Merdeka 118: Malaysians question the point of yet another skyscraper

At left, Merdeka 118 as seen from a nearby highway last month, and a close-up of the skyscraper, at right. Photos: Coconuts KL, Legendary Lim
At left, Merdeka 118 as seen from a nearby highway last month, and a close-up of the skyscraper, at right. Photos: Coconuts KL, Legendary Lim

Kuala Lumpur might just become a city with the most skyscrapers in the future, now that the government’s adding another one to its collection. 

Despite opposition from the general public, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today praised the Merdeka 118 tower to the skies, saying that the RM5 billion (US$1.8 billion) project led by state fund manager Permodalan Nasional Berhad would contribute to the country’s economy. The newest tower is set to stand at nearly 700 meters tall, higher than The Exchange 106 building that opened just two years ago as Southeast Asia’s tallest. 

“The Merdeka 118 was inspired by the late Prime Minister Tengku Abdul Rahman, who led Malaysia to independence 64 years ago,” the 61-year-old said at the start of his speech officiating Merdeka 118 today. The building is expected to be completed next year and will house offices, a hotel, a mosque, and a mall. 

“I can’t wait to see the positive effects of this new skyscraper on Kuala Lumpur,” he added. 

Malaysia already has 146 skyscrapers in its collection, including the Petronas Twin Towers and Shoppes at Four Seasons. Those who reacted to the prime minister’s speech were mostly angry and disappointed at the government’s decision to complete the construction of the latest skyscraper even as the country struggles to remain financially afloat. 

“Second tallest building in the world… in a poor country,” Fadzlifitrii tweeted. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai holds the record for tallest tower in the world at over 800 meters. 

Yesitsmealright chimed in: “There is no benefit to building another skyscraper when the economy sucks.” 

Another user called it a “fancy political monument.”

Permodalan Nasional Berhad chairman Arifin Zakaria did not give specific details on how the Merdeka 118 can help generate revenue, except that it would “stimulate the nation’s socio-economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19.” 

Other stories:

Ex-students of a century-old convent school are fighting to save their alma mater. Here’s why.

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