Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Towards a vibrant Putrajaya

Putrajaya is the new Federal Government Administrative Centre for Malaysia. It is the largest integrated urban development project undertaken in the nation.

Being a new town, its planning and development poses its own fair share of  opportunities, and challenges.

Of course being a greenfield development it is fairly easy to plan and lay out the development components as we town planners would see it fit and proper. The developers would then come in and duly start construction as planned. But that, comparatively, is the easy bit. The greater challenge is in building the community and in seeing that the new town prosper and blossom into a vibrant town.

Putrajaya already has a sizable  population of about 69,000. But what it still lacks - for the time being at least - is commercial developments. The Government of Malaysian is keen to see this new city become more vibrant for the locals and visitors alike. That will not happen unless and until there are more commercial complexes, F&B outlets and other retails.

All these have been planned for. Commercial areas have been earmarked within the city right at the outset. What is needed  now is to attract investors and developers to come in and do their bit.

Easier said than done. But of late, big investors - including from overseas - have noticed Putrajaya's potential and started to pour in their money. A lot more needs to be done of course. Promotional activities to attract multinational corporation (MNCs), F&B franchisers and retail anchor tenants would be the way forward.

No point having ample commercial plots if people do not know what you have to offer. And Putrajaya do have lots to offer in terms of recreation, quality services and beautiful natural surroundings and living area.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Apak's cars over the years

As far as I can recall, Apak had the opportunity of owning four cars during his lifetime. These automobiles gave him much pleasure as he went about his work, as well as, taking his young  family on trips up and around the Peninsular. Well before the days of the PLUS Highway Apak would take us to as far as Pontian and Mersing, Kangar and Padang Besar, to Penang, and up to the Cameron Highlands.

His first car was a Ford Prefect which, I think, was blue in colour. This was during our time staying in Bota Kanan during my pre-school days. Apak used to drive it to commute to his school in Kampong Gajah. He was the headmaster there.

Next, came the red Toyota Corona. During this time I was already in primary school. By this time also our family had moved to Kuala Kangsar. Apak was then working at the Pejabat Pelajaran as an inspectorate. So the Toyota saw a lot of travelling as Apak went on his rounds visiting schools.

When I entered secondary school in Perlis, Apak drove the whole family to Kangar in this red Toyota to enrol me into the new school.

But one day when I came back home from Kangar, Apak's car had turned blue! Yes, he had changed his car again. This time came a continental one in the form of a Renault 12TL. By this time we had moved again - to Tapah.

Of all his cars, Apak had kept the Renault the longest I think. The car followed us to Teluk Intan when our family moved yet again. And when Apak transferred to work in Ipoh until his retirement, he still had the Renault, although by this time it had changed colour from blue to white.

When Apak retired, and as his health slowly deteriorated, it became very obvious to us that the big Renault had become quite cumbersome for Apak to drive around and manouvere freely. In any case, he didn't venture out to drive as much as before apart from the trips to the mosque, to Chun's house nearby and the odd trip to the local restoran Mamak with Emak.

So that was when my brother Man suggested that we buy him a small Perodua Kancil.

I was with my family staying in Japan when we bought the Kancil for him. The cute and nifty little beauty served Apak well as it was a convenient, fully-automatic car. I drove my whole family together with Apak and Emak in tow to Sg Petani in it once. No problem. When I' d finished my study in Japan, whilst waiting for my own car to arrive by sea, I borrowed the Kancil from Apak and took it to KL for a few weeks for my use to go to office.

Towards the end of his life Apak could not manage to drive himself even in this convenient little car. It got neglected a bit and lacked maintenance. But recently, Man bravely drove it all the way from Ipoh to Shah Alam, and is now slowly and lovingly trying to restore it back to its former glory.