Saturday, February 23, 2008

Déjà vu

Since the first day of our arrival in Kuala Lumpur, about two-and-a-half years ago, both Tari and I share one (of our many) impressions of KL. We think that KL today (or at least part of it) is somewhat like Jakarta around the 80's and 90's - with today's technology.

Don't get me wrong - this is mostly positive impression.

When our relocation agent took us to the Central Market, it immediately reminded us to Blok M, especially the part next to Aldiron Plaza, where Bakmi Boy and shops selling custom plaques, stickers and shirts were located - near the bowling alley. Aldiron Plaza, by the way, rocked. I remember two or three music stores on the ground floor, some video rentals on the top floor, and of course Happy Days. Those were the happy days...
(photo from Yahoo! Travel)

We also think that traffic here is comparable to that of Jakarta in the early 90's - both from the perspectives of traffic jam or congestion, and also from the number of motorcycles. Oh how we thank God for this.

The on-going development, i.e. structural construction, is also similar, in one way or another. There is hardly any places in KL that passes the day without any construction - just like Jakarta during its booming period. Even development of commercial places in residential areas is happening - which I don't think is a good thing.

Nightlife seems to be around the ballpark. I ain't no club hopper - far from it; but even then I can clearly tell the difference from what my friends in Jakarta tell me (yeah, right). You know, it's like the era of Musro, Ori, Ebony, or Parrots in Jakarta. Or when Kemang was still under control. Or Studio East in Bandung. Ouch!

The recent arrest of HINDRAF's members was also quite identical to how freedom of speech was in Indonesia in the 80's. Even Taiping prison seems to serve the same function as Nusa Kambangan prison (well, they are both prisons).

I believe there are more that, being insensitive and ignorant, I overlooked. But my take is, if history is to repeat itself, these two neighboring countries have to learn from each other.

Malaysia can learn to not repeat the mistakes that Indonesia made - whatever they were. For Indonesia, having long term plan and vision (and execute them with less deviation) is probably one of the things to copy from Malaysia.