On Friday, Jan 19, an afternoon fire razed 40 stalls and shophouses in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur. About three years ago, a dozen stalls were razed and 38 families living in an adjacent squatter colony made homeless.
The fire, at the famed Pasar Minggu site, could be avoided if only the government implemented what was promised to the residents.
For the record, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad (Badawi) pledged to develop the Pasar Minggu site into a multi-million-ringgit cultural bazaar following fire which left the place in ruins and displaced dozens of families. That was in January, 2004.
Abdullah said then that the project would help beautify the area and create new economic opportunities for the residents. He said land problem was not an issue because he understood that it was state land.
The Pasar Minggu was once a favourite destination for local as well as foreign tourists. However, it lost its shine to other entertaintment venues in the city due to poor management and lackadaisical attitude of the KL City Hall.
Earlier, City Hall announced its plan to develop Kampung Baru into an international cultural centre, showcasing traditional Malay culture and cuisine. Three models were shortlisted but till now, there is no sign of the project.
It was reported then that redeveloping the Pasar Minggu will cost RM80 million and the cost of the whole project was estimated to be more than RM100 million. That was three years ago but so far nothing has been done to implement it.
The second fire this month could have been avoided if City Hall had implemented the project as promised by none other than the Prime Minister himself.
If City Hall is unable to implement the project, I am certain the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry headed by Dr Rais Yatim will be happy to take over and who knows, when the centre is ready, the Datin will be on stage to sing Ayam Den Lopeh.