Khairy, Pakatan tell Najib not to ignore anti-tower protest


By Boo Su-Lyn
The Malaysian Insider
October 29, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — More than 200,000 Malaysians have backed a Facebook protest to stop the proposed construction of the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka tower as Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin joined Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders in calling on Datuk Seri Najib Razak not to ignore the protest.

As at 9.15pm tonight, 200,008 out of 8,815,780 Malaysian Facebook users have clicked “Like” on the “1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower” page to signify their opposition to the RM5 billion Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) project.

The page was created anonymously hours after the prime minister announced the proposed new tower during his 2011 Budget speech on October 15.

People have been writing on the Facebook wall almost every minute since and are blaming the Najib administration for promoting grandiose projects, despite the best efforts of the government in denying that any public funds will be used.

“We need a MEGA HELP for the poor not a MEGA TOWER for the rich,” said Facebook user Nizam PerppisLd, illustrating the typical comments which have appeared on the page.

In his 2011 Budget speech, Najib has said that the tower will be the tallest building in Malaysia, surpassing even the Petronas Twin Towers, upon its completion in 2015.

Many of the protestors on Facebook have also voiced their dissatisfaction by using “placards” from the page’s 165-image collection as their profile pictures, featuring messages like “RM5 billion to help stop child abuse”, “RM5 billion. Improve facilities for the disabled”, and “No mega tower! We want world class public transport system!” among others.

In contrast, a pro-Warisan Merdeka page titled “Kami Sokong Menara Warisan” garnered only 2,248 fans – about 1.1 per cent of the anti-Warisan Merdeka page fan population — at 9.15pm tonight.

The page is also filled with comments by anti-Warisan Merdeka protestors while majority of the page’s posts are made by the page administrator instead of its fans.

To date, Najib’s Facebook page titled “Najib Razak” has about double the number of anti-Warisan Merdeka Facebook fans at 452,874 fans.

DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang said that Najib could not ignore the online campaign as doing so would cost him support among the youth in the next general election.

“I think it’s a phenomenon that Najib cannot disregard,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider today.

“(If he ignores), young people will be very turned off by Najib’s arrogance and indifference to their views. Definitely, there will be a heavy price (to pay) in the next election,” he added.

The Ipoh Timur MP pointed out that the prime minister’s dismissal of the protest would undermine his credibility as he has stressed the importance of reaching out to young Malaysians.

“If he ignores this phenomenal response among ordinary Malaysians…it’s just making a mockery of his statement and undermining his own credibility,” said Lim.

“His premiership will take a major knock among Malaysians, particularly among the young Malaysians who make use of the social media whom he’s trying to reach,” he added.

To date, there are 8,815,780 Facebook users in Malaysia who make up a 33.70 per cent penetration of the country’s population, according to a Facebook statistics website called Facebakers.com.

The 18-24 year age group accounts for 38 per cent and the 25-34 year age group represent 33 per cent, totalling 71 per cent of the Malaysian Facebook population.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin echoed Lim’s views and stressed that the Najib administration could not ignore the 200,000 Malaysians protesting against the Warisan Merdeka tower.

“Clearly, it’s something we cannot ignore. Anything that manages to get 200,000 followers in the space of less than two weeks is clearly something quite significant,” said Khairy.

“It’s an indication of how Malaysians, especially young Malaysians, feel. So the government has to take these sentiments seriously,” he added.

The Rembau MP also said that the government and PNB needed to engage the protestors although the project may not be cancelled due to the campaign.

“I’m not saying that this should result in the project being cancelled, but it does acknowledge for the government, for PNB, to engage with some of the arguments that has been made and come up with a strategy that addresses some of the concerns,” he said.

He noted that some of the concerns voiced on the anti-Warisan Merdeka page could be tackled easily.

“Some of the comments are easily addressed, like it’s a waste of government funds. You can explain that it’s not government funds. If you ignore it, you’re not even explaining it,” said Khairy.

A Facebook fan called Shapeek Kakarot posted such concerns on the anti-Warisan Merdeka page.

“Saya anak malaysia..tidak kira kaum amat prihatin dgn nasib wang itu…..jika menara itu di bina menggunakan wang persendirian maka aku tidak kisah..tpi jika ia melibatkan wang rakyat maka aku BANTAH!!!!! (“I am a Malaysian…doesn’t matter about race. I am very concerned about the money….if the tower will be built using private funds, I don’t care…but if it involves public funds, I OBJECT!!!!”)

The BN Youth chief also noted that dismissing the online protest could add to voter discontent although the campaign itself may not necessarily create a big impact in the general election.

“I don’t know if this one issue can have such a big electoral effect. But it can compound things,” said Khairy.

“People will say they ignored us for the 100-storey building, then another issue…another issue. So it’s best to address things,” he added.

Khairy pointed out that the reason for politicians hopping on the social media platform was to engage Malaysians.

“The whole point of us being on social media…is for us to make sure we can engage with people,” he said, citing the prime minister’s large following on Facebook.

