KUALA LUMPUR: Many Malaysians are probably unaware that several time capsules are scattered across the length and breadth of the Klang Valley.
As 2020 is upon us, perhaps it is time for the man who planted them there, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to finally reveal their contents.
These time capsules are in essence, historical treasure chests that were sealed before being stored or hidden away decades ago, only to be opened after a certain period.
Containing invaluable advice on a variety of topics and issues meant for the future generations of Malaysians, these time capsules were designed to be airtight and were made from tough material that will not decay over time.
Standard procedure dictates that a time capsule is first emptied of air and turned into a vacuum before being filled with oxygen.
This is to ensure that the contents of the capsule, particularly those made from organic material, are not damaged once the capsule is opened.
In Malaysia, there are five time capsules in five locations. Will they be opened in 2020, the year so important to Mahathir’s Wawasan 2020 ideal?
1. Sunway Putra Mall
On June 12, 1987, Mahathir planted a time capsule scheduled to be opened in 2087. This time capsule was buried during the opening ceremony of The Mall in Kuala Lumpur.
It may be hard to find The Mall on any map today however, as it ceased operations after 26 years. The ownership of the site was transferred to the Sunway Group on May 1, 2013.
Standing in place of The Mall is the brand-new Sunway Putra Mall.
According to previous media reports, a spokesman for the new mall has confirmed that the capsule is still safely kept in the office of the shopping centre’s general manager.
However, they declined to show the media any image of the capsule or its exact location.
The management of Sunway Putra has since informed FMT that the time capsule has been returned to the Prime Minister’s Office.
2. Rawang Rest and Service Area
On Sept 8, 1994, Mahathir buried a capsule at the Rawang Rest and Service Area along the northbound North-South Expressway.
An inscription on the monument erected by PLUS Malaysia Berhad at the rest stop reads: “Di bawah ini terletaknya sebuah kapsul yang mengandungi dokumen-dokumen yang telah ditanam oleh YAB Dato Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad Perdana Menteri Malaysia bersempena dengan Perasmian Penyempurnaan Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan pada 8 September 1994 dan akan dikeluarkan selepas tamat tempoh Konsesi Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan pada 31 Mei 2018“.
(Below is a capsule that contains documents buried by Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad in conjunction with the ceremony of the official maintenance of the North–South Expressway on Sept 8, 1994, and will be unearthed after the expiry of the concession of the North–South Expressway on May 31, 2018.)
The initial concession period began in 1988 and ended in 2018, but was extended until 2030 through an additional concession agreement in 1999 for the purpose of compensating the government for maintaining toll rates as agreed.
This period was then extended to 2038 through the third additional concession agreement signed in 2005 as there were no toll increases from 2005 to 2014.
This time capsule remains buried and it is not known how much longer will it stay that way.
3. Putrajaya Landmark
The Putrajaya Landmark is located in Taman Putra Perdana in Putrajaya. It is the first national monument built specifically for the Federal Territory of Putrajaya.
Below this monument is a time capsule buried by Mahathir that is supposed to be opened in 2020.
4. Kuala Lumpur Tower
Located next to the mini theatre is another time capsule, placed there on Oct 1, 1996. It was supposed to be opened back in 2018 together with its counterpart in Rawang but nothing came of it.
5. Bursa Malaysia
Here at the stock exchange is a time capsule that was interestingly not planted by Mahathir but rather then Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim and then Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin.
According to a source, these time capsules are to be opened simultaneously in early 2020, but no specific date has been announced.
The source also stated that said date will be announced only by the Prime Minister’s Office and the opening ceremony of the capsule will only take place in Mahathir’s presence.
As the new year kicks off, perhaps Malaysians ought to be prepared for any surprises that may emerge from the opening of these time capsules.