Tall does not mean you can get recognition!

Talking about building 100 storey high-rise, I can’t help but think of the Empire State Building which was built in the 1931 in Manhattan. It has 102 floors, and was once the highest building in the World until the Sears Tower was built in Chicago.

I remember when I was small, one of the general knowledge questions that was frequently asked during class and in competitions was : which building was the tallest in the world? and how many floors it has?

In those days, general knowledge was considered very important. Most of our teachers were well verse with general knowledge. they could tell us who were the one invented the bulb, who invented the first internal combustion machines, who first flew over the Atlantic, which was the longest river int the world, who was the first man in space and who was the first man stepping on the moon, so on and so forth. Nowdays, teachers can hardly tell Timbaktu from Budapest, so how to impart general knowledge to their students?

So when Sears Tower and the collapsed World Trade Center went up higher than Empire State Building, the latter  has remained an icon and is now considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of Modern World (read here).

Even Sear Tower or Petronas Towers which were taller than Empire State Building were not accorded this recognition. Anyone going to US/New York would not miss the chance to go up the Empire State Building Observation Deck and look at the 360 degree view of Manhattan. Even though you can get the same view from the nearby Rockefeller Center (nicknamed The Rock), more people go up the Empire State building than The ‘Rock’, simply because it is the more recognised building. (In fact, the view from the Rock is better than Empire State Building, since looking from Empire State Building, part of the Central Park view would be blocked by other high rise in that direction).

So it is not about being the tallest or the widest or the biggest. It is more about the recognition that people give to the building. Like the changing of guards in the Buckingham Palae. You can see changing of gurads in other places too, but nothing beats seeing the changing of guards in front of that Palace.

Or like the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco ( another of the seven wonders of the modern world) . There are bigger and longer bridges, but who can remember them? People remember only the Golden Gate Bridge since it has already become an icon.

Part of the reasons for such recognition is  that at the time these iconic buildings were built, mankind had never attempted such feats before, and these were products of pioneering engineering challenges .  Not anymore for copycat buildings , even though such copycat buildings can be taller and higher than the original one.

Like eating fried kway Teow. KL may have good Fried kway teow stalls which may even have more “liao” (substance) than those in Penang, but nothing beats eating a plate of fried kway teow in Penang, sitting among the crowds and the surrounding noise..  You mention to any Malaysians about Fried Kway teow, they will immediately think of Penang, but not KL or PJ..

So to spend 5 billion to build a tall tower again is just not going to make it the most recognised structure in the world. Empire State Building was under utilised and not many people visited it initially; not until the show King Kong (the first and original in the 30s) made it famous; visitors and businesses then started to move in there.

For 5 billions, we could have build 50,000 RM100,000 medium cost homes or 100,000 Rm 50,000 low cost homes which can reduce number of homeless  families drastically.  The economic ‘push’ factor would be similar… the 5 billion could have triggered down and helped propel construction sector.. There are other options to use the 5 billions more productively too.

With this budget, I can’t help but think that Mahathirism is making a strong comeback..How to tackle the problems of cronyism and corruption with this obssession for mega projects?

You tell me!

read also : Neither here nor there

(This post, incorporating some views from the previous post, is published in MalaysianInsider Breaking views “Tallest does not mean the best” 20-10-2010)


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. klm
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 13:07:57

    Today, any tin pot dictator can put up a 100 storey building. Put enough money on the table and there can be any number of people flocking to make proposals. It do not demonstrate any new capability. All it does is to show mine is taller than yours.


  2. A true Malaysian
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 13:44:57

    As it is, KL is already a living hell. I can’t imagine with this project on.

    Those living in Klang Valley should have a say to determine ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to this project.

    I vote ‘No’. Let’s start our votes.


  3. CYC
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 14:24:07

    While the whole world embrace knowledge economy Malaysia still think bricks and mortar an invincible economic tool. It is indeed a small man mentality which constantly in need of physical possession to fill up his inadequacy.

    The Scandinavian countries are giants and stand tall in their respective field without having skyscrapers. Israel achieved economic miracle despite being sanctioned by the whole muslim world and they don’t need any tallest building to be recognised as an economic powerhouse. Its your know-how, stupid !


  4. chanjoe1
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 15:52:35

    The syndrome of Biggest…Tallest….Largest….is back to haunt us. Didnt we get licked and sucked at all these mega projects where the bulk of the riches goes to cronies and companies which have no experience in building such mega structures? Now we see the Yet tallest tower coming up and the fact that along the way…cost will definitely shoot up and Rakyat will then have to pay for it just like now….the new Istana building cost has shot up and more money has to be pumped in….whose money we asked? Our money and its for show only…is it worth it? The rakyat in rural areas may think such mega projects are good for the country but I agree with Dr that the money could have been very well spent elsewhere for the REAL rakyat’s benefit. BN (OMNO) needs the fund that comes with such mega projects and thats why they are pushing it thru irrespective whether it benefits the rakyat or just some cronies pockets. God Help Us……….


