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Malaysia: Historic jail demolished

Despite the protest of concerned citizens, artists, and historians, the Malaysian government has decided to demolish the 115 year old Pudu Jail, a historical landmark in Kuala Lumpur. Last week, the eastern wall of the Pudu Prison complex was destroyed to make way for a road widening project. A commercial center will soon be developed in the area.

Badan Warisan Malaysia is disappointed that the government has rejected the petition to recognize the prison as a heritage building

It would be useful to know what criteria a building or site needs to possess before our government will consider it a heritage building.

Surely jails are a part of the tangible evidence of our penal history which is part of our justice system. I think that we should also not forget that in its over 100-year history, it was not only a prison where convicts were incarcerated. It was also where, during the Japanese occupation, service officers from many different nations who had fought to defend our shores were also imprisoned. Is this a part of our nation’s history which we are also not proud of?

While it may be too late to save Pudu Jail, Badan Warisan hopes that the awareness raised by this will strengthen the public’s resolve to be conscious of how fragile our heritage is and to speak up for its protection, conservation and preservation.

mirage.studio.7 writes about the historical value of the prison

Pudu Jail is more than 100 years old, built by the British with cheap labor from India, used by the Japanese as a prison camp to butcher the Chinese and by the present government for hanging 1000 criminals till the late 90’s.

I would love to see the prison retained as a tourist attraction or at least the gate. Then again, the current policy is to rewrite and whitewash history

Sarah Kushairi does not believe that the city needs another shopping complex

I'm a bit upset when the government decided to tear down the historical Pudu Prison (so that the land can be developed) into a place that houses those new swanky hotels, apartments. Blah blah blah. Like Malaysia doesn’t have enough shopping malls and apartments already.

From A to Zi is also infuriated that the mural wall (one of the longest murals in the world) which adorned the prison is now gone

I'm sure I am not alone in being absolutely infuriated about the whole situation.

The gaol housed some of Malaysia's most notorious criminals. So, so much local history, and stories lost – and I don't think a shopping complex, in terms of design or function, would do its rich history any justice at all. (Writings on the prison cell walls, carvings, peeling of the wall paint … why are we destroying stories?)

Kuala Lumpur is not, not, not, in need of another shopping mall. Our local history and culture is so beautiful and very much unique, why can't you see that? We can showcase it, market it to the world.

Welcome to 21st Century Kuala Lumpur, our prime age of cultural deterioration. We are desperately in need of cultural education, not imported fashion chain stores.

BJ Thoughts remembers the mural

It is an iconic landmark in KL – I used to see the mural on the wall as I sit in the bus, stuck in the traffic jam on my way back to my grandma’s house many years ago

The infamous Pudu Jail is being torn down for development, no big surprise there. I mean if some greedy nuts can eye on a strategic active military base for commercial development, what more of an abandoned prison smack down in the middle of KL

A mass funeral was organized by artists on the eve of the demolition. Arteri blogs about it. But pagarmerah is not quite supportive

while i am against the state and corporations demolishing anything to build a freaking mall when there are malls on every corner of the city in spite the fact that people are still homeless, i dont think i would want to light a candle in disappointment because the state didnt declare pudu jail as a national heritage.

Photos of Pudu Jail are available in the websites of Michael Yip and Rabiatul Adawiyah. Fat Bidin Media uploads a video on the demolition of Pudu.

2 comments

  • […] GLOBAL […]

  • Its a fact that you never miss the well till the water runs dry,

    I see there has been some bad history attached to the Pudu Jail in past times, maybe its this, or I want to think its this thats decided the jail’s downfall…but..

    What will happen when all the attractions are gone is…wildlife, states and cities will be become nothing but ghost areas where once there was beauty within. With no forests there will be no trees only suffocation.

    PLEASE: think about your country and yes its heritage for your/our children’s sake!

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