Of megalomaniacs and mega-towers

By Azly Rahman

Here is an excerpt from the Facebook campaign, now numbering to almost 160,000 members, rejecting the Menara Warisan proposal:

Rakyat Malaysia mengatakan TAK NAK kepada Menara Warisan 100-tingkat yang memakan kos RM5,000,000,000 yang dicadangkan oleh PM Najib Razak dalam Bajet 2011. … Malaysians saying no to the RM5-billion 100-storey Mega Tower proposed by PM Najib in the 2011 budget. Malaysia needs better education, better health care, better public transportation, safer neighbourhood, cleaner water, but not taller building. We don’t need another white elephant! …

“Malaysia perlukan pendidikan, perubatan dan pengangkutan awam yang lebih baik, jiran-tetangga yang lebih selamat, air yang lebih bersih, dan bukannya bangunan yang lebih tinggi. … Kita tidak perlukan seekor lagi gajah putih yang membazirkan wang rakyat jelata. … Wahai, saudara-saudari warga Malaysia sekalian, biar kita bersatu tak mengira kaum, agama, budaya, bahasa, pendirian politik, geografi atau kelas. Biar kita bersatu dan membela nasib endiri. Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

I am beginning to sense that the issue will contribute to the downfall of the current regime of Barisan Nasional in the next general election. It is as if the last BN hurrah to showcase megalomania and illusions of grandeur will be a rallying point for the masses/rakyat fatigued by he struggle to survive the daily grind while robber barons rob, dine, and wine.

The issue however is, developmental priority and what lies behind the proposal and what the proposed tower signifies. It is a question of political-economy and semiotics of developmentalism.

Even the name “Warisan” begs the question of authentic history of Malaysia and reminds me of the propaganda song “Warisan” (Anak kecil main api …) used by the indoctrination outfit Biro Tata Negara to create unthinking and unquestioning and mentally-domesticated citizens out of the civil servants especially.

Mega tower and idiotic pride

I wrote this as my Facebook status when I read about the proposal:

Tall towers do not symbolise progress. If the Malaysian government insists on otherwise, stick two toothpicks on top of the Petronas Twin Towers to make the building tallest in Malaysia, taller than the previous twin towers. Malaysia can then be known as the Toothpick Capital of the world – ar

Or – a cheaper path towards grandiose-ness is, as a Facebook friend of mine suggested, is to build two high rise towers on top of Mount Kinabalu.

The ruling regime is suffering from a complex called idiotic pride; trumpeting grandioseness on the outside but trampling democracy inside. I see the image of the oppressors smiling at the camera globally while an army boot is on the head of a screaming citizen on the ground, locally.

This is the image of how the nation is responding to the five-billion ringgit question: The Warisan Tower, proposed as yet another megalomanic project to boost a national ego unprepared for a regime change.

Instead of fixing the education system, attending to abject poverty in East Malaysia, poverty everywhere in general, addressing environmental degradation, improving race relations, fixing the judiciary, battling crime by instilling ethics in law enforcement, giving educational financial aid to deserving Malaysians of ALL races, the focus of the developmental agenda is on more towers, palaces, useless real estate projects, and translating meaningless developmental policies derived from a poorly-understood idea of development.

This goes to the ultra-modernisation of our national defense system itself. We didn’t even need to ‘modernise the armed forces’ – the enemy is inside the country, amongst the corrupt politicians and robber barons, not outside of us amongst the internally-problematic Asean nations themselves.

In the history of human civilisations, the erecting of tall structures has in it the question of the winners and losers in history and of megalomanic rulers.

Glorifying tyrants, sacrificing the masses

From the ancient architectures of symbolic power such as the pyramids of Gizeh, the temples of the Incas and the Mayans, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Great Wall of China, the Collosus of Rhodes, and many more – all these are about glorifying tyrants and sacrificing the masses. Millions died unknown in history whilst names such as Ramses, Shah Jehan, Shih Huang-Ti, and Nebuchadnezzar are remembered for their fame or infamy.

In the history of postmodern civilisations, the erecting of the tallest structures has become a race for idiotic pride and madness. The Eiffel Tower, the Empire State building, the Sears Tower, and the Petronas Twin Towers, Xujjahui in China, International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, Shanghai World Financial Centre, Taipei 101, Burj Khalifa, and the proposed Lotte World II – all these are symbols of idiotic pride of the both the capitalist and socialist worlds.

