Paying My Last Respects To Pudu Jail (Part 1)

Posted by shloke 23 June 2010
All this time, I've known about the impending demolition of Pudu Jail a.k.a Pudu Prison. News reports and stories have been circulating around the world wide web since early 2008. Politicians and social activists were counting on National Heritage Act 2005 to protect and preserve this 115 years old prison (built 1895). They have strongly condemned plans to demolish the prison as an attempt to erase its infamous past. On the other hand, modernists wanted the demolition to proceed as scheduled to make way for urban development.

You might ask ,"What do you think ?" "To demolish or not to demolish" Before I answer the question, let's take a look at some facts and figures below that I've compiled for you:

  • Pudu Jail was built in 1895 by the British Colonial Administration for RM138, 000 with materials brought in from India and Britain.
  • First Governor is Lt-Col J.A.B Ellen.
  • It was called Pudoh Gaol at one point.
  • Originally contained 240 cells on the three floors to hold 900 convicts.
  • Held 6, 550 convicts in 1985, the most numbers in its lifespan. Convict sleeps in shift during this time.
  • Pudu Jail's unique X-shaped main building hid behind a 384 m wall that prominently featured a mural, on display along Jalan Pudu. Click HERE to see an aerial view of the prison.
  • Former inmate Khong Yen Chong drew the world's longest mural on its outer walls (384 m long and 4.5 m high) - an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
  • It was closed on Nov 1, 1996. 1, 585 of the last inmates moved to Sungai Buloh prison. Briefly reopened as a tourist attraction in 1997. Closed again and reopened later to housed drug addicts and HINDRAF supporters.
  • Pudu Prison once housed the Top 5 Most Infamous Inmates : 1) Mona Fandey (Head chopper - hang on 2 November 2001) 2) Botak Chin a.k.a Wong Swee Chin (Underworld Taiko - hung to death on 11 June 1981) 3) Barlow & Chambers (Aussie drug traffickers - hung at the gallows on 7 July 1986) 4) Jimmy Chua a.k.a Chua Chap Seng (Police murderer and hostage taker - hung on 10 October 1989) 5) HINDRAF (The 8 Supporters - incarcerated and released)
Source: TheStar, Klue

Pudu Jail sits smack in the middle of Kuala Lumpur (KL) Golden Triangle (main shopping and nightlife district). I'm a frequent driver on the same road - Jalan Pudu and Bukit Bintang. I HATE to admit it, but the traffic jam right in front of the jail is INSANE! That, coupled with a combination of crazy drivers, macho stupidity, zero regard for the rules or for human life, are really FRUSTRATING. We need a SOLUTION!

According to Urban Development Authority (UDA), the demolition of the jail will make way for the road expansion of Jalan Galloway and Jalan Pudu, as well as a new underpass at Jalan Pudu. Honestly, I'm looking forward to this day - smooth and stress-free drive. Nonetheless, I'm hoping UDA will retains the front wall and gates for posterity.

One June 21st 2010 (demolition day), I've spent more than four hours exploring the prison cells (from Block A to D). I wanted to pay my last respects before the walls come tumbling down. People were talking about restless spirits and wondering ghosts trapped in the undead prison. Well, I thought it was funny because I don't believe in ghosts and spirits. Positive affirmations can help a lot in making myself mentally strong, thus making it an easy experience :)

I was walking non-stop; tired and at times confused. But worth every minute! It was one of the most unforgettable, unusual, awkward and interesting trip I've ever done. As I was exiting the prison, some developers and site contractors stopped me and asked the same question:

"Ada nampak hantu?"
(Translation: "Have you seen a spirit or ghost?")

A big NO. Then, a Malay guy interjected.

"Biasanya, orang Islam sembahyang dulu sebelum masuk"
(Translation: "Usually, Muslim prays first before entering the prison").

Um...that's interesting.

To be continued... Stay tuned for Part 2 as I'll be sharing some scary moments in the dark chambers. Coming soon! Exclusive pictures NEVER been seen before!

Long walk to freedom

Location: 1st Floor - Unknown block, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 12:15 p.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/5.0, ISO Equiv.: 200

Pudu Jail's corridors are barren of foot traffic, eerily quiet except for the occasional mysterious clang of metal doors shutting. This picture reminds me of Nelson Mandela's Long Walk To Freedom.

