Tackle basic issues before dreaming of smart city, FT ministry told

Physical development alone will not make greater Kuala Lumpur a smart or sustainable city, says a former member of the DBKL advisory board. (Bernama pic)

BANGI: A former member of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) advisory board has urged the federal territories ministry to tackle basic issues like transportation and public amenities before even thinking about “smart cities”.

David Chua, who has observed the development of the Klang Valley, said the government and stakeholders need to solve glaring problems before dreaming about “fancy plans” for the city.

“For those of you who were not born yet, there was the era of the stage buses. Then the minibus ran wild for a while, and then the so-called integrated system (RapidKL buses).

“Then came the LRT (Light Rail Transit) system. Everything looks more like a toy, nothing is integrated.

“This is the urban transport that we have today. What are you doing about it? We’re talking about smart cities and sustainability, but these are the things we need to fix first,” Chua said during a panel discussion at the International Conference on Greater KL and Putrajaya here today.

He said that while Malaysia has eliminated squatters and given them public housing or affordable housing, it still faces the problem of too many complexes, “almost three times of what we actually need”.

Chua said the government and concerned parties have yet to identify the features that make a city smart and sustainable.

“We need good urban management and social education. Physical development alone will not make greater KL a smart or sustainable city.

“We need to progress in terms of human aspects and not just physical development. Right now, we still have a third-world mentality,” he said.

Chua said that during a recent trip to Bangkok, he liked the way Thai transport functioned.

“Where do you find people lining up to get on to a train? Here we have everyone rushing into the train,” he said, adding these little things needed to be addressed.

Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry secretary-general AT Kumararajah echoed Chua’s concerns, saying Kuala Lumpur is still far behind Bangkok and Singapore.

“If you take Bangkok, the entertainment and the nightlife are something we cannot match. In Singapore, their higher quality of life is evident.

“But what is Kuala Lumpur known for? We have a lot of connectivity issues even with the LRT and MRT. Is there seamless transportation? We’re trying to get there but we are not there yet,” he said.