Najib and Khairy are also on micro-blogging site Twitter, besides other MCA leaders like president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, and deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar said that Najib should cancel the RM5 billion PNB skyscraper project as the Facebook campaign clearly indicated the people’s discontent.

“This shows that the people reject this project. Najib must announce the cancellation of this project,” he said.

The Pokok Sena MP added that the anti-Warisan Merdeka Facebook page could reach a million fans in due time and eventually cause BN’s downfall should the Najib administration ignore it.

“If left for a long time, surely we can reach one million. And this one million, where each person has ties to family members, will play a role in shaping the direction of Malaysia and change the government from BN to Pakatan Rakyat,” he said.

“This Facebook page with young people will create a new political wave,” he predicted.

PR leaders have derided the grandiose skyscraper project as wasteful and accused Najib of trying to “out-Mahathir” former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who embarked on a massive development spree after he took power in 1981 by building highways, the Penang Bridge, opening new industrial estates and oversaw the construction of the Petronas Twin Towers, the KL International Airport, the Sepang International Circuit, intra-city train lines, several ports, and the new administrative capital Putrajaya and its neighbouring Cyberjaya, which was central to the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project.

The prime minister appeared to distance himself from the controversial tower when he made it known that the project did not originate from him but PNB.

He nevertheless defended it, saying that it would have a “multiplier effect” on the economy and help drive it forward, in addition to providing an attractive commercial centre for Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera businesses alike.

In his 2011 Budget speech, Najib said the rationale for the Warisan Merdeka tower was similar to that of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, in that it would serve as a symbol of a modern and developed Malaysia.

The 19-acre development area of the mega project — which includes a condominium and a shopping mall — is sited on the car park and land adjacent to Stadium Negara and Stadium Merdeka.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 30 October 2010 - 11:53 am

    Najib is proven to be our version of George Bush Jr. His mega projects will be like American war in Iraq – ill-concieved, unjustified and end up being a burden that have to be carried when the country is ill-able to.

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Saturday, 30 October 2010 - 12:08 pm

    ///DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang said that Najib could not ignore the online campaign as doing so would cost him support among the youth in the next general election.///

    If I were Kit, I would not even bother to remind Najib until the latter asks the question, “How come we lost in the 13th GE?”

  3. #3 by dagen on Saturday, 30 October 2010 - 1:15 pm

    WTF.

    Scrap the project and plant a rambutan tree instead.

    Wll ya jib?

  4. #4 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 30 October 2010 - 2:27 pm

    Lets ask what 200K means in actually. Ask any pollster in Malaysia and they will tell you that if its about the govt, at least 30% of people will refuse to answer – meaning they are against the govt but won’t say it. Add to that another 20% of people who are too apathetic or not available and what 200K means is that nearly half a million will vote no in a blind vote.

    MCA/BN so confident they can ignore half a million vote? RPK analysis of 3/08 tells us that PR only need 1million more vote from the last GE to take Putrajaya..

  5. #5 by cemerlang on Saturday, 30 October 2010 - 11:17 pm

    The 1Malaysia website should have a poll asking Malaysians whether they love or hate the building of one of the tallest towers in the world.

  6. #6 by Godfather on Sunday, 31 October 2010 - 12:13 am

    This is standard operating procedure by UMNO. There can be no transparency since it is their way of raising funds, so you can bet your bottom ringgit that there will be no open tender or no open evaluation of tenders. They will bump up the price by a billion or two, and then charge the cost to PNB. Poor PNB is supposed to be a trustee for its unitholders, who all get [email protected]

    I don’t understand how PNB can allow itself to become a party to all this form of blatant abuse – especially since most of the unitholders are from the poor and the working class.

  7. #7 by daniel on Sunday, 31 October 2010 - 12:17 pm

    1. PNB is a GLC. Which part of “Government Linked” is unclear?
    2. If no tax money is to be used, why mention it in the National Budget? Let private initiatives generate their own publicity!

  8. #8 by undertaker888 on Sunday, 31 October 2010 - 1:08 pm

    private funds my FOOT!! najis, you ingat kita bodohkah? this will be 99.99% funded by our money thru the back door.

    VOTE THEM OUT!!!

  9. #9 by Loh on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 6:55 pm

    There had been a suggestion at the UMNO GA that the 100-storey tower be built in Kampong Bahru on Malay reserve land. PNB said that the land on the chosen site is valued at 800 ringgit a sq feet. If they pay the same price to each and every house in Kampong Bahru, on the condition that they use half the proceeds to buy shares at KLSE, then Malays currently living in Kampong Bahru will have a new home as well as ownerships of shares at KLSE. The change of tower site have many advantages, though the stupidity of building the gigantic tower remains.

    Firstly, Malay reserve land gets to be used by Malays who individually would not undertake to develop that place. Malays can then come closer to owning 30%, according to official statistics though they have long exceeded that target. Thirdly more Malays benefit from the project through land sale, than would be the case on the presently proposed site. But then what about those who knew of the plan and bought land around Merdeka stadium waiting for a kill. The powers-that-be would not care that siting the tower on Malay reserve land would make Malays proud; they want to make their bank accounts proud.

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