I can’t say I was surprised to read reports that the Selangor MB appeared less than unequivocal in expressing opposition to PNB’s proposed mega tower.
His subsequent back-tracking on his initial apparent support for the project was reported in the Malaysian Insider here.
Apparently, the 240,000-strong Facebook opposition to the tower didn’tt seem to count for very much – nor Anwar’s and Khalid Samad’s vocal opposition to the tower. As if PKR didn’t have enough problems as it is!
In the end, Khalid posted the following note on his Facebook: “Selangor is ready to work with the Federal Territories in the development of Klang Valley, but it will not support mega-projects such as the Menara Warisan Merdeka.”
Khalid comes from a corporate background that perhaps thinks large property projects will provide a strong (short-term) multiplier effect on the economy. Such is the corporate mentality that thinks that any urban property development is beneficial development that would “unlock” any unrealised profits on land valuation and spur economic activity in the short to medium term – never mind the long-term congestion and projected occupancy rates. (I suppose it’s hard to find a politician who can think beyond five years i.e. the next election.)
Of interest is that Khalid was PNB CEO from 1979 to 1994. He was also CEO of Guthrie from 1995 to 2003. During his tenure, Khalid tried to diversify Guthrie’s plantation-based activity through the Guthrie Corridor Expressway property development project. Guthrie has since been merged into Sime Darby.
PNB has now set up wholly-owned firm PNB Merdeka Ventures Sdn Bhd to undertake the mega tower project, according to The Star. It is headed by Tengku Abdul Aziz Tengku Mahmud, who was reportedly from Guthrie Property Development Holdings Bhd and Sime Darby Property Bhd. As CEO of Guthrie Property, Tengku Abdul Aziz was also involved in developing the GCE. (See Star report from 2006 here.)
Maybe Pakatan will clean up obvious or outright corruption and wastage, but at the end of the day, we have to ask, how different will its overall model of economic development be from the BN’s? Are we still going to be driven by an unsustainable construction frenzy, which creates periods of boom and bust and brings along much misery in its wake?