After recent closure, tenants dread return to Empire City

Malay Mail interviewed employees of WPP Malaysia after news first emerged of the closure and most said they want never to go back, asserting that conditions there were hazardous. — Pictures by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Malay Mail interviewed employees of WPP Malaysia after news first emerged of the closure and most said they want never to go back, asserting that conditions there were hazardous. — Pictures by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Workers of a firm based in Empire City in Damansara are uneasy about their eventual return to the building that is currently closed for remedial works and expressed concern about their continued welfare by remaining at the location.

Malay Mail interviewed employees of WPP (Wire and Plastic Products) Malaysia after news first emerged of the closure and most said they want never to go back, asserting that conditions there were hazardous.

“I wouldn’t recommend anyone coming here to work or finding an office space here,” Mishi Tabuaki told Malay Mail.

“The mall is abandoned, there’s debris and construction materials everywhere. I’ve seen puddles of stagnant water around the areas too, it’s like an Aedes infestation waiting to happen.”

On December 13, the Campaign India website published an article that said hundreds of WPP staff were forced to leave the location after power was disrupted on November 13 at Tower H and the adjacent blocks.

However, the news is simply the latest entry into the site’s catalogue of issues.

Empire City was once touted as the next major development in Kuala Lumpur by developers, Mammoth Empire Holding Sdn Bhd (MEH). It is a RM5 billion, 23-acre development project opposite PJ Trade Centre meant to comprise office towers, serviced residences, five-star hotels and a shopping mall with two million square feet of space.

In 2015, MEG threw a party featuring socialite Paris Hilton and K-Pop group 2AM in what was dubbed the “Party of The Century” at Empire City, amid plans then to open the venue in 2015.

The opening was delayed and, fast forward to today, the mall stands empty.

The interior of Empire City, a new 23-acre mixed-use complex in Damansara Perdana.
The interior of Empire City, a new 23-acre mixed-use complex in Damansara Perdana.

Apart from a sparse ice-rink, most of the shops are permanently closed while Tower H, which used to house 13 agencies under WPP (an advertising and PR company), is near-empty save for GrabTaxi Holdings (better known as Grab).

In the tower, the lifts work sporadically and, apart from sharing a car park space with residents, tenants complain of floods as well as mosquito and rat infestations.

During a visit to Empire City last month, Malay Mail did not spot anyone finishing works there and instead saw the building in various stages of construction.

One landlord who owns multiple units at Halo Sunday, Colonial and My Loft residences said the problems are long-standing and security guards have blocked access to one floor due ostensibly to prolonged ponding.

“I accidentally walked down there and saw the whole floor flooded. When I came up the guards saw me and began arguing with each other,” said Irene Wong Munusamy.

“They were supposed to stop anyone from going down and when they realised I had seen the devastation, they panicked.”

She expressed concerns about the structure’s integrity and was now worried about the building’s safety.

Wong said she made countless trips to the sales, management and developers offices to press them for remedial works, but said the employees would often scurry away when approached.

The owner highlighted the dangers posed by the regular flooding with the exposed wiring, saying these were electrocution hazards.

Another WPP employee likened the location to a scene from war zone.

“Honestly, I am much happier being housed at my current location. It feels good to be back in civilisation,” she added.

A representative of developer MEH told Malay Mail that it has taken note of complaints by WPP employees and its tenants, assuring them that steps have been taken to improve the situation in the building.

“We take cognisance of the situation that was encountered by WPP and we would like to assure you that safety has never been an issue and is not compromised under any circumstances.

“We have also been taking steps to upgrade and improve the building for the comfort of our tenants,’’ said the spokesman.

Puddles of stagnant water are seen at the new 23-acre mixed-use complex in Damansara Perdana.
Puddles of stagnant water are seen at the new 23-acre mixed-use complex in Damansara Perdana.

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