Making KL a world-class city


  • Letters
  • Wednesday, 05 Feb 2003

BY DATUK MOHMAD SHAID MOHD TAUFEK, Mayor of Kuala Lumpur

I AM concerned about the poor, the handicapped and depressed sectors of urbanised Kuala Lumpur. 

Poverty eradication and providing reasonably satisfactory housing and recreation for the poor is a major challenge for me. One of the major approaches is how to utilise the planning process to facilitate and encourage development in the City.  

We shall initiate new strategic projects that will stimulate the economic life of the City and promote its image as an international commercial and financial centre.  

Due to the lack of sizeable greenfield sites available for development, these projects will build on the strengths of existing developed areas or make use of redundant or dilapidated areas requiring revitalisation.  

First-generation flats in Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Loke Yew and Jalan Cheras and the federal government complex at Jalan Duta are examples of areas that have potential to be redeveloped and promote Kuala Lumpur’s image as an international commercial and financial centre hub. 

A world-class city must be able to attract the highest calibre of expertise -- local and foreign to live as well as work in the City. Three areas have been designated as International Zones, namely, Damansara, Ampang/ U-Thant and Bukit Jalil.  

These contiguous zones of activities that is of international relevance and appeal shall be developed incorporating appealing environment and of the highest quality facilities in terms of housing, education, shopping, recreation and entertainment. 

Kampung Baru and the federal government complex at Jalan Duta have been identified as Comprehensive Development Areas (CDAs), which will showcase and provide an impetus for the promotion and development of Malaysian industry and commerce.  

These CDAs shall be comprehensively planned and developed as integrated mixed development comprising residential, commercial and industrial, including utilities and facilities that are to commensurate with their residential populations. 

At the micro level various innovative development control policies are adopted to promote commercial development in the City such as: 

·FLEXIBILITY in plot ratio and residential density controls especially in depressed areas. 

·ALLOWING home-based offices to operate in residential buildings in suitable locations. 

·ALLOWING temporary change of building use from residential to commercial 

in areas deemed unsuitable for living.  

·PERMITTING sidewalk cafes al fresco dining in the setback areas in suitable locations. 

·CONVERTING back lanes into pedestrian walkways and resulting with double-frontage shophouses. 

We have also adopted various fiscal incentives to reduce the financial burden of property developers such as: 

·50% DISCOUNT of Development Charges for residential developments in the City Centre. 

·35% REDUCTION of car parking requirement for commercial developments in the City Centre within the LRT corridor. 

·30% REDUCTION in Development Charges for developments involving companies with more than 50% bumiputra equity. 

Planning procedures have been simplified by introducing counter-approvals for minor alterations to existing terrace houses and revising the One-Stop Approval (OSA) system to expedite development approval processes so that construction works can commence without any further delay. 

A greater diversity of economic activity shall be encouraged in the City Centre particularly in the fields of tourism, healthcare and higher education. This diversification will help to expand (the City’s revenue base and reduce its susceptibility to fluctuations in certain commercial sectors. 

Tourism plays an important part in the economic life of Kuala Lumpur, providing income, employment, and expanding business opportunities in order to achieve its goal as an international commercial and financial centre.  

All support necessary to effectively market and promote Kuala Lumpur shall be provided. This will include ensuring adequate funding for projects and campaigns and the development of facilities and attractions aimed at expanding and diversifying the tourism base. 

The City Centre will be transformed into a vibrant shopping precinct where Bukit Bintang Shopping precinct was rejuvenated with the Bintang Walk. Other areas such as our traditional shopping corridors like Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Masjid India and Jalan Petaling shall be improved with better facilities and special identity.  

Selected areas outside the City Centre such as Bangsar and Sri Hartamas shall also be promoted as tourist attraction for dining. 

Hawkers are micro-enterprises of the poor that provide valuable services to other urban poor and the higher income population. The annual turnover of this informal sector is estimated to be about RM2bil.  

Successful micro-enterprises not only break the cycle of poverty for their own families but also create employment opportunities within their communities. 

CHKL has not only facilitated street-side food vending by allocating space in open-air food courts but has also regulated it by requiring minimum standards of hygiene and waste disposal.  

Development of new food courts / hawker centres, upgrading of existing hawker centres, cleanliness campaign, development of industrial units for small-scale businesses have been undertaken over the past two decades. . CHKL also helps the poor to secure a license to operate as a hawker. 

Most cities have been struggling to meet the increasing demand of sustainable urban transportation systems. Traffic congestion is still an outstanding issue in Kuala Lumpur. This is not surprising as vehicle ownership and passenger vehicle trips into the City are steadily increasing.  

We shall ensure that all areas within the City enjoy the same high quality and standard of provision of infrastructure, amenities and facilities especially in depressed areas such as Kampung Sungai Penchala and Kampung Padang Balang, new villages and traditional kampongs where road network improvement programmes shall be carried out to upgrade existing roads. Improved accessibility will help stimulate and promote new economic activities in these areas. 

We shall also give priority to social development in the City. The eradication of poverty is essential for sustainable human settlements. We have adopted a four-pronged strategy to break the cycle and consequently eradicate poverty in Kuala Lumpur. The strategies known as HOME consist of: 

·HOUSING provision for low-income population 

·PROVIDING opportunities for economic development 

·MEDICAL services 

·EDUCATION. 

