The floor area of Seri Perdana is almost the same size as the White House but while the former is strictly a residence, the latter also houses the office of the president and his team and staff of close to 400.
Whatever the reasons for the repairs to Seri Perdana, the official residence of the prime minister in Putrajaya, the timing of the go-ahead earlier in the year by PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin wasn’t such a brilliant one because the country was told that there was not much cash to spare due to the tough times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Official statements pointed to leaking roofs and thus wet floors, electrical wiring that needed replacement, air-conditioning too. But you will struggle to imagine what outdated lighting is.
If money was tight, were there no other ways that could mitigate the situation, like cover over the roofs as a temporary measure?
The complex with a floor area of about 56,000 sq. ft., which is about the same as the White House, was completed in 1999, within two years, with grounds of 42.5 acres. That makes the grounds of the American president’s residence and office, at only 18 acres, small in comparison.
France’s Elysee Palace is about 20 times the size of the White House. Similarly the Quirinal Palace in Rome and the new Ak Saray in Turkey.
But the most significant difference between all these complexes and our Seri Perdana is that the former house both the official residence and office of the leaders.
The White House has hundreds of offices for staff while London’s Downing Street complex also houses the residences of some senior officials, with the residence of the prime minister on one modest floor size.
PM6 Najib Razak has responded to insinuations from his successor Muhyiddin to categorically state that the complex was in good shape when he vacated it after the elections in May 2018, while photos of the rot showed the deterioration set in last year. Strangely we didn’t anything from Mahathir Mohamad, the man who succeeded Najib.
Never mind that it will cost tax-payers RM38.5 million to put things right, assuming there’s no cost overrun, but you do want to ask how things could deteriorate to this stage in just 22 years.
If the government doesn’t cringe with embarrassment, the people certainly do. It’s to be expected if people start asking about the construction – the workmanship – and quality of materials used.
Not many people, both in Malaysia and elsewhere, can tell similar stories about the homes of lay people which start to rot just over 20 years after completion.
One other point raised by Najib was to ask who was awarded the repair job. This Muhyiddin should clarify because his name was dragged into it.
Having a large banquet hall is understandable because by convention national leaders do host special guests, especially for dinner, but why the need for a residence to have such a large meeting room that can accommodate about 30 persons, when that kind of should be at the office?
By : Aziz Hassan – THE MOLE