A mammoth tower that makes Malaysians “bebel”

The Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Ng Yen Yen says the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka building will be a catalyst for spurring tourism growth.

I’m not sure what she’s smoking, but if it gave her that kinda rose-tinted outlook, I want some of that. There are very few things that one reads in the Malaysian media these days that give one a good feeling.

Forgive the high cynicism, but what the hell was the PM thinking when he announced this?

For readers who are familiar with Kuala Lumpur, the proposed site of the development alone would be cause for alarm.

Ok ok…i’m overwhelmed by sheer disbelief, and so many questions assail me at this point.

Let me start with Yen Yen’s contention first. She said it is good for tourism and domestic trade sector. Tell me, how many people come to Malaysia just to look at our skyscrapers, for us to justify spending RM5 billion on yet another one?

Malaysia is still (despite unbridled development) one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. How many countries on the Equatorial belt can boast that?

Culture, food and our rainforests (not necessarily in that order of importance) will continue to be the bigger crowd puller. The proposed new tower will not work its magic and and bring billions tourism dollars. It doesn’t really work that way.

In fact, Malaysians too travel globally with increased frequency, even more so with the coming of Air Asia. Tell me, would the Burj Khalifa in Dubai or the Taipei 101 tower be the major reason for you to travel there?

These are just concrete edifices that stand as a symbol of mankind’s ambition.

Petronas Twin Towers

Make no mistake though. I am mighty proud of the beautiful Petronas Twin Towers. I have taken numerous photos of it and whenever I come back from KLIA, the sight of the Twin Towers tells me “hey, you are back home.”

In the 10 years,  it has become an icon of modern Malaysia and a defining part of the Kuala Lumpur cityscape. But the  highest I have been in that building, is level 42, where the Malaysian Petroleum Club is. Most Malaysians only get to look at it from afar.

In fact, post construction, I think the highest anyone has gotten in that building were “Spiderman” Alain Robert and bunch of BASE jumpers before and after him.

Despite my fondness for the Petronas Twin Towers, I can’t summon the same kind of hope, optimism and positive vibe when it comes to the proposed Warisan Merdeka development, the centrepiece of which is this much-talked about 100 storey tower.

Need for such a project.

Many are jittery about this project, witnessed by some cautious statements in the media.

From the real estate standpoint:

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia (Rehda) deputy president Datuk FD Iskandar Mohamed Mansor said the plan for the potentially high-impact commercial development must take into consideration demand and supply of office space in the capital city.

He said such a massive project should be approached with caution and proper feasibility studies before proceeding.

“Kuala Lumpur already has a focal point – the Petronas Twin Towers – and the question is whether it is necessary to have another one. Moreover, there is enough office space in the city. Additional space from the Warisan Merdeka and other projects, including the RM26bil Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD), may result in an oversupply of commercial property space,” Iskandar said. – from The Star Business. Read the full story here.

Pic from the Star.

Click the pic for a closer look. The proposed site is adjacent to both Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara.

The fears of a commercial property glut is not a new one. As far back as May, even without a hint of this latest mega project, OSK Research had already painted a gloomy forecast a space glut.

Traffic Nightmare

Has anyone noticed where the site of this proposed project is? The access/exit involve such such areas as Petaling Street, Jalan Kinabalu/Maharajalela and Jalan Hang Tuah, the last of which is not free from jams even after the opening of the elevated bypass.

Even from the construction stage, the traffic impact conjures up a nightmarish image.

But never mind that. We KL-ites have endured such things as the Monorail, LRT and KLCC construction before, not to mention the AKLEH elevated highway project.

In a Utopian scenario, this building would be filled with tenants. Let’s say even 80% of the building is occupied. Now, imagine the number of cars freshly introduced to the surrounding traffic grid. Can tahan meh?

One of the very few decisions of Dr M administration that  I  agreed with, was the removing of the civil service out of Kuala Lumpur.

That decision alone took out thousands of cars out of the immediate Kuala Lumpur traffic grid. That was a good thing to de-congest KL. Of course in the decade or so since, the corporates have moved in.

In 10 years time, this mega project alone will contribute thousands more cars (If point to point integrated public transport is not in place by then).

We could be looking at a dystopia worse than Mid Valley here.

And how is that good for business, or living ?

P.S. I know that the PM also announced the Greater KL MRT project expected to cost a mindblowing RM36 billion.

But then talk about integrating public transport has been around for a better part of two decades now, and such was red tape that the two LRT concessionaires could not even seamlessly link the what was (in pre-Syarikat Prasarana Negara times) known as the Putra and Star LRT lines.

And until today, there is still failure to provide point to point feeder bus service. This is crucial if you want people to leave their cars at home. If this was adequately handled, do you think we will need this RM36 billion “solution”?

Think about it.


3 thoughts on “A mammoth tower that makes Malaysians “bebel”

  1. some simple calculation:-
    based on building practises and by-laws, assuming each floor have a rentable space of minimum 10,000 sq ft (which is the guidelines for fire fighting system), with 100 floors, we can safely say the total floor space is 1 million sq ft. in today’s space analysis, that will mean an approximate of 150 sq ft per person occupying the building. and this is just the office space alone, not counting the podium floors which might house retail space.

    with that in mind, we are looking at almost 6,600 tenants at very very conservative figures. take that number and presume at least half of that will drive cars to work. so we need a minimum of 3,300 parking bays to be built. a standard parking bay is 8′ x 16′. multiply that with the numbers of bays required and multiply again with approx. 40% for traffic circulation and parking space alone is estimated to be around 600,000 sq ft. either in basement or external parking. KLCC alone could not meet the parking requirements. that is the reason why you find pockets of external parkings surrounding the development.

    bear in mind, once this requirements cannot be fulfilled, corporates or the developer will buy out the lands currently occupied by adjacent schools (VI, MBS and there is a SRJK nearby) to meet the development order (DO) and no longer conducive to remain there. remember St mary and BBGS?

