Parliament House Renovation Ahead of Schedule

April 1998

New Straits Times (Malaysia)

KUALA LUMPUR, Sun - Basic removation work at Parliament House, which started in December last year, is ahead of schedule and contractors are carrying out additional works.

The additional renovation includes resurfacing the tarmac parade ground with tiles, converting several offices on the second floor to a targe dining hall and building additional offices.

Most of the renovation contracted to be finished by late November has been completed, said superintending architect Puteh Kamariah Mohammed.

On-going work also includes improving the pond and fountains in the compound and upgrading the office of the Opposition Leader.

At the moment it is very difficult to maintain the pond. It takes three days to drain it and three days to refill.

"By filling the sides and base of the pond, adding a water treatment plant and improving the fountain system, the pond will look better and maintenance will be much easier," said Puan Puteh.

Likewise, there will be major changes to the Opposition Leader's room. It will be repartitioned, recarpeted and will have new furniture and attached washroom.

Other changes that have been completed are the extension of the canteen, installation of the flushometer toilet system, installation of audio video cables (at the request of RTM) and a plugin telephone system.

Puan Puteh said the initial estimate of $17 million had been increased by more than $6 million because of "unforeseen expenditure" to repair faults that were undetected earlier.

"For example, when we opened up the ceilings, we found certain areas infested with termites," she said.

Most of renovation contracted to be finished by late November has been completed and the contractors are now working on a "variation order" additional renovation not stipulated in the contract.

Puan Puteh said extra money had also to be spent on a more stringent fire protection system as a result of the recent fire at Wisma Keramat.

She said more than 30 toilets in the tower block had to be relocated to make way for a fire escape route.

Renovation work in the Dewan Rakyat chamber had been completed with improved lighting and acoustics.

The 160 seats have been reduced in size to accommodate 177 MPs following the redelineation of electoral boundaries.

The major problems encountered in the renovation were, Puan Puteh said, time and money.

"We have to work with a tight schedule. Every time something unexpected crops up, for example when we discovered the termites and corroded pipes, we have to work harder to repair the damage and keep the deadline."

"Another setback in there aren't any 'as-built drawings' which are necessary to visualise the structure of the building and its system."

As a result, she said the Public Works Department and the contractors had to work closely on site.

(The PWD team involved includes mechanical, civil and structural engineers, quantity surveyors and resident architect Zuraina Leily Awalludin).

Puan Puteh added that there was a lot of probing work involved in locating the route of the plumbing and sewerage systems without the help of the "as-build drawings."

The last bit of renovation work that may drag on to next year is reflooring the first two floors of the main block.

Puan Puteh said the marble flooring would have to be done phase by phase to accommodate the parliament sittings.

"Throughout the renovation work, we try to retain as much as possible the original architecture of Parliament House," said Puan Puteh.