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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — The prime minister today launched an urban rainforest park at a whopping cost of RM650 million, hoping it would be as iconic a symbol for Kuala Lumpur as London and New York’s sprawling public parks.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the government aspires to turn Kuala Lumpur into more than a centre of economic progress and into a “liveable” city that is “world-class”, noting that the residents of such cities would typically demand for a recreation area and a green lung.
“That’s why London’s Hyde Park is [synonymous] with London; Central Park is [synonymous] with New York; so I want one day Taman Tugu to be synonymous with Kuala Lumpur bearing the status of a global city,” he said in a speech, prior to launching the project now called Taman Tugu.
“So this is a project that is the country’s pride, this is a national project, this is a project that will bring Malaysia to the level of a developed country when the time comes,” he later added, having noted the target for the park’s completion in mid-2018.
While he said the project’s details and even its name was not “cast in stone yet” pending public feedback, Najib also envisioned the mini tropical forest — with an expected 6,000 trees spanning 66 acres of land in the heart of city — to be as close to a real forest as possible.
Khazanah Nasional managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar also thanked Putrajaya for allocating a tract of land with an estimated value of RM2.1 billion, adding that the state investment arm will be footing an estimated RM500 million out of the total project cost of RM650 million on a not-for-profit and corporate social responsibility basis.
Azman said the Taman Tugu project spearheaded by Khazanah Nasional will see the regeneration of about 1,000 trees in the existing forest area surrounding Tugu Negara or the National Monument, as well as the planting of 5,000 more trees.
“Taman Tugu will present various world-class facilities in several zones, especially revolving around the environment, recreation and learning including a rainforest information centre, camping site, canopy walks and zip lines, water play area, paths for jogging, pedestrians and bicycles, gazebos and sightseeing platforms and several food and beverages shops,” he said in a speech at the launch.
Calling the project a “public-private-civil society partnership”, Azman also acknowledged other development partners of the project, including the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society — who are expected to be consulted for the park’s conservation and replanting strategy.
The project, which will be fully completed by 2020, is slated to have safer and better connectivity for pedestrians that will link up the KL Sentral transport hub to Taman Tugu through walkways cutting through a nearby park and museum.
Khazanah said the park is to be placed under a public trust in perpetuity to ensure that future generations of Malaysians will be able to enjoy it.
The state investment arm hopes to collect public feedback through its official website www.tamantugu.com.my on matters such as the park’s name and activities to be offered within the park.