Fallen Walls

31 October 2013

Author/ Yong Hao   

A piece of Kuala Lumpur has lost this week.

The iconic premise of Jalan Sultan, the Yan Keng Benevolent Dramatic Association has been ruthlessly torn down to pieces, due to a land acquisition of a Mass Rail Transit project.

A neighbour to the famous tourist area Jalan Petaling, Jalan Sultan was once Kuala Lumpur main road. The first train station was built there, and the street was named Jalan Sultan, after the officiating ceremony of the train station by the Sultan of Selangor.

Besides the old train station, Jalan Sultan is the home of a hundred-year-old church, hundred-year-old tailor shop, the first post-office of Kuala Lumpur, and decades-old hotel and photography studio, suggesting that Jalan Sultan was central in the development and hustling of Kuala Lumpur. 

The iconic premise of Jalan Sultan.

A few weeks ago, Lok Ann Hotel, which had opened its doors for 75 years in Jalan Sultan has been acquired and force to stop its business. And now it is the Kuala Lumpur’s oldest benevolent repertory: Yan Keng’s turn.

The Yan Keng Benevolent Dramatic Association has been ruthlessly torn down to pieces, 
due to a land acquisition of a Mass Rail Transit project. (Photo courtesy of Chong Keat Aun)


Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. But the authorities chose to act the opposite, to bury all the remains of the race-transcending collective culture, built during the colonial times, under the rubble.   

We are always looking forward to travel in the foreign buildings and remnants, forgetting that we have our own hundred-year-old heritage close to home.

We allow others to let a hundred-year city of Kuala Lumpur to become soulless steels and concretes, ending up disliking the flocks of foreign workers, despising the smell and noises.  

The narration at the end of documentary of Beijing’s Olympic Stadium (Bird’s Nest Stadium) once said: "A building, is the faithful witness of a city."

Jalan Sultan’s buildings are the memory bank of Kuala Lumpur’s past, yet it has no future.

Malaysia cannot afford to lose another Jalan Sultan.


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