Are Tower 106 or Tower 118 going to be safe?
No one likes to imagine the unimaginable. Yet the unimaginable can, and does, happen. Be they the horrific attacks of September 11, or, the sinking of the Titanic, each man made disaster brought the world to rue.
The modern marvels of engineering, it seems, was neither a match to the evil designs of the human hearts went astray, nor the arrogance of the British ship designer’s claim that the latter was “unsinkable”. Skycrappers or gigantic ocean liners they do become human disasters. Yet the footnotes of history are replete with more than these two incidents.
In Malaysia alone, the “smart tunnel,” in Kuala Lumpur, look dumb when huge droplets of seasonal rain begins to pour, hitting the over paved cements above, and well beyond the reach, of the massive hole that had been bored under, leading to the occasional flash floods. While they don’t necessarily lead to losses of lives and limbs (as yet) they destroy the value of cargoes and cars alike.
Somehow, accidents do happen, irrespective of the existence or non existence of the Murphy’s law. In Murphy’s law, when things are bound to get bad, they will become worse and worse anyway. But human ingenuity, as always, likes to assume that the scientific spirit of progress—-alone—can prevent what economists called “negative externalities”.
Thus, climate change, theoretically, can be off-set by the Paris Climate Change Accord. Yet, even if the global climate can be reduced by 2 degree Celcius, as the Accord insists the world must do, the green house effects have already taken hold in the polar caps, melting the ice caps in North and South (poles), and diluting the salinity of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, creating stronger and swifter currents, that will allow the waters under the sea to churn with ever greater intensity and force.
The results are stronger, and potentially, sporadic, typhoons and hurricanes, that can reach up to 251 KM per hour; as was the case with typhoon Mangkut that hit the Philippines before making their way to Hong Kong and the southern part of China last month.
Since Tower 106 in Tun Razak Exchange Square, was built at the speed of “one floor every three days,” one has got to wonder if it is safe from potential fire ? As things are, the geomancy or “Feng Shui,” of the tower already looks like a huge (as yet unburned) charcoal planted right in the midst of Kuala Lumpur.
Are buildings meant to be built with such speed? No one knows. Only the engineering prowess of China can be tested through the course of time.
Not far away, the Tower 118 of PBN, near the old Stadium of Merdeka, appears to be jutting up with manic speed. Not unlike Tower 106, it too bears all the hallmark of a questionable “geomancy,” where it looks increasingly like a (vertical) josstick pointed upward.
Can it withstand the risk of fire if one of the floors were to short-circuit?
These are questions that former Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor, probably, never asked. Even if they did, the electoral upset of May 9, have taken that right and responsibility of enquiry right from their very hands.
Yet, given the monumental cost that can literally involve human lives, especially when the Fire Department of Shah Alam valiantly tried, but failed, to retrieve the body of a boy in a dis-used tin mine just recently, one has to wonder if future firemen shudder—-quietly—-at the thought of having to rush to the top of Tower 106 or Tower 118 to perform their acts of courage?
The builders of these towers would of course come back with the retort that all the floors are “fire proof” since each level would have their own systems of water sprinkle. But then all systems can, and do, fail.
It is the human vigilance and constant exercises that can keep such unwanted accidents at bay. In the case of Tower 106 and Tower 118, they are built to function like two Turbo-charged engines of Malaysian economy. They are suppose to purr non stop.
They are not meant to disrupt regular economic activities with constant (fire drills). Granted the premise on which they are built, the question that beckons the answer is: how safe are they when they are built, and completed, with such speed, if not stealth?
The issue of stealth is vital; especially Tower 106 in Tun Razak Exchange Square. When engineering work began building it upright barely a year ago, it was started with the temerity and timing to defy the will of the 14th General Election on May 9.
The taller it became, the more inches it was meant to gain over the Twin Towers in KLCC; something akin to a freakish show of one upmanship against the original baby of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad barely two kilometers away.
Up it went, one floor every three days, as its Chinese designer boasted, as if structural fears of towering engineering was Formula 1 set skyward.
Perhaps Tower 106 and Tower 118 are infallible gems of human engineering excellence. They are not meant to fall nor fail. Perhaps. But these are buildings “Made With Foreign Labors,” whose only incentive, probably, was to complete them within minimal specifications, to achieve maximum yield?
If such was the mindset, then Tower 106 and/or Tower 118, eventually do need a serious inspection, from the tiniest wire to the biggest nozzle that formed their fire prevention systems.
Come what may, it does not hurt anyone to be paranoid. It was Intel’s CEO Alex Grove who once said that “only the paranoid survives”. Now that the buildings are going ever higher each day, the Day of Reckoning is not their completion but their quarterly compliance to safety standards.
If the PKR Election, as Madam Zuraidah Kamaruddin, who is the Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, has claimed is potentially “faulty,” what more can one say about such massive buildings, whose complexities do indeed exceed the mere exercise of casting a ballot either by hand, or, the tap of a finger?
In all human endeavors, the safest route to excellence, as futurist Alvin and Heidi Toffler once said, “is to learn, unlearn, and relearn.” In building Tower 106 and Tower 118 with such verve, almost verging on a voracious appetite to prove everyone wrong, where is the humility to be humble in the first place, unless it is first humbled ?
Think, un-think, and rethink the unthinkable now——or never. If it is the latter, then Malaysians are looking at one fine day, when the splendor of Najib and Rosmah, can seem spent. Hubris, arrogance and vanity have been the deadliest of sins.
If anyone is offended by this article, to ponder on the imponderable, Tower 106 and Tower 118 have lost their utmost humanity even before any souls have walked their rarefied corridors one day.