In September 1998, Malaysia became the first Asian country to host the Commonwealth Games. ‘Kuala Lumpur 98’, the largest sporting event Malaysia has ever seen, took place at the newly minted National Sports Complex, with its star attraction, the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, a modern behemoth custom-built for the Games. With a capacity of over 87,000, the stadium continues to be the largest in Southeast Asia.
Since then, the iconic stadium has become synonymous with international sports and entertainment. In the last two decades, it has hosted the 2001 and 2017 SEA Games and the 2003 FA Premier League Asia Cup. It also held concerts for some of the world’s biggest stars, including Usher, Kelly Clarkson, Ed Sheeran, Rain and Jacky Cheung.
Malaysia’s Sporting Hub
The Commonwealth Games did more than imbue the nation with a sense of pride. It also transformed Bukit Jalil into a thriving city suburb and transportation hub.
The National Sports Complex that was developed for the 1998 games comprised the iconic Bukit Jalil National Stadium, Axiata Arena, National Aquatic Centre, National Squash Centre and National Hockey Stadium. It also included the Commonwealth Games Village, also known as Vista Komanwel, residential blocks that housed the 3,638 athletes and officials from 69 Commonwealth member nations.
In 2017, these incredible facilities were upgraded and transformed into Kuala Lumpur Sports City, a fully integrated sports hub with infrastructure on par with other world-class sports and entertainment centres. This includes high-performance sports training facilities, public sports facilities, sports rehabilitation science centre, sports museum, youth park and hostel, convention centre and a sports-focused retail mall. Vista Komanwel, now a much sought-after residential property, spurred other commercial residential developments in the area, as city dwellers became more interested in making Bukit Jalil their home.
Despite its fast-paced development, Bukit Jalil is filled with lush greenery. The 165-acre Bukit Jalil Golf and Country Resort, the 80-acre Bukit Jalil Park and the Titiwangsa mountain range are popular destinations for resident and visitors, especially at weekends.
Lim Mei Ling, Managing Director for an international communications firm, bought a home with her husband in Taman Esplanade, Bukit Jalil over 15 years ago when it was still relatively quiet.
“When our family grew, we decided to renovate and expand our house instead of moving out of the area to a bigger place because Bukit Jalil has everything we need,” she says.
Soo Fook Yeap agrees: “Everything is nearby – lots of great food, night markets, mall, great sports and leisure facilities, nature.
“Also, accessibility is unbeatable,” he says, adding that he uses the light rail transit (LRT) train to get to work in the city centre.
Connectivity and Leisure
The connectivity of Bukit Jalil is a major selling point; accessible via five major highways - the Damansara–Puchong Expressway (LDP), Puchong–Sungai Besi Highway, Shah Alam Expressway, Maju Expressway (MEX) and New Pantai Expressway (NPE) – and a comprehensive public transportation network, with buses and the LRT line that stops at two stations, Bukit Jalil and Sri Petaling. Two upcoming LRT stations will soon provide even greater accessibility.
Emmy Suraya, a former Programmes Officer at the National Sports Council, first moved to Bukit Jalil for her job. However, she soon fell in love with the convenience and vibrancy of the area and decided to stay on.
Just like Soo, Emmy finds it easy to commute via trains from Bukit Jalil to the city centre where she now works.
“Plus, the Bukit Jalil Park is a great place for my weekly hikes and outdoor activities,” she says.
These days, Bukit Jalil is gaining a reputation for food, with an eclectic mix of hipster cafés, themed restaurants and casual bistros. From its roots hosting sports events, Bukit Jalil has transformed into a place with something for everyone.