Open park but relocate Selangor club, say ex-mayors

A vehicle exits the iconic clubhouse at Jalan Tun Razak. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
A vehicle exits the iconic clubhouse at Jalan Tun Razak. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 — A proposal to turn the iconic Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC) into a recreation park drew mixed reactions from two former mayors and a historian.

Tan Sri Elyas Omar, the city’s third mayor, said he kept an open mind over the idea.

“RSGC is an old golf club that has been given royal status. So, it’s tricky to change it to a park as the club has been part of the city’s history,” he said.

“But I am open to the idea (of a recreational park) as long as the club is relocated.”

He suggested any conversion plans should emulate the Perdana Botanical Lake Gardens, which had a private clubhouse.

“You don’t need to demolish the buildings. Let them stand as part of our heritage. The 18-hole (golf course) can be retained while the rest can be open to public.”

He added that members would benefit if the 18-hole course was retained, with another new 36-hole course for the club located elsewhere.

“Playing 54-holes at more than one location can truly be beneficial to the members,” said Elyas who had been a member of the club since 1978.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan had on Monday announced plans to turn the club into a recreational park. Abdul Rahman said while he understood the history of the club, there were no golf courses in city centres in most developed countries, with the site more suitable for a park, such as Central Park in New York.

Another former mayor, Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail, a nature lover, called it a good move.

“Kuala Lumpur will then be comparable to larger cities like New York (Central Park) and London (Hyde Park),” he said.

“If the government can relocate the club, the people will be thankful as they have a new park in town.”

He said a public park in central Kuala Lumpur would benefit more people.

“The park in Kiara is actively used by people, mostly from Taman Tun Dr Ismail or Petaling Jaya. If RSGC is turned into an open space, it will cater to those from Ampang, Cheras and Kuala Lumpur as it is more accessible.”

He said the biggest challenge would be the sorting out of the land ownership.

“The authorities will need to find a way to compensate the members and relocate the club. They will also need to look into the legalities, especially over land ownership matters.

“The need of one million people in KL is more important than that of a few thousand club members,” he added.

However, historian Prof Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim said the government should not disrupt the operations of the club.

“The government should focus on making existing open spaces and fields more active instead of introducing another public park,” he said.

“It’s not as though we don’t have enough spaces. If the idea is for Malaysians to mix around, then we should be focusing on sporting activities instead.”

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