Mahathir slams KL tower project in about-turn
KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday criticised plans for a 100-storey mega tower in the capital, admitting he does not want the proposed skyscraper to outshine the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers.
'I must admit I am biased... And I would like to retain it (Petronas Twin Towers) as the tallest building in Malaysia.
'At the moment, we don't need any tower higher than that. We should build it (Warisan Merdeka) a little bit later. Maybe, when I'm not around,' the 85-year-old added in jest at a gathering of industry leaders.
The comments indicate that Tun Dr Mahathir, who had initially said the RM5 billion (S$2.1 billion) Warisan Merdeka project was a good idea as it created jobs and business opportunities, is now making an about-turn on the issue.
The Petronas Twin Towers complex in Kuala Lumpur was Dr Mahathir's brainchild and he was known during his 22 years in power for supporting similar mega projects.
He oversaw the building of a multibillion-dollar administrative capital, Putrajaya, and launched the national carmaker Proton during his marathon premiership.
The Twin Towers complex, the world's tallest building when completed in 1998, was featured a year later in the climax of the Hollywood heist movie Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Dr Mahathir also said the new building would create a property glut in the Klang Valley.
'I see a lot of 'for sale' and 'for rent' signs when I walk around. That means we already have a lot of buildings,' he said.
'We may not be building like crazy, but we are crazy building.'
The government's plan to build the new 100-storey skyscraper by 2015 has sparked an outcry among Malaysians, who feel that taxpayers' money would be better spent on education, health care and public transport.
On Facebook, more than 263,000 people have signed an online petition against Prime Minister Najib Razak's plan.
Datuk Seri Najib, who wants the new tower built as part of an ambitious new infrastructure push, has said the project can become a business hub and noted that the Twin Towers originally attracted similar criticism.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Najib defends 100-storey KL tower
KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S prime minister has defended a plan to construct a US$1.6 billion (S$2.1 billion), 100-story tower in Kuala Lumpur, saying it will contribute to long-term development of the city.
However, Premier Najib Razak says the project's owners must first ensure the building is 'financially viable' and will provide economic opportunities.
Mr Najib told reporters on Tuesday that 'it is a long-term project for 10 years and beyond, not for one or two years.'
Critics have slammed the privately financed project in downtown Kuala Lumpur as an unnecessary extravagance at a time of belt-tightening and rising prices.
Even former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who presided over several massive infrastructure projects during his time in office, has been critical. -- AP
[Dr M led the way with mega-ego projects. Now he not happy when others want similar monuments to themselves.]