We are on Jalan Panggong street, next to the well-known Jalan Petaling street, the heart of the 19th century Chinatown.
The expansion of the MRT trains system destroyed many of the buildings on Jalan Panggong and in this area in general.
Colonial shophouses with historical architecture ‘kaki lima’, that is five foot ways for pedestrians, will be replaced by modern hotels for tourists. The construction sites replaced some of the historical buildings and the works are in progress.
Yeoh Lian Heng is the leader of Lostgens creative group. For the past few years he has been directing the protests at the Petaling Street Community Art Project.
“The project is about the preservation of heritage and getting the people together to recall their history and also memory, because the government or our government is not concerned about the people history,” he said.
In 2011 the land buyout started and local business owners and residents were under great pressure to sell and move out.
Yeoh and Lostgens decided they needed a permanent space.
So they moved into the building number 4 belonging to a Chinese association.
After successful protests and negotiations with city officials, they decided to set-up an art gallery and cultural studio.
Recently, Findars creative group joined their efforts in building a rooftop garden.
“This is also a sky garden for the whole building, the residents of the whole building to enjoy and relax. It is very rare to see garden on the roof in KL… Kuala Lumpur,” said Bannai, the photographer in Findars.
From the rooftop we can easily see the construction sites.
The Local government has demolished a couple of buildings, just enough for the MRT station and a hotel.
The owners of other buildings are staying for now.
Just across from Jalan Panggong, a group of 30 art students are painting murals on Pasar Karat street. It is a part of the ‘Seni KL 2015’ project of renovating the city.
Amongst the artists is Mior Razali, Dean of the Faculty of Design at the Kuala Lumpur Municipal University College.
“We do some, what we call, rebranding. Before this alley is known by the people is ‘thief market’, they stole everything from another place and come here early morning and then they sell to the public. So now, what we’re doing is we rebrand this area.”
19 year old graphic design student Fatin is painting a grey, steel robot on one of the old walls.
Her team follows a bigger design for the renovations, although some freestyle is welcome.
“basically all the inspiration come from… we are inspiring each other so if you have an idea – so just get up here,” Fatin said.
With active people ready to both stand up for their cause and cooperate with authorities, Kuala Lumpur may see development with respect to the heritage.
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