Does Malaysia need a 100-storey tower? It already has the globally renowned Petronas Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur Tower. But now it plans to build a third iconic tower—the Warisan Merdeka.
There doesn't appear to be anything untoward about the $5 billion MYR (about $1.6 billion USD) construction project, and Prime Minister Najib Razak himself announced the project during his presentation for next year’s budget. Yet Malaysians have protested that such a large amount is being spent on a single infrastructure project.
The government has since clarified that no public funds will be used for the building of the tower and it says it’s confident that the project will create thousands of jobs. It says that once finished, the tower will be a new symbol for a developing Malaysia as well as offering trickledown effects to other local industries and that it will boost the economy by attracting foreign companies.
But critics remain unconvinced. They want the funds to be diverted to other infrastructure projects, like improving public transportation and the construction of new schools and hospitals. Many are also worried that the government might be forced to bail-out the project if it fails to secure enough financing. Some also say that Kuala Lumpur is anyway already congested and that there’s an excess of rental office space in the city, so if a tower like this is to go ahead, it should be built in another city.
The vocal opposition has also taken to cyberspace. The ‘1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower’ Facebook page has garnered more than 200,000 supporters in just over two weeks, while a Youtube video has also been created opposing the project.
It’s possible there would have been less opposition if the project hadn’t been announced by the prime minister. But he did so, and what was meant to be a development project has now become a divisive political issue that has fuelled resentment against the government.