    Instantly, these school grounds will become real estate gold mine and property investors and speculators will make a bid to secure their purchase either by contra of proposals to relocate them elsewhere.

    some of these plots may make way for the development to build access/egress road sufficiently wide to cater to the new traffic population.

    so we are not just talking about filing up the requirements for the building itself, but the impact of changing the city landscape of that spot, but a lot more of those heritage and landmarks will be gone.

    • thanks for the comment. I must say that when I blogged, I was not delving beyond the immediately obvious issues. I’m glad for your feedback: it adds depth to the discussion and opens my eyes to the deeper issues.

  2. Here’s the list briefly explaining the high-impact 2011 Budget as presented by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (The Star Saturday Oct 16).

    1. RM1.4 trillion – investment in 12 National Key Economic Areas;
    2. 3.3 million jobs to be created in NKEAs;
    3. Private pension fund for private sector employees and the self-employed;
    4. No increase in toll rate on PLUS highways for five years;
    5. RM10 billion mixed development in Sungai Buloh;
    6. RM5 billion Warisan Merdeka project in Kuala Lumpur;
    7. RM3 billion eco-nature resort in Sabah;
    8. RM252 million aquaculture zones in Sabah and Sarawak.

    All the above looks good and ‘mouth-watering’, giving us all an
    indication how far and how much the country is going into in the next
    five to ten years, and it also shows us how aggressive our government
    is in their quest to make the country achieve 1st World status and a
    high-income economy by 2020.

    However, reports carried by The Star and all the mainstream newspapers say that the RM5 billion Warisan Merdeka project in Kuala Lumpur shall be undertaken fully by PNB, and they are not getting even a single sen from the government.

    So, the above being the case, how then could that RM5 billion project
    be included as part of the 2011 Budget? There is now RM10 billion
    allocated for a project that is estimated to cost RM5 billion!

    Did the government make a mistake?

    Discrepancies in the budget:

    1. On page 41 of Anggaran Perbelanjaan Persekutuan 2011
    the Peruntukan Asal Tahun 2010 (original allocation) column shows that
    the total budget allocated for 2010 was RM 221 billion (RM221, 585,
    772,800) which includes an operating budget of RM 168 billion (RM168,
    366, 115, 800).
    2. The Anggaran Perbelanjaan Persekutuan ‘2010’*
    allocated a total of RM 191 billion (RM 191, 498, 805, 000) which
    includes an operating budget of RM 138… billion (RM 138, 279, 148,
    000). If these figures are correct, this would mean there exists a RM
    30 billion hole and a 16 percent overspent.
    3. Anggaran Perbelanjaan Persekutuan is the actual budget document to
    be approved by the Parliament, legally binding, as opposed to the
    Finance Minister’s budget speech in Parliament, which is essentially
    an exercise in public relations.
    4. The Finance Minister announced in the Parliament (paragraph 113)
    that the total allocation for Budget 2011 is RM212 billion, which,
    according to him, is 2.8% higher than the allocation for 2010.
    5. Both figures are wrong!

    Below are some articles I wrote (available in my blog at
    http://www.hak55.blogspot.com/) that may be useful to you:

    1. Penyakit Nak Hidup NIK A. AZMI – Ulasan buku.
    2. One united people, regardless of race, language or religion
    3. We need change to make this country a better one
    4. Malaysian voters grouped into 7 Types
    5. How to make our mosques more useful and beneficial to all
    This would be very interesting if it is taken up by DAP and it works.

    More articles can be found in my blog at:
    http://www.hak55.blogspot.com/. Use may use any, all or part of them
    should you so wish to do that.

    Did you know that the withdrawal of import tax on more than 300
    imported luxury/semi-luxury items will make many local entrepreneurs

    There are many local entrepreneurs/enterprises who are manufacturing
    some of the more than 300 products, including ‘seluar dalam’ and most
    of them sell their products locally competing against
    agents/distributors/dealers who import these products for sale in our
    local market too. Now that the imported products are cheaper, many
    Malaysian consumers will be buying imported products and this will
    result in local products getting less and less demand. This being the
    case, many usahawan (most of them UMNO cronies and umnoputera) have
    met with the KPDNKK minister, Dato’ Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, a day
    after Budget 2011 was presented by the PM/Finance Minister, to demand
    for subsidies. (How else would bumiputra entrepreneurs do their

    The minister quickly organised a press conference and went on TV and
    the newspapers the following day and said, ‘Pengusaha -pengusaha
    tempatan yang terlibat di dalam pengeluaran barang-barang impot tidak
    perlu bimbang, tetapi mereka perlu meningkatkan mutu pengeluaran
    mereka dan perlu menjadi lebih gigih lagi didalam mempromosikan dan
    mengiklankan barang-barang keluaran mereka dan juga menurunkan harga jualannya’.

    To me, this minister is simply stupid and he is clueless about
    business. He definitely does not know what he was talking about!

    All the things that he suggested, increase the quality, do more
    promotions and advertising and sell the products cheaper, involve
    money (additional costs to the manufacturer), either you make them or
    lose them and in this case, all will be losing them if they follow the
    minister’s suggestion. Some may even lose their margins and eventually
    they will be running at a loss. If this happens, the next thing they
    would do or have to do is to close shop!

    I expect a few hundred will ‘gulung tikar’, especially the ‘usahawan’ soon.

    Contact me if you need further explanation.

    Best regards.

    Hussaini Abdul Karim
    H/p: +6 012 314 0510

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