Friday, August 04, 2006

Save the Colesium


I believe that our National Heritage Act is not really working no matter the lofty goal it sets out to achieve. Recently Kl is having a spate of uncaring historical preservative perogatatives such as the decision to redevelop Bok House, lets not start on how our historical enclaves of Melaka and Penang are still far from being listed as world heritage sites in the near future. The latest straw must be the fact that the government is deciding to turn the Colesium into an art center. For what purpose does this serve? If the goal is to preserve our heritage I see no point in sacrificing one for the other and in the end what we end up losing is an irreplaceable slice of Malaysian and Kuala Lumpur historical, architectural and societal heritage. If it is decided that the purpose is to promote the arts, by all means I support that but this can be achieve through other less destructive means and less insensetive ways. For one think about the owner, he has invested all his life to running what is a known icon in Kuala Lumpur and the thanks he gets is to see this dream taken away from him with no recourse whatsoever.


Another point is that successful cinemas, the olden messy floor, assorted junk food stalls, hand painted signboards, archaic theater system that is, are rare and few nowadays and now we are just going to let the Colesium just fade away when it has stood hard the tode of cineplexes when already cinemas like the Rex, Odeon and Capitol had to throw in the towel to make way for more modern counterparts? It is a time capsule, not just a white elephant that is just waiting for its time to exprise but a living breathing example of living culture. Don't forget many people still do flock to watch the Hindi and Tamil movies screened there and it is already a familiar haunt for locals. Trying to reason for turning an entertainment center into an art center i shudder if in future someone would dare suggest that we replace the Colesium Cafe into a more 'sanitized food paradise meeting international standards' which is to say we turn our beloved cafe into a modern food court.


Don't go all the way to turn something worthwhile into a pseudo-cultural enclave such like the modern Petaling Street or even closer to home, the Jalan Masjid Arabian Bazaar. What we end up is instead a shadow of what could have been a vibrant and living culture not a reenacment of what was. We Malaysian's don't want sanitized cultural extravaganzas, we want to be able to walk by these old buildings, appreciate the history behind them, be able to feel comfortable to step inside with our shorts and sweat shirts and not worry if we look out of place or not. We want something familiar and has earned it's place in the city and leave it as thus. If it says that it is in the national interest to convert it into an art center then I believe that the ministry does not really know what the public really feels on the ground level. If urban renewal dictates that we convert it, there are other better venues to do so. So please leave our national icons alone, not all such edifices need be as imposing as the sky touching Petronas Twin Tower, sometimes they take humble and homely guise and yet are so much the richer for it.

1 comment:

BawangMerah said...

And I haven't got to see the coliseum yet. But I guess our laments only fall on deaf ears :(