Yes to Stadium Merdeka, no to Mega Tower
Writer: Wong Chin Huat
Published: Fri, 20 Jul 2012
On Monday, the 1st anniversary of the Bersih 2.0 rally, about 300 of us braved the rain and walked from Dataran Merdeka to Stadium Merdeka.
The organisers, Killthebill.org, picked them as the starting and end points because these public places maintained with public funds belong to the public and no one should deny our access to these places just because some people are allergic to the world Merdeka (Tahrir in Arabic) or they lose sleep thinking of Egypt and Hosni Mubarak.
The journey from Dataran Merdeka to Stadium Merdeka took us less than 40 minutes but the journey for ordinary Malaysians to walk out of the fear of violence took more than 40 years.
When we shouted Merdeka seven times emulating how Tunku did it in 1957, independence is not an ancient story in the history textbook, it is our experience, our memory, part of our lives.
A friend, Dino Goh, told his baby girl: “Remember the uncles and aunties of all ethnic backgrounds you see tonight. They are the founding fathers and mothers for this country.”
He was referring to Malaysia 2.0, the new country born on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on last July 9.
Yes, we are not only the descendants of our ancestors. We are also the ancestors of our descendants.
Someday, we will pass on this planet, which was passed on to us by our parents, to our children and grandchildren.
Next year, the year after that, and every year afterwards if possible, I want to come back to Stadium Merdeka to relive our memory of an epic rally.
I cannot agree more with my painter friend Victor Chin that “a city without old buildings is like a person without soul”.
Memory. That’s why we preserve heritage and we keep old trees. Even if you were not there to witness the birth of Malaya in 1957 or the birth of Malaysia 2.0 54 years later, Stadium Merdeka may still mean a lot to you personally.
For my friend Jayanath, his earlier memory of Stadium Merdeka was watching Malaysian football teams at their best in the Merdeka Cup.
I am no football fan but I can imagine young Jayanath walking downhill and recalling the goals in excitement.
What’s yours? What is Stadium Merdeka to you? Did you catch Michael Jackson there in 1996? Did you bring your love to watch Celine Dion in 2008? Or was it Jolin Tsai or Justin Bieber last year? Or, were you there for the 1965 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games?
One cannot imagine in the 1990s, this maternity room of our nation, almost disappeared in the name of redevelopment.
Fortunately, the 1997-98 East Asian financial crisis saved the stadium. Imagine our memoryland would have otherwise become an entertainment and office complex.
It is unimaginable that Stadium Merdeka may soon again disappear. Different prime ministers. Same intention to wipe out the landmark of Tunku’s legacies and replace it with some skyscrapers to mark their own era.
A report released by the MRT Corp. in April reveals the location of the notorious 100-storey Mega Tower called Warisan Merdeka. http://www.kvmrt.com.my/upload/blog/files/Jalan%20Sultan%20Report%20English%20final.pdf
Both Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara will be annexed by the phallic structure. The neighbouring Stadium Chingwu, was not included in the Mega Tower’s plan.
However, rumours have it that the director board of Chingwu has been successfully lobbied to sell off the premises.
Apparently, this MRT route through Jalan Sultan was chosen to benefit the Mega Tower.
The MRT can actually take Jalan Cheng Lock and the Jalan Pudu which may allow the revival of the abandoned Plaza Rakyat.
The realignment proposal was shot down because the new MRT station would be too far away from the Mega Tower.
But why do we need Mega Tower in the first place? Some unauthorised news says that the skyscraper will now exceed 100 storeys and its cost may easily jump beyond RM10 billion.
Don’t we already have excess supply of office places? Do we have too much money and not know how to spend?
I can’t find one single reason to let the Mega Tower demolish or cover-up the two historical stadiums. But the real issue is really: why is the government hiding behind the Mega Tower? We as citizens of Kuala Lumpur, deserve to know its full plan.
This is our city. We have every right to protect our heritage, to know how our public funds are spent, and whether or not we will get caught in worse traffic jam, with the construction of Mega Tower.