Sunday, February 11, 2007

Just An Observation

I'm going to navigate away from my usual motivational and inspirational doodling to touch on something that have troubled me this whole week.
For the past week, I've been handing out fliers (see my last posting) at Masjid Jamek in an open space between Burger King and the Putra LRT station. What I've observed every morning is a sight to behold. Something so common that we have taken it for granted.
I see Malaysians of all races, religion, colour, economic status and even foreigners working in Malaysia rubbing shoulders, talking and walking TOGETHER heading to where ever they were going. Smack in the middle of this rush hour crowd, are groups of at least 20 hawkers trading in the open spaces or on the side walks selling local Malaysian food ranging from nasi-lemak to curry-puffs to mee, meehoon and even can drinks, soy bean and newspapers. At least twice in the last week, these hawkers were scrambling and grabbing their food, tables etc and fleeing the scene. When I enquired to why this was happening, one of them told me, 'Bandaraya mari la'.
This got me thinking. Its visit Malaysia year. What do we expect foreigners to see when they visit Malaysia. Our Petronas Tower? They probably have buildings taller and architecturally more sophisticated. Our LRT or monorail? I don't think so. Its not our modernity that these visitors come to Malaysia to see. Its the racial integration in these open air bazaars and road-side food stalls mend by all races (Malaysian) that's unique. This is truly Malaysian. Here's where we truly see racial harmony, racial integration. We do not have to spend millions to teach us integration. We have been doing it since we were in school. And Bandaraya have to come and spoil this wonderful scene. Sure these traders have no licences. Can City Hall make an exception. Can we use this scene as a showcase to the world what a wonderful country we have. Its our selling point. Capitalise on it. This is what the foreigners want to see.They want to be a part of this as well. Forget about the licences Bandaraya.
Come on Malaysia! These are things we need to address. Leave the hawkers alone. Do something about the pick-pocket rascals, the mat-rempits, the snatch thieves. They are more damaging to our image than the hawkers and traders at Masjid Jamek.
Another point of observation. Can City Hall provide garbage bins in the vicinity? How about a Tourist Information Centre to assist tourists? Masjid Jamek is one of the busiest part of KL. There must at least be one Tourist Information Centre at the LRT station.

12 comments:

shanghaistephen said...

Mr. S-U Philo,
I must admit what you're saying is the kind of racial intergration foreigners and I want to see... but have you been to Chow Kit recently ???
What do you actually see there ? hundreds of hawkers and traders camped together and trust me not a single one of them is Malaysian -every stall is run, owned and peddled by Indons!Even our local malays are afraid to go there for a bargain because all ownership of hawking space which was given to our locals eventually ended up in the hands of the Indons. Surely Bandaraya knows of this hundreds of foreign-owned stalls and hawkers in Chow Kit but do you think they would dare to "rampas" them .... No my friend Bandaraya's got no balls and so they go after the real locals who have no place to trade but set-up make-shift stalls anywhere else like Masjid Jamek !And in Petaling Street it is the same you see Banglas talking YOU down and telling you to get lost if you tried to bargain,because our corrupt Bandaraya is so shit scared of these foreigners or they are well fed by their "towkays"!
Even when the Raya times come ...where do you see malaysians owning stalls in Masjid India area ? It is so much more profitable to "pajak" your space to the Indons who are ready to pay you triple what you would earn there...less the risk and merchandise ! This country is over-run by foreigners...Banglas, Myanmar, Indons, Singaporeans, Mamaks from India and young Chinese nationals(females only )and a host of others EXCEPT Malaysians !Everyone turns a blind-eye or "close one eye"!!!I'm fed up-lah Mr Philo ! No malice to any one national intended ,friend !

Ben said...

Hmm, Do you need a licence to hand out flyers? You didn't run... so Guess no.
Sorry, I was looking for the philosopher ... standing-up, sitting-down or handing-out. Guess this is the start of your style of "hand-outs" to the powers that be. Cheers and On On

stand-up philosopher said...

Mr.SS, Ben,
What I've observed at Masjid Jamek the 2 weeks I was there was troubling. These traders or hawkers are there to earn an extra income to fend for their families. Is that so bad? Ordinary people doing a decent job. This reminds me of something my friend Johnny FF told me sometime back. He said, 'If shit have value, poor people would be born without assholes'.
Relaks la Bandaraya. These hawkers may not have licence to trade but at least they promote an intergration of people more than the millions the government is willing to spend on promoting racial tolerance and harmony.

