Supreme Court, Kuala Lumpur (1915)
This Palace of Justice on Jalan Raja at the embankment of Gombak River was built on the site of the town’s Dhobby Green. The Old Supreme Court on Court Hill was taken up by the Chief Secretary’s office when this building was completed.
Hubback’s Official Post/Role: F.M.S Government Architect A.B Hubback F.R.I.B.A
Year Designed: 1912
Year Completed: 1915
Official Opening : 1 May 1915 by F.M.S High Commissioner, Sir Arthur Young
Contractor: Towkay Ang Seng
Construction Cost: $208,500 Straits Dollars
Architectural Style: Mughal Eclectic
Brief Architectural Description: Decorative cupolas with buttresses at the four end towers, a central courtyard and double arcade. Towers were dining chambers with private tiffin rooms.
Original Use: Court House
Original Building Type: Office & Public Assembly
Current Name: Mahkamah Tinggi Lama
Current Use: vacant
Current Building Use: Office & Public Assembly
Gazetted as Malaysia's National Heritage in 2012
Gazetted Name: Bangunan Bekas Mahkamah Tinggi
The Malay Mail, 3 May 1915
Original document obtained from Arkib Negara Malaysia
The Law Courts
New Buildings Opened
Following the investiture ceremony in the Town Hall on Saturday morning H.E. the High Commissioner (Sir Arthur Yong, K.C.M.G) visited the new Law Courts for the purpose of declaring them open. In the presence of a very large gathering his Excellency was greeted by Their Honours the Chief Judicial Commissioner (Sir Thomas Braddell), Mr. Justices Innes and Mr. Justice Edmonds (one of the most recently appointed of His Majesty’s Puiano Judges) and the officials of the Courts, who were all duly robed.
Addressing H.E the High Commissioner, Sir Thomas Braddel said:
“ Your Excellence, - It is with sincere pleasure that the Judges of the Supreme Court of the Federated Malay States welcome your visit here today for the purpose of declaring the New Law Courts of the Federal Capital open for public business. We are aware of the many demands which the duties of your high office make upon your energies, and we desire to express to you our thanks for having made time to be present on this occasion.”
We believe that when you have inspected this building you will be of opinion that by its external beauty and the care which its architect has bestowed upon the elaboration of its internal design it is not only a worthy and harmonious addition to the many fine public edifices which adorn this city, but is also a structure where the business of the administration of public justice may be carried on amid convenient and dignified surroundings.
It is common knowledge that the old Law Courts which have not been vacated, have been for some time been unsuited and inadequate to the requirements of the greatly enhanced number of persons whose affairs bring them at times to the Supreme Court of Justice in this State. Since the Supreme Court was established in 1905 there has been a remarkable increase in the number of civil trials which take place before it and in the general business of the Court.
The vigorous growth of legal business and the considerable addition to the numbers of the Bar of the Court consequent thereon clearly reflect the ever increasing commercial activity and prosperity of these States. No country can make real progress without jealous care of the administration of public law and justice, and in this fine building which Your Excellency in today to be asked to declare open the inhabitants of these States may discern a symbol of their moral as well as of their material advancement.
The Buildings Described
When the new Law Courts were first proposed there was much criticism of the site selected, but the appearance of the new buildings is the best answer to that. They are a handsome addition to the group of Government buildings in this quarter of the town, occupying a site between the River and the Town Hall and Survey offices, and running up to the Mosque grounds.
The building is in the free Saracenic style, being similar – in appearance to existing Government buildings in Kuala Lumpur. At the four corners are towers finished with domes, joined by a double arcade of columns and arches, the sprandrils of which are filled in with red tiles. The public entrance is from the river-side to the handsome inner courtyard, from which a double staircase built in concrete leads to the upper floor.
On the ground floor are a suite of four offices, 92 by 32 feet, with two strong rooms, and a similar suite for the Registrar and his office staff. For public business, an office 32 feet by 25, with counter, and with two small rooms attached, is provided. The centre of the building is occupied by a colonnade giving access, by the double staircase mentioned above, to the Courts. This has been very effectively designed with rows of large columns and an inner tiled courtyard open to the sky. At the back of the ground floor are the cells for the prices act.(?) The two Court, 70 by 32 feet each, are on the first floor, and are of very important appearance, in striking contrast to the old barnlike Courts on the Court Hill. Both have public spaces measuring 32 feet by 25 feet, with prisoners’ docks and general accommodation for Bar, press and public Access from the cells to the dock in each case is by a private staircase, prisoners being brought into the dock without being seen at all by the public. Leading from each Court are Judges’’ chambers, robbing rooms and witnesses’ waiting rooms.
The Judges is a large room on the river side of the building, with a large bay overlooking the courtyard. The barristers’ room with robbing room and verandahs, is at the head of the main staircase.
The work was started in June 1912, and has taken two years and nine months to complete. The cost, with furniture, roads, and water, has been $208,500. The contractor was Ang Seng, of Kuala Lumpur, who was the contractor for the existing Government Offices built over 20 years ago, and who has done his work in a very satisfactory manner. Mr. A.B Hubback, F.R.I.B.A, the Government Architect, designed and supervised the erection of the buildings.