By Azlan Othman
Bandar Seri Begawan has scored highly in areas like stability, healthcare and education, but ranked low in infrastructure, culture and living environment indices in a survey to determine the most livable cities in the world.
BSB has been ranked in the 100th position by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which compared 140 cities worldwide. Brunei's rank this year is a slight improvement compared to 2008 when it was in 103rd place.
Vancouver again topped the list, followed by Vienna and Melbourne in Australia. Three other Australian cities also made it to the top 10 list - Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.
A rating of relative comfort for 30 indicators was assigned across five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure. The survey gave an overall rating of 0-100, where one was intolerable and 100 ideal. Asian cities were well represented at both ends of the scale, owing to the broad disparities in liveability within the region. Locations across seven countries in the region present no significant problems (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan).
However, Asia is also home to five cities in which most aspects of living are severely restricted: Phnom Penh (Cambodia 130th), Colombo (Sri Lanka 131st), Karachi (Pakistan 135th), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea 137th) and Dhaka (Bangladesh 139th).
Instability plays a significant part in locations that perform poorly, usually in the form of civil unrest, terrorism and war, as these will inevitably worsen crime levels and other factors such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
Elsewhere, European and North American cities continued to dominate the top tier of the ranking, alongside cities in Australia and New Zealand.
Other regions faired less well, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, with security concerns under renewed scrutiny following attacks on the Togo national football team before the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. The ongoing social and economic crisis in Zimbabwe has ensured that Harare is still the worst of the 140 cities surveyed.
Bandar Seri Begawan is going to get a facelift with its Development Master Plan, which is a comprehensive plan for the capital of Brunei Darussalam, providing clear development strategies to guide future development.
The objectives of the Master Plan are three-fold: to maintain the status of Bandar Seri Begawan as one of the top 10 most livable cities in Asia (The Asia Week, 1996-1999), to ensure orderly development so as to make Bandar Seri Begawan a safe, friendly and livable place and to craft immediate, medium- and long-term development policies and strategies for Bandar Seri Begawan until the year 2035 and beyond.
- Borneo Bulletin
(17th February 2010)