Happiness index an indicator for local government, says expert

KUALA LUMPUR: It is important to measure the Happiness Index in Malaysia because it can serve as a benchmark for local authorities to improve their services, thus ensuring the well-being of the country.

The Dean of the Faculty of Design and Architecture at Universiti Putra Malaysia, Assistant Professor, Dr Suhardi Maulan, said that the indicators described, which included the provision of public facilities and basic infrastructure, could be used as guidelines for solving problems and improving the quality of life of a city’s inhabitants.

“In a city, the local authority is the government agency ‘closest’ to the community, particularly in addressing issues facing residents such as environmental sanitation, solid waste management and efficient collection and orderly garbage,” he said.

“Although some sectors of society view it as insignificant, such municipal issues will affect residents’ quality of life if not addressed effectively,” Suhardi said in an interview with Bernama.

The Urban and Rural Planning Department (PLANMalaysia) recently released a list of 80 PBTs in the Peninsula and Sabah who scored more than percent in the Happiness Index 2021 which was measured based on several aspects, including the quality of their services such as environmental hygiene, solid waste management and garbage collection.

Suhardi, who is also president of the Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia (ILAM), said the Happiness Index helped identify the strengths and weaknesses of each PBT across 14 indicators such as standard of living and health, safety of residential areas and public facilities.

Also taken into account are basic infrastructure, enjoyment of work, financial management, relations with neighbours, community activities, local public services and the quality of the environment, he said.

“At the same time, the city administration must be ready to cope with the increasing number of urban population,” Suhardi said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nurul Azreen Azlan, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Technology and Computing (Architecture and Urban Design) at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Razak, said emphasis and improvements should be made to more concrete aspects such as the provision of public facilities and the quality of the environment in cities.

“Indeed, a safe environment and good public facilities can indirectly help reduce stress and improve personal health,” he said.

She said the environment of larger and more complex cities with urban status makes the level of challenges faced by PBTs different, in addition to cost of living factors and community relations.

Citing the example of Kuala Lumpur, categorized as a “moderately happy” city, Nurul Azreen said the PBT involved faced great challenges in managing the federal capital to ensure it remained resilient and to further improve the quality of services provided to city dwellers.

“Environmental quality in Kuala Lumpur needs to be improved through more conducive and high-quality urban design by prioritizing accessibility to public transport as well as increasing green space,” said- she said, adding that aspects of climate change also needed to be taken into account. into account, for better disaster management – Bernama