Thursday, June 24, 2010

Petaling Jaya Over-Developed?

The Star did a story on the dilemma faced by developers and residents in the future development on Petaling Jaya. It's a pretty long story which you can read here. My comments were sought and most were included at the end of the story.

The full text of my email interview is as follows:

1. How do you think Petaling Jaya should improve further? But can the saturated city sustain such changes?

Frankly speaking, "saturation" is a relative term. Compared to major cities in the world such as London, Tokyo or even Singapore, the population and built up space in Petaling Jaya is still relatively moderate and there's clearly room for additional growth.

However, such densities can only be achieved if there is matching infrastructure and behavioural changes accompanying the growth of the city in terms of development. At this point of time, the city of Petaling Jaya is "saturated" because the level of service from public transportation is far below the required levels of comparable cities. As a result, without the accompanying "people-movers" via the public transport system, Petaling Jaya has hit its growth bottleneck.

The problems faced by Petaling Jaya residents are part of a larger endemic problem facing Klang Valley constituents.

As an example, the city of Singapore has nearly 3,500 buses serving a population of less than 5 million and the size of 700sq km, while in the Klang Valley, RapidKL has less than 1,000 buses service an area of 2,900 sq km, and a population of nearly 6 million.

2. What are the matters to take note of in carrying out these improvements?

There's a major problem when dealing with public transportation issues, not only in Petaling Jaya but the entire country. Currently, the local councils which are agencies which are best placed to develop and design public transport routes and hubs in their respective zones are completely left out of the planning picture by the federal agencies. It runs contrary to international established practices of delegating transport management powers to local government authorities, instead of attempting to plan transport routes for all cities in the country from a highly centralised government.

It makes a complete mockery of the system when local councils decide where bus stops are built, but it's the federal government and agencies which design bus routes, and decides the who, the how and the frequency of operations for each route.

The recent set up of the Public Transport Commission attempted to unite the disparate federal agencies dealing with public transport which currently falls under 4-5 different ministries, but it fails to decentralise the planning, design and running of local public transport systems to the rightful authorities. For example, in the 10th Malaysia Plan, all responsibilities of increasing and improving bus services in various cities are placed with RapidKL or its parent, Syarikat Prasarana Bhd. It will become a recipe for failure as 1 company will not be able to cope with the demands of every city, and the lack of competition will only encourage falling productivity and efficiency.


I would call for a thorough transformation of how public transportation is managed in Malaysia which is critical to unclog the development bottleneck in our cities such as Petaling Jaya. Car ownership rates in the Klang Valley is more than 1:1, meaning that every baby born already "owns" a car. This ownership ratio must be reduced by as much as half before traffic congestion issues ease substantially for the next phase of urban growth. And this goal can only be achieved by inject an element of competition in public transport, decentralise decision making to local authories and making public transport requirements an integral part of all development orders approved by the local council.


A Better PJ said...

The current proposal for PJ SENTRAL, a massive development of 8 tower blocks in PJ Section 52 will have catastrophic impact on local traffic and the adjacent residential community. For some reason the Lard Mayor is championing this project at considerable cost to the local community and ratepayer.

We need support to challenge this Development Application. Pleas make your opinion heard at

Anonymous said...

The most ridiculous thing about public transport is that now the PM is getting involved. Anyone ever heard of the Chief Executive designing public transport?

The whole thing is a perfect example why many systems don't work here and we have so many messes like corruption, crime, abuse, waste, social ills etc. Because things are designed around power NOT systems. The NEP is our biggest systematic failure if the correct numbers were computed.

Complex systems like public transport and urban development need to be designed around expertise, not power. You delegate the power to people who have the expertise. But because its power that matter first before expertise, whatever comes out will always be mediocre just like the NEP.

miniorama said...

Hi Tony,

Have a look at the url below.

Vancouver and Melbourne, world's most liveable cities.



Always get feedback from the residents for any development in PJ. Example

I was in Melbourne for 5 years. The integration of their public transportations and facilities superb!

Hope this could assist you in promoting Green and Sustainability development in Selangor and hopefully Malaysia.

All the best.

A Better PJ said...

We have been told, but are waiting for verification, that the PJ Sentral Planning Application has been accepted by the MBPJ One-Stop-Centre (OSC), subject to certain changes and conditions...but substantially accepted.

The next step is 'rubber stamping' process by the MBPJ at a Council meeting next Tuesday, in which case, game over in favour of the developer, and against the interests of the PJ residents and communities.

Make your opinion and concerns heard !

Donplaypuks® said...

It's obvious REHDA and the property development MAFIA want a free ride.

The situation in KL and Selangor is such that DEVELOPERS must be FORCED to pay for the ADDITIONAL infra works - roads, parking, water, electricity, telephone services, police stations and security etc- that MUST be caried out when NEW condos, housing estates and commercial and shopping centres are built or old ones extended.

The way to do this is to include these as MANDATORY in APPROVED DEVELOPMENT ORDERS issued by local councils and State Authorities. If they can do it for mosques and muslim burial grounds, why not for the infra?

Developers must also be made to pay a levy for future construction of LRT/MRT, bus and taxi lanes, etc. Why hasn't this been done in PJ and the rest of Selangor which is under Pakatan control and rule?

Yes, the cost of houses, condos and shops will go up, but when spread out over a complete development, the end buyers will not suffer that much! This will also force developers to be more prudent in building and not causing a property glut and congestion all over the country.

Condos in Marina Bay is S'pore have hit record prices. Locals and foreigners are still buying! Why? Because the transport connectivity is superb! Thus property appreciation is assured despite very high prices!!

Here, Sentral is a classic example. I was totally pissed off with the uncontrolled and unchecked concrete jungle being developed there to the extent many condos' lost their views (without compensation) for which their owners (many of them foreign) paid a premium. I sold early and got out fast! The foreigners will never invest here again!

The real crooks and thieves who "work" hand in glove with the developers' Mafia, are sitting in DBKL, MBPJ and its equivalent in all our States. Their corrupt stranglehold against reforms must be broken!

we are all of 1 race, the Human Race

Anonymous said...

Decentralisation is the most important reason why PR has to take over the federal government, even if BN retains control over some States. The Federal Constitution has to be rewritten in relation to the powers of State government.

A Better PJ said...

Its time to tell the MBPJ Mayor that we DONT WANT ANY KHIR TOYO type of
developments in PJ.

APAC and the PJ Residents Associations will be handing over a Protest
Letter to the
...MBPJ Mayor

Anonymous said...

the highway traffic jam esp. at ldp and federal highway subang, pj to kl is horrendous and daily nightmare at practically all hours !!! what's the solution ?? the fed. h'way traffic jam has been bad for years, been told it's been bad for decades !!

~ ais

Anonymous said...

Can you personally look into the serious traffic problems in SS1 areas?
From Jalan SS1/36, 1/32 -SS3/59 is a short cut to heaven!!!??????. It is just insane!
I do belive some desperate residents have reached you, as their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. We were told that neither MBPJ, nor the councillor (don't who he is) or even the state assemblyman have ever raised this issue at the MBPJ full board meetings or at the traffic committee meeting. Can you believe it? Expecting the residents to do what some did over a project too close for comfort nearby?
To make PJ a livable city, there should be a systematic traffic flow that takes rate payers well being and comfort into consideration, surely. Thanks