KUALA LUMPUR: The World Class Sustainable Cities 2014 (WCSC 2014) will be held on Sept 25 with the theme “People make Communities, Communities make Cities”.
There will be four speakers from Australia, Germany, Malaysia and the US who will share their experience on community-led efforts to develop and sustain the social economics, environment and financing of their cities, among others.
The speakers are former New York City commissioner of transportation Janette Sadik-Khan, former chief planning officer of Freiburg city Wulf Daseking, principal fellow with the Institute for Environment and Development at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Datin Paduka Dr Halimaton Saadiah Hashim, and Brisbane’s city council manager of city planning Kerry Doss.
“Besides the usual audience of architects, developers and town planners, the organisers also plan to have community leaders and residents’ associations joining the conference,” said WCSC organising chairman and Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) national council member and committee member Datuk Wan Hashimi Albakri.
At the press conference, Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) council member and past president Khairiah Talha highlighted the need for careful consideration in investing in public transport, which benefits more groups of society as opposed to roads and highways that only benefit the rich.
“[Public transport] gives people the comfort to be able to move easily. It’s not just for workers, but also for parents, old people, disabled people ... if it’s really for the people. So you improve public transport, you improve everybody — low-income, medium-income and high-income [groups]. You build more roads, you only benefit the well-to-do, the people with high income who can spend on cars,” she said.
“You would not want to take that spare amount from low-income earners’ wages to pay more for cars or even petrol. If you really care for the people, community and city, you will look at how we can move more cheaply [and quickly].
“I would say if you want to become a developed country, you need to think strategically. If you look at Singapore, has it built more highways or more public transport since the 1970s? The last I heard, the city state was reviewing its land transport plan, and it plans to [shorten the waiting time] for each bus or train. That is the kind of thing that developed nations aim for.
“[Cities with comprehensive public transport] are world-class cities and people will go and invest in these cities. That’s why the headquarters of every major corporation are in Hong Kong and regional headquarters are in Singapore.
“Why are they attractive? It’s because of the mobility of the people — a person trying to reach a place as quickly as possible at the lowest price, in the safest, most convenient and comfortable way,” Khairiah added.
This year, the post-conference tour will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, scheduled in October. The WCSC is organised jointly by Rehda, the MIP and Malaysian Institute of Architects.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on May 2, 2014.