MIRI (June 2): Democratic Action Party Social Youth (Dapsy) Sarawak chairman Peter Hee opined that Miri still has a lot to do before it can be called a ‘smart city’.
He said to effectively develop Miri into a liveable smart city in the long run, the Miri City Council (MCC) must strengthen urban management — which can only be achieved by making greater efforts to improve the efficiency of urban governance and strengthening urban infrastructure.
In a recent press statement, he disclosed that he had recently attended the Malaysia Urban Planning and Public Transport Seminar 2023 organised by the Beijing Jiaotong University in China on an invitation by China’s Ministry of Commerce.
In view of this, he offered to sit down with the council to discuss the matter and offer his views on the topic.
“Urban planning requires a lot of human, financial and material resources — if it is not supervised and managed effectively, unnecessary waste and mistakes may occur and the gains outweigh the losses.
“Therefore, for the well-being of all Mirians, I am willing to put aside our political differences and sit with the Mayor and council to look at ways to better Miri,” he said.
Hee said Miri has been committed to becoming a smart city since 2020 and the Miri Smart City Plan has been endorsed many times by Premier Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.
“Miri is a ‘young’ city and its urban development history is younger than other cities. Public transport in Miri is mainly based on buses, taxis and e-hailing, but they are not very developed.
“There are limited bus routes within the city and they do not seem to follow a fixed timetable. In addition, while taxis are common they are often delayed and the problem of a lack of drivers is also heard from time to time,” he said.
Hee said that in recent years, the MCC seems intent on promoting bicycles and walking as the mode of transportatin within the city, and has built some bicycle lanes and walking paths for this purpose.
“Cycling and walking can reduce air pollution and also promote the city’s health and environmental awareness, but the lack of high-quality promotion by the council makes the implementation ineffective.
“In fact, Miri’s urban planning is remarkable — the streets are spacious and traffic is smooth. It also takes into account the needs of the citizens, and there are many parks, playgrounds and leisure places.
“Of course, the economic lifeline is also taken care of. There are many commercial districts, shopping centres and restaurants in the city, which are convenient for citizens to shop and consume,” he said.
However, he said in retrospect, the urban area is overly dense with commercial shops and a messy public transport system, and the lack of open parking spaces as well as the lack of maintenance shows a lacklustre management system by the council.
Additionally, the council’s blueprint for urban planning did not consider the protection of Miri’s cultural and historical heritage.
“Some traditional buildings were either demolished, rebuilt or abandoned. On this point, I hope the council will take this seriously,” he said.
He said that rashly introducing new public transportation tools and technologies will only be counterproductive to the council’s current capabilities and suggested the council should have a reasonably planned road network and traffic flow.