Developing Cities

Developing Cities

Cities are built from unique, universal vision of life | The Malaysian Insight


Cities are built from unique, universal vision of life

× Copy URL ONE of the focus points of progressive cities around the world is its landscape that has an aesthetic appeal, where its scenery, physical structures, land, environment, and its historical symbols and monuments have an integrative component that relates to the overall wellbeing of the people. A city that is regarded as advanced takes a human centred approach in its design where the overall psychological, physical and spiritual development of its citizens takes precedence in the overall scheme of things. In my journey to Europe to cities like Geneva and London, I came across buildings that are unique, mountains that have their aesthetic value, lakes that are clean and transparent and physical spaces for people to walk and exercise, and community gardening that not only brings communities to plough the land together but also enhancing interaction and understanding among communities. Public transport is encouraged and efficient. Toilet facilities are automated without the necessity for people to sit at toilet entrance to collect dues. I believe the local government in these cities places a significant role through its vision, mission, values and operational excellence that engages the people and integrates citizen aspirations for clean, healthy and aesthetic cities that are human centred, rather than profit centred. Cities are built from a unique and universal cultural vision of life, where there is balance between identity and universality of life. Today, looking at our own cities there is much to be desired. We can’t even get the basics right like clearing rubbish and drains in efficient manner. When writing this article, I got a message from resident in Menglembu, Ipoh showing a pile of rubbish in front of the Tamil school. The children have to go through a stench when they go to school. The fundamental question that citizens should ask is there a proper assembly for local citizens to share their aspirations for clean and healthy cities? Are citizens themselves civic conscious and proactive in bringing about changes instead of mere complaints? Are there proper and transparent channels of contact between mayor, his councillors and the local population? If there is vision and mission in place for the city, are the people aware of it? Are there channels of communications that shows progress in work being done? Is there public accountability where non-performers are not tolerated? This are cultural questions that need be put in place before we aspire to be in the rank of developed cities that respect the unique universal cultural vision of life. This has been in record the moment local government elections are mooted in Malaysia there is primordial instincts among national and state political leaders that their ethno-religious leadership will lose out. This backward ethno-religious tribalism and superiority will continue to erode the multi-ethnic and religious value of Malaysian cities if left unchecked. We might lose the opportunity to effectively attract tourist and business entities with a cosmopolitan make up that respects universal values of integrity that addresses issues of health and wellbeing of citizens, public transport, environment and attractive business opportunities. Therefore, it is time that the local government and its citizens to be empowered to bring changes to our cities. For a start, there is need to revamp our education system where human values of love for God, nature, fellow human beings and solidarity are far more important than restless identity politics that pit ethnic groups against the other. The Rukun Negara should be the objective basis for this endeavour. Creating a vibrant city should be part of education curriculum. Secondly, there is need for local government elections that will create opportunities for leaders to emerge from the grassroots level who could provide various ideas to develop cities without necessities of party affiliations. We have to break from elite driven political parties that tends to move the country from a limited ideological perspective. Unless this cultural and structural changes are visualised and implemented, we are not going to reach our potential and continue to argue over the basics of why our garbage has not been cleared from our cities when in reality our cultural garbage remains. – September 10, 2019. * Ronald Benjamin is the secretary of the Association for Community and Dialogue. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Sign up or sign in Read more: TheMalaysianInsight

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