RESIDENTS and elected representatives have commended Klang Municipal Council (MPK) for the transformation of the former Padang Chetty at Jalan Bukit Jawa.
However, they want the council to retain its moniker and not change it to Dataran Majlis Perbandaran Klang.
It is learnt that MPK would have the new name emblazoned on the archway at the entrance of the refurbished 1.34ha site.
MPK president Dr Ahmad Fadzli Ahmad Tajuddin confirmed that Padang Chetty would be renamed Dataran Majlis Perbandaran Klang.
The Selangor palace has given its approval to rename the field and it will be announced soon.
“MPK had proposed to the Selangor palace that it be named after a member of royalty but a few weeks ago, the palace said we could call it Taman Awam Majlis Perbandaran Klang or Dataran Majlis Perbandaran Klang, ” he said.
Padang Chetty comes under the Pandamaran constituency and its assemblyman Tony Leong Tuck Chee said the revitalisation of the field was to provide Klang residents with better amenities but not a name change.
“This would remove a big part of its identity, culture and heritage.
“Padang Chetty’s name should be retained as it reflects the contributions of the local south Indian community.
“It was the south Indians who used the field for gatherings and trade, ” he said.
Sentosa assemblyman G. Gunaraj said while he welcomed the rejuvenation of Padang Chetty, its name should not be changed as it reflects Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage.
“If Padang Chetty is renamed, it will affect our diversity, ” he said.
Sportsman and former international hockey umpire Serjeet Singh, 65, said he had fond memories of Padang Chetty where he used to train in the evenings for hockey tournaments.
“Padang Chetty produced the likes of the late Sukhvinderjeet Singh, S. Sivabalan, Abdul Rahim Ahmad, Zulkifli Zainal, Mohd Jailani Jamil, S. Prabaharan, M. Shanmuganathan, K. Ghandinesan and many others who excelled in hockey and other sports.
“This should be reflected in its name, ” he added.
Former MPK Health Department director Zulkifli Abbas, who retired from playing international hockey after the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, said Padang Chetty was close to his heart.
“It was here that I was moulded to become the nation’s top goalkeeper and I used to run up the slopes for physical conditioning.
“I understand the need to change with the times but I disagree with the new name, ” he said.
Zulkifli added that if the field was renamed, it would also affect the branding of Little India and tourism.
Masjid India Muslim Tengku Kelana chairman Md Yousoff Noor Mohamed said changing the name of Padang Chetty would be an affront to the local community.
“Our cultural identity would be erased and there will be no uniqueness, ” he added.
Former national hockey league manager Anthony Louis, 62, who worked in MPK, said the field got its name from the Chettiar merchants of Tamil Nadu who conducted their moneylending business across the field at Jalan Raya Barat.
“In addition, the 150-year-old Sri Nagara Thandayuthapani Hindu temple and the Nattukotai Chettiar townhouse on one side of the field are managed by the Chettiar community.
“We must not erase the identity of the area and its people, ” he said.
Former national hockey league assistant manager P. Mohan, 62, who represented MPK in many sports events in the past, said there was a need to maintain the cultural attributes of ethnic enclaves be it Chinese, Indian, Javanese or Bugis so Malaysians could connect to our past.
“If the name is changed, it will affect our shared sense of place, ” he said.