PASAR Seni (Central Market) in the heart of Kuala Lumpur is widely marketed on our tourist brochures. But today, it is “Seni” in name only.
When this wet market with its long history was renovated decades ago to house all handmade Malaysian arts and crafts and showcase the associated skills, the public welcomed it.
Many Malaysians took up a booth or workspace to demonstrate their art and craft skills while offering their customised items for sale.
In fact, it gave one great pride to bring their foreign friends and guests over to Pasar Seni to enable them to have first-hand experience of Malaysian arts and crafts and even purchase what would be regarded as truly Malaysian souvenirs.
Today, what you get at Pasar Seni can be purchased at any shopping mall or even in Petaling Street. Pasar Seni now peddles “Made in China” clothing, items from Indonesia, and a variety of imported, factory-made goods. Even sports souvenirs and name plates are being sold here now, and products from Pakistan are also available.
These mass factory-produced goods do not reflect Pasar Seni’s identity so it is time the authorities don their thinking caps and restore the market to its rightful stature.
Many young Malaysian talents cannot afford the rental at Pasar Seni as the space is taken up by commercial retailers.
Give back to our young and retirees space they can afford to rent so that they can showcase their talent in arts and crafts.
Let Malaysians showcase their glass paintings, hand-drawn batik apparel, paintings, woodwork and so forth.
Let Pasar Seni be a melting pot of sorts where Malaysians can put their skills to work and at the same time earn some money.
Pasar Seni must be a destination for locals to show off their creative talents; a great place for tourists (including Malaysians) to go to and appreciate and purchase handmade local arts and crafts. It could even double up as a place for Malaysians to learn a new hobby.
There are enough commercial outlets in Kuala Lumpur to sell mass-produced local and imported wares and apparel and make tidy profits.
Do not let Pasar Seni lose its character and ambience that is naturally offered by its very structure and long, colourful history.
The authorities must aspire to attract and make it easy for youths from all over the country to come here and show off their skills, gain attention, and perhaps even find potential investors willing to turn their skills into an industry.
Hopefully, the decision makers will take note of this appeal.