November 29, 2018.
Recollections & Reflections – A commentary
KUALA LUMPUR, the country’s former federal capital but remaining till today as its number one commercial city, has evolved over the years like most other cities in the world but despite progress in various segments, is ranked about midway among the world’s most liveable cities.
The administrators of the city housed at KL City Hall or DBKL have hopes that by the year 2020 KL will be a vibrant, world-class city but how they plan to reach this level is unclear to residents.
No doubt KL has reasonably good infrastructure – good roads, a decent rail-based public transport system, many world-brand hotels and more and more high-end apartments or condominiums despite an oversupply since a few years ago.
Then there are the many shopping malls, where can be found countless food and beverages outlets of the local and foreign types.
But KL has its many downsides too and if these are not dealt with effectively, no amount of resolve is going to help make the city a better place to live in.
The often massive traffic jams, endless construction work along its roads, flash floods and unhygienic roadside stalls are some of the major hiccups.
This aspiration to make KL more vibrant or world-class is not new, for even in the early years of this millennium, the mayor then was already talking about how he would like to have more people living in the city centre so as to make KL truly alive round-the-clock instead of being just a place to work that looks deserted and dead come after sunset.
That was smart thinking but unfortunately the goalposts often shift when a new mayor takes over, as is the case now.
Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan was appointed as KL’s 12 mayor early last month and just less than two months into the job recommended to Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad to shorten the operating hours of entertainment outlets to 1am, with Khalid announcing the decision today. Exception will be granted to those with a high presence of foreign patrons but you wonder if DBKL has the manpower, time and know-how to check on every nightclub and then determine which can open until 5am.
One reason offered by Nor Hisham was quite ticklish – that an earlier closing time would Malaysians sleep early, which to him is better for their health.
What Nor Hisham didn’t seem to realise when he said this was that not everyone works the 9 to 5 regular or “normal” hours. Those on the late afternoon or evening shift also need to wind down after a day’s work and for this category, the only way they can do this is if a club closes later.
Clubs in South American close at 5am to suit the lifestyle teher, those in Spain or Bali do not have official closing hours while the ones in the world’s most happening cities like London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney also open until well past midnight and these are all cities most agree to be vibrant. People in a vibrant city do not go to sleep at 1am and someone should tell Nor Hisham this.
Also, when was the last time you heard blokes in the places mentioned above dying from too much clubbing or a lack of sleep?
Anyone who bothers to go back to 25 or 30 years ago will realise that this thing about the operating hours of entertainment outlets in KL used to crop up before, with enforcement agencies calling for shorter hours when they failed to enforce certain provisions in the law.
Khalid has said that there will be strict enforcement of this ruling come January 1 but honestly we have heard this before, many times before. For years now there have been clubs that open until 5am, with or without foreign patrons, and most get away with it.
But why a Malaysian should not be allowed to party until the early hours of the morning, on his own time, to suit his own lifestyle, is beyond me.
Can’t blame those operating roadside stalls…… the fault is DBKL’s
Recently DBKL went after some unlicensed food trucks and roadside stall operators who placed tables and chairs on the road, which it must be agreed, is a situation that poses a danger to patrons if many vehicles are driven by regularly.
But study the situation and it is DBKL that is to be blamed in the first instance — and we are not talking only about the three areas checked but every road that has DBKL built roadside stalls.
Here’s why: Take Changkat Perak, behind the Concorde Hotel, where previously there were DBKL built stalls on both sides, just off the edge of the road. The stalls on one side have since been demolished when part of the land had to be surrendered to a condominium block. 1 – These stalls, just like the ones off countless other busy roads, are about 10 feet by 10 feet. After he has placed all the necessities, an operator is lucky if he can put a table for four within that cramped confine. 2 – What’s the only alternative available to him? The road of course. But can we blame him for this, despite the obvious danger this poses to patrons?
So there’s a lot of issues for DBKL to revisit, after which a re-thinking is needed but the operating hours of nightspots which have not created too many problems cannot be the local authority’s priority. If DBKL wants KL to be truly vibrant, that is.