Making Ipoh a Liveable City

In April 2014, the US News ranked Ipoh as one of the nine best places to retire in the world. It also ranked Ipoh as the world’s third most affordable city after Hanoi and Chiang Mai. As President of Ipoh City Watch (ICW), I am most delighted to hear this flattering news coming from an established paper which is a recognised leader in preparing ranking for colleges, graduate schools, hospitals, mutual funds and cars.

The criteria used include the quality of fresh air, clean water, and relaxing lifestyles that help improve life quality and promote longevity. Ipoh is a small city with a population slightly over 700,000, not an overly crowded city with skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. The locals here speak English and are friendly, which makes it attractive for foreigners to stay.

However, that does not automatically make Ipoh the most liveable city in Malaysia, especially among Ipohites and Malaysians. The word “liveable” is very subjective and difficult to define. Not even a single publication can define accurately what liveable means. It varies from one city to another. It is about how people perceives a city as liveable.

The Economist rates 140 cities throughout the world. It includes 30 quantitative and qualitative factors across five broad categories namely, stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Melbourne has been declared as the most liveable city in the world. What makes Melbourne the most liveable city? Dr David Burney, the Commissioner of New York’s Department of Design and Construction, says liveability is about both hard and soft infrastructure; power, water, waste management, transport and adequate shelter, but also soft infrastructure elements, such as education, housing, the crime rate and the likes. “Soft infrastructure defines the modern liveable city,” he says.

Associate Professor Carolyn Whitzman of Melbourne University defines liveable as a place with affordable and appropriate housing, with easy access to jobs, mobility options and adequate services. She added that the concept comes from the 20-minute neighbourhood in Oregon USA where appropriate services and jobs can be reached by walking, cycling or taking public transport for a maximum of 20 minutes. By that criterion, Melbourne will be divided into inner city and suburb; where jobs and services are good but there is no cheap housing in the inner city and there are slightly more affordable housing but not near jobs and services.

Ipoh can become the most liveable city in Malaysia. And ICW can help make that happen with the full cooperation of the local government, other government agencies and of course the people of Ipoh. We will focus on the cleanliness, safety and health, good transportation system including public transport system and roads, availability of jobs and business opportunities, gender sensitivity, making cost of living affordable and a haven for food.

Ipoh City Watch is currently embarking on a Community Recycling Project in collaboration with Rukun Tetangga Jelapang and Perak SWCorp to educate and explain to the public on the importance of recycling so as to reduce illegal dumping.

The project, launched on April 4, has started to bear fruit when after 6 weeks or 3 collections, a total of 956kg recyclables have been collected and salvaged from dumping grounds. This is 15.3% of the total estimated garbage of 6250kg produced by the residents. The national rate for recycling is at 11% at the moment.

We will continue to engage the general public and government agencies to ensure we achieve our mission of making Ipoh as the most liveable city in Malaysia. We stand by our slogan ‘Our Community, Our Responsibility’.

Dr Richard Ng

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