(File pix) Central Market has a long history of showcasing Malaysian art and craft. Pix by Asyraf Hamzah

PASAR Seni (Central Market), in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, is widely marketed in our tourist brochures. But, today, it appears to be ‘seni’ in name only.

When this wet market, back in 1985, was made over to house handmade Malaysian art and craft, and to showcase skills, the public welcomed it.

Many Malaysians took up booths or work-desk space to demonstrate their skills, and offered customised items for sale.

In fact, it gave one great pride to bring their foreign friends and guests to Pasar Seni, so they could get a first-hand experience and purchase what was regarded as Malaysian works of beauty.

Today, the stuff one buys at Central Market is the same as those purchased at any mall or Petaling Street. Pasar Seni sells “Made in China” clothing and a variety of imported, factory-made goods. There is nothing authentic of Malaysian craft and art left.

These factory-produced goods fail to give Pasar Seni its rightful place.

Many Malaysian talents cannot afford the rental as the space is taken up by commercial retailers. Even sports souvenirs and nameplates are being sold there now.

It is time the authorities donned their thinking caps to right the situation.

Give back to our young and retirees a place where they can showcase their talent and skills in art and craft.

Let Malaysians showcase their glass paintings, hand-drawn batik apparel, paintings, sketches and woodwork. Let Pasar Seni be a melting pot of sorts where Malaysians can put their skills to work and, at the same time, earn money.

Pasar Seni must be a “talked-about destination” for locals to show off their creative talent; a great place for tourists (including Malaysians) to go to and appreciate art and craft that are locally made.

There are enough commercial outlets in Kuala Lumpur to sell mass-produced local and imported wares. Do not let Pasar Seni lose its character.

We should make it easy and attractive for youths to come here and show off their skills and gain recognition.


Kuala Lumpur