THE city of Alor Setar in Kedah is busy getting ready for better times when the pandemic blows over.
The old Kota Setar district police headquarters in Lorong Setar now sports a vibrant display of murals, ready for visitors to hop over for beautiful, artistic selfies.
Most of the murals depict the state’s olden days and everyday life of its people.
Lor San coffee shop owner Chew Kee Leong, 46, said his business had improved by about 20% since the murals were painted.
“The murals are painted along Lorong Setar behind my shop.
“Before the movement control order, many people especially from Penang, visited my shop to eat noodles and they asked me where the murals are located.
“I showed them the site and they went to take pictures, ” he said, adding that his business however dropped by almost 30% during the MCO period.
Chew said the murals also helped revive other businesses in Pekan Melayu and Pekan Cina.
“I sell chicken, duck and pork noodle soup, as well as minced pork wantan mee and yong tau foo at my shop.
“I hope the local council will not close the lane to traffic as it will affect businesses in the whole area, ” he added.
Nasi briyani and chapati seller Manzur Zainul Abidin, 60, said the murals helped improve his business significantly before the movement control order came back into force in January.
“The murals brought more customers to my stall. In the past, I only cooked rice for 100 customers but after the murals were drawn, I cooked more, ” said Manzur, whose stall is located about 50m from Lorong Setar.
Lim Hock Chye, 75, who has been selling fruits for more than 60 years, said the art corner had indirectly brought in more business to his fruit stall.
“When people visit the area to view the murals, they will drop by the shops here to have some drinks or buy some local products, ” he said.
Couple Dr Chow Fong Yen, 67, and his wife Chung Mui Lin, 46, from Selayang, Kuala Lumpur, heard about the murals from a local friend.
“I prefer murals with characteristics that reflect colours and local customs.
“3D murals can attract a huge number of visitors. I hope the artists here will concentrate more on 3D murals, ” said Dr Chow.
Motorcycle repairman Low Kim Tek, 61, said many classic motorcycle owners visited his shop after seeing a mural, featuring him in the middle of repairing a Honda C50 on one of the walls in Lorong Setar.
“I received many old motor repairing jobs as the owners wanted me to repair their bikes.
“They managed to find my shop by asking the local folk, ” he said.
Alor Setar City Council mayor Datuk Zaid Ahmad said the Alor Setar Art Corner project is part of the state’s RM528,000 rejuvenation project aimed at giving the city a facelift and reviving the state capital’s glorious past and rich heritage.
Kedah State Development Corporation (PKNK) complex management and rental division manager Syed Muhammad Ezwar Syed Zain said the Finance Ministry allocated RM730,000 to the corporation as part of an assets transformation programme to upgrade 77 commercial lots at Jalan Raja Kompleks, which is glamorously known as ‘Pekan Buah’ and built in 1965.
He said RM50,000 was allocated to paint two murals – ‘Rumah Buah’ and ‘Bukit Buah’ – on two walls of the complex there.