Monday, November 8, 2010

The Great Mess Called 'Little India'

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Arshad Khan
November 8, 2010

HARAKAHDAILY EXCLUSIVE Is the newly opened and much publicised Little India in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, just another great waste of taxpayers' money? Overwhelmed by news reports about this latest attraction, Harakahdaily's environment photo-journalist ARSHAD KHAN decided to go there. He returns to tell us what little was being offered to visitors there.

Is the newly opened and much publicised Little India in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, a just another great waste of taxpayers' money? A political bait, even?

Has anyone been held responsible for accountability for the money - a whopping RM26 million? Surely, that could not have been spent here and on the phase II that is the multi-storey car park! Already, I have seen leaks, literally.

Why should portraits of the mayor and politicians be displayed? This is taxpayers’ money and should be spent for the collective benefit of the people.

SINGH'S LITTLE FRIENDS ... Manmohan Singh not only has to share space with Najib, but also with local warlords

How much was contributed by sponsors? The amounts could not only be for the advertisements of their services and outlets. Would there be a statement of expenditure and contributions from sponsors?

Would this be another ‘small’ dot or leakage in some budget that would fall under ‘incidental or unforeseen expenditure?’ Of course the lifting of subsidiaries and other levies against the people could easily cover this and many more at the expense of taxpayers’ tightening belts!

Hunger pangs can be forgotten with a few glasses of plain boiled or filtered water, if that too, has not gone up in cost; water from residential taps is not recommended.

A walk through the spaces shown in these photographs would hardly take half an hour unless you crawl or get attracted by lasses, sales gimmicks and the products on offer.

There is nothing attractive to crave for after all the farce about 'Little India'.

A LITTLE LARGE ... Perhaps keeping true to the trend in the real India, a giant statue of MIC politician and cabinet minister M Saravanan

Obviously, the area was hurriedly put up, with shoddy cement works and repainting of the surrounding building with just a coat of paint that is already peeling off.

Was it just to convince the Prime Minister of India that Malaysia is very grateful to the Indian community and supportive of their ways and culture.

The Penang 'Indian street' is far better and more original. In Kuala Lumpur, there is already a street mostly of Indian merchants and disappearing ‘Chetiars’ near the Telecommunication Museum, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and around Masjid India.

This new ‘Little India’ should have been better in its original form but improvements should have been made on the traffic jams, cleanliness and upkeep of the buildings.

Poverty was so glaring as judged from the stall operators, the surrounding housing, drainage, garbage collection and disposal. The priorities are all wrong. The people were not consulted, according to some visitors and stall operators. Well, the consolation is that at least the authorities did make a visit once in their term in office!

INDIAN OR TYPICAL MALAYSIAN STALLS? ... Ordinary stalls and ordinary goods, welcome to Kuala Lumpur's latest 'unique' attraction

The heat of the day was unbearable as green foliage is very lacking. Malaysian authorities do not believe in a green environment, rather a concrete jungle. Trees, after all, do not derive income. There were trees from the colonial era but these have been chopped down to make way for expansion, development and progress, the Malaysian way.

Some Malaysian personalities would like to see all traces of colonial era completely removed. The Pudu jail, the shop-houses in Kuala Lumpur, the Causeway to Singapore (already planned for the chopping block) and most railway stations in the country are some examples. At this rate, Malaysia should consider severing ties with the British as they were once our colonial masters.

The trouble is, people do not know why a country is colonised; once understood, there would be greater understanding about it. For instance, Who is to blame for the colonisation?

The Little India is but an old lady in a new make up and dress. Of course the new make up includes some new accessories, juggling and with a hidden message.

THE 'BUSY' FACADE ... Empty lots, behind some stalls selling fruits which lined the front (below)

Here it is not so much for the visit of the Indian PM but to bait votes for the forthcoming general election.

First, it was party division for ease of control, then Batu Caves getting a facelift (but which does not seem to make any difference).

Little India is further proof of public fund wastage but delivered as "the government cares". All these should be left to the public to develop collectively like many heritage buildings.

The donations towards Batu Caves during Thaipusam pile up to tonnes each year; where have these gone during the last few decades? Have they been ‘preserved’ in the caves’ vents so that Batu Caves one day would become a haven for treasure hunters like some tales in movies about buried treasures? Perhaps.

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