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  • Writer's pictureyzhensiang

Komtar in Penang

"A collective photography series project showcasting Penang's very own iconic landmark, Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (KOMTAR) across the streets and landscapes of Penang."

When speaking about Penang, we have always talked about its mouth watering delicious food, the experience of crossing the Penang Bridge while overseeing the magnificent view of the heavenly island, a world renowned UNESCO heritage town full of colonial buildings and cultural activities. Our Penang pride list goes on and on claiming to be the best and being better than others. However, the list ends when it comes to this building, KOMTAR. This 232m, 68 storey tall building has been there since 1986 standing against time, while being the tallest building in Penang, it did not manage to capture the pride of fellow Penangnites.

KOMTAR named after the second prime minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak was a masterplan project leaded by Ar Lim Chong Keat was initially envisioned to be crowned as a ‘New Urban Centre’ and aimed to changed the face of the city discarding the colonial heritage image to become an icon that reflects the multi-ethnic culture identity of Malaysia. However, due to a series of misfortunes since its completion, it failed to obtained the success that it was initially aiming for.

Today, the building itself is colonised mostly by our city's migrant workers and the memories of it slowly faded and forgotten by our locals. Despite suffering such negative image, KOMTAR faces it with its stubbornness and remains standing and recognisable from afar. While some may say it is an eyesore after failing at what it should achieve, I personally think it secretly adds to the lives of all Penangnites in the background. Hence, this has become one of the anchor highlight of this photography project.

This project consist of a collective series of selected photographs from half decade of documentary (year 2016 to year 2021) has proven KOMTAR to be timeless and will remain standing silently in the back of our lifes despite its negative perception. Though the series is far from completion and might not even be complete as time continues to evolves the streets and landscapes around it, I personally feel that this series have achieve its potential by showing its transition throughout the period of these years when Penang still retains its true cultural value. Hopefully one day, I will be able to experience the period where it will regains its glory and shine among the people of Penang and Malaysia.


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