The planned city of Putrajaya, 25km south of Kula Lumpur, is home to the government and civil service. The move from Kuala Lumpur was made in 1999 to escape the capital’s congestion and ease pollution. ‘Putra’ mean ‘prince’ and ‘jaya’ means ‘success’ in Malay and the city is named after Malaysia’s first prime minister, Abdul Rahman, the son of a sultan, who led the country to independence.
Malaysia – Been There

Putrajaya: the Brasilia of Asia

Photo by Ian Koh

Malaysia – Been There Putrajaya: the Brasilia of Asia

Putrajaya is quite something, with swans on the new reservoir, a huge mosque and palaces.

Daphne Huineman
Daphne Huineman Travel Writer

Razak, my tour guide in Putrajaya, enthuses about the city. “Everything is built by our own designers! Look, that’s our White House!” he tells me. “Razak means protector,” he says, “so I am your protector!” I feel safer already.

Development of Putrajaya only started in the early 1990s and the government moved there in 1999 (although Kuala Lumpur is still the capital). ‘Putra’ means ‘prince’ and ‘jaya’ means ‘success’ in Malay and the city is named after Malaysia’s first prime minister, Abdul Rahman, the son of a sultan, who led the country to independence.

The ‘White House’ that Razak is so enthusiastic about is actually a Green House, with the color of Islam predominating in the prime minister’s palace. Although Razak stresses that the city also features other ethnic groups and religions, it is clear which one is in charge.

A cruise around Putrajaya in a small gondola is the coolest way to see the city, if a slightly surreal one. Razak shows me the Botanical Gardens which offer some of the bewildering natural variety of Malaysia. At night, the Seri Wawasan Bridge has a lovely view of the Putra Mosque – there is no getting away from it here.

One other quirk of Putrajaya is that it has some of the cheapest five-star accommodations in the world. Grandiose hotels and a lack of population and visitors lead to some of the lowest prices for top facilities you can find. Where else can you experience the renowned Shangri-La brand of pampering for $120 per night for a room for two? Happily, the infinity pool has a great view of Putrajaya and at night you can see – you guessed it – the Putra Mosque.

Well, it is easy to smile at the quaint charms of a place like this, but the dreams of Dr. M., as the visionary prime minister was called, have taken a lot of money to realize. The ambition cannot be denied. Spending on such grandiose projects kept a lot of people at work during the Asian economic crisis. The result is also that Malaysia has grown from insignificance on the world stage to a country with a lot to be proud of.

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Lightning rips through the sky in Kuala Lumpur, providing a dramatic backdrop for the Petronas Towers. Their mixture of western ambition and traditional Malaysian form was deliberately designed as a message to the world that the country had arrived on the world stage. Photo by Justin Liew / Creative Commons

Justin Liew

Justin Liew

Nikon D70

Agency
Creative Commons
Aperture
ƒ/3.5
Exposure
4
ISO
200
Focal
18 mm

Lightning rips through the sky in Kuala Lumpur, providing a dramatic backdrop for the Petronas Towers. Their mixture of western ambition and traditional Malaysian form was deliberately designed as a message to the world that the country had arrived on the world stage.

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