Carcosa and Seri Negara’s grand exterior belies decay within


 

THE grand old dames of Carcosa and Seri Negara could be lost unless something is done. And fast.

A source from Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) told StarMetro that the two heritage buildings were slowly deteriorating and would only get worse the longer they are left idle and vacant.

Despite its opulent British colonial exterior, the interior is decaying as the walls are covered with mould and there are signs of water leakage beneath the floor of the mansion, the source said.

“In some areas of Carcosa, the wooden parquet floors have ‘bubbled’ and are coming apart because of water ponding underneath the tiles.

“The second storey of the building is in worse condition as many of the rooms were left open to the elements.

“Here too, there is water damage on the ceiling, possibly from a leaking roof. There are water stains on the ceiling and significant amount of mould on the walls.

“The electricity outlets and lighting fixtures, like the chandeliers, could also be compromised if water continues to leak,” he said.

At Seri Negara, the condition of the building is marginally better although furniture has been left haphazardly around the place.

“These could be a fire hazard if they are not stored properly,” said the source, adding that there was even a piano left on the veranda.

Outside, what were once immaculately landscaped grounds have been overtaken by weeds and undergrowth.

The colonial houses also have overgrown plants on their roofs while vines cover the walls.

The source said the buildings that used to be the clubhouse, tennis court and swimming pool were also in a bad state.

“The pool is a filthy green colour. It should have been drained instead of being left like that.

“It is a shame to see the once grand buildings in such a sorry state,” he added.

Perched strategically overlooking the lush greenery of Lake Gardens, construction of Carcosa began in 1896 and it was to be the official residence of the first Resident-General to the Federated Malay States, Sir Frank Swettenham, who moved in in 1904.

With the eclectic fusion of Neo-Gothic and Tudor Revival styles, the residence has more than eight bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.

In 1913, another building called the King’s House was built. Now known as Seri Negara, it was used to house guests of the Resident-General.

When Malaya gained independence in 1957, Carcosa remained the property of the British government until 1987 and was the British High Commissioner’s official residence.

Most notably, it was where the Constitution of Malaya was drafted (1955-1957) and where the nine rulers signed the Merdeka Agreement (1957).

It was also used by the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong as his official guest palace (1957-1960).

Carcosa served as the temporary official residence for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during the 1989 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

It was after Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Carcosa that it was turned into a luxury hotel, after some refurbishment.

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