Tuesday, December 8, 2009

100-storey skyscrapers planned for Kuala Lumpur

I share Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams and Reme Ahmad's perspective on the news that the Economic Planning Unit (no less) had briefed some unidentified economists that several iconic building projects are being implemented "as part of efforts to boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)".

Apparently three sites in the city have been identified for the development of iconic structures to spur growth in the economy. Sources say they are Dataran Perdana in Jalan Davis, the area surrounding Stadium Merdeka and the vicinity of the Matrade Centre in Jalan Duta.

All the plots of land are reported to be "privately owned".

It is also reported that two plots belong to government-linked companies — Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera Bhd and Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) — while the Naza group owns 25ha in the vicinity of the Matrade Centre.

Two of the plots have building designs that contemplate 100-storey skyscrapers.

First, what's with the phallic urge? Many of us thought that the twin phalluses in KLCC has more than pointedly thrust Malaysia into the the global void (ahem!).

Second, and more (im)pertinently, what is the nexus between iconic buildings and GDP?

The wise people at EPU need to brief more than just unidentified economists. They should brief the rest of Malaysia on this new correlation between the construction of iconic buildings and the GDP. This is very unconventional thinking. It needs to be explained.

Third, what's with the obssession with iconic buildings? How come we're not fixating on building more iconic Malaysians?

Fourth, do iconic buildings have to be phallic in structure?

http://www.markmallett.com/blog/wp-images/towerofbabel.jpgpix from here.

Fifth, what's with this Tower of Babel fixation?

Most importantly, how are these projects going to be funded?

I'm leaving aside the issue of feasibility because it is quite obvious that the EPU champions of these iconic projects are convinced with at least 3 things:

One, all iconic buildings are feasible, especially if they are at 100-storeys.

Two, because all iconic buildings are feasible they will contribute to the GDP.

Three, the hardware of buildings are still far more important than the software of developing human capital through education since building hardware yields short-term physical and quantitive results while the software of education is difficult to measure since it is qualitative.

Got it? I don't...


donplaypuks® said...

There are some giant pricks out there who think massive erections are the order of the day!!

This is doctrinaire voodoo economics which thinks you can build your way to economic growth. The guys at Mseconomic@gov.con.my do not realise that the circumstances that led to the adoption of Keynesian policiesand the spree following the Great Depression of 1929 were entirely different.

It might have worked for M'sia in 1987 when Daim and Mahathir went on the Toll Highway Spree. But today's problems and the gobal economy is a different kettle of fish.

It's time to pension of that fake economist, Robokop Forexloosecannon!

We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

walla said...

Brave indeed are our EPU people to stake their already tattered reputation on the cantillon effect:


Since their privatization and tolled highway deals are already impoverishing the rakyat until the end of this century, no one should be surprised they will risk money not theirs all over again. It seems that's what they do best.

The owners are GLCs, thus the money is indirectly from the rakyat. Glutted at the moment, the highrise market is highrisked. The economy is also tepid with challenges clearly spelled out by none other than the 2MOF so the assumption that the skyscraper index will correlate remains chancy.

After all if the skyscrapers of oil-awash Dubai are left hanging, what likelihood won't ours, especially when FDIs here are as languid as a mexican siesta?

The rakyat ask:

are the people who are making such decisions to sink public funds reaching retirement age or are they in that age range where they can still be around to be tarred should such adventurism come crashing down after the buildings are up?

Tourists and investors don't come because of iconic buildings. Two Petronas Twin Towers are already one too many for a country of our indifferent rankings.

We are not Wall Street, London, Tokyo or Singapore. If we want to build a financial centre or a business hub, we must have brains and relevance.

Those were the things embedded in the original vision for the MSC. Any skyscrapers in that corridor?

In economic planning, one can't just transplant what was seen during starry-eyed college days in the west during their boom times to a country such as we are finding ourselves in now - neither low-cost nor high-value to be high-income or relevant.

The Malaysia of today is not the same as the Malaysia of yesteryear where the bourse was the darling of punters and people could splash thousands for trifles every night because they knew the markets would be played to their advantage the next morning.

Now it is just penny wise pound wiser. And if they think fiscal stimuli are needed, what multiplier effects have anyone felt lately from blowing that sixty seven billion to justify blowing another few billion just so that the usuals can be seen on tv giving the impression that this economy is reviving again?

Please, look at KLIA. Ask the retailers there. Or ask the Hermes and other outlets in KLCC how much they have made over the years.

Which comes to the Matrade convention centre. Now we know it is to display heavy industries. That's shipping, aerospace and rail, and maybe a chemical plant or oil rig. Great.

Let's say it is a ship. Are they thinking of displaying it inside the convention centre which will be located in the domain of this land-locked grime-filled crime-infested city?

How do you move a ship to that centre? On the tolled highway? Up the hill?

Let's say it is to be assembled on site then. Won't that then make it a shipyard and not a convention centre? How about a Boeing hanger? What about the Paris train terminal as well?

However let's try to be game about it and say we support because they said we have less exhibition space than others. Ok, it's good for tourism. And logically it should be near the Matrade office. Easier for the officer to lead the visitor to view the centre.

Let's also assume the exhibits of whatever size can indeed be transported and assembled there and then.

walla said...


Now the question is the deal - the govt gives off 24 hectares of land for an additional 70,000sm of exhibition space to be constructed as an extension to an existing convention centre.

Something is not right there. It's after all premium land. So premium that if we check records, we will find it puzzling how that whole tract of land which had originally belonged to the Sim Lim Group and was rubber estate could apparently be taken up by the govt by the process of compulsory acquisition.

If one understands correctly, anything that's compulsorily acquired must be for public good. So how come the land is now to be parlayed to a private concern on terms which are hard to explain? What's the real deal? Just questions again.

The rakyat will also want to intrude this engaging monologue.

How come you never also ask why is it that DBKL which serves a population that's less than half of PJ but at more than twice its annual budget is so reluctant to display the full details of all the contracts that it issues every year, even after people have questioned the amount of money spent on decorative flowers and the like?

The rakyat press on even before such prickly questions can be answered.

They ask was the decision to buy the Mig-29s made with full-cycle costings?

For if they are now to be sold while still relatively new because the country cannot afford the few hundred million a year in maintenance costs, then what prompted the decision to buy them then? Because they were 'cheap' upfront?

Are they going to do the same dance with the Eurofighter? Will the pilots be retrained and at what cost? Will there be another scorpene-sized mega-commission involved? And isn't it silly to announce model preference for purchase as well as reason for sale before negotiations?

Just questions again.

Mercifully one can scoot off before the rakyat have time to throw in the next question. Which is:

Is there a correlation between iconic purchases using massive state funds and investment-promoting GDP growth rates?

No one wants to tell them it would be like blowing a hundred million for just two pillars sticking out of the Johor strait.

Or a billion for its customs complex which is causing people to use the second link instead because after this complex was erected, more jams were caused at the checkpoint. Even till today.

And to think we are worried about just the resource curse. There's another one. But cats and chants can't exorcise it. Because it's all only man-made. People call it greed. That's too blunt. Innovative spending sounds much nicer because it prevents the assignment of a more accurate description: certifiable behavior.

However some luminaries will tell you it's all about erections.

Iconic buildings come to mind too.

Raison D'etre said...

You remember the story (tale?) about the Pharaoh building a high structure so that he could shoot arrows at GOD?

Maybe, it's this same syndrome that sees more and more building rising to the clouds.

marry said...

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