Sunday, 8 July 2012

Chin Woo 'will not surrender' stadium for development

Chin Woo Athletic Association secretary-general Chew Kee Hui has refuted rumours that it plans to surrender its 91-year-old stadium in the Jln Sultan vicinity for development related to the MRT and Menara Warisan, stressing the organisation is firm on preserving its as a heritage building.

“I want to clarify that (talk that we are selling off the stadium) are pure rumours. Under the leadership of current board member, we are not selling this precious asset of the Chinese community.

“We are in full solidarity with Chinese society and the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in preserving the street,” he told some 150 attendees at the MRT public consultation session yesterday.

Founded in Sept 1921 in the spirit of China’s renowned martial artist Huo Yuan Jia, Chin Woo rose to become a focus for various sports activities in an era when recreational facilities were scarce.

The multipurpose stadium offers courses on Chinese martial arts, lion dance, sports, arts and drama, chess and others.

Earlier this week, Merdeka Review reported the association chairperson Lim Chee Shen saying that selling the property for the construction of 100-storey Menara Warisan and the MRT project was an option should there be a good offer.

Chew yesterday however attributed the remark as Lim’s joke to the reporter who had set him the trap question.

Save Jln Sultan’s heritage

Chew was speaking at the three-hour consultation session on the MRT project between land owners and the government, which saw zero attendance by relevant government agencies invited.

He read out two motions passed by the association two weeks ago to demand the MRT’s  realignment, and to preserve the cultural heritage of Jln Sultan and Chinatown in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

“Chin Woo is part of the Chinese community. When our assets were frozen in the 1970s, it was the Chinese community who donated funds to resuscitate the association,” he said.

Meanwhile, activists and artists also warned that the MRT project will impact the historical and cultural landscape of Jln Sultan.

Activist and artist Hishamuddin Rais mocked the government for having a warped sense of heritage preservation, as the latter often erects new structures in heritage zones.

Citing the example of Chinatown in Kuala Terengganu, he said the authorities had built new structures behind the township before branding it as a tourist attraction.

“Heritage is connected to collective memory. They have failed to understand the meaning of putting structures, and what the structures will signify,” he said.

He said Jln Sultan used to be a street of shoe makers, and it will forever stick as the collective memory of that generation.

Painter Victor Chin, showing a map detailing some 16 cultural and heritage structures around Jln Sultan, lamented that many of these sites like Merdeka Park had been sacrificed for development.

He urged the government to draw a comprehensive cultural and historical map as these constitute an important element to KL’s history.

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