Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Malaysia - The New Villages

If you take a look around and closely scrutinise your surrounding you are sure to find great places where you were never aware. I've always been fascinated with the new villages which according to your history books came about during the Communist insurrection as a result of the Brigg's plan to relocate far flung settlements into a centralised area to prevent smuggling of aid and food to communists. Largely these new villages were predominately Chinese in nature and today there are still countless of these villages in existence most often haphazard wooden housings with community centers and commercial activities to sustain them. The luckier ones have been given their land titles and thus secure against any eviction or urban renewal, those not so fortunate often find themselves living in limbo, wondering if the years they have settled can be swept away in an instant if the government so wishes it.

I found myself one morning walking the streets of one such village, Salak South, a collection of wooden houses, modern brick bungalows, shoplots, makeshift factories and temples located along the hills and surrounded on all sides by the modern city. So much so it looks like a little oasis cut off from much of the development surrounding it. It is fascinating to watch the individual houses as each is different fro m its neighbour so unlike most of the modern housing estates . Walking by you can observe old uncles sitting by the roadside coffeeshop sipping black tea from chipped cups and saucers as they exchange in a lively debate on everything from the weather to local politics. Elsewhere you find a blue Moris Minor being put up for sale, proclaimed with the price written on its windscreen yet it looks as if no takers have been inquiring from the weeds that have grown around it. Down the road, school children in similar blue and white uniforms rush to make it before the school bell rings, old ladies with goods laden behind their bicycles heading to the market, a salvage shop noisily dismantling a wrecked car for scrap metal, a priest coming out to make the morning offerings off joss sticks, old grandmas sitting out in the porch watching strangers go by, men in suits and ties going into their Mercedes Benz while driving out from their wooden kampung house, and many more unique sights can be found.

The next time you pass a New Village take some time to soak in the atmosphere and see for yourself. Written for The Malaysia Pages.










QuaChee said...

hi kervin

nice read on how you see a kampung. makes me miss home :)

Nux V said...

this kampung is so near KL...and my place too!