KUALA LUMPUR: With just a few strikes from an excavator, parts of the iconic Pudu Prison wall came crashing down last night, marking the beginning of a new era for the historical area.
Even before the clock struck 10pm, people were crowding Jalan Pudu to witness the tearing down of part of the 394m prison wall.
Cameras were flashing the moment an excavator started demolition of the wall from inside the prison area at about 10.20pm.
Curious onlookers also hurried to pick up fallen bricks to take home as souvenirs.
The wall was full of mold, algae and weeds, indicating its old age.
According to a City Hall worker, two excavators would be used during the four-day demolition that will end on Thursday.
“A total of 25 workers will be involved in this project. We have put up plastic barriers along the demolition site and Jalan Pudu will be closed from 10pm until 5am during this period,” he said last night before the demolition work started.
“Cleaning up of the debris will be done in the morning at about 8am.”
Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun was spotted among the crowd.
“I regret to see one of the oldest landmarks in Kuala Lumpur being destroyed. However, I will speak to the Government regarding the preservation of the wall facing Jalan Hang Tuah,” he said.
He said the architecture of Pudu Prison reflected the work of builders during the English colonial times.
An ex-prisoner Suharto Abdul Wahab said he went last night “to make sure the wall came down.”
“It is a pity that the building is going down because of its historical value. But I don’t have any sentimental memories,” said Suharto, who served time in the 1980s for drug possession.
“During that time, each cell could fit about eight or nine people. We were packed like sardines.”
Long-time resident of the Pudu area, Yong Kong Kin, 61, came with his son to witness the demolition.
“Although it is sad that the building is being demolished, it is necessary for the historical building to go because the ‘new’ society needs to make way for development,” he said.