A feng shui tour of the Klang Valley #27

Dataran Merdeka has been a focal point for many events in Malaysia. This was the historic site where the Union Jack flag was lowered and the Malayan flag first hoisted at midnight on August 31, 1957, our Independence Day.
For many years since then, it was the venue for our National Day Parade on Merdeka Day, until Putrajaya was built and the annual celebrations were moved there.

This was originally the cricket green and rugby field belonging to the Selangor Club, now called Royal Selangor Club. The distinctive Tudor-style building was built back in 1890! The club itself was founded in 1884 for educated and high-ranking members of British colonial society.

The field was reclaimed by Kuala Lumpur City Hall in 1987 and developed into an underground shopping mall-cum-car park, with a new field laid on top of it. Plaza Putra, as it is called, is also the site from which a 100-metre high flagpole rises.
Dataran Merdeka is also known for the distinctive and iconic Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad. The building was designed by British government architect, A.C. Norman, and constructed during Sultan Abdul Samad’s reign in Selangor. Norman was inspired by the Moorish designs he saw while he was in Africa and India. Completed in 1897, it housed several important government departments during the colonial period.

After Independence, the building became the site for the Federal Court and Court of Appeals. Both courts have since been relocated to Putrajaya. In fact, all courts have been moved to either Putrajaya or the Kuala Lumpur Courts complex in Jalan Duta.

The building’s clock tower – our version of Big Ben – was used for the countdown to usher in every New Year and significantly, on January 1, 1982 the time between Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak was standardised. Singapore had no choice but to follow suit.

Dataran Merdeka attracts a large number of tourists each day. Before the advent of Astro, sports fans would congregate here to watch game telecasts. The masses gathered at this square for candlelight vigils when the United States attacked Iraq and Afghanistan.

On a less-than-positive note, protest rallies also seemed to gravitate to this area, such as the protests during Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking, arrest and trial and up to recently the Bersih protest rally.

In any case, Dataran Merdeka seems to be a magnet for people, not just tourists who love the photo opportunity. This historic venue is located between the hills of Lake Gardens and the Gombak River. In fact, just behind the courts, there is the famous muddy confluence that gives Kuala Lumpur its name.

Dataran Merdeka happens to be located in an embracing concave of the Gombak River as it bends twice before joining Klang River. This is where gentle homogenous energy collects and attracts people. Further north, where St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral is located, sits at the convex of the river.

Properties located in the concave side ought to do well, provided their orientation is correct. This would be eastward to face the river or southward to follow the river flow. Those facing westward away from the river would struggle in business while north-facing buildings that go against the river flow would find its occupants experiencing mental problems.

Jalan Raja used to encircle Dataran Merdeka and the Royal Selangor Club. However, part of the road is now sealed off and turned into a pedestrian walkway.

The National History Museum has a less-than-ideal orientation. Its entrance faces north or upstream. Just as fishing traps should not face upstream because they end up collecting rubbish and debris flowing downstream, buildings should not face upstream. The human equivalent would be that of mental disturbance, unrest or a prevalence of idiots.
This museum is not very much visited or promoted despite its proximity to Dataran Merdeka. It may interest you to note that the museum boasts of having the original table on which the Merdeka documents during the Declaration of Independence. It is interesting because it so happens that the Independence Memorial in Jalan Parameswara, Melaka makes exactly the same claim with its identical table and unless I’m mistaken, so does the Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial in Kuala Lumpur.

As mentioned earlier, Plaza Putra is an underground shopping complex-cum-car park. It has two entrances that face west and south. The south entrance is quite good as it follows the river flow. However, the west entrance is not as conducive because it faces the hills and puts the building’s rear to the river.

Overall, I must say that I am not in favour of underground buildings. Hollow spaces in the ground disrupt the flow of earth energy. Energy simply is blocked when it encounters the blank space. In ancient times, nobody built any buildings underground. Make no mistake, complex structures were created underground, but they were intended for the dead.
A prime example is the tomb of the first Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi who died in 210 BC. He was buried with 8,099 terracotta figures of warriors and horses in a huge underground mausoleum near Xi’an.

Despite Plaza Putra’s uniqueness, Dataran Merdeka’s popularity with tourists and proximity to the business district, I fear it is not likely to do well. Some years ago, the entire underground car park and complex was filled with water when the river overflowed its banks.
The Royal Selangor Club, which used the Dataran Merdeka’s field for cricket, was and still is a very exclusive club. This old Tudor-style building has two entrances but neither of them is ideal. One faces west (back to the river and facing high land) and the other north (against the river flow). There is also a third entrance that opens into the field, which is a more ideal orientation for the club but the entrance is not used often.

Next to the club is St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral. Its entrance faces south which follows the flow of the river. Houses of worship are in the “God business” and have no need for good feng shui. After all, God is almighty and all creation follows his will. Which is just as well, since the church is also located on the outer convex of the river.

Let us take a little detour across Jalan Kinabalu, where we find Bank Negara. The entire central bank complex runs parallel to the Gombak River. The main entrance faces south and follows the flow of the river. This is a good configuration. However, this door is always kept locked and hardly ever used!

What keeps the central bank – and the nation’s fiscal health – going? The internal entrance from the car park into the building, I believe, also happens to face south. If it faced north, I would fear for our nation’s monetary future. An entrance that runs against the river flow would create mental problems and stupid decisions.

Nearby, we find Bank Rakyat, which despite its name, is not quite living up to its potential. It is interesting to note that its entrance used to be at the back, facing the hill, into Jalan Tangsi. This made sense from the town planner’s perspective. It provides easy access to the car park, the Official Assignee’s office, Wisma Ekran, Galeri Tangsi and Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM). However, from a geomancy perspective, it is not good since it faces hill and has Gombak River at its back.
Bank Rakyat was recently renovated and now has an entrance that faces the river. For whatever reason, this may mitigate matters. However, the entire Jalan Tangsi area sits at the outer convex of the river.

Earth energy does not accumulate on the convex side of rivers. As energy reaches the riverbank, it is stopped by the river and deflected in an outward dispersal pattern. Energy only pools in an embracing concave. This phenomenon can be observed in major cities the world over. Without exception, the embracing side of the river always prospers more than the outer convex side.

Thus, properties in this vicinity may not benefit much even if they face the river or have their backs to higher ground. There is also the elevated highway, Jalan Kinabalu, to contend with. Not only is it now “higher ground”, but fast moving traffic create strong winds that disperse energy.

The Sultan Abdul Samad building is located just beside the Gombak River on the embracing concave side. This is a very conducive location and probably explains its durability. Entrances that face the river (eastward) or follow the flow (southward) are good. When it was used as the courts, this was the case. The rear entrance, facing Jalan Mahkamah Persekutuan, became the main entrance for judges, lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants, leaving the “front” unobstructed for the tourists.

Based on the courts’ function where arguments abound, it may even be alright for the feng shui to be “not right” or discordant. After all, disputes and arguments are part and parcel of the litigation process.

In the buildings where the Sessions, Magistrate and High courts used to be located, at the intersection of Jalan Raja and Jalan Tun Perak, the feng shui is ripe for that. Their entrances either face away from or face upstream to both Gombak and Klang rivers. This area is in the confluence of rivers and buildings should ideally face south. The other alternatives are southwest and southeast.

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