Monday, September 15, 2008

Snippets - PUTRAJAYA

As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at on September 15, 2008 4:24 PM


1. Putrajaya, dedicated to Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra is a city built on a greenfield site.

2. It has attracted a lot of visitors, both local and foreign. Many countries have studied the development of Putrajaya when they are planning their new administrative capital.

3. Malaysians are divided in their opinions of this artificially developed city. Some think it is a mega project which costs too much. Some seem to like it.

4. I was still Prime Minister when work on Putrajaya began. I saw the completion of the Prime Minister's complex, the mosque and a part of the buildings lining the boulevard (not to be called boulevard now).

5. I had noticed that the impressive boulevard was to be lined with Government buildings. I had spoken to (the late) Tan Sri Azizan Zainal Abidin, then Chairman of Petronas, the agency chosen to build Putrajaya, remarking the boulevard has only imposing Government Ministries lining it.

6. In America the cities all have central business districts where all the major corporations have their impressive office buildings. In the daytime the area is crowded with business people, office workers etc. Big American cars dropped and picked up the Executives along the main street.

7. The area is usually beautifully landscaped with fountains and monuments dotting the area.

8. However at night the place becomes deserted as all the office workers and businessmen go home. Quietness descends on the area with only an occasional taxi driving through. The fast food restaurants are shut.

9. It is dangerous to venture into the area at night as you may be coshed and robbed.

10. Remembering this I wanted to have the Putrajaya boulevard full of people at night. If you have only Government Offices and Ministries, the place would be deserted at night.

11. Unfortunately the planners want the place to have imposing Government buildings. The businesses should be tucked away somewhere.

12. As I drive through the boulevard at night I am enchanted with the number of lights lining it and the side roads. But there is no life as all the great Ministries are shut up tight, although they are beautifully floodlighted.

13. There are no shops at all, not even a coffee house. Those who have visited gay Paris will remember the brightness and the throngs of people strolling along or sipping drinks at roadside tables in front of brightly lit restaurants. The famous Lido would be crowded with people going to see the shows. Busloads of tourists would throng the bright side streets or sit at café tables watching people going by. The scene is very animated.

14. Famous restaurants and some fast food outlets as well as other shops lined the side roads parallel to the boulevard. Traffic flowed to and fro, unimpeded along the tree lined central boulevard.

15. I can understand why Paris is called the City of Light.

16. Putrajaya has lights almost as bright as those in Paris. But there are almost nobody strolling along the boulevard. It reminds me of the business districts in American cities.

17. I have talked to several people about the importance of having shops and theatres along the boulevard to give life to this beautiful city. But nothing has happened. I believe a big glass-fronted building has been built to house business corporations. It too would be closed at night.

18. More offices are being built but no shops, no restaurants or coffee houses and certainly no places of entertainment of any kind.

19. One of the effects of this rigid confinement to Government buildings on the boulevard is to make Putrajaya a Malay city. Ninety five percent of the people living in Government built flats are Malay Government workers. Although the Government built flats are available to non-Government servants, there are hardly any buyers for them. Certainly there are no Chinese or Indian.

20. I admit being guilty of setting up Putrajaya as the administrative capital. It is very well planned. But it is dull.

21. Not being in the Government, I cannot influence anything anymore. But I hope the powers that be will read this snippet on Putrajaya.