17 Jan 2016: Landmarks of Malaysia

Indeed, it has been said that without old buildings a city is like a man without a memory. It follows that Kuala Lumpur and the country as a whole are much the poorer as landmarks of the past are razed to the ground in the name of progress. This book is a celebration of the timeless allure of Malaysia’s built and natural heritage.

landmarks and notebook no bgHuman memory is unpredictable, now and again providing patchy recollections of the past. Collective memories of a place are also greatly impaired by the absence of the actual building or other landmark, and many of the surviving built heritage in Malaysia now rests on incongruous landscapes, marred by predatory and badly designed development. All is not lost however – the essence and memory of Malaysia’s marvellous array of landmarks have been skilfully and faithfully preserved in a series of vivid watercolours and delicate pencil sketches.

Landmarks of Malaysia, comprising 360 drawings created over a period of more than 15 years by renowned artist Chin Kon Yit, serves as a valuable visual archive of Malaysia’s built heritage and natural wonders. He has captured the timeless allure of much-visited sites and little-known locations nationwide, with each work prefaced by a concise historical summary.


Ipoh’s majestic Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, in all its unspoilt splendour, as seen through the eyes of Chin Kon Yit.

There are beautiful natural landscapes ranging from the limestone karsts of Perak’s Kinta Valley to the sandy beaches of the east coast islands; from the ancient rainforest of Taman Negara in Pahang to the pinnacles of Sarawak’s Gunung Mulu and the soaring peak of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. These wonders of nature are complemented by hundreds of architectural landmarks from the traditional vernacular to the colonial, and on to the modern and postmodern. The composition of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sabah and Sarawak cultures, and its experience of European colonialism, have resulted in a diverse array of grand public buildings, humble shophouses, mansions, hotels, vernacular houses, palaces, mosques, temples, forts and monuments.

Also by Chin Kon Yit is Penang Notebook, which is part of the Notebook series. Part journal and part art book, it is a ‘portable’ extension of the artist’s larger Sketchbook series.

About the author: Chin Kon Yit is a well-known Malaysian watercolour artist. Largely self-taught, he worked in a leading advertising agency for 15 years before becoming a full-time artist in 1991. His work has been shown in several solo exhibitions and many joint exhibitions. Chin’s paintings have previously appeared in Kuala Lumpur: A Sketchbook, Penang Sketchbook,Malacca Sketchbook, Landmarks of Selangor and Landmarks of Perak.