KUALA LUMPUR: Kulim, located in the southeast of Kedah, bordering Penang, is set to evolve into a smart city that is safe, resilient, and sustainable.
HeiTech Padu Bhd (HTP) and Kulim Municipal Council (MPKK) have formed a strategic collaboration to propel the district’s development.
MPKK chairman Datuk Elmi Yusoff anticipates several changes in Kulim within these five years.
However, he said that achieving the status of a fully smart city may take around 10 to 15 years.
Malaysia aims to transform into a smart nation by 2040, as outlined in the Fourth National Physical Plan (NPP4).
In alignment with the sustainable development goal and Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, Malaysia has developed policies and strategies for smart cities that are recognized as Malaysian smart city frameworks.
According to Elmi, the MPKK will start to implement the seven main components listed in the smart city framework throughout Kulim.
The seven components are smart economy, smart living, smart environment, smart population, smart government, smart mobility, and smart digital infrastructure.
Within these components, smart living focuses on housing development to meet residents’ needs and contribute to their health and well-being.
Kulim is one of the five cities involved in smart city pilot projects. The others are Johor Bharu, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, and Kuala Lumpur.
Penang, Melaka, Putrajaya, and Cyberjaya are the cities engaged in smart city development.
According to a market research specialist, a city’s smartness is assessed based on a number of factors, such as its technologically advanced infrastructure, environmental initiatives, efficient and well-functioning public transportation, forward-thinking city plans, and the ability of its residents to live and work there.
“The main goal of a smart city is to optimise city functions and promote economic growth while also improving the quality of life for citizens through the use of smart technologies and data analysis,” he told NST Property.
Kulim is mainly known for the 1996 establishment of Kulim Hi-Tech Park, Malaysia’s first high-tech industrial park.
“Although Kulim doesn’t have its own airport or railway station, it is not difficult to get there. The closest train station to Kulim is in Bukit Mertajam, and the closest airport is the Bayan Lepas International Airport in Penang, which is around an hour’s drive away.
“Kedah’s capital city, Alor Setar, has an airport as well. It takes roughly 90 minutes to get there by car from Kulim. Investments are flowing into Kedah and Kulim more broadly,” the research specialist said.
Kedah recorded RM14.6 billion in approved investment in the first half of 2023, placing the state as the third-highest investment destination in the country after Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, according to MIDA.
The highest foreign investment is from Japan, valued at RM7.38 billion, followed by China with RM4.16 billion, Singapore with RM149.5 million, Hong Kong with RM104 million, and the Netherlands with RM61.28 million.
Kulim Hi-Tech Park retained its status as the state’s investment magnet with a total accumulated investment of RM134.1 billion by 43 industries.
Meanwhile, Elmi said that the collaboration between MPKK and HTP would leverage each other’s expertise, fostering cooperation in devising the optimal strategy for implementing a smart city to ensure that MPKK effectively addresses the community’s needs in Kulim.
“Kulim will evolve as technology advances,” he reportedly said during the recent signing ceremony of the strategic cooperation agreement between MPKK and HTP.