A feng shui tour of the Klang Valley #32

Jalan Sultan Hisamuddin is a very historic road in Malaysia. Along this road sit Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad and Dataran Merdeka. Prior to the Merdeka celebrations being moved to Putrajaya, this was the main street along which the annual parades and float shows were held. Dataran Merdeka itself would be a huge canvas on which hundreds of people would march or make complex formations.

The road was formerly known as Victory Avenue, which was very appropriate for its Merdeka Day function. It was renamed Selangor’s Sultan Sir Hisamuddin Alam Shah in 1960.

Sultan Hisamuddin figured prominently in the Malay nationalist struggle. During the Japanese Occupation, he was forced to relinquish his throne when he refused to work with the Japanese. After the war, he was reinstated by the British.

Although he was persuaded to sign the Malayan Union treaty, he later repudiated it and threw his support behind Malay nationalists fighting to overthrow the plan. In March 1946, he even officiated the first Malay Unity Congress at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kampung Baru. This meeting spawned the formation of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

At Independence, he was elected deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Subsequently, the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Rahman died on April 1, 1960 and he took over the throne from April 14.

Sultan Hisamuddin’s official installation was fixed on September 1 that year. However, he passed away from a mysterious illness on that very day. Then Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman remarked that the Sultan was struck down by illness for using the royal regalia prior to his installation. Somehow, he must have forgotten that the Sultan was then 62 years of age!

Since we already covered Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad and Dataran Merdeka in detail previously, we shall not touch on this. Moving south, we come to a major landmark in this part of the city, the Dayabumi complex.

It has a most unique architecture, infused with a modern Islamic style. This design blends very well with Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad, the old Railway Station and Masjid Negara nearby. It comprises a 35-storey main tower, the General Post Office and a shopping complex, all on a site previously used by Keretapi Tanah Melayu for its depots and workshops.

The Urban Development Authority (UDA) owns Dayabumi. Work on the complex started in 1982 and was completed at an astounding 26 months later. It represented one of fruits of Malaysia’s Look East policy under the leadership of former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Takenaka Corporation was engaged to construct the complex and in so doing, transfer knowledge and technology to local builders.

During its construction, there was trepidation regarding the fate of Central Market. Luckily, the market survived and eventually became another landmark in the city. We discussed Central Market in a previous article, so we will not dwell on it any further.

From a landform point of view, Dayabumi could do better. It is always tricky to construct buildings so close to the river. As described often in our tour, energy from the mountains flows downhill along the surface of the land. This energy is stopped and deflected by bodies of water, such as the sea, rivers or lakes.

If the river is curved, the embracing concave side tends to accumulate the deflected energy into a gentle homogenous pool. On the other side, the convex, energy is deflected in a dispersal pattern and gets no chance to collect.

This phenomenon can be observed throughout the world in every city. All the great cities of the world are located alongside rivers, because rivers provide water and can be used for transportation. Over time, we can observe that growth is not necessarily evenly distributed. The concave side typically prospers while the convex normally does not.

In Dayabumi’s case, there is a main entrance which faces Jalan Sultan Hisamuddin. On the back, there is the Klang River. That means the building has its back to the river. This is not a very ideal orientation.
To cater to pedestrians from across the river, there is also a small entrance located near the rear, following the flow of the river. This is a small mitigating factor. To compound matters more, the building is located at the convex side of the river.

So, it is very possible that the building or its occupants may not be having a good time here. Success will be elusive and difficult. Even if one can beat the odds and do well, the success enjoyed will be temporary, or worse, the wealth accumulated does not last beyond the first generation.

Despite the presence of banks at the shopping mall here, the existence of Central Market, not to mention the office spaces in the tower, Dayabumi complex seems extremely quiet. The tower houses (or used to house) Petronas Dagang, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Primary Industries and the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation.

The General Post Office headquarters is connected to Dayabumi. It fares better from a feng shui perspective as the entrance follows the river’s direction. Despite the advent of the Internet, instant messaging and SMS, the General Post Office seems to be holding his ground. It has expanded its service offerings to a multitude of work: posting mail, bill payment, road tax renewal and what you.

This may be explained from the landform point of view. The post office is located where the Klang River turns into an embrace. Its entrance follows the river flow, which is another plus factor in its favour.

Near this location is Masjid Negara, another majestic and iconic landmark of Kuala Lumpur. The mosque is located in quite a good location from the landform perspective – it faces the river and downstream.

