Malaysian palace to cost billions

2010-10-19 07:52

A massive new palace being built for Malaysia’s king is expected to be completed next June at a cost of almost R1.8 billion.

The Istana Negara, or national palace, is taking shape on a hilltop in a Kuala Lumpur suburb and is an enormous complex of dome-topped buildings linked to the city’s highways with special access roads.

The palace sprawls over a 100 000 square metre site which was annexed in the 1990s and has since become a prime residential area.

Works Minister Shaziman Abu Mansor said that the palace is expected to be completed on June 30 next year, at a total cost of 797 million ringgit (about R1.8 billion).

The figure has risen from an earlier allocation of 650 million ringgit, due to extra items including an upgraded security system, he said in a written reply issued yesterday to a query from the opposition.

Newspaper reports said the reply also specified that the project entailed construction of a highway flyover and an access road at a cost of an extra 138.5 million ringgit.

Malaysia’s opposition has criticised the government’s decision to award the development contract without a tender, and said the company which would handle the construction was controlled by a senior figure in the ruling party.

The Star daily said the government had explained that there was no open tender because the special project was subject to security considerations.

Malaysia has a unique rotating monarchy shared among nine sultans, who are the royal rulers and guardians of Islam in their respective states. They each take turns to rule for five years as the nation’s king.

The current king, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin from the northern state of Terengganu, was sworn in in 2006 at the age of 45, becoming Malaysia’s second-youngest monarch.

His current palace is a colonial mansion built in the 1920s which was originally the home of a self-made ethnic Chinese tycoon, and was later bought by the government.

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