PUTRAJAYA, Oct 15 — One of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s legacies from his previous term as prime minister, the federal administrative capital has not developed the way the man who created it expected.
Dr Mahathir complained to US-based Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that Putrajaya has too many high-rise buildings and the residents seemed to prefer driving to walking along the broad main avenues.
“I wanted to build a boulevard like the Champs-Élysées in Paris, with side roads and lots of shops,” he was quoted saying in the interview, referring to Persiaran Perdana.
3km long road called “The Boulevard” by most residents cuts through the administrative buildings of Precincts 2 to 4, with Dataran Putra that houses the Prime Minister’s Office at one end, and the Putrajaya International Convention Centre at the other.
“People would go to and fro walking and having coffee in cafes and all that. But civil servants, they want to be exclusive. They didn’t want anyone there.
“I told them if you do that then the whole town goes dead and it becomes dangerous,” he was reported saying.
Dr Mahathir also complained about the view of a 564-foot tower from his office.
“Why did they want to build this high-rise building? It spoils everything,” he reportedly said.
The 564-foot building he was referring to was likely the 39-storey Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development situated at the other end of the boulevard, together with among other high-rise buildings such as the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and the Ministry of Rural Development.
Since Dr Mahathir left, a lot of his ideas were scrapped by his successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, including a monorail system that was to provide transport in the administrative capital, leaving instead unfinished tunnels and an unconnected bridge across a man-made lake.
The bridge was, as Dr Mahathir described it: “the world’s only suspended suspension bridge.”
The WSJ report also labelled Putrajaya as a “cultural backwater” with tourists perplexed by the lack of food on offer, while a plan to open a Hard Rock Café franchise here supported by Dr Mahathir cancelled by investors.
But it also suggested that with Dr Mahathir back in power, a resurgence of Putrajaya is on the cards. The number of tourists was also said to be increasing following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the election, led by Dr Mahathir.
The federal administrative capital was the venue of choice for this year’s Merdeka celebration instead of Kuala Lumpur.