The idea of setting up the PEREKABANDAR or the Malaysian Urban Design Association was mooted way back in the late nineties by our now adviser of the association, Dato' Dr. Dolbani Mijan. He was the Director-General of PLAN Malaysia then before retiring recently. At that time, there was very little support to the idea and his tight work schedules made the idea just fizzled out. When I retired from being the Professor in Urban Design at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTMKL) in 2016, he threw the idea again to me since I was no longer tied to the university. I wasn't really interested with the idea then, as I was still serving the university on a part-time basis as well as involved with a few consultation jobs as Lead Consultant namely the Kuala Lumpur Heritage Trail Master Plan for KL City Hall and Tertiary zone study of UNESCO world heritage sites of George Town and Melaka for Department of National Heritage. It was really an eye-opener experience which made me realized that all those research that I did, papers presented and lectures given at the university were not making any impact on the country and the quality of the cities in the country was deteriorating as far as urban design is concerned. There was a lack of political will, lackadaisical attitude, inadequate urban design skills, ignorance and misconception among the politicians, local authorities, planners, architects, developers and the general public about urban design and the need for cities to have their identity and sense of place.
It was really a knock on the head which made me rally all my former students, colleagues from the universities and practice, and friends who have formal training in urban design at postgraduate levels to share my idea of setting up the association. My husband, Dr. Ahmad Bashri Sulaiman, a former professor in urban design at UTMKL and now an advisor of the association became my strongest supporter of the idea. On the 29th December 2019, we finally gather at our retreat home, Teratak Kaca in Kuantan, Pahang to have the first meeting to propose the establishment of the association and appointment of the Protemp Committee.
Prior to the Movement Control Order in March 2020, The Registrar of Society finally gave their approval and after the second application, the PEREKABANDAR was born. We pledge to be the advocate for good urban design and to champion the cause to see our cities to have their identity and sense of place by respecting our traditions, cultural, climatic, and environmental context. PEREKABANDAR also hopes to create more awareness and to provide training to prepare the professionals involved in city building to have the skills required to design better cities and their urban spaces. It is hoped that our presence will help to improve the quality of our cities through good urban design practice thus improving the quality of life of the people in Malaysia.
Dr Shuhana Shamsuddin
President of Pertubuhan Reka Bentuk Bandar Malaysia 2020