In April 2003, at the urging of the then Segambut MP & Gerakan KL chief — and a personal friend of mine — Dr Tan Kee Kwong, I wrote a proposal to DBKL regarding the KL Structure plan.
It was very well received at the hearing committee (consisting of the Top Brass of DBKL and DBKL Advisors) where I presented the whole paper. The chairman even commented jokingly that it was as good as the thick report that they have prepared. Of course, that was merely a joke. as I was not a professional town planner.
The whole report which I have written can be viewed in this blog under the page “towards a world class city’.
I will post a few of the points I wrote here: (please note that it was written in 2003, and the statistic i used was from that time)
What is the definition of a world-class city? There is no absolute yardstick. The Federal and Town Planning department have developed some 53 indicators, which can be used to gauge a city’s performance rate in comparison to other cities and towns
We propose that in order to gauge how Kuala Lumpur City is progressing, the Plan should include a listing of some of these indicators (29) including the actual performance rate of these indicators for Kuala Lumpur recorded every 5 years. In other words, we need to know the actual figures of these indicators every 5 years so that we can measure objectively the progress Kuala Lumpur is making.
These indicators include:
1. Average annual income
2. Spending on education
3. Unemployment rate
4. Ratio of house price to annual income
5. Residential population in the city center
6. Housing Density
7. Socio-community facilities per 1000 people
e.g. religious facilities
8. Heritage buildings/sites restored per total
9. Hospital beds per 100 people
10. Pollution indicator: dusts/suspended particles in the
air in microgram per cubic metre
11. Solid waste disposal sites
12. Water supply and quality
13. Sq metre of parks and fields per capita
14. Average class size in primary school
15. University educated people/total population
16. Vehicles per km of city roads
17. Average travel time to work
18. No. of accidents on the roads/population
19. Criminal cases per 10000 persons
20. TV sets per 1000 people
21. Existence of Mass Transit Rail System
22. GDP growth
23. Average life expectancy
24. Annual urban inflation rate
25. Number of theatres/cinemas per 100,000
26. No. of telephones per 1000 people
27. Mobile phone usage per 1000 people
28. Internet usage per 1000 people
29. Day and Night time city population
These parameters will enable us to compare our city with other world-class cities in the world and we can make adjustments to overcome any deficit areas along the way to our 2020 target of making Kuala Lumpur a world-class city.
2.2.1 Housing Stock
While the Plan recognizes that there is a shortfall of 20600 units of houses in 2000, we noted that there is an oversupply of high costs housing (51% of total). There is inadequate supply of low cost housing (24.5%) and medium cost housing (24.9%). There should be a more equitable distribution of low, medium and high cost housing.
One of the most important indicators of a world-class city is the ratio of house price/annual income. Kuala Lumpur has one of the highest ratio 3.27. This means that most of the population is paying beyond their means and about 30% of their annual income is used to pay for housing when it should be less than 5%. We urge the government to provide more affordable medium cost housing to cater for the working population in the inner city in order to attract these people to stay in the inner city.
2.2.2 Housing density
Density zoning in the Plan is too non-specific and vague. We propose that density zoning be done in a more specific manner, down to micro level. We noted that International zones are low density high quality living zones but we would welcome a more specific density be mentioned at micro levels e.g. how many persons per hectare in Bukit Tunku and so on.
2.2.3 Redevelopment of Old housing stock
We welcome the policy statement in the plan that City Hall shall develop and implement measures to upgrade the quality of existing old housing stock.
We noted that there are many one-room flats in the city e.g. in Bangsar, Loke Yew, San Peng and Pekeliling. These flats should be redeveloped at existing sites according to current housing standards and affordability.
Measures should also be taken to improve the conditions and external appearances of flats both public and private that do not meet the minimum requirements. e.g. new coat of paints, better lightings, better access roads.
In that report, as early as 2003, I have advocated the building of medium cost homes as a government initiative. There is just no way for a young graduate to own a house in KL, Penang, JB, apart from this government initiative.
Since Dr KTK became a minister, I have on numerous occasions urged him to bring into the cabinet the need of building medium cost home and the need for a comprehensive transport plan.
So, I am glad when yesterday the PM announced that the government is going to build medium cost houses below 220,000. It is the first step in the right direction.
The main worry about providing this medium cost housing is of course there may be leakages and wastage along the way, resulting in badly built houses being sold at medium cost prices.
I suggest that as a government-private initiative, the government should provide the land at a minimum cost and then invite tender to build these housing schemes, and that an independent committee comprising of consumer groups and professional bodies-from architecture and engineering fraternity– be invited to sit in the tender committee and that the same committee be given power to oversea the implementation of the project.
This will ensure that leakages be kept to minimal, and people who pay for a house of 200,000 will get a full value for it.
If there is no such overseeing process, I suspect this will again be a project succumbing to manipulation and leakages..