By INS Contributors
KLANG, Malaysia--The Royal town of Klang has seen better days, an economically depressed part of Selangor despite its strategic location and huge potential as a model port city that was once the civil capital of Selangor in an earlier era prior to the emergence of Kuala Lumpur and the current capital, Shah Alam.
Successive governments have either passed over realising the full potential of the constituency, passing it over to develop other locations, leading to capital flight and a brain drain that few if any have tried to address.
But for Muhamad Johan Jabez John Millason, it is time to throw off the lethargic present and work towards a future of economic development and strong social equity, to usher in a new age for the historical city by unlocking its potential.
Klang is blessed in being a port city, and not just any port city, it is the second biggest port in the Southeast region and is just outside the world’s top 10, with its traffic reaching 12.3 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) in 2018 and it is on one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Despite having this port on our doorstep, we instead see our young people moving towards Kuala Lumpur to work, we see other parts of the state being developed and we see a capital light of sorts, with money made in Klang being parked elsewhere and being used for the benefit of other locations.
For one thing, we have not pushed for our fair and equal share of development, either through political stagnation, a lack of will to get Klang's its fair share of allocations and development and until now a lack of interest but those mandated to do so.
What I would propose, with the people’s mandate, is to have Klang un-lock and realise its potential as a vibrant economic hub and a thriving port city, the gateway into Malaysia for any multinational corporation trying to make headway into Malaysia and indeed there is no shortage of interested parties.
What we need is job creation, we need factories and businesses to be allowed to be set up here instead of being leveraged to set up elsewhere. This is something that takes political will and a business minded individual who will leverage on these companies to set up shop here.
This is what is needed for Klang to prosper and to be a city that is liveable, not only in environmental terms, but as a city where one can raise a family with a good income, good education and of course good infrastructure.
Social and economic equity
Klang has a reputation as a crime prone area but we need to ask ourselves why this is the case. Rather than point fingers and ascribe blame, let us consider what solutions exist to solve this problem.
Social and economic equity are key to creating a stable and sustainable society, not just in Klang but anywhere on earth. Provide people with jobs, give them access to a decent living, to housing and the right social safety nets and you will see that such a community, strengthened by prosperity, will itself throw off elements that would harm its image and reputation.
I know the word “dignity” has been thrown around a lot recently, but what we need is to give disadvantaged communities, regardless of their racial or religious background the means to grow and prosper.
This does not mean handouts or blind welfare. This means job creation, employment and other tools for people to pick themselves up and realise their potential. When you can do that for people, just watch what they will do for your city.
Leveraging with China
Another point I want to stress on is let’s stop turning a blind eye to the economic superpower to our north, namely China. Of the various big economies we could deal with, China knows and recognises the value of strategic ports like Port Klang and by extension the city around it, not only as a transshipment location, but as I have said, the gateway into Malaysia.
While there has been some progress made, top Chinese personal products Vinda International Holdings Ltd (Vinda International) has begun construction of its unit Vinda Group Southeast Asia (Vinda SEA).
This is just one business, why not support them and facilitate their investments into factories, job creation and more for the locals. We can also provide the environment for a thriving expat community from China that will of course need restaurants, homes and recreational centers, all of which will benefit locals from the low-skilled category right up to our contractors and construction firms.
They are willing to do business and to work with us. Should we say no, or should we embrace an increasingly globalised world that will benefit all of us provided we wise up and take the opportunities that present themselves to us.
This goes beyond business, this is about building ties, not just at the government to government level, but the people to people level as well. How many of you reading are aware that Klang is the “sister city” of Ürümqi and Yongzhou in China?
They know who we are but do we know ourselves and what our potential is? This is something that we must leverage on. We need to build our ties, hold joint events and have a real meaningful cultural exchange. The pandemic will not last forever and we must prepare ourselves for the new opportunities that will come after life returns to normal.