Disk 53

Our recent thrust into industrialization has proven to be successful. The dream of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahatir Mohamad of lifting Malaysia onto a higher level of sophistication appears to come true. The liberalizing of restriction on foreign investment opportunities in Malaysia have attracted many industrial investors from Singapore, Japan and Taiwan. It has contributed towards reviving the dormant building industry in Malaysia. Malaysian economy having been resuscitated has recovered in “leaps and bounce’.

Properties in the urban areas of Johor Bahru, Penang and Kuala Lumpur are being snapped up at prices unheard of previously. Industrial sites in Melaka, Kedah, Prai etc, are fast running dry. Industrial complexes, not merely ‘Factories’ are being constructed and at a rapid speed and pace.

In all this euphoria of ‘recovery’ in the country, Malaysians from all levels of life – from the Prime Minister down to the factory-floor sweeper; must pause for a moment. A moment to remind ourselves that Malaysia belongs to us. It is our country. It is God’s gift to Malaysians. If Malaysians must benefit from God’s gift, we must ensure that we do not allow his gift be abused and destroyed. Benefits must be achieved without having to loose all.

Investors are here for the ‘opportunities’ offered by Malaysia. We must ensure that we take the opportunity to uplift

  • Our life;
  • Standard of living;
  • Quality of life;
  • Quality of environment;
  • Integrity of both our natural and built environment; and
  • Quality of technical know-how in the face of ‘transfer of technology’.

Malaysians are familiar with the townscape of U.K. – the bleak scenes of the Victorian industrial towns, estates and derelict factories. They scar the towns which sprang to life during the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century; and are but cold reminders of the price one has to pay for Industrialization. The British compensated and justified their industrialization with the wealth that Great Britain acquired and the colonies that followed.

Industrialization in Malaysia is not being done by Malaysians; they are Japanese, Taiwanese etc. After they have exhausted Malaysia what do we do with the wastelands Industrial Complexes and Estates, and Free-trade zones? What is going to happen to our “Pearl of the Orient” or our “Bugis Kampongs?’ The scenario is a frightening one! If the British Industrial cities have become havens and source where racial hatred festered and often erupt into summer violence, what can Malaysia expect?
M.A. in this issue is compelled to remind Architects whilst designing Industrial Complexes that hey must bear in mind their responsibility in preserving the six points highlighted above. Authorities actively creating Industrial Parks must also ensure the preservation of our natural environment and click here quality of life. Industrial projects must not become dumps. Industrial projects must:-

  • Look pleasing;
  • Humanised and not over powering;
  • Well landscaped;
  • Blend in with the Malaysian landscape;
  • Capture our Malaysian tradition and spirit;
  • Reflect and consider the tropical climatic factors;
  • Ensure easy rehabillitation in future;
  • Have well-qualified professionals to handle the different aspects of the projects.

Too often Industrial Estates are hastily planned and implemented. Investors hastily brought in by Government agencies. Building hastily designed and constructed by hastily appointed “consultants”, who provided the most attractive fee package.

If a survey were to be “hastily” done we will be surprised to realize that most, if not almost all Industrial Complexes comprised of:

  • Large production floors (factory);
  • Office spaces (sometimes multi-storeyed);
  • Staff canteens – seating hundreds of staff (large enough to be a full fledged restaurant);
  • Staff recreational facilities e.g. lockers, changerooms, toilets and washrooms, medical centres, personnel offices, sports clubhouse etc.
  • Kitchen (equivalent to the size of 200 room Hotel);
  • Complex – interior spaces for multiple usage;
  • Landscaping;

are being designed by only a single consultant whose discipline of speciality is often in the field of Civil and Structural Engineering or Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. The common misconception is that as they are engineers, they ought to be able to design engineering structures. As listed above the only engineering structure is the production floor,- the ‘factory’; whilst everything else are not the ‘factory’.

One may well ask but what happened to the Architect, the Interior Designer, the Environmental Advisor or the Landscape Architect?

“Ah! Who needs them? Haven’t we got am Engineer to do everything?” and
“Besides, we saved a lot of fee by employing only the Engineer”.
This is a very short term gain for a very few but the price Malaysians have to pay later may be too high.
We, therefore, seek and implore intervention from Malaysians from “all levels of life; from the Prime Minister down to the factory-floor sweeper”, that foreign investors do not use Engineers as their ‘guns for hire’ to abuse and destroy the Malaysian environment so that in the year 2090 we will have in Malaysia a bleaker picture of what you now see in the Industrial cities of Great Britain. Major project cannot be handle by consultants trained only in Engineering. The preservation of our environment both natural and built requires imput from all disciplines.

Let us together, collectively, conjoin our efforts to ensure a;

  • Bright;
  • Beautiful; and
  • Beneficial

Malaysia for our future generation.

Let not our future generations look back at the 1990s as when the destruction and discarding of God’s gift to Malaysians began with the influx of Industrial investors who destroyed our environment; and that our authorities and consultants assisted them.

This M.A. will stand testimony on where Architects stood!