Putrajaya, in Sanskrit, means “victorious prince” and is the name of Malaysia’s seat of government. Located around 30 minutes by car south of Kuala Lumpur, this very well planned city banners late-20th century architecture. It was conceived by the country’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who named it after their very first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra.
The overcrowding and the traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur sparked the idea of relocating to Putrajaya all the government offices in the country. The new city was opened in 1999.
Dominating its skyline is the Perdana Putra, or the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Seri Perdana, his official residence. Nearby is the Seri Satria, or the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Standing out among the many other government offices in the city are the massive modern architecture of the Ministry of Finance, the Palace of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the futuristic design of the humongous Putrajaya International Convention Center.
The move of these government offices to Putrajaya does not take away the fact that Kuala Lumpur is and will still be the capital city of Malaysia, because it is where the King resides, and where the parliament, the foreign embassies, and the country’s financial center are.
I actually have not heard of this modern city before this trip but, when my son and I asked our tour guide what else there was to see in Kuala Lumpur, he immediately suggested that we take a look at Putrajaya and insisted that it is a “must-visit” attraction. Sure enough, we were awed by the city’s contemporary architecture, even while we were still crossing the bridge to the city. In fact, the bridge itself has an ultra-modern look.
Driving into the city, we immediately headed to its piece de resistance, the Perdana Putra which sits on a hill, lording over the entire place. Its emerald green dome highlights the eclectic mix of Muslim, Malaysian, and European influence in its architecture. From its massive gates starts the city’s main boulevard that stretches straight down the length of the city for approximately two kilometers.
At the other end of this main boulevard is the beautiful Putrajaya International Convention Center which also sits on top of a hill and has a strikingly distinctive design. Inaugurated in 2004, the structure looks like a round Malay royal belt buckle and, to avoid the monotony of a flat rounded ceiling, the roof is shaped like a folded origami.
The center’s Plenary Hall can accommodate 3,000 conference delegates, and the Banquet Hall right next to it can also take in the same number of people at any given time. Among its many avant-garde facilities are individual rooms for a total of 13 different language interpreters.
Our last stop was the Putra Mosque which can easily be identified from afar because of its single minaret and its pink dome, which is actually made of rose-tinted granite. This structure is large enough to accommodate 15,000 worshippers at any given time.
Since each person who enters the prayer hall is required to put on a red robe and hood, to be borrowed from the management’s office, my son and I decided not to go in and just take photos from across the garden separating the hall and the main entrance.
As we left the city, I felt a little envious of our Malaysian neighbors. They have already hurdled the challenges of the past and the present, and are now ready for the future. I am not going to compare ourselves to them and rant on why the crooked ways of our past continue to keep us in shackles. I’d rather praise and wish well our Malaysian brothers for leading the way to the future, as I express my fervent hope that we finally will move forward by having faith in our leader, and make the future very much a part of our present.
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