NSTman said...

Well written and provocative piece. Nothing like seeing Malaysians of all races sitting together and enjoying their food. Food for thought for our authorities.

tony said...

Bro, what lah do our big brothers know about all this?
Have you seen Anthony Bourdain on CHannel 11? He thinks AMPANG YONG TAU FOO originated from Singapore man!
WTF! To make matters worse 'MADE TO ORDER' also on the same channel about two celebrity chefs, purportedly very famous in Manhattan....they were discussing Hawker food from Asia...and they were referring to Singapore man! WTF X 2!
Here we have Singaporeans coming to Malaysia and raving about hawker food here, but its the gwei los that are giving Singapore publicity....get it

stand-up philosopher said...

Helo my name sake,
This Bourdain fella, whenever he visits Malaysia, lives in the apt. just behind NST..probably with some other foreigners. The only reason he thinks like that is probably some other foreignersa are taking him around KL and surely not to Ampang area or some hokkien mee stall or the stalls behind Jack Shop in old Campbell road. And you're right dah. Our abangs are definitely not aware of this.

Anonymous said...

Hi TonyG,
Hah.. reminded me of my preschool days helping out behind Campbell Road, now Dang Wangi. In those days of the 60's, just a few stalls then in the lorong behind, unlike now. There was no Bandaraya then, but WTF.. my father & mother had to contribute to a daily collection towards "mata lui" about 20-40cents (big money during those days!!). Despite the pay-offs, on-and-off, the KL Municipal (cant remember if that was what they were called) council workers would come in trucks to raid/cart away our trishaw stall, with our couple of makeshift tables and stools.
Then I remember my mother having to go to court at Buit Makhamah (now Menara Maybank), pay a fine (I think about $10 (again, BIG money those days, too. $, not the Ringgit) to redeem and to take back our trishaw stall and stuff.

Alas, May 13 ended that chapter of my life, and my precious childhood was hijacked and overtaken by events of the big, bad world of communal politics.

But I'd still wish for those days to return, despite the difficulties.

Keep writing, enjoying it.

"Morais"

Anonymous said...

TonyG,
Just read your last reply to your-namesake... Bingo! Spot-on! Behind Jack's shop, where even the Tan Sri F Yeoh fella regularly makans with his bunch of burly companions. I didnt read it when writing my earlier comment.

"Morais"

stand-up philosopher said...

Morais my friend,
Mark Twain said, 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'.
We speak with fond memories of the days that were. I remember so vividly after school, walking through the gates of our alma mater, whether we turn right, left or straight down AIA way, there were hawker food galore. The hawker stalls provided an avenue for us to hang out.
My fellow blogger shanghaistephen in one of his previous postings speaks of this same thing back in his beloved Taiping. I guess we all love to recollect our childhood days when men were men, women were women and kids were just kids. No race no religion no colour separated us. I miss those days, the old Malaysia.

zorro said...

What for have a Tourist Booth at strategic locations....it won't increase personal wealth. If you can catch up with the hawkers, and usually it is easy as they are bogged down with their wares, then it is gainful employment. Make a survey with any enforcement agencies and the result....very low turnover....nobody wants to leave, few are terminated (these are the ones who refuse to share their spoils with superiors)because few are disciplined. And the fat cats at the enforcement agencies are golfing with licence-seekers.Hidup Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

So what has been bothering you was that the hawkers were harassed by DBKL because they DO NOT have proper license?

I don't know you, and I have nothing against you, but the manner you put up your entires, it's just not right man...

Please post all my comments online. I would be more than willing to engage in a healthy debate with you or your readers should my points are invalid.

cheers again.

stand-up philosopher said...

anonymous,
If whats happening at M Jamek with DBKL and the hawkers does not bother you, it does not change the fact that it bothers me and the hawkers there.
Yes you know me. You know my name and my profile as I have posted it on my blog. But I do not know who you are AT ALL because you, just like so many ANONYMOUSES who slide in and out of blogs leaving comments and yet refuse to reveal who you are. Are you afraid of something or are you the typical stone thrower who is just the din that is ranting away because you are missing something in life.