Taipei’s 101 Tower
(By Paul Chong)
When terrorists struck and sealed the fate and tragedy of the WorldTrade Centre in 2001, Pernas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia claimed the honour of being the tallest structure in the world. In 2004, Taipei’s 101 Tower then stood tallest. Its supremacy has since been dwarfed by Burj Dubai at 800 metres & then Al Burj at 1200 metres appears unassailable, especially with its capacity & provision for its height increase if & whenever challenged. Dubai is the place where oil money is transforming the desert landscape with not just the tallest structures but the most futuristic & superlative developments imaginable.
(Picture of Burj Dubai below)
It is all a question of national pride to have the tallest building in the world ; the biggest and best in everything is the name of the game. For instance, right now China is in a frenzy building more than half a dozen of mega shopping malls covering thousands of square metres. In terms of height, Shanghai would soon have a building superseding that of Taipei but not quite as tall to overtake those two structures in Dubai.
Taipei’s 101 Tower stands in solitude among the overall lower buildings. In general, Taipei is not a city of skyscrapers like Manhattan. By itself, it does not appear to be that awesome and tall. Further, the grey wintry polluted sky does not help to enhance the glory and splendour of the building.
In my three weeks stay in Taipei, I have been constantly reminded by the fact that Taiwan is a FREE country.¨ The word takes on the connotation of being chaotic without order – anything goes, whether it’s the traffic system, building codes, government administration or general business culture. The age of capitalism eats into every fibre of the country. One can be held to be legal in an illegal situation.
Even in Parliament, as often seen on TV, politicians put on public display their free for all prowess action with fists & blows in their furore. This is the practice of democracy not just with the mouths but with hands, fists & legs as well – male or female.
Though the city of just over two million population has multiple lanes for its traffic, chaotic u-turns and crossings spell awe for visitors. It is not unusual to expect traffic jams along major highways with motorists agonizing in long haul and delay. Urban pollution, shanty housings, homeless people sleeping around in car parks of shopping centres, railway or MRT stations are just some of the pressing problems to be eradicated in order to boost the image of Taipei as a tourist destination.
Prestigious tall 101 Tower will not sweep all the unsightliness of the city under its roof, when all the roofs and grounds of the city require due attention. However, its seediness of prostitution appeared to be swept clean without the visible & enhancing sign boards of “VD Clinic” as displayed on my first visit to Taipei in 1972.