Kampung Baru: The ‘Malay World’ of KL

Kampung Baru: The ‘Malay World’ of KL (themalaysianreserve.com)

Friday, January 19th, 2024 at News | Opinion

KUALA Lumpur (KL) is one of the most visited cities on the planet. 

It is a multicultural city, melting pot of various ethnicities. 

The Chinese heritage is represented through Chinatown in Jalan Petaling while the Indian community possesses Little India in Brickfields. The Malay community are largely focused on Kampung Baru. 

All these settlements are well-linked with the LRT-MRT systems. Chinatown is connected to Masjid Jamek and Pasar Seni LRT stations, while Little India is located near KL Sentral, the hub of the public transportation system in KL. 

Kampung Baru currently has one LRT station with a new MRT station slated for opening in March 2023. 

Nevertheless, Kampung Baru is less celebrated compared to KL’s Chinatown and Little India. 

Kampung Baru has all the potential to become a tourist hotspot, much like the 

Malay Cultural Centre in Singapore. It boasts a fantastic location, linked with the beautiful Saloma Bridge near KLCC and the Kampung Baru LRT station. 

The food bazaar at Jalan Raja Muda Musa in Kampung Baru is just a stone’s throw away from the LRT station, making this street a haven for Malay and local food lovers. 

In addition, there are several kampung houses displaying Malay architectural designs scattered all over Kampung Baru. 

Rather than building a new “Malay World” from scratch, the government should utilise Kampung Baru and beautify it like how the Melaka State government has successfully given Kampung Morten a graceful makeover. 

Kampung Morten is now a crown jewel of tourism in Melaka showcasing Malay arts and culture. 

The government had the opportunity to showcase Malay and native architectural designs when Putrajaya was erected. Unfortunately, this opportunity was not exploited to the fullest when most buildings in Putrajaya today display architectural designs of Middle Eastern origins. 

If Thai culture could be observed when one visits Bangkok, Malay culture must be given the same attention for tourists visiting KL, without undermining other cultural heritages of Malaysia. 

Lessons must be learnt from what has happened to Kampung Abdullah Hukum — redeveloped and now a high-rise settlement without much historical value. Kampung Abdullah Hukum, a 200-year-old settlement in KL has been largely erased from history and now more popularly known as KL Eco City. 

The City Council must ensure this would not happen to Kampung Baru. It must be preserved and given a proper upgrade and makeover for tourists to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of Malay culture and heritage. 

Kampung Baru should be the heart of the “Malay World” of KL 

  • Dr Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli is an associate professor at the Faculty of Shariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia and a research associate at the Asian Institute of International Affairs and Diplomacy (AIIAD), Universiti Utara Malaysia. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition
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