  5. myblogtroll
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 16:12:50

    Dont waste time voting here. Vote at the election box


  6. klm
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 16:39:04

    A 100 storey tall building does not mean a scholarship would be given to a boy named Zhongsan to study and get a first class degree in Cambridge University.


  7. CYC
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 17:22:54


    U are damn wrong to cite this as meritocracy itself is discriminatory in nature according to Apanama’s dictionary. And it further states that dictactorship is a better option for good governance. What I am waiting for is the emergence of a maha dictator who could not see eye to eye with him and throw him in jail for the rest of his life. This is also firmly stated in the Apanama dictionary as a form of effective approach to end a crisis which benefits the rakyats though conventionally perceived as bad practice.

    We are golf playing nation and we need handicap system but not exactly like the one used in golf game. It is determined by birth and your handicap is a right for life. It is why mahafiraun think he should be secretary general of UN but unfairly denied due to his high declared handicaps.


  8. petestop
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 18:39:25

    Building word tallest building is not the problem.
    It is paying foreigner to build it, that is the problem.

    We never seems to do our homework, instead pays someone else to do the homework for us.

    How are we every going to learn like this ?

    Just like the “space-tourist” program, they going to use tax-payers money for this ego-trip again, instead of putting actual program of science and maths to get us to send a satellite into space.

    This is the essence of what is worng with the current govt, yet again and again, they don’t get it.


    See what is wrong with the above article ?
    Our Malaysian best student, bested the world’s best in Cambridge, yet going to join Singapore legal services.


  9. AgreeToDisagree
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 21:30:00

    Complain, complain, but never act !

    I won’t forgive those guys who can afford to run for election or have the network, or could fund someone from the background but don’t.

    We need more choices of candidates and cannot depend on any political party which will serve their own interests. Run for election yourself, then rubberstamp the below ideas into reality :


    Coordinate yourselves though, make such you know which constituencies are you from otherwise 2 independent 3rd Force candidates will be fighting for the same vote if not coordinated.

    Well? Save ourselves by taking the power from self serving idiots. There is no other way.


  10. Jong
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 01:54:08

    ….also when you mention “Altantuya” it rings the bell, already synonymous with “Razak” of Kuala Lumpur and not Mongolia.


  11. oct
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 07:48:43

    Hi Doc. BN doesn’t go by your logic. If they do, then they won’t be building it. They need this building so that their division heads can ‘cari (curi) makan’. 70% of their division heads are contractors. They don’t compete outside Malaysia. So their sole source of income is from BN. That’s why BN has to initiate more buildings so to grease the palms of these contractors. Who knows part of the project cost goes back to UMNO as contribution for their next GE fund? The money spend will not directly flow back to Malaysian as the consultants & laborers are foreign. So lots of our cash will be out-flow rather than in-flow to other countries. Bet you, in the end, there will be cost overrun. This is typical from all projects from BN like PKFZ, new istana, etc. In a normal turnkey project, the contractors are required to lock in the price of their products. However, in Malaysia, our BN contractors don’t. So as time goes by, the cost of materials go up, they will ask the Govt to raise their project cost. This is normally done without any penalty. Look at the new Istana. There are so many VOs that the cost has keep on increasing. How can you budget a project without proper costing done? This is bolehland!!


  12. chanjoe1
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 09:58:17

    I agree with petestop on his comment. Its really DISGUSTING that our covt can say the 100 storey building will bring in lots of business but look at how much hardship it will also bring? Mainly becuz if the money to spend building the building is spend in education and general services for the people, how GREAT it would be? Then we hear about another trip to the space on holiday…cant they get things inbto their head? Havent they read about the people’s wishes that such stupidity should STOP? We are mere victims who cant do much except to cast our votes against BN when the time comes but meanwhile we just have to pay thru our grinded teeth on our hard earned income tax for the govt to spend it so stupidly without any real benefits for the people but only benefits the rich cronies in BN. Very DISGUSTING…….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  13. Li Li Fa
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 23:57:02

    The area between Merdeka Stadium and Stadium Negara used to be a recreation area for the young and old. There used to be a rock garden, a children playground, a cluster of food-stalls and even a sun-dial and a big shade in the form of a big mushroom. This place used to be called Tunku Garden by the community nearby. But all these items are no more and today, a grandiose plan has descended upon this already traffic-congested hill-lock. Even the Merdeka Stadium which is a historical and touristy site is out of bounds to the public.

    Building another mega high rise building, to be exact 100story tall will really take the toll on the flow of traffic, human density, and environmental issues of the area.

    Do we really need another high rise building or do we really want another erection to remember someone by?

    Is this a plan to lure the people to look up, instead of looking into the more important and pressing issues in education, economy, judiciary, etc.? Instead, the powers that be should be trying to balance its budget than having to borrow all the time. What happens to the FDIs? Is there a mismatch of revenue and expenditure for the nation? Aren’t these issues tall orders to meet?


  14. Atila
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 23:35:16

    Dr. Hsu

    I am appalled to that RM5Bil tower !!

    The worst ever malaysia’s budget in my entire Life.


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