A poke in the Eye on Malaysia

The Eye of Malaysia.  It’s a small eye, we prefer not to look too much.The Eye on Malaysia, which I visited recently when I was in Kuala Lumpur, is essentially an over-sized ferris wheel, and, by comparison, the tiny cousin of the much better known and first ever over-sized ferris wheel, the London Eye. It’s also the tiny cousin of the upcoming Singapore Flyer.

Possibly the most interesting aspect of the Eye on Malaysia is the fact that there’s plenty of controversy surrounding it.

It’s considered tiny, because at a height of a mere 60m it really is little bigger than a fairground ferris wheel and it is severely overshadowed by its big cousin, the London Eye, which towers over the Themes at 135m. It will also be eclipsed by it’s Singaporean cousin, the Singapore Flyer, which partly constructed already towers above the island nation at at a whopping 165m!

In comparison, the capsules of Eye on Malaysia can accommodate up to 8 people, whilst the London Eye can launch an impressive 25 people per capsule. Once completed, the Singapore Flyer will be able to host 3 more at 28 people per capsule.

The London Eye and Singapore Flyer both make (or will) one rotation every 30 minutes, whilst their Malaysian cousin, the Eye on Malaysia, zips through a flight every 12 minutes.

The Eye on Malaysia does have some unique, albeit dubious, claims tough, like being the biggest portable wheel in the world, and (you can tell the marketing people were scraping the bottom of the barrel) the first to overhang a lake.

What started the controversy was the apparent last minute decision to establish the wheel. After two weeks of soil an suitability testing, it was decided the wheel would be erected – 11 days before it was due to be launched on the 6th of January, in time for Visit Malaysia Year celebrations.

There was quite an initial rush, although many reported nothing special about the ride, some outright saying that it was boring. At RM30 million the wheel came at no small expense, especially for a boring ride. The big ferris wheel is minus the fairground attractions.

The controversy continues with the fact that RM30 million could have done much more good than a temporary ferris wheel aimed at tourists located in an area where not that many tourists go. We did see a city hop-on-hop-off bus stop while we were there, but Lake Titiwangsa really doesn’t have much going for it at all. It’s also the last stop on the KL Monorail, but that apparently is a substantial walk from the park.

Pretty in pictures, but the real picture is not so prettyThe Lake is also site of the National Art Gallery and the National Library, but not two of the most noteworthy tourist attractions in KL. Apart from that, Lake Titiwangsa is not exactly on the tourist trail and it really has nothing to offer to bring tourists from the trail to explore. I was surprised when I read an article by the NST, which said that in April they had already achieved their target for Visit Malaysia Year. Could have been a pretty low target.

Despite much hoo-ha and a fair amount of positive press, the Eye on Malaysia started to water when reports started to surface that the private company, which runs the Eye, was not doing that well. Apparently the Eye was looking through rose coloured glasses.

60 meters at it’s top - the wheel, not my shiny dome.We were at the wheel quite early, but having been on the London Eye, I was not impressed by it at all. Julia and John, not having seen the London Eye, were no more impressed than I was. For a moment we considered waiting, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

I can also not help but wonder (conspiracy theory alert!) whether the Eye on Malaysia‘s conception and last minute implementation had anything to do with the Singapore Flyer. A knee-jerk reaction to Malaysia’s islands neighbour erecting this structure, which before construction began was already a PR paradise for Singapore.

Is that the way the wheel turns? Luckily the Eye of Malaysia has a pre-determined life span, and all our troubles (and money) could be gone… in the blink of an eye.

2 Comments

  • don

    23 December 2007 at 12:23

    Interesting post, but personally, any wheel higher than ten feet is too high for me!

  • herman

    24 November 2008 at 23:14

    Hi Jaco,

    I am now staying in KL.

    Do you now if there is a regular group of South Africans for socialising?

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