Ampang Park is a cheaper alternative to other more sophisticated malls in the vicinity.

THE Malaysia Book of Records lists Ampark Park as the first shopping centre in Malaysia. Built in 1973, it pioneered the trend for future shopping centres in the country.

Not many Malaysians realise that it is an epitome of 1Malaysia. It was developed by the Low brothers (Low Keng Huat Brothers Realty Sdn Bhd), and today it is known for the extensive range of Malay fashion apparel. No Hari Raya is complete without a visit to Ampang Park, says Ampang Park 1Malaysia Traders Association vice-president Wan Kamal Izzuddin.

 It is a cheaper alternative to other more sophisticated malls in the vicinity like Suria KLCC and Avenue K.

As for me, it is still fresh in my mind, walking from Kampung Baru and crossing the bridge over Sungai Kelang, walking past the Jalan Ampang Muslim cemetery to go watch movies at Ampang Park — there were no cineplexes then. Mind you, I was alone since I had not picked up the skills to attract the fairer sex.

Today, the owners have received a letter from the Land Office for compulsory acquisition, for Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) to build a station there when in reality the station involves only a part of the area.

City Hall wants to relocate all the traders in the mall, but to where? Details are not available. In business, location is a key consideration.

If they are to be relocated, would they be compensated?

I think MRT Corp would not like to set a precedent for that. Further, ample time should be given to prepare for it.

The owners were given two options — compensation for land acquisition or sign a mutual agreement, which will see them own the surface land while the ground beneath is surrendered to the government. With the mutual agreement, Ampang Park will be demolished and a new shopping centre will be built for the
owners once the MRT project is completed.

I would offer a friendly advice to the owners of Ampang Park: exchange notes with people from Jalan Sultan to understand what
is involved and have a better
understanding of any possible
issue.

It seems the conditions stated for the shopping centre to remain were not acceptable. The shop owners have to unanimously agree to vacate the mall for at least seven years (the duration of the construction), and the shopping centre will be closed off with construction hoarding.

Why does it take seven years to construct Line 2 after having the experience with Line 1, which has a shorter construction period?

 I hope the authorities will listen to the affected stakeholders.

I take my hat off to Prasarana Malaysia Bhd for agreeing to change the route of the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3), which was originally planned to cut through the housing area of Taman Muhibah, Klang, but which will be changed to Pasar Besar Klang in Jalan Meru.

The station, which was initially planned to be built next to SMK Tinggi Klang, will also be changed.

I am sure the owner of Ampang Park will not say “now that you have robbed me of my land, there is nothing for me to do but issue invitations to a war dance”.

But, I sincerely hope that the authorities will not end the life of this iconic and the first shopping centre in Malaysia.

As the lead social development specialist in the World Bank’s Development Research Group, Dr Michael Woolcock, said, although economic growth is necessary, it is still insufficient as development involves a four-fold transformation, namely in economy, society, politics, and administration.

While drafting this article, a wave of nostalgia swept over me when I recalled buying my engagement ring at Ampang Park at Far East Jewellers about 35 years and two months ago, to start the next journey of my life, which thereafter gave life to my wonderful children.

n Saleh Mohammed, Kuala Lumpur