Malaysia is a country blessed by abundant natural resources. But instead of flowing with milk and honey, the Klang River has been soiled, landfills have been ever-expanding, and public waste continues to be incinerated en masse. However, Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI) Selangor CEO, Raja Shahreen Raja Othman, has a new vision for Selangor to lead the way in pioneering Malaysia’s efforts to improve across industries. In this interview with IBR, YM Raja Shahreen shares how he sees the past informing the present and how lessons from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first administration teach that success starts with putting the people first. The following is a summary of Raja Shahreen’s people-based, smart solutions.
“Where we focus on people, business will follow,” said Raja Shahreen as he elucidated on Selangor’s smart innovations. One of the largest influences that informed this position was Tun Dr Mahathir’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative in the 90s. Opening up the Klang Valley, its rivers, businesses, ports, and land will help to benefit its people.
Tailored solutions are needed to address local concerns; we need to resist the “one size fits all” approach. Undertaking urban and rural matters require different strategies. However, there are some policies that can be universally beneficial, these are focused in housing, public waste management, and the River of Life (ROL).
With the Federal government’s PR1MA program, Raja Shahreen’s “ultimate vision” for Selangor is to have “every family [own] one home”. This bold initiative is a pledge to tackle housing for the urban poor.
Another key area that MBI Selangor is concerned about is how to manage rubbish. The state is taking initiatives to promote the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. One crucial component to implementing the three R’s is education, awareness and education is key to encouraging Malaysians to start recycling. Even separating plastic bottles and paper into the correct bins goes a long way.
Already, MBI Selangor has collected “hundreds of thousands” of plastic bottles. The potential for them is limitless. “We’re looking at converting plastic into petroleum [or methane, or diesel]”, said Raja Shahreen. Another way to manage waste is to consider what we do with landfills. Instead of leaving vast amounts of waste to decay and take up valuable space, MBI Selangor proposes to construct new housing areas or public gardens on top of the landfills to beautify them.
Finally, the ROL initiative is a vision to propel Selangor amongst the likes of Paris and Amsterdam—two cities that revolve around canals or rivers. We need to improve the quality of our rivers and harbours to revive shipping industries, water sport events, and even cultivate tourism areas around the waterways—for instance, celebrating the Old Port Klang as a heritage site so that it is no longer perceived as a sleepy town.
“We need to promote sleepy hollows so they’re tourist hubs of their own”, stated Raja Shahreen. There is even potential to launch the waterways as a medium for public transportation like in Hong Kong and Bangkok.
The New Malaysia is the dawn of a new period, one rich with opportunity and potential. MBI Selangor is taking the lead to work together with the new administration to solve old problems. While smart solutions are the way forward, MBI Selangor is ensuring that at the end of the day, people come first.