A significant number of urbanites in Malaysia find life in the city merely tolerable, the Lafarge Malaysia Happiness in the City Index 2017 survey has found. In the online survey, which ran from 28 April to 28 May 2017, 43% of respondents said the urban living experience was merely tolerable, compared to 30% who are happy living in the city and 18% who are very happy.
The survey recorded input from 1,796 residents of three of the fastest-growing urban areas in Malaysia - Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru. Of this total, 1,273 respondents lived in the Klang Valley, 321 in Penang and 202 in Johor Bahru.
The insights into the urban living experience will be used by Lafarge Malaysia in contributing to helping Malaysia build better by making cities more beautiful and more sustainable, better connected and with more affordable housing.
The levels of happiness were found to favour the regional urban centres, with 77% of respondents in Penang and 61% of respondents in Johor Bahru saying they were happy or very happy while 49% of Klang Valley respondents said life was merely tolerable and only 39% were happy or very happy.
Nevertheless, Klang Valley residents appreciated living in the centre of the best work and play – citing that they loved the city for its leisure activities (77%), accessibility (74%) and job opportunities (74%). Meanwhile, residents of the Pearl of the Orient showed a preference for its leisure activities (69%) and historical significance (64%) while those living in our southern gateway loved JB’s family-friendliness (62%) and accessibility (59%).
Regardless of their differences, our urbanites agree on the key issues. Quality of life and personal wellbeing are their top priorities. The survey found that cost of living (82%), safety (77%) and air pollution (61%) are the top 3 main concerns shared by the respondents. With 75% of the Malaysian population expected to be living in cities by 2020, it is certainly no surprise that the respondents from all cities anticipate higher cost of living (92%), greater population density (85%) and greater urban sprawl (82%) within a decade, although on a positive note, about half of Penang and Johor Bahru respondents also anticipate a greener and more beautiful city.
“At Lafarge, we want to contribute to helping Malaysia build better. The Happiness in the City 2017 helps us better understand what people look for in their ideal city. It is clear from the survey findings that we need to address issues like affordability in housing and urban living, better urban connectivity, and sustainable and environmentally-responsible development. We believe that these community demands represent an opportunity for all of us to address the challenges of urbanisation. In fact, these are issues experienced by urban residents worldwide, not just in Malaysia,” said Thierry Legrand, President and CEO of Lafarge Malaysia.
When asked about the attributes of a liveable city, the respondents indicated that an integrated transportation system was the most important, with higher income and job opportunities tied in second place. Klang Valley respondents also emphasize on high quality housing while Penang and Johor Bahru respondents indicated environmental-friendliness as an additional key attribute of a liveable city.
“Ultimately, to build better, Lafarge believes that it is crucial to work collaboratively with all stakeholders in construction from the start – town planners, the Government, developers, architects, engineers, contractors, and not forgetting, the local community itself,” Legrand added.
Through the Happiness in the City campaign, Lafarge Malaysia is engaging with Malaysians to share its commitment to sustainable development. From now until the end of 2017, Lafarge Malaysia will be having a series of seminars and discussions around these topics. Residents in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru will also be able to see beautifully painted cement tankers and concrete trucks designed by the finalists of the happinessinthecity Truck Design Competition. Lafarge Malaysia hopes these Happiness trucks can bring a smile and lift the mood of urban residents. If you don’t manage to catch the trucks going about their daily tasks, see all 14 designs at Lafarge Malaysia Facebook page.