There is no escape

Location: Ground Floor - Unknown block, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 11:45 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/3.8, ISO Equiv.: 1600

Barbed wire entanglements and iron bars were placed at strategic locations to prevent escape of the prisoners. I've seen and touched fences with extreme sharp razor wire, a variant which instead of occasional barbs features near-continuous cutting surfaces sufficient to injure inmate who climb on it.

To be demolished

Location: 1st Floor - Unknown block, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 12:14 p.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/5.6, ISO Equiv.: 100

This is the interior prison walls, all marked by sheets of peeling paint, leaks and musty smell.

Historic, abandoned prison

Location: The field, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 11:04 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/8.0, ISO Equiv.: 100

An abandoned prison complex overgrown with weeds, grass and trees.

Prison break? Think again!

Location: The Green Mile, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 11:33 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/5.6, ISO Equiv.: 180

The facility is surrounded by fences with rolls of barbed and razor wire on the side and top of the outside fence to deter escape attempts.

1895: Remember this date

Location: The Green Mile, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 11:25 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/5.0, ISO Equiv.: 200

There is a pumpkin farm on the right side of the fence. Check out the last picture.

First built in 1891 in Jalan Hang Tuah, the prison was built in stages by the British colonial government, and was completed in 1895. The construction began with its 394-metre prison wall at a cost of RM$16,000, and had been adorned with the world's longest mural at one point in its history. Source: Wikipedia

Unknown drawings

Location: 1st Floor - Unknown block, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 12:06 p.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/4.0, ISO Equiv.: 560

A interesting drawing beyond the walls of the prison cells. "What about the graffiti in the cell?" you might ask. Well, its all about religion, sex, gangs and drugs. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week. Exclusive never seen before graffiti images by former inmates.

What a mess!

Location: Unknown cell & block, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 11:28 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/3.5, ISO Equiv.: 500

Some of the prison transaction logs and photocopy of offender database were left unattended.

Blank?

Location: Unknown cell & block, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 12:21 p.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/5.6, ISO Equiv.: 100

Electrical fixtures and fittings were missing from the building. I stumbled upon piles of broken light bulbs in one of the many jail cells.

The records

Location: The Green Mile, Jalan Pudu, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 12:21 p.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/5.0, ISO Equiv.: 200

Some log books with details about the supervision, safety and security of prisoners. This brown colored prison transaction log (dated 1993) typically contains information that tracks the movement of prisoners in and out of cells.

The two walls of Pudu

Location: Ground Floor - Unknown block, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 10:38 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/7.1, ISO Equiv.: 100

The moldy wall fronting Berjaya Times Square shopping centre has been demolished on 22nd June 2010 to make way for the road expansion of Jalan Galloway and Jalan Pudu.

Did you notice the two watch towers? In 1970s, these watch towers were built to a vernacular style with jagged edges and pointed roofs called the Minangkabau on the east and west prison walls.

Ground zero

Location: Ground zero, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 10:33 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/8.0, ISO Equiv.: 100

A senior cameraman from TV3. Can you see the partially demolished prison block on the right? The jail cells are visible in the picture.

By the way, does anyone recognize him? I want to send a copy to him but forgotten to get his contact details.

Prison Veggie Farm

Location: The Green Mile, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 12:58 p.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/9.0, ISO Equiv.: 100

I was truly surprised to see a pumpkin farm in Pudu Jail.

Bare naked loos

Location: Ground Floor - Unknown block, Pudu Jail, KL, Malaysia
Date: 21st June 2010 (Monday), 11:40 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 with Aperture: f/3.5, ISO Equiv.: 1000

A row of communal toilets in the corner of the cell. Now, that's a surprise!

Last updated 26th June 2010 (6:06 p.m.)

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Pudu Jail - Directions, Getting There & Maps:

The prison is just minutes away from Hang Tuah LRT station and Berjaya Times Square shopping centre.

Walking directions from Hang Tuah Monorial Station to Pudu Jail.

This is a thumbnail screenshot. Click link (Map 1) to download the map.

