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Apart from being a shopping destination, Petaling Street also has a deep history and culture, particularly of the Chinese community in Malaysia. This makes it a must-see place for tourists interested in experiencing the various cultures Malaysia has to offer. — TRP pic
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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2, 2015:
Anyone walking down Petaling Street for the first time will not be able to dismiss the sight of shops with tens of years of history, reflecting the culture of the nation’s Chinese community.
Among one that stands out is a soya bean stall, standing rooted on the ground that has been famously dubbed by tourists as Chinatown.
This was also a stall that was the favourite of the nation’s longest-serving former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Kim Soya Bean still proudly displays articles dated years ago relaying how its tau foo fah (soya bean curd) was among the very few delicacies Dr Mahathir had requested for when he was warded at the National Heart Institute (IJN) in 2007.
“This business has gone on for more than 50 years and has passed through three generations.
“Dr Mahathir used to get his men to come and pack my tau foo fah and soya bean; they were his favourite,” Ng Lee Yam told The Rakyat Post recently.
“I get a lot of customers every day and as you can see, they are not of any particular race.
“Chinese, Malays, Indians — they all stand under the roof of my small stall and eat together, disregarding whatever differences some quarters have tried to use to pit Malaysians against one another.
“My customers are all my friends and they have supported me for years.
“I have customers who came since they were small. Now, when they visit my shop, they will tell me how they used to buy tau foo fah from my father,” he told The Rakyat Post.
Melvin Chan, 34, is the third generation managing Fung Wong biscuits, a brand started by his great grandfather almost a century ago.
They also sell local drinks at a stall opposite the shop which holds years and years of history in Petaling Street,
“This is why Petaling Street is important to the tourism industry. It has always been a big tourist attraction as this is where you get to see the true Chinese culture.
“A lot of Chinese brands available today also started here.”
Another trader in Petaling Street, who only wanted to be known as Mr Ng, has worked at Loong Kee stall selling meat strips for many years, saying that the business started its operation in Petaling Street more than 40 years ago.
He has been a first-hand witness to the changes that have taken place around the area, saying that no matter what situation the country was in, Petaling Street had never been short of tourists coming from all over the world.
“This area looks more and more like a Chinatown as the years pass by.
“I think that this is due to the fact that the Chinatown look really appeals to tourists who travel around Asia to really experience the various cultures.
“Malaysia, with its diverse races and religions, really provides that.
“If you take away the essence of Petaling Street, the country will lose one of its most attractive tourist attractions.”
* This is the first part to The Rakyat Post’s series on Petaling Street. Stay with us for the remainder of this five-parter.