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Do we really need a new palace at this point of time?


Media Comment
by Ronnie Liu


(Parliament, Tuesday) :  We first heard about the proposed new palace from the Ninth Malaysian Plan. But we were still shocked to learn that the new palace to be located at Jalan Duta is going to be so humongous and exorbitantly costly. According to a report by the Oriental Daily, the size of the new palace is 8 times bigger than the old one and it would cost the taxpayers some RM400 million just to build.

The question we have in our mind now is whether we really need a new palace at a time when our economy is so sluggish and whatever money we have should be allocated for education, health, welfare and other more productive projects.

Samy said the fate of the present Istana Negara would be determined by the Prime Minister's Department. It is learnt it had been proposed as a royal museum. (You may be wondering  why the Prime Minister who was also there did not say anything about his plan for the "old" palace).

Kumpulan Seni Reka Sdn Bhd has been appointed the architect for the new palace and Maya Maju Sdn Bhd as the building contractor.  (Was there a tender, Samy?)

Samy said the site for the new palace had been gazetted for the purpose 30 years ago.  (So what? If the country cannot afford the luxury right now, we can wait until a better time).

In his briefing to the King, Public Works Department director-general Dr Amer Hamzah Mohd Yunus said only 28ha would be developed into the new Istana Negara complex while the rest would be a garden area. 

"The existing forest will also be retained as a security zone. The forest reserve will developed into a garden and will be opened to the public for recreational purposes," he said, referring to a request from the King that a garden be developed for the public.  (It would be better if our outgoing King (in December this year) could postpone the project to another time).

The new Istana Negara complex will comprise the palace building, supporting buildings, housing for palace staff, police, security office, mini army camp and a double-storey entrance from Jalan Duta and a parking area. 

The complex will have a floor area of 75,000sq metres, excluding the parking area, and will be divided into four wings. 

According to Bernama, the site of the present Istana Negara in Jalan Istana here used to be home to a millionaire named Chan Wing in 1928. After the Japanese occupation, it was converted into a palace for the Sultan of Selangor until 1957, when the federal government took over and turned it into Istana Negara. . 

 (On the other hand, a Chinese fengshui enthusiast has just called me this morning. He claims that a fengshui expert some time ago had said that the location of the proposed new palace is not good for residence purpose, let alone for a palace. For those who are interested to learn a little more about fengshui, I will update you on this aspect after further consultation with other experts and masters. Non-believers of fengshui may just ignore it or take it as a joke or story ).



*  Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO bureau chief

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