By Jeremy Khalil on May 9, 2016
Having dialogue with the President of Perbadanan Putrajaya Datuk Seri Haji Hasim bin Haji Ismail is almost equivalent to learning how to create a sustainable city. Soft spoken and amicable yet charismatic and firm, Datuk Seri Hasim shares with Gaya Travel Magazine the steps that Perbadanan Putrajaya takes in ensuring that Putrajaya remains green, sustainable and highly liveable, besides being a popular tourist destination.
According to Datuk Seri Haji Hasim, due to Putrajaya’s sustainable profile, Perbadanan Putrajaya (Putrajaya Corporation) frequently receives invitation to participate in world forums relating to sustainable, green and smart cities. Recently, Putrajaya participated in the Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris, the platform where cities around the world state their commitment in reducing carbon emission. “As a country, Malaysia has committed to cutting its emission up to 40%, but Putrajaya targets to reduce emission up to 60% by 2025. Besides that, the COP also requires cities to reduce their maximum temperature. Our target is to decrease the temperature by 2°,” claims Datuk Seri Hasim. Towards that end, Putrajaya ensures that 38% to 40% of the land remains green, higher than the mandatory 30%.
What makes Putrajaya special is the fact that it is green yet developed. Besides architecture, Putrajaya’s main attractions are the lake and wetlands. This city is approximately around 49,631 hectares, which is around 50 square kilometres. Out of that, 600 hectares are water bodies – 200 hectares are wetlands while another 100 hectares consist of the well-maintained manmade Putrajaya Lake. The quality of the water is class 2 (safe for external use), while some parts of the water is already reaching towards class 1 (safe for drinking). Putrajaya maintains the quality of the water from two tributaries located north of the wetland by employing natural filtration techniques. The water from these sources passes through 20 filtration cells – developed by Putrajaya – that replicate the endemic natural vegetation to facilitate the water filtration process.
The lake and wetlands are synonymous with Putrajaya. They indirectly attract 200 species of birds from outside of Putrajaya, creating interest among bird watchers to visit the city. The lake and wetlands now become natural habitat for other living things. “Normally when an area is developed, it tends to drive wildlife out, but in Putrajaya, it is the other way around because the environment becomes conducive for fauna, especially migratory birds,” said Datuk Seri Hasim. Besides that, the research conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) revealed that over 13 species of frogs can also be found in Putrajaya. The presence of wildlife becomes an indicator to show that Putrajaya is indeed a sustainable city.
Besides greenery, part of Putrajaya’s sustainable initiatives Perbadanan Putrajaya is to consistently monitor the level of energy usage of every building in Putrajaya and take steps to reduce energy consumption, besides requiring all buildings in Putrajaya to be certified as green. The city is also introducing electric buses by working with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) from Japan, which will see Putrajaya receiving ten electronically operated buses to reduce carbon emission to maintain its residents’ well being. Another initiative is to educate Putrajaya’s residents to make the city more sustainable through inclusive programmes like urban farming and gotong-royong (communal work).
Those who work and live in Putrajaya are stand to enjoy a higher quality of life due to the city’s green credentials. 22 out of 25 federal government ministries have now successfully relocated to Putrajaya from their previous locations in Kuala Lumpur, freeing up more of the latter’s land for commerce and trade. Several countries are also building their embassies in Putrajaya. “Even though it might not be brimming with nightlife – unlike Kuala Lumpur – the city, being the nation’s administrative seat, is not designed for such purpose. Those who seek nightlife and urban bustle could just drive to Kuala Lumpur, which is only half an hour drive away,” stresses Datuk Seri Hasim.
“Recently, when some officials from Eastern Europe and Africa visited Putrajaya, they said that the city in certain aspects surpasses Melbourne and other European cities. To me, every city or destination offers different things to the visitors – different people experience different cities in different ways. If you search for greenery, tranquillity and sustainability, then Putrajaya is the place,” he beams.
Datuk Seri Hasim recognises that efficient public transport is one of the factors that help to enhance a city’s quality of life. By right, the backbone of transportation in Putrajaya is the supposedly light rail transit (LRT) system, which is being shelved at the moment. That role is currently being taken over by the Nadi Putra bus service but there are still gaps that need to be filled, prompting the government to consider issuing the request for proposals (RFP) to private parties interested to fund and develop a tram system in Putrajaya.
“Once the tram system is in place – which consists of two to three loops and connected to Cyberjaya – we hope that parking and public transport problem will be resolved within Putrajaya since it will work in harmony with Nadi Putra that acts as feeders to the system, besides being linked to Putrajaya Sentral, the city’s public transport hub,” Datuk Seri Hassim expounds. “If everything goes to plan, we should be able to see the project to begin as early as this year,” he adds.
Talking about tourism, due to the hazy weather condition in Malaysia in the middle of 2015, Putrajaya experienced a decline in the number of visitor arrivals in the past year, which registered 7,336,878 compared to 7,358,789 in 2014. However, Perbadanan Putrajaya is confident that the city will remain attractive as a relaxing getaway destination due to the presence of recreational facilities like cycling trails and the iconic Putrajaya Lake, which is the city’s de facto venue for large scale activities and functions. The lake is also the hub for water-based sports and activities.
To attract more visitors, Perbadanan Putrajaya embarked on the ‘Putrajaya Dekat Je’ campaign, together with Tourism Malaysia and various relevant parties to increase awareness among the public on what Putrajaya can offer. The organisation also conducts the “Think Tourism, Act Tourism” campaign among the restaurant owners and frontliners in Putrajaya, including tourism agents that sell Putrajaya travel packages
“There were 173 events organised in Putrajaya last year at the international, national and community levels. Among them are Putrajaya’s signature events such as the Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Festival, Putrajaya International Islamic Art & Cultural Festival (PIIACUF), Lamp And Motion Putrajaya (LAMPU) and FLORIA that has now received royal stature. Putrajaya is confident in getting more international visitors for these events this year, especially FLORIA since it is held in conjunction with the Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai school holidays,” Datuk Seri Hasim mentions. The city also offers interesting culinary offerings that enrich travellers’ experience such as the food that can be obtained from the neighbourhood eateries, for example the Precinct 9 Food Court, including the Pasar Tani (Farmer’s Market) held on Friday mornings in Precinct 2.
When asked about what Datuk Seri Hasim expects for Putrajaya to become in the next few years, he said that Perbadanan Putrajaya will continue along with what has been planned, which is to continue becoming green and sustainable. Putrajaya attempts to maintain the balanced relationship between human and nature – the city wants to further develop but not at the expense of nature. The city also intends to facilitate the relationship between human and God, besides human and human, manifested through well-maintained infrastructure like facilities and services.
Gaya Travel Magazine team extends its heartfelt gratitude to Datuk Seri Haji Hasim bin Haji Ismail and Perbadanan Putrajaya Corporate Communications team for turning this interview into reality.