Jalan Alor survived from the name being changed not too long ago. - File Photo
KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur decided to change the name of its streets, yet again.
Just when most KL-lites (including me) are still sour over the attempted name change back in 2008 (from Jalan Alor to Jalan Kejora) City Hall recently announced its decision to boldly implement another phase of street names modification.
Eight of the city’s beloved, historical street will now be royally named after past kings, in an effort to heighten the identity of the country's monarchy.
Would these name change do us good?
Really, I have no qualms with the move to change the street names. In fact, I am all up for us to remember the sovereignty of the royal rulers.
But, I strongly feel that there are other bigger fields that we could go for this, that would cost a much lesser pain for the people and with the same impact and objective.
The Federal Territory of Putrajaya, for instance. We can name the entire existing precincts there (which is now just numbered) after the Kings and save us all the trouble of getting royally lost in KL.
And so, as a tax-paying citizen, who loves her city, and with utmost optimism to learn the reason and importance of this change, I called City Hall, last Tuesday.
City Hall’s Corporate Communication Director, Dr Ismail Stapa said that the authorities have arrived at the during one of the cabinet meetings.
“Very likely, there will be more streets that will share the same fate,” said Ismail
For City Hall, changing of street names is common ever since the early age of independence in the 1960’s and further in the 1980’s as part of post-independence decolonisation.
To further understand the reasons, I queried him: if that is the case then why are we changing street names that have already been changed - re: Jalan Duta which formerly known as Guillemard Road?
What about the historical value of these streets? Was there any meeting with heritage agencies or bodies prior? Was there a public discussion that the public missed out?
How much cost incurred to change these signages?
Ismail answered that the cost is between RM3,000 and RM5,000 per signage. In total, he would not how many signages to be changed. He can’t even estimate - it is just too technical for him. Ismail obligingly said that he did not have the answers to the rest of my questions and that City Hall was just doing as per instructed by the Federal Territories Ministry. He said, it would be best to further direct my questions to the Ministry.
I attempted making a couple of calls to the Ministry but to no avail. I had to let it go because I was just too swamped to pursue the answers.
This is what I learnt from my brief chat with City Hall:
It is important that we learn and remember the names of our previous kings by putting it on major streets without considering the heritage value and the legacy that place or that street name holds.
That the identity of the monarchy is greater that the identity of the nation.
And that Malaysians are just a bunch of sporting lots.
We do grumble and rant for a bit but eventually, we do let decisions like this passed us - that we could and will endure all the complexities life has to offer by this kind of change.
Like names on all our maps, street directories, road signs, addresses and personal identification documents.
I can only imagine the amount of re-printing that needs to be done by the government office complex in Jalan Duta (oops ... I mean Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim)
Most importantly, I learnt that we (the people) are bright and bubbly as a whole, that we, yet again savour change without having a say.
That we will get use to major change made in our country, in due time (like we always do) because we are actually the kings of change.
After all, without change, KL would not be the wonderful and dynamic place it is and always been.
In the words of Sheryl Crow - A change would do us good