Initiative by King, Queen of Malaysia improves flat communities’ quality of life

ISKANDAR PUTERI, Feb 1: From run-down blocks of flats in Kangkar Pulai, the Kenari and Jentayu Flats have undergone a massive transformation under the Bangsa Johor Bahagia (BJB) programme, mooted by His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim and Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah, the King and Queen of Malaysia. 

A far cry from what they used to be, the flats are now equipped with various facilities such as community spaces, a disposal facility for used items, a library, and herb and vegetable plots cultivated by the residents.

Under the programme, the residential area, with about 4,000 underprivileged Johoreans, has become more vibrant.

BJB was launched on March 17, 2019, under the patronage of the Queen in collaboration with the Yayasan Sultan Ibrahim Johor (YSIJ), Yayasan Raja Zarith Sofiah Negeri Johor (YRZSNJ), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and the Iskandar Puteri City Council (MBIP).

The Queen’s frequent visits to the residential area indicate Her Majesty’s commitment to ensuring the programme’s success and the desire to expand it to other areas.

According to the BJB Programme Sustainable Environment Project head, Prof Madya Dr Mohd Hisyam Rasidi, the Queen, also UTM chancellor, wants flat communities to have a more quality and optimal lifestyle.

“BJB is based on four major components, namely ethical digital community, sustainable neighbourhood environment, facilities for the community well-being and a successful community, aimed at creating a society of higher quality,” he told Bernama.

Mohd Hisyam, a senior lecturer at UTM’s Faculty of Built Environment and Surveying, said studies on local issues are also conducted to identify the residents’ problems and needs, allowing for a more effective transformation.

“Our studies found that people want to change (for the better), but they don’t know how.  The Queen aspires to see this change for the well-being of the residents,” he said.

The residents’ cooperation has also been a driving force behind the success of the BJB programme.

According to the head of programme development for successful communities under BJB, Shahrin Hashim, the residents’ readiness to embrace the mindset shift has created significant changes in the housing area.

Their efforts have also received national and global recognition, including from the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), which named the Kenari Flats as the winner of the Award for Planning Achievement for its community agricultural project.

“The mindset turnaround has led to the BJB’s success and the implementation of many programmes such as the Edible Garden initiative as well as the mindset and education initiatives involving several agencies,” said Shahrin, who is also a senior lecturer at UTM’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Meanwhile, Kenari Flats chairman Rosli Othman said the residents are grateful for Their Majesties’ noble efforts that have hugely impacted and improved their lives.

He said the residents continue to work on initiatives such as the community garden for their consumption and as a source of income.   

He also said children in the area have learned to use their time by acquiring more knowledge in the community library and spaces provided.

“The BJB programme has a positive impact and is successful with the cooperation of the committee members and the residents,” he added.