Letters - Push for happy cities

I REFER to the column "Help build happy cities". Enrique Penalosa is said to have declared war on private cars in his first defining act as mayor of Bogota, Colombia. He is quoted as saying, "A city can be friendly or it can be friendly to cars, but it can't be both".

Those are strong words. Strong words are called for because even a mayor is small fry in the face of the persuasive powers of the global motor vehicle and petroleum industries. In order to succeed the Datuk Bandar has to be unequivocal and persistent in his message.

Penalosa was successful enough for Bogota to be featured in the book Happy Cities by Charles Montgomery.

The mayor increased fuel taxes and scrapped highway expansion plans, which might have made vehicles unhappy, and instead pushed for pedestrian plazas and parks, which are proven to induce happiness among people.

It goes without saying that any human being would be happier to see green and clean spaces as opposed to roadside garbage or speeding motorcycles.

Is there anything more important to a mayor than the happiness of the people in his city?

The people of Kuala Lumpur await a radical change in the perspectives of the powers that be.

George Thomas
Kuala Lumpur