A city that is safe, secure and healthy is one of the central features in the attainment of a sustainable city economy. Public safety or security is essential as it ensures social peace and stability in the City.  

Social participation programmes shall be enhanced as it reflects the people’s commitment and willingness to be involved in social, political, religious and community activities. In addition, a safe city environment shall be created through the design of layouts, buildings and urban design programmes.  

A caring city is one that is conscious and caters to the special needs of all its citizens, including the old, the handicapped, women and children. We shall continue to take relevant and appropriate measures to address basic needs of all people, especially the poor. 

Women empowerment i.e. enabling women to attain secure and sustainable livelihoods is one of our priorities. This warrants serious attention and affirmative programmes to be specifically designed for them. We shall also promote youth programmes that encourage youth to engage in sporting and beneficial activities that will mould them to be good citizens and future leaders.  

More facilities for women and children facilities will be created in the communities. Where space permits more football fields and outdoor game courts will be built. 

Privatisation of local government functions is another form of facilitating and assisting local economic development. The new millennium requires local governments to be less dependent on Federal Government funds. 

One of the proven methods for expanding local government’s tax base is by involving the private sectors. CHKL involvement in privatisation started with the establishment of PGK Sdn Bhd to develop Bandar Baru Wangsa Maju in 1983. Today CHKL is involved in various approaches of privatisation such as: 

·BUILD, operate and transfer (BOT) of development projects 

·LEASE of CHKL land for development projects 

·SALE of assets for development projects 

Currently there are 57 privatised projects consisting of 20 housing projects, 19 commercial projects such as SOGO shopping complex, Mid Valley Megamall and Pasar Borong Kuala Lumpur, 6 recreational projects such as KL Golf & Country Club, Desa Water Park and Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club and 12 mixed development projects such as Bandar Sri Permaisuri and Bandar Metro Prima Kepong. Sixteen of these projects have been completed that provide a return of RM359mil in cash and assets to CHKL.  

Environmental considerations are important in assessing the quality of life since environment has direct impact on the well being of the people. Although rapid economic development and heightened industrial activities had affected the quality of the environment, measures have been taken to control the discharges and emissions from existing and new sources by implementing and enforcing several comprehensive environmental legislations. These were supported by other on-going environment programmes that include environmental monitoring, education, training, disseminating information, research and development, and inter-agency cooperation and coordination. 

Traditionally marketing and promotion of Kuala Lumpur are undertaken by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board. CHKL has taken the initiative to play a bigger role in promoting tourism in Kuala Lumpur. With the formation of Kuala Lumpur Tourism Action Council, the City of Kuala Lumpur is to be promoted as a popular tourist destination. Currently CHKL is promoting Kuala Lumpur through the Formula One Grand Prix and Kuala Lumpur International Marathon and more programmes are coming up. 

City to city cooperation and networking are gaining importance. As cities share common problems and face similar challenges, it is pertinent that they network and learn from each other through exchange of experiences and best practices. As networking involves the various city stakeholders it is also an important means to increase capacity building. 

Networking with other city governments will improve our human resource capacities through exchange of ideas, technology and expertise. In the last two decades CHKL is actively involved in programmes organised by various local government organisations. CHKL is also collaborating with her twin cities or business partner city to promote city-to-city cooperation. 

The Lord Mayor as the CEO of the City plays host to various dignitaries and delegations that visit Kuala Lumpur. Playing host is vital in promoting the City and for building bridges of friendship with other mayors, captains of industry and the diplomatic corps. 

One important aspect I am concentrating now is making changes in the working culture at all levels of City Hall’s staff. This is being done through individual and group approaches. Every opportunity is being utilised to change the mindsets of the staff through advice, mentoring and counselling. The concept of lifelong education and knowledge creating organization is very vital for City Hall in order to be relevant in the New Millennium. City Hall officers have to reengineer and reinvent themselves to meet the growing challenges and expectations of City stakeholders and the global impact on the City. There is an urgent need to introduce a paradigm shift for greater productivity and efficiency. 

To improve involvement of all the stakeholders in decision-making process, CHKL has considered citizens views as in the case of the temporary closure of Jalan Bukit Bintang, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) parking in Segambut and redevelopment of Jalan Petaling. In this respect CHKL is working closely with various groups and professionals. 

During the preparation of the new structure plan, various government departments, professional bodies and non-governmental organisations were invited to participate in various workshops to deliberate the many problems and issues confronting the City and to assist in formulating policies and proposals to guide the future development of the City. The general public as a whole will be given an opportunity to participate in determining the future of our City when the draft Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 is exhibited for public comments and objection in the middle of February as provided for in the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982. Comments and objections will be considered and amendments will be made to the draft plan accordingly before being gazetted for adoption. 

We also provide opportunities for public to participate in the development control process. In evaluating planning applications, which proposed changes in approved land use or increase in density, the adjoining landowners were invited to give comments or objections. 

These comments and objections will be one of the major factors in considering the applications for development.  

Developing a sustainable city economy requires the concerted efforts of all stakeholders - the private sector, professional, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), the federal government and City Hall of Kuala Lumpur (CHKL).  

All stakeholders need to share a common vision that will be the target for all to strive for. In line with the national vision of becoming a fully developed nation by the year 2020, the vision for Kuala Lumpur is to be “A World Class City”. A city is considered “world class” if it can provide the highest quality living, working and business environment benchmarked against the best in the world. 

Related Stories:Making KL a ‘balanced city’KL – gateway to the nation 

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