COVID-19 changed the usual busy sight of Dataran Merdeka


In Kuala Lumpur downtown, no one can miss Dataran Merdeka. It is a centre stage of the heart of Kuala Lumpur, a place surrounded by historic buildings, financial centres, old police headquarters Bukit Aman, and famously the old court building.

Dataran Merdeka is usually a busy place for locals to move around to the nearby office and such. On the other hand, it is pretty crowded, full of tourists from around the world.

It’s for sure not to miss tourist buses, vans parked along the Dataran Merdeka area, and different tourists enjoying taking pictures while mesmerized with the historic beauty.

Today while writing this story, after passing by the area, returning home from work, practically I just missed the usual busy scenario.

Do we call this a ‘new normal’? No tourists were seen around Dataran Merdeka.

Covid-19 has interrupted the world in unfashionable circumstances, ruining the world economy at once.

Malaysia is no exception to the harsh realities of what a single pandemic could do to her economy.

The once traffic-filled streets, with hype and abuzz of activities of people commuting to work, has become silent.

The feeling of when we shall resume to ‘normalcy’ was running deep in my mind; as I drove along a quiet Dataran Merdeka.

From seeing scores of tourists around the area, I only saw two European tourists along Jalan Hang Kasthuri and could not help but wonder, how did they manage to survive as a traveler during the pandemic.

However, foreign workers were seen in JalanTun H.S Lee, JalanGereja, and JalanPudu going about their daily work.

Brickfields was hype with economic activity, but there is no sight of tourists walking along its streets.

The tourism industry remains the most affected and slowest to recuperate.

With flight cancellations on the rise, empty hotels, and sleepy tourist’s spots, the tourism industry has to wait until it returns to normalcy.

Truly, this situation is pretty sad and unimaginable for those working in the tourism sector.

They could face job cuts and retrenchment due to low tourist turn out.

I hope our government will take the necessary steps to help and gradually save the tourism and hotel industry with more robust and proactive approaches.

Additionally, it is also a good idea to give any re-skilling or upskilling training for those affected by the tourism industry.

Ending with a note, I hope this situation quickly comes to an end, wishing to spot a vibrant and busy Dataran Merdeka.

Getting back to normal is equivalent to rejuvenating our economy.


By—Cecilia J Victor ( former Bernama journalist and One Malaya correspondent)