Malaysia’s stunning clock towers: Part I

Why are there so many clock towers in Malaysia, you might ask?

Well, in the days before mobile phones and when not everybody could afford a watch, a clock tower was a useful way for the population of a town to know the time.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, Some are quite modest affairs while others were built to impress and demonstrate authority.

Many were built during colonial times and commemorated events like coronations. Others were paid for by wealthy philanthropists wanting to leave their mark on their town.

1. Dataran Bandaraya Clock Tower, Johor Bahru, Johor

This clock tower was built in 1994 to commemorate Johor Bahru achieving city status. It overlooks playing fields and is in front of what was the Johor Civil Service Club which was formed in 1920.

2. Muar Clock Tower, Johor

This modern clock tower is one of Muar’s most prominent landmarks.

3. Muar Royal Customs and Excise Building, Johor

This clock tower tops the Royal Customs and Excise Building, a heritage building dated 1909 but whose facade has been spoilt by the installation of modern windows.

4. Big Clock Tower, Alor Setar, Kedah

This clock tower, known as Menara Jam Besar, was built in 1912. It is located opposite Zahir Mosque and the clock would have assisted the muezzin to confirm prayer times.

5. Sungai Petani Clock Tower, Kedah

This clock tower was built in 1936 as a gift from a Chinese businessman to mark the silver jubilee of King George V.

6. CHOGM Park, Kuah, Langkawi, Kedah

This unusual structure with a clock is found in CHOGM Park, Kuah. CHOGM stands for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which took place here in 1989, the year when the clock tower was built.

7. Customs & Immigration Building, Langkawi, Kedah

This smart yellow building with a clock tower is located at Telaga Harbour Park, Pantai Kok, Langkawi. It provides customs and immigration clearance for the yachts arriving at this marina.

8. Royal Jetty Clock Tower, Kota Bharu, Kelantan

This imposing new clock tower is located at the riverside at the far end of Merdeka Square in Kota Bharu.

9. Lebuh Pasar Clock Tower, Kuala Lumpur

This clock tower was commissioned to commemorate the coronation of King George VI in 1937 but the memorial plaques were removed following Independence.

The sunburst motif on the lower panels is typical of Art Deco design. The clock tower has recently had a much-needed facelift after years of neglect.

10. Sultan Abdul Samad Building Clock Tower, Kuala Lumpur

Probably the most famous of all Malaysian clock towers is the Sultan Abdul Samad building on Merdeka Square, built between 1894 and 1897.

11. Jam Merdeka, Masjid Tanah, Melaka

This clock tower bears an inscription in Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and Chinese informing that the clock marks Malaya’s independence and was built with donations from all races in Masjid Tanah and is dated Aug 31, 1957.

12. Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower, Melaka

This red clock tower in the heart of Melaka was built in 1886 to commemorate Tan Being Swee, a local millionaire. The design and colour of the tower was chosen to blend in with the Stadthuys and other buildings in “Dutch Square”.

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