Activist: Don’t stop renovation of Sultan Abdul Samad building

The government has pulled the rug from under a RM350 million plan to renovate the historical Sultan Abdul Samad building and three other adjoining buildings. (Wikipedia pic)

PETALING JAYA: An architect has called on the new government to stick with the initial RM350 million contract to renovate the historical Sultan Abdul Samad building and three adjoining buildings in the city.

Ahmad Najib Ariffin, a co-chairman of the Malaysian Institute of Architects’ heritage conservation committee, said the contract amount was not too high considering that the buildings were in bad shape.

He said such historical buildings needed protection to prevent them from becoming dilapidated.

“This is especially so for one of the buildings facing Jalan Tun Perak, formerly known as the sanitary board building,” he told FMT.

The government has announced a review of projects worth some RM10 billion, including the RM350 million contract to restore these buildings.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng also announced a review of “non-essential operating expenditure” such as consulting services, refurbishments, computer upgrades and promotional events.

However, Najib said the renovations should be continued as the work was already half-done.

“The Sultan Abdul Samad building’s roof and upper floors and the building to the right, the old post office building, were under Phase 1 of the conservation and refurbishment project.

“This RM350 million is for Phase 2, for the lower floors and the other three remaining buildings,” he said, adding that income could be regained through tourism activities.

Najib said the Sultan Abdul Samad building had been in use for a while and its condition was not too bad because of past maintenance.

He said it would be a waste if the other three buildings were left to the elements.

“Basically, any historical building in that kind of poor condition should be preserved if the funds have already been budgeted.

“If need be, the government can scale back the changes needed but it must be careful not to be penny wise, pound foolish.”

The main building was named after Sultan Abdul Samad, the sultan of Selangor at the time of its construction.

Its design was by AC Norman and had influences of Moorish and Mogul architecture. Work was completed in 1897.

During British times, the building was used as the administration office of the Federated Malay States, the British resident’s general office and post office headquarters.

More recently, it served as the higher courts complex before they were moved to Putrajaya in 2001.

The 40m clock tower in the centre of the building has been the backdrop of all Merdeka Day parades held at the Dataran Merdeka and along Jalan Raja.

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