Pudu Prison – A Heritage We Won’t Have

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The amazing thing how news travel through the internet when the Government announce that the Wall of the Pudu Prison (more fondly known among the locals as the Pudu Jail) will be torn down, and this activity will be followed by the complete destruction of the Prison to make way for residential and commercial buildings has created a ‘feeding frenzy’ of sort as everyone suddenly realized that they have an iconic structure (even though it’s historical for the wrong reason) that they suddenly want to keep.

Well, sad to say, even though Although the Pudu Prison is more than 100 years old, it would not be turned into a heritage site, so say our Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin. “The government’s view is that the Pudu Prison is not something to be proud of and it is not suitable to be turned into a heritage site despite its age,” he said “the government would proceed with the development that had been decided on.” But my dear Datuk, shouldn’t the status of the heritage site be decided by the proper authority like the UNESCO instead of a bunch of old people sitting in an air-conditioned office seeing which company would offer them more money for this prime piece of land?

The Pudu Prison, formerly known as Pudu Gaol, is located in Jalan Hang Tuah and was built in stages from 1891 on a 10-hectare site. It was completed in 1895. In it’s ‘glory years’, it was the place where Malaysia’s very own most notorious and most wanted calls home. The Pudu Prison was officially closed in 1996 when the construction of the new prison in Sungai Buloh was completed.

The Pudu Prison wall, stretching about 300 metres, will be demolished at 10pm Monday to enable the widening of the road and the construction of Jalan Pudu underground passage beginning June 20 until 23. UDA Holdings Berhad (UDA), the company that’ll make billions of ringgit out of the site of the former prison will develop and determine how the commercial lots were to be distributed, the development was divided into six plots where construction works would be carried out in stages within a 10-year period. UDA will build a mixed development project which will accommodate a transit centre, service apartments, offices, recreation centres, a hotel and business space.

A quick walk through to give those of you who didn’t get a chance to go into the jail area an idea of what Prisoners and Prison Warden see.

The above picture is the entrance after visitors, prisoners and officers step into past the main gate. For the prisoners, this is the sight they’ll see for the rest of their sentence, for some, even until the time they die.

Costing RM16,000 to build back in 1895, the design of the prison cells was made to maximize the space giving the prisoners a sense that they have no where to escape but to just ‘enjoy’ the rest of their time there.

For the more hardcore prisoners, the two photos above is the very sight they can only see, with not much lights coming in through their windows and the place being enclosed and away from the other prisoners. It must have been a very quiet and slow time in which they sit and reflect on the crime they have committed.

Part of the Prison structures has already been demolished, the very building where all the death row prisoners was housed has long since been demolished, part of block D’s structures was also destroyed as they make way for development.

This wall which faces Jalan Pudu will be the first to go as it’s space will be given to road widening. A shorter wall was build in it’s place a few meters in which will still provide some form of safety to discourage the public from stepping into the prison compound. Below is a short video of what I see when I went into the Prison compound hours before UDA demolish the walls.

I wanted to spend more time in there to capture more images and videos but the officer I went there with was feeling uneasy with the place and want to leave the place as fast as our legs could take us. Nevertheless, it was a good opportunity, one I’ve no regret taking. Hopefully, my kids as they grow up and stumbled upon this site, would understand what it took for our nation’s founders to mold and build our country to the way it currently is. Prison might be a bad thing, but only if you’ve done something wrong. It’s significant as Kuala Lumpur practically grew and was build around this place (among the few other historical sites across the city).

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