Actually, it will do well regardless. Places of worship gain special exemption in terms of feng shui simply because God does not need feng shui – the Almighty created everything and all creation abides by His rules, not the other way round. Humans, on the other hand, need to understand the forces at work in God’s creation and strive to live in a harmonious environment.

Behind the mosque is the Lake Gardens or Tasik Perdana area. There are several museums in this location, including a memorial set up for our late second Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak. This is located up on a hill and used to be his official residence. The building has a quiet elegance to it. From a landform perspective, it is not very good: its rear slopes downhill and the entrance is on the outer convex of the road.

The official residence of our first premier, Tunku Abdul Rahman, is slightly better. It is also located on a hill behind Bank Negara on Jalan Dato Onn, near the former Prime Minister’s department. The old colonial building faces downhill and is near the office. In this regard, it is good but it is normally not ideal to live on hill slopes as the energy tends to move rapidly and cannot gather.

Could these factors be contributory to our past premiers’ fortunes? Tunku Abdul Rahman was forced to resign in 1970 after 13 years in power when the Alliance coalition suffered a drop in popularity in the general election then. Tun Abdul Razak’s rule ended prematurely in 1976 when he succumbed to leukemia while seeking treatment in London.
His successor, Tun Hussein Onn, who took over the official residence, only stayed in power for five years, from 1976 to 1981, reportedly due to health reasons.

Our fourth prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, did not take up the residence. Instead, he converted the old complex into a memorial to Tun Abdul Razak and moved in to a new home nearby. The new Seri Perdana probably has excellent feng shui for he stayed in power for 22 years.

It is interesting to note that with the completion of Putrajaya and subsequent relocation of Seri Perdana to the new administrative capital, Tun Dr Mahathir’s career ended not long after, with his retirement.

Now, his successor, our present Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, seems to be weathering some difficult times. Barisan Nasional suffered its worst ever performance in the 12th general election.

Could this change in fortunes for all our premiers, past and future, be due to the landform of their official residences? Or is it just a coincidence? Time will tell, and we leave you to decide.

It would be interesting to do a feng shui tour of Putrajaya. Technically, it is not in the Klang Valley and thus, it does not enjoy the superb embracing mountains landform that Kuala Lumpur does.

Back to our tour, let us look at the railway station. This colonial building with its famous Moorish architecture has stood the test of time. On its own, it has very poor feng shui because of a few factors: its back is to the Klang River; and trains are constantly travelling through it!

Then why does KTM continue to survive all these years? First, it is of strategic and economic importance, and therefore cannot be allowed to close down. Second, the management of KTM has been working on improving its performance with the introduction of services such as KTM Komuter. Third, and possibly the most important, the actual headquarters of KTM is not within the train station. It is located across Jalan Sultan Hisamuddin.

Here, the headquarters has optimal landform. Its back is a hill and it faces the river. I believe, with proper maintenance and management, KTM will prosper tremendously, thanks to this orientation. Without such maintenance, things can still go awry.

Take, for example, the property next door: the former Majestic Hotel. This building was once a posh, premier hotel. It had all the right landform to succeed. It has a high back, a low front and faces the river. The driveway forms an embrace surrounding a holding area.

The hotel went out of business many years ago. At one point, it was converted into an art gallery. Today, it has fallen into a dilapidated state, and coupled with overgrowth of the weeds and shrubs, even lead people to think that perhaps it is haunted.

Actually, according to the principles of feng shui, each building goes through time cycles, just like the 60-year cycle of the Chinese almanac. Based on its orientation and in relation to the owner, a building may go through six- and nine-year periods of good and lean times. During this period, the inherent energy of a building will also gradually drain away.

A good feng shui master would recognise this and reinfuse energy into a building. It is like an overhaul that adds years of life to an old automobile. The Majestic Hotel could have survived to the present day and possibly even be turned into an upmarket boutique hotel.

There could be a demand for something nostalgic that harkens back to the romanticised era of Victorian times. After all, the exclusive and luxurious Eastern and Oriental Express running between Singapore and Bangkok, is very popular among foreign tourists.

Tourists can even begin their journey from Kuala Lumpur and head to Bangkok over three days and two nights, with tours of the infamous River Kwai thrown in. Here are people who are savvy enough to embrace history and turn it into a money-making enterprise. Fares, on a twin-sharing basis, start from US$1740!

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