Southern Chapter Annual Dinner Speech

Disk 11



YAB Tan Sri Dato Muhyidin bin Abdul Haji Mohd. Yasin – M.B. of Johor
Honoured Guests
Chairman of southern Chapter Vincent Lee

On behalf of PAM, I bid you welcome and thank you for gracing this momentous and auspicious occasion with your presence. Thank you for your support.
Not only is the Southern Chapter having its Annual Dinner, tonight’s function is also to announce the results of the recent competition “Towards 2005 Johor Bahru – Urban Design Competition.” Allow me to thank the Southern Chapter Committee responsible for organizing this Competition.

It would be wrong of me not to mention in particular the chairman of Southern Chapter, Mr. Vincent Lee for putting the whole thing together.
I must also thank the Majlis Perbandaran Johor Bahru and University Technology Malaysia for their keenness and support. For without this continuing support and interest all architectural aspirations and visions will remain as “wind mills turning in your minds.” I would like to say a big thank you to YAB Tan Sri Dato Muhyidin bin Abdul Haji Mohd. Yasin for your keen continued support.

Last but not least to all participants of this competition, for without you, there would have been no competition. It is not the winning that is most important but the fact that you have committed your ideas onto paper and therefore in this respect you are all winners.


Growth of Johor Bahru

Recent economic growth in Johor has seen the transformation of Johor Bahru to a major metropolis rivaling Kuala Lumpur’s greater metropolitan. The expansion of the urban areas and its surrounds had been rapid, Many of the old landmarks had to make way for the new. Planners and Architects who are in the fore-front of this thrust and growth bear most of the responsibility for what is planned and subsequently

Development must not come at a price of losing our identity, culture, tradition and character. Our environment for living must be friendly and familiar. I am told that many senior citizens of a neighbouring country who cannot recognize new urban environment and felt very alienated within their own country because of over destruction and removal of existing and familiar landmarks. This must not happen to only in Johor Bahru, but to all Malaysian cities.
The drab sameness of modern cities, devoid of inhabitants in “after-office hours” and weekends bear testimony that the western concept of planning cities for high-rise buildings and office workers and not for living in is misconceived.

Much has been said about Singapore being a modern city and compared to other great cities of the West. But do we want to be like that? That so many Singaporeans flock to Johore for leisure, recreation is sufficient proof that there is something to offer here which is different.
Vision 2020 is for Malaysians to search for something, which is Malaysian. To be industrialized by 2020 does not mean becoming click here dependent upon Western technology but is for a technological solution, which is sustainable within the Malaysian context. This is where Malaysian architects are committed to finding a
solution to our needs.


Western Values

Many of the western values and norms are already outdated. Changing trends have made these values obsolete and Malaysian entrepreneurs and Government officials responsible must be able to recognize these “obsolescence!” Please be vigilant and always be cautious when recycled ideas are being presented as “new” by glib-tongue super salesman from the West. Architects are unable to resist the importation of wrong western ideas without the support of our Government.


Tropical Hardwood

Not only are changing values restricted to Architecture but also to every other aspects of life. At the turn of the century only a short 60-70 years ago, e.g. the U.S., Europe and N.Z. were hell-bent at taming nature.

They were devastating their forests not for exploitation of the timber but for clearing, felling and burning to create grazing land or for softwood plantations. Much of their forests are now gone.
Now they start an Anti-hardwood campaign against Malaysia. Malaysia has a pretty good policy on forestry management and there are guidelines for harvesting our timber on a sustainable basis. Like all things there are bound to be some abuses. They are not interested in our needs or our survival but for their own benefits. It is a trade war tactic by the timber people in the West. So do Malaysians “hungering” for things western, now import this “Anti-tropical hardwood” campaign and use it against our Government to the detriment of our timber industry and people? The answer is obvious.
Malaysian architects are committed to support Malaysia’s timber policy and will be bringing this matter up at the world forum of architects UIA for a stand to resist this unfair campaign.


Foreign Architects

Importation of the “Anti-tropical hardwood” campaign into Malaysia tantamount to being disloyal citizens of Malaysia and a betrayal. What about importing Foreign Architects to compete against our local, homegrown, home-fed, true-blooded Malaysian architects, is that also betrayal and disloyalty?
As mentioned earlier Architects alone cannot resist the importation of “wrong western values” and culture but need the support of our Government to check or curb this ‘ in-flow’! Our appeal has fallen on deaf ears and for far too long.

Many of the foreign architects come from countries that had anti-tropical hardwood policies. This irony and anomaly must be corrected. If we are not able to or will not control the ‘in-flow’ of foreign Architects, the least PAM would expect is for our Government to insist that Foreign Architects enjoying the economic benefits.

Malaysia has to offer, must show some support for our policies by signing declarations to the effect that they denounce their Countries’ ‘Anti-tropical hardwood’ campaign and that they support Malaysia’s policy of sustainable forestry management. This would make our effort to resist ‘foreign intrusions’ easier. Those who refuse to cooperate, our Department of Immigration should be asked to refuse them entry. If Malaysian architects are to assist our Government towards preserving our timber industry, we must all work closely together.

Thank you