Down below these towers lie a population characterised by marked disparity between the haves and the have-nots, and of those living in decaying urban slums.

No, we do not need to trumpet our megalomanic tendencies. We need to look at our immediate needs and prioritise as a nation that is losing its sense of direction guided by a regime that is intoxicated with power derived from the orchestration of the archaic strategy of divide and rule using race as a tool.

No, we cannot afford another tower of raw power.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 10:28 am


    Why History as perceived by BTN is made a compulsory spm subject.

    If the next education minister were to be a lady who loves dancing, singing and aerobics, will ballet, music and aerobics be made compulsory spm subjects for all?

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 11:49 am

    Mega towers, mega towers, mega towers.

    Not even a small or tiny tower for ‘Little India’.

    Just a small fountain for which a very old, grand tree had to be partially chopped off.

    Most of the buildings there are owned by non-Indians.

    And one Indian community was left out yesterday. Not one of their leaders was invited to meet Manmohan Singh.

    Which community you ask.

    The Indian Muslims of course. Are they not Indians too? Why exclude them?

    One member of their community said ‘it is because we are now ‘associate members’ of UMNO.’

    Now they want their very own “Big ????” enclave.

  3. #3 by grkumar on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 12:58 pm

    It will never be opposed except on these pages because the Chinese will want every penny that falls from the BN coffers. The morality of the politics of Chinese opposition chages at the door of the bank. As long as there is a buckj to be made, whether that is importing arms for Suharto to shoot their fellow Chinese or putting up structures for Bumi’s they will be there.

  4. #4 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 1:09 pm

    This tower alone? Its not enough but if you ask me the MRT project is highly fishy and the other projects also reeks of cronies – The first hint that there are problems and BN is going down!

  5. #5 by lchk on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 1:10 pm


    Shall we use your above statement as a prime example of creating racial tension as you so fondly like to accuse others of?

    Hypocrisy rings a bell in that thick skull of yours?

  6. #6 by grkumar on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 2:19 pm

    Yes you may. Because it is a fact although an inconveneint one. The difference is that I do not hide behind cowarldy yellow livered proxies for my allegations like Barisan or UMNO as ytou and your ilk do when attacking Malays because you do not have the courage of your convictions. If race matters then don’t call what I do racism. Lets stick to facts and to the substance of the law in what many of your kind here refer to a racist state and racist constitution. I am happy to withdraw my comments if you and your fellow “cultural revolutionaries” will withdraw from racist attacks on Malays and anyone else.

  7. #7 by Godfather on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 2:26 pm


    Stop spewing your filth in this blog. Who is “attacking Malays” ? We are against corruption, non-transparent ways of utilising public funds. There is no racism here. UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan are all in cahoots to steal the rakyat’s money, so please don’t try to divert attention by claiming that Azly
    Rahman’s article and there comments made here represent an “attack on Malays”.

    A thief is a thief is a thief and has no racial basis.

  8. #8 by Godfather on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 2:29 pm

    In fact that is what UMNO is promoting all this while – if you are against UMNO, you must be against Malays. If you object to BN’s wild expenditure programmes, you must be against Malays.

    Unfortunately for grkumar, the Malays are not stupid, and are beginning to see the wood from the trees.

  9. #9 by lchk on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 2:36 pm


    It is amusing (and somewhat sad) that you would automatically levy an accusation to me of being 1) a Chinese and 2) of launching racist attacks on Malays. To clarify matters, I am not of Chinese ethnicity nor have I ever launced personal condemnations of Malays or any race for that matter in this blog.

    Your posting goes a long way to portraying the sort of character that you are – shallow and sees the world through race-tinted lenses

    Back to your statement that Chinese are after every penny in BN’s coffers as a factual one => where is your empircal evidence for that? Or is this your personal opinion?

    You, sir, are clearly a racist of the ketuanan ilk of which any level-headed Malaysian would only be too glad to be rid of.

