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In The Future, Asian Cities Will Find Greater Success If…

Singapore @ Night | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

What makes a successful metropolis? Certainly, it goes beyond the material possessions and the trappings of luxurious modernities. A thriving community, specifically in the case of Asian cities, will require a deeper understanding of success.

Urban planning expert Chintan Raveshia is convinced that the key for Asian cities to overcome the challenges that come with rapid modernisation and then find success in the process boils down to “behavioural change.”

A resident of Singapore, Raveshia, according to Property Report, had touched on the subject of bustling metropolis in Asia in the recently concluded PropertyGuru Real Estate Summit. Raveshia said cities in the Southeast Asia region are poised to achieve their goals if they are willing to learn from the mistakes of the past.

“I see that progress is going to be much quicker for us here in Asia because we already know the mistakes of the past to be able to reform those and move around very quickly to where we need to be,” he offered at the sideline forum of the annual event.

Poor Urban Design

Case in point is the Philippine capital of Manila, which Raveshia said is plagued by outdated and disconnected city blueprints. It seems an everyday occurrence that pedestrians either elbow their way into the crowded walk lanes of the metropolis or dangerously compete for space with motor vehicles on the side of the roads.

At any given time, Greater Manila has about 12 million residents moving in and around the metropolis and life in the city has been difficult and stressful no thanks to the lack of a cohesive urban planning. Oftentimes, the welfare of pedestrians is given less importance in order to accommodate the expansion of road networks.

The collective mindset of city residents is identified as a culprit as well, which applies not only to Manila but also to the other Southeast Asian cities, all of which are scrambling to keep up with progress and modernisation, and thus getting blindsided by ills of urban explosion.

Paradigm Shift

In Singapore, however, the concept of modern life and great success is gradually evolving into a more profound meaning. The city residents, notably the younger generation, are more accepting of the idea that a modern lifestyle does not necessarily includes the use or ownership of status symbols – a car, for example.

It helps that car ownership in the city state is heavily regulated and the government provides an efficient public transport facilities. Clearly, these are factors that serve as strong arguments against buying a car among the young, a fact that Raveshia said was indicated in a recent survey.

Given such behaviour, it’s easier to make the case on Singaporeans so skip the car purchase and “accept that walking is cool and it’s okay.”

“The next generation does not aim at buying a car anymore. They want to use that money for experience,” Raveshia added.

If the trend will spread on the other cities in the region, the result would be less congested and cleaner urban spots in Southeast Asia, which will have higher chance of realising their goals.