL was ranked 48th out of 65 cities behind the likes of Beijing (15), Shanghai (20) and Bangkok (36), Taipei (39), Delhi (45), Mumbai (46) and Osaka (47) in the region.
However, KL is above Manila (51), Jakarta (53), Guangzhou (57) and Ho Chi Minh City (61).
The fact that KL was ranked behind other South-East Asian cities is a concern.
There is a crucial need to retain its stability and competitiveness in terms of economy, commerce and finance, tourism attractions, educational and health facilities, culture and heritage and a revitalised manufacturing centre.
All these functions are fundamental to the city so that it can continuously sustain its global standing and competitiveness, liveability and governance.
The Draft Kuala Lumpur Local Plan 2020 identified three main economic strategies towards enhancing economic competitiveness.
Firstly, KL has to be positioned as an attractive global investment centre by adopting a cluster-based strategy to build competitiveness of the K-economy.
ICT cluster that should be developed are software development and support services outsourcing (SSO).
Secondly, there should be a vibrant job creation centre through a market-driven cluster development particularly in the financial, business sectors, transportation, storage, communications, tourism, medical, educational and professional consulting services.
Thirdly, its manufacturing cluster should be modernised by energising existing industries and employing new technologies and highly skilled workers.
Implementing the nine entry point (EPPs) for Greater KL/Klang Valley will be a vital importance in enhancing economic competitiveness, especially in education, finance, business, tourism and retail sectors.
Greater KL/Klang Valley is targeted to simultaneously achieve a rank of the 20th top-city in the world in terms of economic growth and liveability by the year 2020.
Land use and spatial development within the city needs to be managed sustainably by focusing on quality urban living and working environment.
It is essential that Kuala Lumpur continues to implement its policy and programmes of urban renewal and urban redevelopment.
The Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry and City Hall are in the midst of transforming and redeveloping old low-cost flats into better dwelling houses for the local community.
This redevelopment of old community houses is planned with the intention of providing a conducive healthy living environment indirectly projecting a more vibrant KL City.
The redevelopment of Kuala Lumpur Sentral into a major transport hub is certainly an exceptional example, while a few more that will revitalise the economy include the Kuala Lumpur International Financial District, Sungei Besi military airport and Pudu Jail.
Developing large parcels of land enables better integration of services, infrastructure as well as other components and is generally more long term and sustainable.
The provision of affordable and quality housing to city dwellers under the 1Malaysia Housing Programme (PR1MA) is the Government’s commitment to ensure the middle-income group, who can neither afford to buy high-end property nor are eligible for existing My First Home Scheme and other low-cost public housing schemes, to own a home.
The use of green technologies and the Industrial Building System are encouraged in the development of PR1MA homes.
Soon, there will be a PR1MA scheme in Bandar Tun Razak, whilst several Government-owned lands around Sungai Besi and Sungai Buloh have also been identified.
Areas in the vicinity of MRT, LRT and other public transport systems are deemed potential for PR1MA housing projects.
Simultaneously, Kuala Lumpur will continue its programme of public housing for the lower-income group in upholding social inclusiveness to its rakyat.
Other initiatives undertaken to enhance liveability include improvements and creation of open spaces as well as green areas.
The transformation of the Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur into a botanical garden is testimony to this.
The River of Life project aims to transform the Klang River into a vibrant and liveable waterfront with high economic value.
Another initiative to beautify the city is the Greener KL project which involves planting 30,000 trees around Kuala Lumpur per year, or 100,000 trees by 2020.
KL City Hall and the private sector have also initiated programmes to construct covered and elevated pedestrian links to induce pleasant walkability in the city centre.
Kuala Lumpur is certainly taking serious efforts to adopt green building standards, and amongst the examples that can be showcased include the G-Tower which is credited with being Malaysia’s first internationally-certified green building.
Other developments that have obtained green ratings of GBI include Ken Bangsar Serviced Residences, 1 First Avenue and Sunway Challis Damansara.
Provision and maintenance of world class infrastructure are fundamental to the internationalisation process as well as to raise KL’s competitive edge.
The vision for A World Class Sustainable City is a commitment by KL to ensure that economic and physical development do not compromise its environment and ecology in creating a liveable and attractive environment to its residents, businesses and visitors.
The implementation of the MRT is expected to improve and transform the capital’s public transportation coverage and propel it to be on par with other developed global cities in the world.
The enhancement of urban governance in managing and governing the city is fundamental to overall KL development.
Indirectly, this will contribute to improving the living standards, making KL more competitive and attractive to investors.
Existing and ongoing efforts in incorporating the doctrines of good urban governance in all aspects of city management is to be globally competitive.
Reference to other developed countries can be made in order to benchmark and determine good corporate governance.
The present legislation, administration and urban management have to be reviewed to be in line with the development.
Efficient asset management and improvement in quality of services by using communication technology to achieve higher management quality and services delivery should be a targeted.
Innovative approaches should be taken to encourage the broader community participation through the latest technology.
KL City has to make some serious efforts to transform what it is now if it is to be recognised as a prevalent competitive city and ranked higher than other cities.
KL City should be recognised as a commercial hub and industrial centre providing world class facilities and technologies which would attract international investors.
Green city approach, sustainability and liveability must be coherent with development and at the same time KL City should mark its place in the world atlas by being one of the top tourist destinations by 2020.
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