A feng shui tour of the Klang Valley #21

Over the past few issues, we took a stroll down memory lane and explored the older part of Kuala Lumpur. Our tour stopped somewhere in the middle of Jalan Tun H.S. Lee at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple.

Before we continue down this road, let us take a quick detour and look at Jalan Sultan Mohamed and Jalan Hang Kasturi, to wrap up our look at this part of town. This corner of Kuala Lumpur is noted for the Klang Bus Station, once a bustling terminus for buses that plied between Kuala Lumpur and Klang, plus towns in between, such as Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam.

The terminal was a bus station, car park, restaurant and dry market all in one. Its walls were darkened by fumes and pedestrians had to mindfully cross the road as this was where the terrors known as minibuses also made their stops before making a dash into Jalan Syed Putra, the start of the Federal Highway.
The Klang Bus Station sits in a quite conducive environment: It directly faces the Klang River (albeit at a slight convex curve) and there are hills behind it. It is no surprise that it was such a happening place despite being noisy, dusty and smelly!

In the past few years, the landscape has changed. Jalan Sultan Mohamed has been turned into a one-way street. Minibuses are no more. A Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line was built running between this road and the river, with the Pasar Seni LRT station located directly opposite the Klang Bus Station. Adjacent to this, along Jalan Hang Kasturi, is the Rapid KL bus hub.

Train lines tend to have an adverse effect on their surroundings as fast-moving trains affect the local wind patterns. There is a push of air in front of the trains and suction at the rear. Winds, as we know, disperse energy.

In this part of town, the effects are probably mitigated somewhat by the pool of energy that gathers at riverbanks. So although the area is not as conducive anymore, it still has some life. The budget Star Hotel, facing the river, enjoys good occupancy to this very day.
Further north, we find the tail end of Jalan Tun Sambanthan from Brickfields, which turns into Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. This area used to be called “jee teen kai” in Cantonese, which means “sky-pointing street”. In the old days, there were many Indian labourers who worked here and during breaks, they would engage each other in animated conversation. It must have been an amusing sight to behold, as these gentlemen would be waving their hands and pointing their fingers left, right and skyward: hence the Chinese nickname for the street!

Jalan Hang Kasturi (formerly known as Rodger Road) runs all the way from the Rapid KL station past Central Market to Lebuh Pasar Besar. However, a section of it, between Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Lebuh Pudu, is now a pedestrian mall, and impassable to automobiles except for delivery trucks and service vehicles.

The Central Market, or Pasar Seni, is very strategically located. It is situated in the heart of town and just beside the river. The British built this wet market in 1888 for tin miners and Kuala Lumpur townsfolk. Believe it or not, it used to be an open wet market area. As the market grew in popularity and size, a more permanent structure was constructed. The final expansion, bearing the now-familiar art deco façade, was done in 1933.

In the 1970s, there were plans to demolish the market and surrounding shops. There were also talks of levelling these buildings when the nearby Dayabumi Complex was constructed in the early 1980s. Being one of Kuala Lumpur’s earliest skyscrapers, Dayabumi did not want an eyesore at its doorstep. Thankfully, the Malaysian Heritage Society managed to save these buildings and thus preserve this part of our nation’s rich history.

Central Market was declared a heritage site and subsequently converted into a centre for promoting Malaysian culture, arts and handicraft, a role which it still maintains to this day. The architects cleverly and wisely preserved the external structure and its sense of history.

From a feng shui perspective, the ideal facing direction would be directly toward the river. This would have been possible if there was a road between the river and market. However, since the building sits next to the river, this is not a practical answer.

So, what are the factors that contribute to the Central Market’s continuing appeal to tourists, apart from good marketing and branding activities? We believe one of them is its entrance. The main entrance, where the iconic façade of the market is found, is at the side of the building, opening into a small car park. This is also the closest point to the bus station, which makes perfect sense in terms of attracting people into the building.

Now, it so happens that this entrance runs parallel to the river facing downstream. This is a very good direction for any building’s entrance. As long as the main entrance remains in this direction – and the river is not redirected – Central Market should continue to thrive for years to come.

Along the length of the building, there are side entrances – this was, after all, an open wet market. These entrances make it convenient for energy forces to “leak out” and disperse instead of accumulate. Hence, we can see a lot of people passing through and not stopping, especially for shops on both sides of the Central Market, upstairs and downstairs. Retailers here should notice this effect.

It would be ideal if there are no entrances here but that would be impractical. For safety reasons as well as ease of access, there must be more doors. To mitigate this situation, I would recommend slowing the people traffic through these doors. Fenced barricades could be erected on the sidewalk just outside the door to prevent pedestrians from crossing the road directly in front of the entrance. This would make them stop, and walk to the sides before crossing the street.

Central Market has expanded to a neighbouring annexe building. This building would do well if its main entrance faces the river or goes with the river flow. As things would have it, one of the entrances do! It ought to do quite well.

Next to this, we find Bangunan Majlis Peguam (Bar Council Building). Due to its configuration, the building faces Lebuh Pasar Besar. This is a very convenient location, due to its proximity to the courts along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin just down the road.

Alas, feng shui scribes observed centuries ago that buildings that parallel the river and face upstream, tend to create mental disturbance. Even the ancient tajul muluk practised by pawangs in the East Coast cautioned against doing so, describing it as setting a fishing net facing upstream: it traps detritus and brings no mental peace. One can even say it creates idiots.

Perhaps this is a contributory factor behind the challenges faced by the legal profession in the country and the turbulent times faced by the council over the years. It could do better if the main entrance is realigned to face the river. The same goes for the Bar Council building located at the Magistrate, Sessions and High courts along Jalan Tun Perak.

Before we move on up the river, there is an interesting story to tell of the Chinese Sinseh Temple near the Central Market. Located on Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, the temple sits on land once owned by Yap Ah Loy, the famous Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur who revived the town’s fortunes after the Selangor Civil War ruined the tin mining business.

The temple was run by a board of trustees which included Yap Kwan Seng. Yap Ah Loy’s descendants thought it was not very wise to give away prime land such as this and sued the temple for its return. The legal tussle ended in a compromise: the temple gave up a portion of this land, which was later sold to the Hong Leong group.

By the way, it is a little sad to find the Kapitan honoured with just a tiny one-way street between Lebuh Pasar Besar and Jalan Hang Lekiu.

Jalan Hang Kasturi ends at the intersection with Lebuh Pasar Besar and Medan Pasar. As mentioned in an earlier article, this was the original site of the main wet market and heart of town. People gathered here to trade goods and gossip. The Chinese calls this part of town “five lampposts” because of there were five distinctive lampposts here.
With the large number of historical buildings here, one wonders what would have happened if this former square and its surrounding area were converted into a pedestrian mall and tourist attraction, like what Macau has done with its iconic and popular Senado Square.

A tract bordered by the Klang River, Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Jalan Petaling and Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, would make an great historical centre, with colonial-style buildings and shops. Wishful thinking, I suppose.

In any case, buildings along the Medan Pasar road should do well if they face the Klang River on the West. Those that have their backs to the river are not likely to enjoy good conducive energy. Business would be difficult or fluctuate wildly. Success, if enjoyed, may last for only one generation.

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