Friday, May 29, 2009

A Piece Of History In Ashes

It seem like a long time ago, now. When we moved to Petaling Jaya from Kota Bharu, Kelantan, the only noteworthy place to go then was PJ New Town, or 'State', as it was called, by virtue of the State Cinema located there. It still is. Both, the cinema, and the area around that it - a landmark that refused to be demolished. Not that there were no efforts to do so before, mind you. But it stood defiant against the partial redevelopment around it.

Other than State, PJ had nothing much to offer then with the exception of Section 14, where a large open air eatery by the name of Medan Selera can be found. It was nothing grand. But folks around PJ would throng to it at night, and especially during the weekends. Off course, there was also the wet market located some 200-300 meters up the road. It would not mean much to some, except in a stall just outside the wet market, a Makcik sold what was reputed to be the best Lontong dish in town. Though the Makcik - I was informed - is no longer around, her dish is still much sought after by many and is normally sold out by 9am. The business now run by her son, has remained true to her recipe; a legacy that stood the test of time and development (they now operate in the wet market/parking complex).

Opposite to the wet market then, was a cooperative supermarket with the name Usahajaya which provided delivery right to the doorsteps of a buyer.But unlike the business of the Makcik and her Lontong, Usahajaya began losing its customers to a new competitor, whose very presence spoke of a reputable name in the business, Cold Storage. The new supermarket and the building it resides in, was called Jaya Supermarket.

Pic courtesy of MStar Online.

For some PJ folks, the supermarket of Jaya itself may not be much to gawk at as there was, some few years before, another supermarket by the name of Thrifty. Thrifty, as the name suggest, sold its goods at a much more competitive price. But as it was a supermarket and nothing more than that. Jaya, on the other hand, was more than a supermarket. It was a mini shopping complex. It had entertainment (in the form of a pub-restaurant on the 1st floor, complete with a live band). It was new. It was trendy.

Perhaps more importantly, it was located on the northern part of PJ - the Federal Highway was and still is the border line. Being on the northern part which was experiencing rapid development then, meant Jaya was also easily accessible to the rising number of middle class residents there, as well as the more affluent folks of the Section 16 enclave.

When I read about the tragedy in the old Jaya, I was as much shocked about the death as well as the puzzled about the demolishing job. Shocked, as it does seem strange for a building as sturdy as Jaya could collapse so easily (I have to add that I do not know the stage of progress of work done). Puzzled, as I had actually forgotten that Jaya had been closed and was marked for redevelopment. But when I read MStar (from the same link below the pic), then it dawned on me that I must have not visited visited the area for a very long time.

For many who are not aware of the area, apart from Jaya Supermarket, the other attraction there is the street leading down to the Section 14 Mosque, where hawkers would be selling their delicacies which include, a favourite of many and yours truly, the popiah of a one S.A.Bakar. I don't know if he is still in business. But for one who had been selling popiah on a bicycle, Bakar had managed to purchase 2 double-storey houses somewhere in PJ.

It does seem sad, now when one reflect upon it, that the building is no longer around. It, was The Place to be. It, was what spurred the growth of the area. It, became not just a landmark, but also an icon. But it, was also the scourge of many cursing motorist who had difficulty finding a parking bay, causing many to double or illegally park their vehicles. And that, led to more swearing as traffic builds up, at times one whole round around Jaya Supermarket. And off course, the later on addition of Metrojaya did not help one tiny bit at all - it just added on to it. And later still, the presence of more commercial banks and franchised food outlets made the streets there a chaotic scene.

In a cruel manner of speaking, perhaps it is better the way it presently.

Now, and I believe this to be the same prayers as many others, let us hope that the redevelopment would look into all aspects of the area such as traffic problems, and the presence of undesirable elements.

Jaya Supermarket. Adios, old friend.


  1. Salam...

    from whut l read...supermarket ni tempat shopping besh in 80's...

    PJ pun tidak tahu dekat kan pula bangunan biru...uhuks

  2. salam..pernah gak ke Section 14 ni dulu lebih sepuluh tahun gak la, akak kat UIA PJ masa tu selalu bawa saya makan kat sana kalau saya datang jumpa dia

  3. W'salam Cello,

    Hmm...nak kata besh tu, tak jugak. But, it was the only one in PJ at that point of time.

    Lor...tak tahu PJ kat mana? Meh, datang KL. Leh den tunjukkan :)

  4. W'salam arsaili,

    Ha! Kalau tang makan, den setuju, kek sect 14 ada pilihan lebih sikit. Tapi la ni, rasanya dah berkurangan amat sangat kut.

  5. Salam CA,
    semua yg CA cerita pasal PJ ni,memang tepat sekali,buat den tersonyum,raso brings down to the memory lane,trifty supermarket and metro jaya,tapi dolu2 den suko gak mandi-manda kat kompleks ronang kat kelab syabas tu,ala..dokek A&W tu...pun dah tutup....tapi PJ ni sebonar eeii,boring gak kan?

  6. W'salam rs,

    A'ah ek, swimming pool tu, lupo den. Den waktu sekolah rondah dulu, poie sano tiap minggu untuk kelas renang (Sekolah Sri Petaling). Masuk je sekolah menengah, tak jejak lagi kek situ kerana VI ado swimming pool sendiri :)