KAMPUNG Baru made headlines recently after the launch of Kampong Bharu Detailed Development Masterplan (PITPKB) in January, which introduced an RM43bil facelift for the area in the next 20 years.
The redevelopment plans, by the Kampung Baru Development Corporation (PKB), focused on three aspects namely preserving its cultural element, green development with beautiful parks and landscaping and sustainable development.
With such mega development planned for the 115 year old neighbourhood, Kuala Lumpur’s landscape will definitely see a change.
Kampung Baru, the heart of the Malay community, sits in an ideal location in the city centre, and offers a contrast as it remains locked in time compared to the rapid development taking place around the area.
The village was founded as a Malay community or Malay Agricultural Settlement by the British government in 1899.
Uniquely enough, Kampung Baru is the only village that is managed by the Malay Agricultural Settlement (MAS) Kampong Baru which takes care of the village’s affairs and the needs of residents.
According to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), MAS was formed on Jan 12, 1900 by the Federated Malay States on 90.2ha of land awarded by the fifth Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sir Alae’ddin Suleiman.
Kampung Baru was also gazetted as one of the Malay Reserved Areas (MRA) in Kuala Lumpur in which MRAs were created under the Malay Reservation Enactment of 1913 and the Land Enactment of 1987.
The objective of the legislation was to ensure the Malays would be able to own land, especially in urban areas.
Kampung Baru encompasses seven small villages and each has an elected penghulu (chieftain). .
A glimpse of the past can be seen in traditional houses as these are beautiful with old architecture potraying the Malay culture and heritage.
Capitalising on this unique aspect, Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib launched the “Jalan-Jalan @ Kampung Baru” guided walk last year to boost tourism and provide tourists the opportunity to admire the heritage buildings that have dotted the landscape since the 1900.
Led by experienced guides, the two-and-a-half-hour guided tour educates visitors and tourists on the history of Kampung Baru and brings them to various attraction sites.
The tour includes buildings such as the Kelab Sultan Suleiman Gallery which showcases the history of the Malay political struggle and Gurdwara Tatt Khalsa built in 1922.
Walking into Kampung Baru transports one away from modernisation as village life unfolds with its charm.
Here, the simplicity of kampung life can be felt as it is common to see locals riding on motorcycles and bicycles along narrow roads.
This is the place to go to for authentic Malay food such as ayam bakar (grilled chicken), nasi campur (mixed rice), kuih and traditional Malay cookies, as well as Indonesian cuisine.
The Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa along Jalan Raja Muda Musa has Kampung Baru’s much raved about nasi lemak should you wish to try it.
Accessibility into the area is not an issue as the Kampung Baru LRT and Medan Tunku Monorail station are located in the vicinity.
The city’s largest wet market, the Chow Kit market, offers good bargains and a variety of hawker fare.
People from all walks of life can be seen shopping for spices, meat, seafood and even exotic fruits at this market.
There are also stalls selling shoes, electronic equipment, antiques, clothing and textile.
Although initiatives by the Government to modernise the area has been welcomed by some quarters, there are others who remain skeptical about development plans.
Kampong Bahru MAS management board secretary Shamsuri Suradi said its committee members were not against the area’s development but wanted the preservation of the Malay cultural heritage to be taken into consideration.
“We are worried that our culture and heritage will be lost in the comprehensive development, that will take place.
“There are plans to build multi-storey buildings and we are afraid old houses will be demolished and the area will lose its Malay identity.
“Kampung Baru gives us a sense of belonging, especially to those who are still living in this area.
“We prefer our way of life. We live a simple and comfortable lifestyle now but in future, development may bring about issues such as traffic congestion and safety,” he said.
Shamsuri also said about 60% of the locals did not live here but instead their houses were rented out.
“Locals who live here have been here for decades.
“DBKL and PKB has to ensure that with the development, Kampung Baru’s cultural heritage is preserved,” he said.