KUALA LUMPUR – Kuala Lumpur started off as a tin mining area at the confluence of the two rivers, Sungai Klang and Sungai Gombak.
However, today it is the one of the top choices for expatriates looking for a retirement haven, as well as for anyone looking for business opportunities or to eke out a living.
The 242-sqkm Malaysian capital city has seen a population boom over the last decade and is today where the offices of tens of thousands of multinationals and businesses are located.
The KL Mayor Mhd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz said KL is targeting for the status of world-class city by 2020 by achieving the best in terms of standards of living, working and job opportunities.
He said various initiatives have been launched to achieve the goal, in line with the governmentâ€™s effort to transform the city into one of the most desirable cities to live in. One of these measures is the â€œGreater Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley Plan”.
Under the plan, the number of jobs in the city is expected to increase to some 1.4 million.
A third of it would encompass the financial, transportation, communications and ICT sectors.
“The city is the location for much of the nationâ€™s business and trade, and the regional offices for local and international companies. This would undoubtedly lead to the increase of jobs in the city,â€ he told Bernama in a special interview, recently.
INTEGRATED INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT
Mhd Amin explained that the excellent infrastructure in KL was also one of the key reasons that lured many to the metropolitan city.
KL remains the best city in the country in terms of public transportation access.
The government has been striving to improve the public transportation system by introducing transportation modes like intercity bus services for residents who work in KL but live outside of it.
The Electric Train Service or ETS was introduced in April this year servicing the KL-Ipoh route. It was recently extended to Butterworth.
The rail service is constantly being upgraded with a number of projects down the line including the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT project. The first phase involves 12 stations from Sungai Buloh to Semantan due to start operating next year.
The Kelana Jaya and Ampang lines LRT extension project, meanwhile, involves 13 new stations for the Ampang Line and 12 new stations for the Kelana Jaya Line.
Another upcoming project is the LRT3, which will connect Bandar Utama to Shah Alam and Klang and cost some RM9 billion.
Mhd Amin said that special focus was given for the transportation system, particularly in terms of improving access and integrating available systems.
“Our plan is to make the city rail network the main mode of public transportation, covering a span of 136km or 52 percent of the city,â€ he said.
BOOM IN POPULATION
Mhd Amin said in 1972, the population of KL was only around 500,000. In 1980, the population count rose to 987,240.
However, the latest statistics indicate a population boom with 1.79 million people residing in KL today. This shows that the population has tripled within 43 years (since 1972).
Mhd Amin attributed the soaring population to the robust economy and development in the metropolis.
The positive side of a booming population is a better offering in terms of human capital and competitive industries, everything which bodes well for the economy.
KUALA LUMPUR ‘MY SECOND HOME’
According to the 2015 Annual Global Retirement Index by publishing group International Living, Malaysia is the number four most favoured retirement destinations after Ecuador, Mexico and Panama. This makes it the highest Asian nation in the list.
The report said that this was because in addition to a cost-efficient and excellent quality of life, expatriates found that they were able to find valuable property for rental at a low price.
The report further said that Malaysia was also listed as the â€œBest-Bang-For-Your-Buck Retirement Destinations on the Planetâ€.
Mhd Amin said the rental costs for office suites KL were also lower in comparison with other countries. This has enticed many investors to choose KL as their business hub, thus creating numerous job opportunities.
As with many capital cities, KL is also plagued with migration issues. It among others causes urban sprawl, soaring property prices and traffic congestion. However, the KL Mayor believes that it was a vital process in achieving a city of international status.
A city without migration will not be able to experience robust development, and therefore migration is essential to the urbanisation process.
â€œWe should not stop migration. Instead, we should address it with proper city planning so that it runs parallel with the wants and needs of the process.
â€œSuch transformations should be viewed as a mark of the significant development and progress since the formation of Malaysia.â€ – BERNAMA