Sultan Abdul Samad Building

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Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad
باڠونن سلطان عبدالصمد
Kuala Lumpur Sultan Abdul Building.jpg
Front view of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building
General information
Type Government Office
Architectural style Moorish
Town or city Kuala Lumpur
Federal Territory
Country Malaysia
Groundbreaking 1894
Construction started 1894
Completed 1897
Inaugurated 1897
Design and construction
Architect A.C. Norman

The Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Malay: Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad; Jawi: باڠونن سلطان عبدالصمد) is located in front of the Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) and the Royal Selangor Club, by Jalan Raja in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The structure takes its name from Sultan Abdul Samad, the reigning sultan of Selangor at the time when construction began.

The building houses the offices of the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia (Malay: Kementerian Penerangan, Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan Malaysia). It formerly housed the superior courts of the country: the Federal Court of Malaysia, the Court of Appeals and the High Court of Malaya. The Federal Court and the Court of Appeals had shifted to the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya during the early 2000s, while the High Court of Malaya shifted to the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex in 2007.

History[edit]

Sultan Abdul Samad Building at night on National Day

It was designed by A.C. Norman and built in 1894-1897 to house several important government departments during the British administration. A.C. Norman spent time in Africa and saw Muslim mosques in India which led him to use Mughal architecture in the building's design.The 41-meter tower chimed for the first time to coincide with Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Parade in 1897 and has chimed since.[1] The building, simply known as Government Offices in early Kuala Lumpur maps, housed the Federal Secretariat of the then-Federated Malay States which was formed in 1896.

In 1945, when World War II ended, Britain resumed control again, but Malaya's independence movement had matured and organized itself in an alliance under Tunku Abdul Rahman. When the British flag was finally lowered in Kuala Lumpur's Merdeka Square in 1957, Tunku became the first prime minister of Malaya.[2]

In front of the building is the Dataran Merdeka (or Merdeka Square). It was here, the Union Jack flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time at midnight on August 31, 1957. The Dataran Merdeka was officially opened on January 1, 1990, in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 1990.

Before independence in 1957 the Merdeka Square symbolized British sovereignty as it was a cricket ground for the colonial administrators and fronted the Royal Selangor Club, Malaya's most exclusive whites-only club.

A 95-metre flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, marks that spot with a flat, round black marble plaque. It is located at the southern end of the square.

Every year, in the morning of Merdeka Day (31 August) as well as Malaysia Day (16 September), thousands of spectators converge on the city to watch the colourful parade along the streets of the city and performances held at the Merdeka Square. Each of the 13 states plus the Federal Territories are represented, as are the many ethnic groups that comprise multiracial Malaysia. The National Flag will be flown throughout the country, at office buildings, private homes and on vehicles. At the same time, patriotic activities to mark the holiday are held nationwide.

In 2012, the building was partly refurbished and the copper domes received a new coating of metallic paint. New colour-changing LED lights were installed to brighten up the building at night. On selected days, a section of Jalan Raja will be closed in order for the people to enjoy the night scenery of the area. Since 2007, a Merdeka (Independence) wording has been fixed at the bottom of the clock tower, a reminder of the very day of the nation's independence in 1957.

Features[edit]

Topped by a shiny copper dome and a 40m high clock tower, it is a major landmark in the city. It serves as the backdrop for important events such as the National Day Parade on August 31 and the ushering in of the New Year. This heritage building used to be occupied by the then Apex Court of Malaysia, the Supreme Court which was subsequently renamed the Federal Court. The Court of Appeal was also housed in this historic building. The Federal Court and the Court of Appeals have since moved to the Palace of Justice located in Putrajaya, the new Federal administrative capital.

Behind the building flows the Klang River and Gombak River's confluence where Kuala Lumpur got its name (Kuala means estuary and Lumpur means muddy) and in the middle of where the two rivers meet stands The Masjid Jamek (or Jamek Mosque), a mosque of similar design by the same architect.

Historical events[edit]

Many historical events had been held in front of this building. Among them was the declaration of independence of the Federation of Malaya on 31 August, 1957 and the lowering of the British Union Flag. On 1 January 1982, the clock tower became the venue for another historic event when the time between Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore were standardized to UTC+8.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building in 2012, taken from Merdeka Square.

Incidents[edit]

In 1971, Kuala Lumpur suffered a huge flood after a heavy rainfall. Part of the building was not spared. In 1978, a massive renovation was undertaken. The renovation took six years to complete with a total cost of RM 17.2 million. There was also a fire which damaged part of the building. A large bronze memorial plaque commemorating fallen judicial officers and lawyers who served as volunteer soldiers in WW2 disappeared about this time. The plaque was either looted or else was damaged in the fire but was never repaired or replaced, much to the anguish of the family members of the deceased. There is now a move supported by the Malayan Volunteers Group to try to get the bronze memorial plaque restored.

A close-up of the clock atop Sultan Abdul Samad Building at night, in 2013

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sultan Abdul Samad Building". welcome-kl.com. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  2. ^ "Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's First and Greatest Prime Minister". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Sultan Abdul Samad Building at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 3°08′55″N 101°41′40″E / 3.14861°N 101.69444°E / 3.14861; 101.69444