Future Melaka - A missed opportunity to make a world-class new city

Construction and transport projects in Malacca, and thoughts on what should have been done to make a better new city development.

This month’s Future Asia city is Melaka in Malaysia. I didn’t think there would be much to post here as I associate Melaka with the UNESCO World Heritage old town.

It turns out there is a lot happening outside of the protected historic area, though at this point in the great pandemic its hard to tell what is still going ahead.

[The Sail Melaka - not your grandfather’s Malacca.]

The guides I write on Living In Asia try to be “evergreen” - a term used to define online content that doesn’t need regular updating. That includes not posting prices that can change, event dates, or historical moments. In the case of 2020 it’s not adding COVID-19 to every paragraph.

With that in mind, this week’s post just lists all the projects even though they may have stalled or been delayed.

When I write these guides I prefer to visit the place to see what going on. I don’t wan’t to be an armchair commentator, even though 2020 isn’t giving us much choice. I would not have been able to compile a Future Tuy Hoa guide from online research alone, but at least with Melaka there was enough online information.

I had plans for visit Melaka in April this year. Instead I was in partial lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City. It will be one of the first places I visit in Malaysia once we can travel again.

Here is this week’s post and my additional thoughts on future Melaka.

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Most of the projects list here are being built along the coast. There is land reclamation happening, and some of the mega projects also include building man-made islands in the Straits of Malacca.

This island-making mania is also happening in Johor at the Forest City project, and Penang is planning 3 islands the the south of Penang island. Is there a need though for these islands when the landside of Melaka is still developing and not proven itself.

The thing that strikes me about these projects is that they are being built separately without a unified city plan. Two of the developers have announced plans to make a cruise port, and how many 5-star hotels and luxury malls does this area really need?

Looking at the Google satellite view of Melaka you can see the seafront land that is being developed. This area has been split up into parcels for different developers, who are making their own street layouts and crafting their own mini cities.

It would have been better if government urban planners had gridded this out to be a unified new city, and then developers could bid for packages. There would be one cruise port, x amount 5-star hotels, and a park in the middle wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Instead they have presented this jumble of projects that are not connected to each other. There is a danger of some of the projects failing, leaving unfinished buildings in their wake.

Unfortunately this kind of planning is common in Southeast Asia, where developers ride roughshod over any concept of an integrated urban plan.

I have another article in draft about new cities in Southeast Asia, and Melaka will be featured there.

Southeast Asia Railways

Mainland Southeast Asia shares borders with Bangladesh, India, and China (Southeast Asia is after all the land southeast of south and east Asia).

Despite being bounded by the world’s most and second most populous countries, there is only one railway service that connects Southeast Asia to its neighbours (the Hanoi - Nanning service).

There are plans for other lines though, including the China-Laos railway, a China-Myanmar railway, Myanmar-India, and Myanmar-Bangladesh.

The China-Laos railway is still on schedule to finish at the end of next year, and the latest report is that another 14.5 km tunnel has been drilled.

Meanwhile there is a railway being built between Bangladesh and Myanmar, connecting Cox’s Bazar to the troubled Rakhine State.

In Malaysia the ECRL back to full swing, and in Indonesia progress is being made on the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed-Railway.

Other News


“With no building in Phnom Penh higher than four storeys only 20 years ago, Cambodia's capital and many provincial cities have seen explosive development. But with the hard hats hung up on many smaller projects in recent months, how sustainable is the boom?”



“The government has decided to focus on areas such as Fukuoka Prefecture and the Kansai region centered on Osaka Prefecture in its bid to attract foreign financial institutions, shifting from its Tokyo-focused approach to creating a global financial hub in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic”.



There’s also an official government site that is both functional and nice to look at: kpbilliontree.gov.pk.





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