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Monday, September 30, 2013

After 75 years, a farewell to the Lok Ann


Pieces of deep-red paper are plastered on the walls of the the Lok Ann restaurant in Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, with sad messages of farewell from loyal patrons.

NONEIn turn, a banner outside the premises thanks patrons for their support over the last 75 years of the operations, under three generations of the same family.

The restaurant closed its doors after a full day’s business at 6.20pm yesterday. The hotel upstairs will follow suit later this month.

NONEThe premises have to be vacated under a land acquisition order issued last June, after the owner refused to sign an allegedly unfair agreement with the company building the mass rapid transit system.

Although a challenge has been filed in court, a ruling is only expected in six months.

“There are a lot of memories here,” reminisced Lok Ann spokesperson Judy Tan.

Lok Ann Hotel operator Steven Yong said the building was designed by an English architect, and that it is the only one of its kind in Jalan Sultan.

NONEIf every one of the old shops in the area is removed, he noted, then the world-famous Jalan Petaling tourism district will lose its main attractions.

Yesterday, about 100 heritage activists from the NGO Kaki Jelajah Warisan and supporters gathered to write messages of farewell.

A banner was hung up to protest the government’s ‘ brutal destruction’ of the city’s cultural heritage.

‘I want to complain. The government has colluded with businessmen, plundered land to build the MRT and is putting up a 118-storey ‘fake heritage’ skyscraper,’ reads the banner.

NONEOrganiser Cheng Fui Lien said the activity was to prevent the Lok Ann from fading away silently, and to step up public awareness of the need to preserve the culture heritage of Kuala Lumpur.

Herbal tea hawker Tong Yu Cai, who operates opposite the Lok Ann, said the demolition of buildings along the street is one reason why tourist arrivals in Jalan Petaling have declined.
“I have been doing business here for 40 years. Usually there are lots of tourists, but there has been sharp decline in recent years. The reason? There is no more old things to see, so why would they come?” he asked rhetorically.

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