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Tuesday August 21, 2007

200 former residents of Suleiman Court reminisce at gathering


THE feelings of nostalgia ran high as more than 200 former residents of Suleiman Court, the first high-rise building in Kuala Lumpur, where the Sogo Shopping Complex stands today, held a gathering at the PDRM golf course in Titiwangsa. 

It was a time to reminisce – to talk about the enjoyable experiences these former residents and their families had there in the past. 

Had it still stood, the building would be 50-years-old this year. 

Many of them who came for the gathering were bachelors when they moved into Suleiman Court.  

The three-blocks of high-rise low-cost residential flats with 295 units, known to KLites as the Mido flats because of the huge watch advertisement board on the rooftop of one of the blocks was the pride of the city then. 

Fond memories: Former residents looking at a photograph of Suleiman Court.
It was a landmark building initiated by the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman as he wanted to give affordable low-cost flats for the people within Kuala Lumpur. 

The Tunku wanted these flats to be completed as soon as possible and have residents move in before Independence Day in 1957. 

Former resident and Suleiman Court Residents pro-tem committee assistant chairman Karuna Netty said the Tunku had come personally to make sure the flats were in order. 

“I was told that during one of Tunku’s visits, there were only 13 families who had moved in and he was not happy with the conditions and told the authority to rectify the defects,” said Karuna. 

The 13 families were temporarily moved somewhere near the Campbell (now Dang Wangi) police station until the defects were corrected. 

Good cheer: Residents sharing a laugh as they gather for the reunion.
“Many were afraid to live in high-rise flats and the Tunku, to encourage more people to move in, waived the rent for the first six months,” said Karuna. 

Then the joy of being the first batch of people to live in the first pre-independence high-rise flats turned to despair when the residents were asked to vacate their units as the building was to be torn down. 

And in 1986, after just 29 years, the last two residents moved out making way for the demolition of Suleiman Court and the dream of the people and that of the late Bapa Malaysia was reduced to dust. 

“Today, 21 years after parting ways, we have gotten together to reminisce.  

“If the building was still standing today, it would be 50-years-old and we would be an important part of the Merdeka Day celebrations,” said Karuna. 

S.A. Muthu, 73, and Goh Chok Ling, 68, said they vividly remember the quiet days they had there. 

They said life was much less hectic then and the only comfort they had was that everything was within walking distance. 

“Some of the old landmarks that still stand today are the Odeon and Coliseum theatres and the Globe Silk Stores. We even walked to Merdeka Stadium to be a part of the big day on August 31, 1957,” they said. 

Goh said he was 18-years-old when his family was one of the first to move in and they operated a coffee shop in Block C while the family stayed in Block A. 

Muthu said he had a feeling of sadness when he was told to vacate his premises and was given an alternate housing unit in Bandar Baru Sentul.  

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