Much has been written about the administrative headquarters of Malaysia, in Putrajaya. I read an essay about the architecture of the centre of government here and had to see it. One observer had written that the Prime Minister’s office and the Putrajaya Mosque abutting it was in the style of Moroccan, Egyptian neo-Islamic grandeur which projected an image of Malaysia and then- (and now) PM Dr Mahathir as an economic and international power. (I’m trying to pick my words very carefully, as I definitely don’t want – as a guest of a Malaysian arts community in Malaysia – to be construed as spreading criticism of their country.) In any case, I find it super interesting what public architecture consciously and subconsciously says about national image and psyche (Singapore has its share of ministry monu — sorry – totally pragmatic headquarters.)

Xeem, Rimbun Dahan’s arts manager, was headed to Putrajaya to interview an architect. She very kindly agreed to drive me there and around the sights.

Here’s Xeem, a trained architect and former architecture lecturer, at the wheel of her brand-new little red Myvi (which still has the new car smell) – “You can call me Miss Information!” “Okay! And I am your very good and attentive student, Miss Understand!”:

My frantic attempts to photograph everything while in a moving car, trying not to drop my phone onto the road, while the rain came in through the window:

Me: “What is this?” Miss Information: “Gosh. New. I have no idea.”

Me: “Hey, that bridge looks like a kite!” Miss Information: “Really? It looks like a bejewelled vagina. Especially when they light it up at night.”

Driving at a crawl down the avenue towards PM’s building

Ministry of Finance, with a facade down which rainwater cascades gracefully, evoking the abundance of wealth

Miss Information: “This is the supreme court –” Me: “Wahhhhh so nice!”

After the tour, we headed to IOI mall for Xeem’s appointment, and – apparently like most local people who have no business there – immediately got hopelessly lost. It takes a long time just to drive one round around the area, round its moat-like artificial lake, to get back on the right track. And thus concluded my very fun and unscientific investigation of Putrajaya.


One thought on “A Drive-by Tour of Putrajaya

  1. Both new entries are very enlightening, the works of art as well as the visit to the seat of government.
    Thanls for sharing your personal take on each of them, Clara.


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