Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Tearing down the grandeur of Stadium Merdeka

“Abang 24 jam awal.”

Oh, the pain of mistake. I have been anticipating Farish Noor’s third public lecture so much that I decided to turn up a day earlier. I took a look at my Facebook with my Blackberry and I couldn’t believe it that I overlooked the word “tomorrow” so clearly printed on the screen. All that effort of getting out of bed and traveling all the way to the heart of the city now seemed so utterly wasted.

But I was determined to make the best of it and I decided to take a walk with my camera. And it is amazing how small the city is. I guess being “older” always requires redefinition, just like my experience with the Perdana Lake Garden.

Starting from the Central Market, I walked toward Leboh Ampang to marvel at facade of buildings built back during colonial times. While on H. S. Lee, I spotted the famed Petaling Street and I didn’t recall when the last time I had walked through the street was. It could have been years and so, I decided to visit it.


This was about 16:00 when the situation was not too disorderly. There were still activities but mainly on the sides. There was ample room to walk in the middle of the covered street, which westerners seemingly amused at the street culture.


Another kind of foreigners were being hunted by the RELA team. A group of this voluntary force together with two or three police officers was seen checking for possible illegal immigrants. I saw several foreigners were taken away, possibly for failure to produce documentation.

It didn’t take long before I reached the end of the street and I had a choice of heading back to the train station for home or walk on. Since it was a blue sky day, I told myself, “what the heck, it’s a beautiful day.”


Soon, after walking along Hang Jebat, just after Jalan Sultan, I found myself at the Merdeka Stadium. I walked around its parameter, looking for ways to get in. It seemed deserted and so, I didn’t think going to through front entrance would help.

While searching for ways to get in, I remember long ago when I watched a soccer match in the stadium. Those were the glory days of the stadium when it was actually useful. Back then, the stadium felt huge but today, it looked like some insignificant stadium.


I had wanted to climb over but with buses and cars could be seen passing by, I gave up the idea. Besides, a police district headquarters was nearby. With a sign “intruder will be prosecuted” standing silent nearby, I thought spending the night in a lockup is not my idea of spending the weekend. So, I almost gave up up I got to the front entrance with a door opened, guarded only by a security officer whom was clearly bored.

It didn’t take much to get in.

At the gallery, there were collages of images, supposedly telling the story of this country. Like so many thing in Malaysia, the collages tell the story of UMNO. Sacrifices of other groups were total ignored. Even during the August 31 celebration held at the stadium which saw Tunku Abdul Rahman officially declaring a free Malaya, it was an UMNO event, not that of Malaysia. I’m only glad that many Malaysians thought the arrogant UMNO a lesson on March 8.


I walked across the field. The condition befits a ran down community field. Without the sign “Stadium Merdeka”, I would think this was just another pathetic stadium deserved to be torn down for redevelopment.

I felt sad that I felt nothing when I stood in the middle. The magic of the stadium had died long before I ever thought of this moment. Despite priding myself for being a rational person and refused to label myself as a nationalist, I could sometimes find myself taken by notable moments. A speech, an injustice, etc. I know that I am always moved by anything appealing to the idea of liberty. Yet, there was the stadium, here I was in it, at best indifferent, at worst disgusted at the fate of the building. An old shophouse in Kluang would awe me more than Stadium Merdeka.

Really, if this is the state of the stadium, a redevelopment exercise is overdue.


On the other side of the field, two persons were dismantling metal pieces for unknown reason. They seemed to be employed by the management of the stadium, which is Perbadanan Nasional Berhad.


At the stage, I saw the shadow of the wording of Stadium Merdeka down on the field. That perhaps the best part of the whole excursion. I walked down and looked up toward the wording. The sun was shining right behind it, with the cloud blocking part of the sun and blue sky everywhere else. It was beautiful and I wanted to memorialize it.

Alas, the camera died on me.

“Well, time to go home.”

Architectural icons

Montreal laments how it lacks icon that the world could identify the city with. For the Kuala Lumpur, we already have an international icon and it is the Petronas Twin Towers. Without it, KL would join the rank of Montreal. I am sure that was what former PM Mahathir Mohamed was thinking in building the towers. To me however, the icon of KL will forever be the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

Muzium Negara is unimpressive

Muzium Negara sucks.

End Of Message.

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