  10. #10 by Ray on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 3:02 pm

    The era of Umno will be over soon…their day are numbered ..still hv time for you to spill yr Umnoist Soveriegnty vernom poisons to the Rakyat and come next GE..its all over.you will swallow yr own vernoms.How good you are btw??
    Umno Najib,If you are really a well educated man with wisdom >>We-Rakayt dont want to be fool by Umno Hypocrisy as it will NOT Move the nation together in one accord BUT It rather slow down gradually to a complete halt …creates widespread of National Social econ disparities chaos.Likewise
    “”Forever Umnopurtas WILL END UP IN Deeper torments if with no precise understanding of Malaysia Ferderal Constitution..AND MALAYSIA UMNO Ruled GOVT PROCLAIMed MUTLI-RACIAL NATION INTERNATIONALLY or Just FOR WAYANG KULIT ?? AND BTW YET CONDENMING OTHER RACES throughout TV media newspaper,propagandas..and “” Remember Always There is no way about it”” threatening facsism kowtowing power regime…What Age are we modern civil societystill living today >>stone age or Big Villas Gold embraceb Palaces ?

  11. #11 by grkumar on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 3:31 pm

    So Malays are not allowed to have gold palaces and large houses is that what you are saying? It is okay though for the heroin pushers and opium smugglers, pimps and thieves to parade in their mercedes’ whilst they rob and pillage the poor as Ah Longs (there’s a Bumiputera word for you created by UMNO and the NEP).

    UMNO may go as it did under Mahathir. The will of a majority will not be fooled again like it was under the Singapore experiment. Dream all you want. There will be a new constitution. It will not be one where the majority will rely on the white man’s idea of whats just. Malaysia was always and will remain the home of its majority the Malays. The new constitution will reflect that.

    Your racist and patronising comments are hard to understand. Why is it not okay for a Malay to be rich? name me one public license that was to be tendered now in the hands of Chinese that they had tendered for fairly instead of corrupting weak politicians buying these instead? From Hong Kong to KL the practice remains the same.

    You are all welcome to remain Malaysian citizens as everyone is welcome wherever they are till they try to displace majorities or any other group using unlawful means and dirty propaganda.

    Remember that Chin Peng’s first targets were you. The Malay regiment and other Malay dominated sections of the armed forces gave their lives to support you corrupt as you were then as you are now.

  12. #12 by dagen on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 3:41 pm

    High towers and idiotic pride. The author cited a few places as examples, including HK and Taiwan.

    I doubt if these two specific examples are appropriate. Real estates in these places, esp HK, are extremely valuable. Property owners would always maximise the use and worth of their properties. And such considerations have little to do with pride really. A small plot of land (something equivalent to one shoplot in KL, i.e. about 22×70) in HK is often developed into a 30-story tower block. And they are occupied by offices. In KL, the second floor of shoplots are usually turned into hostels to house foreign workers.

  13. #13 by sotong on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 6:32 pm

    We cannot not blame others for our bad leadership and weaknesses.

    As long as there is access to buy influence, corruption will flourish.

  14. #14 by Godfather on Thursday, 28 October 2010 - 10:06 pm

    “So Malays are not allowed to have gold palaces and large houses is that what you are saying? It is okay though for the heroin pushers and opium smugglers, pimps and thieves to parade in their mercedes’ whilst they rob and pillage the poor as Ah Longs (there’s a Bumiputera word for you created by UMNO and the NEP).” The UMNOputra with a Hindu name

    Who says that Malays can’t be millionaires ? Who says that millionaires must be identified with race ? Work hard, make your money legitimately, and you can have gold taps in your house. Don’t become millionaires through government bailouts and through theft of public funds. Don’t sell a RM 1 product to the government for ten times the value.

    And in case the UMNOputra with the Hindu name doesn’t understand, pimps, drug pushers, bookies and illegal DVD sellers thrive because of the cooperation of the BN government.

  15. #15 by dagen on Friday, 29 October 2010 - 9:41 am

    Jibby tower is key to a whole load of umnoputras’ commercial interest, I believe. Look at the original ampang race course. With KLCC in place now yrs later the entire place is being developed into a high end residential area. (Money. Money. Money. Lesson learned.) Now umnoputras want a repeat of that. And Jibby tower is their vehicle this time. What lies in the vicinity of Jibby tower? Prime real estate land, of course. JKR quarters – the jln belfield area (behind choo cheng kay flats). Merdeka stadium is to be preserved but what about the stadium carpark? That is another large plot of land. A 100-storey tower to spur the nation to high-income? My foot. A tower to spur umnoputras’ wealth gathering is more like it. Initial steps already in place. LRT station is already there. And Istana negara will be moved (replaced?) by the new Jln duta istana?

    KL is a city of only (wot?) 1.3million (daytime maybe 2plus million). Unlike singapore (about 4m) which effectively has turned into an international city with large and numerous foreign investments, KL simply cannot sustain so many mega real estate developments.

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