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Published: Thursday December 5, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday December 5, 2013 MYT 7:11:37 AM

A colourful past and present

Timeless look: The Central Market facade has remained virtually unchanged since it was first built in the 1930s.

Timeless look: The Central Market facade has remained virtually unchanged since it was first built in the 1930s.

FEW may have realised that Central Market is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, making it among the oldest historical buildings in the country.

Its history goes back to 1888, when it was the site of an open wet market. The original market, said to be built by Yap Ah Loy, was then acquired by the British government and subsequently expanded.

But when the old wet market was relocated in the 1980s, the Malaysian Heritage Society successfully petitioned against plans to tear down and replace the structure with a commercial building, and it was then gazetted as a heritage site.

Since then, Central Market has been a key attraction in Kuala Lumpur, being known as a centre for Malaysian culture, art and crafts.

“Although much work has been done to preserve the condition of the building, the façade has remained unchanged since the 1930s,” said Central Market complex manager Cheong Wai Mun.

Central Market is also proud to have won several awards in previous years, the most recent ones being the FIABCI Malaysia Property Award (Heritage Category) 2012 and the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2013.

Little India: Since the acquisition of Central Market by the Kha Seng Group in 2004, the tenants have been rearranged according to the types of items being sold. 'Little India' emphasises on the sale of textiles and other Indian-themed products. Photo courtesy of Central Market Kuala Lumpur.Feature story for Central Market Kuala Lumpur 125th Anniversary.
Little India: Since the acquisition of Central Market by the Kha Seng Group in 2004, the tenants have been rearranged according to the types of items being sold.

“We are very proud to have won the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence because the award is completely unsolicited. I was pleasantly surprised when they called me one morning in July to give the good news,” said Cheong.

Under the Kha Seng Group, Central Market Sdn Bhd has been managing the complex since its acquisition in 2004 and some of the changes made include the reorganisation of the layout of its tenants and the development of Kasturi Walk.

But Kha Seng Group chief executive officer Aaron Soo feels that the complex, while widely popular with tourists, was losing its charm with Malaysians.

“I feel a little sad because Malaysians, especially the younger generation, are no longer visiting Central Market. Nowadays, we Malaysians find modern shopping complexes more appealing,” he said.

To keep the complex relevant, Central Market Sdn Bhd frequently holds cultural performances, exhibitions, and celebrations, particularly during festive seasons.

An old picture of Central Market from 1982, before it was converted from a market to a centre for arts and crafts. The building's exterior has remained unchanged for many years.DCX filepix
The old days: Central Market in 1982, before it was converted from a market to a centre for arts and crafts.

This week, visitors can look forward to the remaining events for Central Market’s 125th anniversary celebration, such as the Walking Down Memory Lane Exhibition and the Malaysia Heritage Food Fair, both ending on Dec 8.

Central Market will also host the highly anticipated 125th Anniversary Gala Night today at the Central Market stage area.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Central Region, Central Market, 125 years, anniversary

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