Malaysiakini Letter

KL’s Chinatown is dying a slow death

Lau Bing  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Kuala Lumpur’s Petaling Street dubbed “Chinatown” has long lost its significance and its character has been steadily eroded over the years.

Sadly, the buildings around Petaling Street need more than just repair works to their roofs. It is imperative to ensure that the original design and structures of these buildings are holistically restored. Otherwise, their appearances will not appeal to visitors.

As it is, visitors have been putting the word out that the Chinatown area is overrun by migrant workers operating stalls or shops there. The atmosphere there is like a flea market with mostly fake merchandise being sold by these migrant workers.

Chinatown used to rank among the top 10 tourist attractions in Malaysia. Even locals shopped there for their household needs. Now that Petaling Street has turned into a place where foreigners sell their wares and many of the shops cater to the migrant population, the locals and tourists stay away.

City Hall had performed a few beautification works in the past but that did not inspire the return of tourists to Petaling Street.

I urge KL mayor Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan to do more to revive Petaling Street, to help it recover its popularity and restore its buildings to their original glory. The current plans to merely repair the dilapidated roofs next year is too superficial to achieve that.

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