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Posted by Zulkarnai Harun Ar Rashid |

IS this KL?????

By Jonathan Edward and Hannah Jonas
mmnews@mmail.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR — The long Chinese New Year weekend saw the capital turn into a ghost town, with major roads nearly devoid of traffic.

Many city folk left the city to visit relatives in hometowns for family reunions.

Roads such as Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, normally notorious for massive jams, were empty.
Those who had chosen to spend the holidays in the city were pleasantly surprised at the lack of traffic and were seen driving around at a leisurely pace.

While the city had seemingly been emptied of its local residents, there were certain areas that saw  extraordinary activity with throngs of tourists and foreign workers.

There was a carnival-like atmosphere with crowds of migrant workers filling Jalan Silang, Kota Raya and Central Market, areas well known as tourist haunts.

Despite the celebration being important to Malaysia’s Chinese community, several Chinese-owned stalls and kiosks at Petaling Street, popularly known as Chinatown were still operating.
Ng Kheng Hock, 35, was doing brisk business selling soy bean drinks as both tourists and foreign workers flocked to his stall for relief from the heat.

“We had our get-together last night and now it is back to work. I’m not charging more or profiteering. As you can see, I have no shortage of customers,” he said.

Jalan Silang, Jalan Yap Ah Loy and Kota Raya were filled with foreign workers who had been given leave.

S. Mohsin, 25, a factory worker from Bangladesh, said his employer had given him and other staff a generous ang pau and three days off.

Sri Lal and Ram Bokhari, who work as security guards, were also given leave for the New Year.

“It is very nice to be able to have some free time. I’m going to send the extra money home and just spend some time with friends,” he said.

KLCC was also filled with tourists who had come to watch a traditional Chinese drum performance but were disappointed with how tame the festivities seemed to be.

Gary Worzbyt, 68, from United States, who had come as part of a tour, said the festivities were grander in other states.
“Malacca was really decked out for the celebrations but it does not seem to be the same in the capital. I find this surprising and I wonder where all the Malaysians are,” he said.

A tourist who only wanted to be known as Stanislav, 29, had come to the country to visit friends and do some shopping. He was surprised there did not seem to be much happening in the city.

“Where are all the locals? I thought this was an important holiday. Besides the decorations, I do not see anything interesting going on,” he said.

Other areas such as Dataran Merdeka were deserted, with small groups of tourists walking around and taking pictures of historical buildings.

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Several places such as Jalan Silang and Kota Raya were teeming with foreign workers. — Picture by Muzakkir Sazali

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