The thought of the Warisan Merdeka Tower, however, fills me with horror. A 100-storey tower in KL?
I know our second finance minister has asked us to “examine the merits” of the proposed tower and not condemn it outright, but try as I might, I really can’t see much benefit in this tower. Sure, it’ll provide some investment, money and jobs. But so will any number of other infrastructure projects (say, building a monorail that serves the people of Melaka, rather than the tourists of Melaka).
I really don’t get the rationale behind this tower proposal. Apparently, it’s to be a symbol of a “modern and developed” Malaysia. Hmm. Does the government seriously think that a tower will show the world that we’re now developed? Once upon a time, that might have been true. These days though, it seems to me that it’s the arriviste countries that insist on building ever-taller towers.
To me, it takes a lot more than simply a gaggle of tall towers and high income to signify that a country has reached developed nation status. Most developed countries allow free and fair elections, a free media and some form of social welfare. Will we be able to achieve any of these by 2020? I leave that to you to decide. Furthermore, what is the proposed use of this tower? Is KL so short of office space that we need to build a huge tower?
My heart further sank when I read that the tower will also include a shopping complex and condominiums. So not only is KL in (apparently) dire need of office space, but the city also needs yet another shopping mall and yet another clutch of expensive condos?
Let me tell you — I am an ex-BBGSian (Bukit Bintang Girls School). For those of you who live outside KL that might not mean much, but the KL-ites amongst you will know that my old school, which was established in 1893 and had been at the Bukit Bintang site since 1930, was sacrificed to make way for the Pavilion.
A historic old school, one of the best in KL, torn down to make way for another shopping complex with pricey shops (as if Malaysians buy so much at Gucci and Prada that we need more than one outlet within 10 minutes’ drive of each other) and condos which the average Malaysian can’t afford. My guess is the Warisan Merdeka Tower will emulate previous big projects like KLCC and the Pavilion, which means that most Malaysians will be able to afford neither the condos nor the office rent.
What’s more, looking at the project site I see that it will border Victoria Institution (VI). I also know that there are other schools nearby. Being next to a building site is not good for a school — it’s dusty, noisy and disruptive. What’s more worrying though is where will all this end? Once the tower is built, who’s to say that the lands around it won’t be re-gazetted, and the next thing you know schools like VI and Methodist Boys’ School will have to make way for further development?
In any case, I can think of many other ways that the government can spend the money. For instance, why not build another park in KL? I know we’ve got Titiwangsa, Lake Gardens and the KLCC Park already, but why not build a park that encourages people to be more active? A park with football pitches maybe, or one with lots of cycle lanes, and the government would still have change left over to pursue another project, such as encouraging people to invest in alternative energy.
We all know that our oil isn’t going to last, but there is one thing that we’ll probably have forever unless the whole world is hit by a catastrophe — sunlight. Even when it rains, we get sunlight. So why not invest more in solar power?
Some subsidies are already available to help promote solar energy, but it strikes me that this isn’t a priority. Why? Surely in the long-term it’s far more beneficial and economical for our country to harness the sun’s power to meet our energy needs. If it’s currently too expensive because we don’t have the capacity to manufacture the parts needed, well, why not spend some of that RM5 billion on training the engineers that we need to make the parts?
Instead, our government prefers to go down the nuclear road which is a shame for a country that has an abundance of natural sunlight (besides, can we be trusted to maintain the plant properly, and to dispose of the waste product safely? As a nation we can’t even keep our longkangs clean, so really, do we want a nuclear plant in our country?).
As of today, 182,872 Malaysians have said no to the tower project on Facebook. Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said that Umno must practise the “People First” concept.
Perhaps it’s time he heeded his own advice?