Speakers give views on KL smart city
2011/03/09 Reports by Noel Achariam
KUALA LUMPUR: How would building iconic projects benefit Kuala Lumpur in its journey to become a world class metropolis?
This was one of the key discussions at the Greater KL Smart City of the Future conference held in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Under the Greater KL initiative is the building of the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka by PNB, the development of the Kuala Lumpur International Financial District, the proposed Kajang-Sungai Buloh mass rapid transit (MRT) line as well as the revitalisation of rivers and waterfronts. These projects have generated a lot of interest and brickbats.
Datuk Eddy Chen of Metrokajang Group, who was moderating at the conference, said he backed the Warisan Merdeka project.
"I'm all for the Warisan Merdeka project. A lot of people had objected to the building of KLCC Petronas Twin Towers but today it is an icon not only for the city, but it is recognised all over the world.
"Those who objected are now bringing their family, friends and visitors to shop, dine and even to relax at the park there."
Chen added that if the project kicks off, the government should look into upgrading the surrounding environment, too.
"There are low-cost flats and a cemetery there. These places should be upgraded too. We don't want the tenants looking at a dilapidated environment," he said.
Speaker Ho Chin Soon, managing director of Ho Chin Soon Reserach Sdn Bhd, said some quarters feared that the building would not enjoy full occupancy.
"Where there is supply, there will be demand. In the long run, it will take care of itself," he said.
Ho said Warisan Merdeka must be connected by MRT and an integrated public transport.
"There must be a MRT line running through here and the Warisan Merdeka should be linked to Bukit Bintang. The place needs to be accessible for the business community and the public," he said.
Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe said when the Petronas Twin Towers was completed in 1998, KL became an "Alpha" city like New York and Hong Kong.
"What the Alpha cities share are iconic buildings and KL has its fair share of them. For example, there is the Sultan Abdul Samad building, Petronas Twin Towers, Menara Maybank and Dayabumi.
"Every time we have an iconic building, it takes our city to greater heights. KL needs a growth impetus and having an iconic building like the Warisan Merdeka will enhance this," he said.
Previndran said the Warisan Merdeka doesn't have to be a complete business building.
He said 25 storeys could be for business, 25 storeys turned into a hotel, 25 storeys for retail and another 25 stories for residential use.
Previndran said the Greater KL plan is good, but they should all strive for a greater planned KL.
Another hotly discussed topic was the "Urban Connectivity-MRT and High Speed Rail Links: Moving Forward".
The speakers generally agreed that building of a MRT system will enhance the intra-city connectivity while plans for high-speed rail links to Singapore will accelerate regional connectivity.
Mag Technical and Development Consultants Sdn Bhd director Goh Bok Yen said the whole undertaking of the MRT project in the Greater KL plan must be interconnected strategically.
"We must have the MRT at the right place, time and location. We have heard residents protesting against the line running through their neighbourhoods and some have asked to incorporate buses in their area.
"This might be the voices of the affluent but what about the low-income earners who want the line in their areas? There are also residents who are calling for the line to run underground in certain areas.
"Where there is demand, they should put the lines there. They should also look into areas that are densely populated. We also have to look at strategic locations.
"For example, the area around Plaza Phoenix in Cheras is densely populated and an MRT station there will be useful for the residents. The authorities have to get the projection right. If not, there will be complications in the future," he said.
Goh also said that the MRT will not work if there is no proper feeder service and park and ride facilities at the stations.
"The MRT, buses and taxis must come together or the system will not work," he said.
Public Land Transport Commission chief development officer Azmi Abdul Aziz said that he will look into the issue of some parties wanting the MRT line to run underground.
"If we can, we would like to emulate other cities and run the MRT underground. However, in optimising costs, we need to look at the areas where we can implement the elevated and underground lines."
Conference participant, KL police chief Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah, said that security is another vital element of the development of a Greater KL.
"Security has always been an afterthought in previous developments. It is important for the police to participate and give their input on any security issues that is related to development. What is important is having a liveable city which is safe for everyone," he said.
All the issues discussed at the conference will be submitted to Performance Management Delivery Unit.