Tourist of My Own Town: The Lost World of Jalan Kem

Unplanned development, the main source of chaotic city and traffic woes in developing worlds, can also curse a bustling port city into a lost, ghost town.

Such is the case where the North Port Bridge (constructed in 2001) siphoned the life force off the shop lots around Jalan Kem by diverting away traffic and sunlight from the area. What used to be a stronghold for small family owned business is now a harrowing street of dilapidated and forgotten buildings with few remaining shops tenaciously eking out a living under perpetual shadow of the bridge.

Beneath the Shadow

Not shown are the trash, rubbish heaps, rotten bed mattresses and clogged drains around the area. The abandoned and lost world are so grossly unsanitary that The STAR newspaper has covered residential complaints for three straight years running since 2014.  In 2014, the local council (Majlis Perbandaran Klang) has launched a token effort to clean up the area with a 10 men task force for the entire stretch of Jalan Kem. The hilariously half-hearted effort was predictably ineffective despite the dogged protest of the local residence and Jalan Kem remains a rotten mess. One has to ask: what on earth happened to the 32 million ringgit promised by Selangor Government to the 12 local authorities of Port Klang to maintain and revamp the image of the town?

Gopal Motorcycle Services and Repair (97B Jalan Kem), a small business owned by Mr Ramesh, is one of the surviving resident and his workshop maintained an air of 1980s. Grease smeared and smoke filled, the workshop is nevertheless an echoes of the past glory of Jalan Kem with its neatly arranged repair tools and mountainous piles of repair related documents. Tradition and heritage trades can and must be preserved; the local authorities just need to provide the minimum required maintenance and the infrastructural support. 

If there is one thing the local government lack, it is the vision to move forward and improve. The notorious spirit of "cukup-makan" is NOT ENOUGH, especially so for the leaders that are supposedly mandated by the people to improve their lives and the glory of the city. The heritage of Port Klang could be much, much more beautiful than what my camera and skill could hope to document. We need to preserve the heritage, we need to maintain the cleanliness and we need to be responsible for the growth and preservation of our own hometown. 


When the word is overused to the point of revulsion, "Vision" is a cliche that never fails to make me roll my eyes. But this time.... With all the unplanned/underdevelopment of city, political turmoil and scandals that continuous to roil the government, I could not help but ask: what exactly, is the top echelon's "Vision" for the country? Do they even have one? Or "cukup-makan" will be the nation's motto? 

 Is the decaying Jalan Kem the harbinger of what is yet to come? Only time will tell.