Map 1 (1 page, JPG file, 147 kb)

Note: File is hosted in MediaFire

Pudu Jail - Google Maps:


Demolition of Pudu Jail - YouTube Videos:



Pudu Jail - Read More & Useful Links:

  1. http://tinyurl.com/33oaftw (5 Most Infamous Pudu Jail Inmates)
  2. http://tinyurl.com/387j9qc (Prison holds fond memories, TheStar)
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pudu_Prison (Wikipedia article about Pudu Jail)
  4. http://tinyurl.com/ydoa4l9 (Pudu Jail Conservation Statement by University of Bath)
  5. http://tinyurl.com/2damagb (Pudu Jail, do you remember? Official Facebook page)
  6. http://tinyurl.com/2522kwl (Press Statement from Heritage of Malaysia Trust)
  7. http://tinyurl.com/29e67b3 (Mega development plan proposed for Pudu Prison land, TheStar)
  8. http://tinyurl.com/28fj8gg (National Heritage Act 2005, Malaysia)

12 comments

  1. fufu Says:
  2. cant wait any longer...so here i am!!! hahaha pumpkin farm? i thought it's must be the wild pumpkin, not?? erm as long as they are going to retain the front wall and gates for posterity, then it would be a win-win deal ya...... smart dbkl lol now i can go visit next year :) hahaha

     
  3. Rafael Lam Says:
  4. Very nice blog with great photos!

     
  5. It's a shame that they re going to demolish such a historic building just to widen the roads!

    They could actually turn it into a gallery, museum, or a communal hall, or something.

    Yet another sad story from Malaysia...

     
  6. eunice Says:
  7. wat an experience, i guess not many would like to visit a prison. it's good that u went there to share with us so many classical shots of this building with many sad stories..

     
  8. lechua Says:
  9. hey this is a great piece of documentary... well done for capturing it!!! the photos seem to reflect a long history. looking forward to part 2!

     
  10. micki Says:
  11. I like your B/W images which make them powerful. Your photos of the Pudu Jail have become part of the history now. So glad you went there to pay the last respect!

     
  12. Thomas Lee Says:
  13. At the end, this happen..drag so many years already. Sad to hear that.

    Nice post and shoot, those photos are the thing that remained.

     
  14. Shelyn Says:
  15. Any eerie feeling while visiting? I'm more interested on your scary story :p

    Looking forward to your next post.

     
  16. shloke Says:
  17. fufu,

    Thanks for dropping by (from Facebook)! Come to think of it, you're right! More like wild pumpkins than a veggie farm. Thanks for the info...Fu, the Pasar Prince :)

    I'm not sure whether the front walls will be retained. Well, let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

    Rafael Lam,

    Hi and welcome to my blog. Thanks for your kind words!

    Love your blog too!!! You have some amazing pictures on your site!

    londoncaller,

    It's a prime location at the fringe of the popular Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle. The site has been earmarked for road expansion, underpass construction and mixed development (hotels, luxury residential buildings and many more).

    Everybody wants a piece of it.

    Eunice,

    It's been a great experience!

    lechua & Micki,

    Thanks for liking! Pudu Jail has a long history that reaches back further than its days as a federal prison. During World War II, Japanese occupation forces used the jail to hold Allied prisoners-of-war, many of whom were tortured and executed there.

    Thomas Lee,

    Actually, the prison complex (Block A - D) are still intact. I think the developer are widening the roads and building an underpass. You can still see the buildings in 2 - 5 years time.

    Thanks for looking!

     
  18. That's true. Buy money cannot buy piece of history that we built.

    They can actually rebrand the jail into a hotel.
    Have you heard of prison hotel before?
    Guests pay to stay in the hotel! Ha ha...
    To most people in Malaysia, this is a crazy idea.

    But having crazy ideas is actually the birth of creativity.

     
  19. Photovigor Says:
  20. Very interesting, like it.
    You have tons of beautiful photos. Love it.

     
  21. shloke Says:
  22. Shelyn,

    Published my second post. Thanks for visiting and commenting :)

    londoncaller,

    Yep, money is not everything. Our history is something to be valued. Unfortunately, Pudu Jail is considered as an 'unhistoric' building with no heritage value.

    Prison hotel in Malaysia? Um...that's an interesting idea. Imagine staying in a cool old 'haunted' hotel with tons of ghostly activity. SCARY!

    Photovigor,

    Hey, thanks!

    Cheers to all!

     
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shloke
Traveling & photography are the most rewarding & enriching experiences in my life. Photography is all about discovery, enjoying myself, having adventure, learning people & nature. The greatest experience for me is the connection I felt with NATURE. If you haven’t seen Malaysia, you haven’t seen the world! My photography works are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.
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