Since Prime Minister Najib Razak’s unveiling of the plan to construct the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka tower during the Budget 2011, Malaysians have come up to protest against the construction of the tower.
Most Malaysians are against the idea as they believe that it does not serve any purpose- it will not be the tallest building in the world, and Malaysia already has iconic skyscrapers- the Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur Tower.
Since the announcement of the $5 billion MYR (approximately $1.6 billion USD) project, many Malaysians have taken to using Facebook to protest, with the most popular being the ‘1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower’ page which has garnered more than 200,000 ‘likes’ from users in just slightly more than two weeks. Even a video was created to oppose the project.
However, the government’s stand is that the project will benefit the country’s economy and provide jobs, which would then benefit the citizens.
Adrian Ng, a Malaysian, wrote in Loyarburok that the funds may be better channelled elsewhere:
The RM5 billion development costs could and should be invested into other areas such as improving education and healthcare facilities, reducing poverty levels, and particularly making life easier through better public transportation and greater assistance to the Orang Asli, the disabled and the elderly.
Among others to:
* Eradicate poverty and improve the people’s standards of living by providing shelter, electricity, water and other forms of assistance to the hardcore poor.
* Improve the infrastructure of schools, and increase access to education by providing free books to schoolchildren in rural areas.
* Improve the healthcare system by building daycare and dialysis centres, and upgrading equipment and facilities in hospitals and clinics.
* Build the capacity of the disabled by providing training to enable them to enter and succeed in the job market while building infrastructure to enable their mobility.
* Provide assistance to the elderly by building old folks homes.
* Reduce traffic problems in major towns and cities while making them more livable.
Hence, I appeal to the rakyat of Malaysia to support and oppose the development of the 100-storey tower! I am still proud to be Malaysian without the tower.
Adrian’s view is also largely supported by many Malaysians. However, not all Malaysians are against it. Poobalan offered a slightly more less critical stance:
For me, its PNB’s money and PNB’s land. As long as government can guarantee won’t bail out, should be OK. BUT, since its a development project, there should be proper study and impact assessment done. In this way, public can voice out how the project will cause positive/negative impact to the surrounding area. Can suggest to improve transportation in tandem with the building development, for example.
If given a choice, I would prefer if the project is carried out away from KL city centre area. Reason is that it can spur more development. For example, can set up the tower in Sepang, Hulu Selangor, Kuala Langat, (oops, all PR area! No Go area for the moment) or Negeri Sembilan. This will provide decongestion, spur secondary and tertiary industries, and more job opportunities. The areas mentioned are still relatively near to airport and city centre, so not a big problem to attract tenants.
Popular blogger Ahirudin Attan, in retelling a conversation he had with an acquaintance, wrote:
Now, as for the proposed 100-storey building, as far as I am concerned the fault lies only on one factor — that the Prime Minister announced it in his 2011 Budget. So a lot of people think that Datuk Seri Najib Razak was going to start taxing people more in order to build this magnificent structure. Which isn't the case. The PNB has come out, belatedly, to explain that Warisan Merdeka is their project using their money, et cetera, but by that time the proposed tower has become a victim of Malaysian politics.
Najib was not announcing a new project. The PNB had made statements in the Press about the 100-storey tower late last year. No hoo-ha then. But when the PM included it in his Budget, wham bang! I was going to say, perhaps, he should not have included it in his budget, but then that would be strange — the tower is supposed to be one of his “high-impact” projects.
Everything involves public fund, so I don't buy that argument (that the government is wasting taxpayers’ money). Haven't you read Syed Akbar Ali's blog? The government does not own any money. This is Rule No 1. There is no such thing as government's own money. All government money is taxpayer's funds. Even for countries which do no have income taxes, it is still public funds. The people's money.
To me, the objection is purely political. North-South Highway back then, Warisan Merdeka now. The difference is, we didn't have blogs, we had no access to Facebook, we did not even have computers in our homes back then. And talk about the Internet, what about the government/TM's massive RM10-over billion broadband project? We are all enjoying the infra, and we are certainly benefiting from Dr Mahathir's promise for openness and non-intervention policy.
And we should view the protests positively, too. I mean, the government should. What does this group of people want to see? Many said we need more hospitals and doctors, schools and teachers. Look into those. At least the people are talking and giving feedback.