Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Swaggering Humility

Once in a while I will wonder out loud: Just who the hell are we continuing to build and build for when half - in not more – remain literally empty?

Undoubtedly you will see them. Some swanky – the newer ones are, usually – the others relics of bygone times.

If you’re the adventurous types who don’t mind going off from the usual North- South into the inner roads towards Kuala Kubu Baru, you can even witness whole townships, hulking buildings carrying on silently with nary a single rattle or sigh.

My drive to work carries me pass a few such construction husk - empty buildings crying out for tenants.

Usually the strategy of finding a star tenant will do the job, but with so much space to be filled, you’d have to wonder if we’ve reach a saturation point of expanding in this manner.

True, construction is a grand way of pump-priming. It creates instant growth factor through jobs for developers, main contractors, sub and sub-sub contractors, consultants, all those buruh kasars and so on and so on. Very short term kickback to the economy.

You could easily rack up the Quarterly growth points from a few projects alone.

And then? What happens when the project gets completed and the buildings began to open for public, and private audiences?

Unfortunately for the whole world, the new millennium witnessed a huge blip in the global economy.

Otherwise there’d still be foreign companies snapping up cheap (converted rate, of course – ala our ministers’ favoured comparison in Singapore flour, sugar and petrol and Malaysian flour, sugar and petrol prices) space.

The likes most Malaysian could only aspire. At the supposed RM130 rental as imagined by the FT Minister recently, you’d probably be able to get a broom closet in one of the high end residential units.

We build, and build as though the demand will continue forever. What used to be government-or-related-locked plots now "prime land" especially in the City.

The KTM land is out of the picture now, and so too is the Federal Hills. BBGS is only alive in the cyber world. Pudu Jail is also no more. Worse still, even our Parliament House is under threat.

We just have not an iota of respect for heritage, it seems. If the august House is considered creaky has-been, what hope has ghost-domain that is the Pudu jail?

Like another minister say: “..It is not something we can be proud of.

After all, that hunk of concrete good for nothing is sitting on drool-salivating prime land.

Just like the Parliament House.

And now, we wait with bated breath the next pronouncement of the next “not something we can be proud of”.

V for Vendetta

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