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Powerd By : NorthPony
Komtar Penang
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(acronym for Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak) is a multipurpose complex consisting of retail outlets, transportation hub and administrative offices for the Penang state government. The building was named after Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the second prime minister of Malaysia, who officiated in the piling of Phase 1 on 1 January 1974. At the time of its construction, Komtar is regarded as one of the cutting-edge buildings in Penang. It includes the 65-storey Komtar Tower, designed and constructed with local expertise, and a geodesic dome of Buckminster Fuller's design. When it reached its full height during construction, the Komtar Tower was briefly the tallest building in Asia, but by the time it was completed, the title has passed to the Korean Life Insurance Building (KLI 63 Building) in Seoul.

At the time of its completion (Komtar was never ever fully completed, only the first two phases were constructed; the remaining phases were either abandoned, postponed indefinitely or privatised), Komtar was the premier shopping destination on Penang Island, and home to all the upmarket retail outlets. It was the pride of Penang. Over the years, however, with increasing competition from newly opened shopping centres such as Gurney Plaza, Queensbay Mall, and Sunshine Square, Komtar lost much of its luster.

The list of negative issues resulting from Komtar is indeed a long one. To make way for Komtar, whole streets and neighbourhoods were erased without much regard to its consequence. This wholesale displacement of the population from the city core results in a dead town around Komtar. This includes Gladstone Road and the original Cheong Fatt Tze Road (Hong Kong Street was renamed Cheong Fatt Tze Road thereafter). The transfer of the bus and taxi terminal into Komtar and the lack of space for buses and taxis contributed further to traffic congestion and pollution.

The economy slowdown of the late 90's exerted a heavy toll on Komtar. Both its anchor tenants, Yaohan and Super Komtar departmental stores, succumbed to financial difficulties, subsequently closing down. Without a good anchor tenant, Komtar is incapable of holding on to the title of premier shopping destination. A poor track record of maintaining the building further compounds the problems, resulting in a run-down, smelly, garbage-strewn structure with many dark, deserted nooks. This makes the whole complex all the more unattractive to potential tenants. In a way, all the problems caused by and resulting from Komtar is a shameful reflection of the aimless way that Penang is being governed - indeed the state of Komtar can be compared to the general state of abandoned shophouses around George Town.


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