KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Changing the names of nine major roads in the capital will affect its heritage and history, said Badan Warisan executive director Elizabeth Cardosa.
The change had caused confusion even before the signs were erected as City Hall admitted it misspelt Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim.
It had earlier stated that Jalan Duta would be renamed Jalan Tunku Abdul Halim in a press release.
Tuanku Abdul Halim is the first sultan to be named Agong twice.
Cardosa said street names had heritage value and were part of the legacy of a place.
“They provide a wonderful opportunity to tell the history of the place and its communities,” she said.
“When we dig deeper and think of how it affects the identity of a city and its sense of place, changing road names will diminish our heritage and history.”
Cardosa said there should have been a public consultation prior to the change.
“At a very basic level, imagine how impractical this is and the potential confusion which may result from it,” she said.
“We will need to change the names on all our maps, street directories, road signs, addresses and personal identification documents.”
She said while there were good reasons to commemorate previous kings, there were also other opportunities to do so.
“New major road systems are being constructed, not only in Kuala Lumpur but also in Putrajaya,” she said.
This was in response to the announcement that several major roads in Kuala Lumpur would be renamed effective today.
KL mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib said the instructions from the Federal Territories Ministry for the name change was to recognise the country’s rulers.
“The proposal was given to us on June 4 this year, and we have prepared the signs accordingly.”
“The new road signs will have the previous road names bracketed below the new names.”
Ahmad Phesal said City Hall would start by changing the road signs before replacing the larger directional signs on main roads.
The total cost for changing the eight road signs was approximately RM5,000 while the cost to change the directional signs ranged between RM3,000 and RM5,000 per sign.
Ahmad Phesal said Pos Malaysia has already been notified of the road changes to avoid confusion over addresses.
Ahmad Phesal later clarified the actual name for Jalan Duta was Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim instead of Jalan Tunku Abdul Halim as published in its press statement.
City Hall had previously come under fire in 2008 after it wanted to rename Jalan Alor to Jalan Kejora.
The name change was also news to KL MPs, with Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng saying he was not informed of the move despite having seven of the roads within his constituency.
“It was breaking news for me too,” he said.
He said new roads should be named in honour of past rulers instead of changing the names of existing roads.
“I have the highest respect for the past agongs, and it is correct to name roads after them for the people to remember their legacy. However, it should be done with new roads as there is a lot of new development coming up,” he said.
Lim said the change would cause confusion to the people as well as governmental agencies.
“Jalan Mahameru and Jalan Duta have been there for ages, which makes them not only historical but iconic,” he said.
Batu MP Tian Chua said the public should have been consulted before the changes were made.
He said future generations would experience a disjointed history with the name changes.
Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said the announcement of major decisions, especially with the changing of road names, should have been done in advance.
She said there would definitely be public reaction and confusion among those unable to accept the changes easily.
Kok said there was nothing wrong with remembering past rulers this way as long as it doesn’t pose inconvenience to the people.