By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Alarmed by notices telling them to clear out by month-end, Bukit Bintang Plaza (BB Plaza) traders today gave mall owner UDA Holdings Bhd one week to explain the fate of their businesses in the government’s plan for the Klang Valley MRT. In their maiden protest held outside the iconic 1970s-built mall in the city’s busiest shopping district this morning, some 50 traders threatened to stage more such events if their demands are not met.
This, coupled with previous protests by other affected traders in different parts of the city, could see further delays to Malaysia’s plan to build its first mass rapid transit rail system meant to increase urban connectivity.
BB Plaza traders today said they support the government’s plans to site the MRT’s largest of 13 stations beneath their premises but want to be included in on negotiations between UDA Holdings, MRT Corporation and the Treasury on future plans for business owners.
There has been no engagement to date, they claimed, saying that their only source of information was through the media and shady information obtained from their sources in UDA Holdings.
“Do we still have a future in BB Plaza? We want to know,” the group’s spokesman Hassan Saad asked.
The Malaysian Insider reported earlier this month plans by MRT Corp to clear out BB Plaza’s tenants by 2013 to make way for the construction of a massive underground station, which will begin with the building’s foyer and the adjoining Yayasan Selangor building.
BB Plaza houses a majority of Malay businesses while Chinese businessmen run their companies in the adjoining Sungei Wang Plaza and nearby shophouses.
“For many of us, BB Plaza has sentimental value. Some of us have been here from the very beginning, since the mall was set up,” trader Zainal Leena told The Malaysian Insider today.
The entrepreneur owns and operates Z-Line Boutique, a women’s fashion house, at the lower ground floor of the mall.
“I have been here for 22 years. Business is not to say that good... but it is our rice bowl and we have survived all these decades. Where are we to go now?” he said.
MORE TO COME