Bai Chuan Management unveiled their latest venture nestled among rich Chinese heritage in Kuala Lumpur city centre as Project “Kwai Chai Hong” which involved the restoration of 10 shop houses and a hidden laneway in between Lorong Panggung and Jalan Petaling.
Parallel to Jalan Petaling, Project Kwai Chai Hong’s entrance is an arch situated along Lorong Panggung which features six interactive thematic murals, each with a story to tell.
These murals are crafted to depict daily activities among the early Chinese settlers living in the area during the 1960s.
While these murals give tourists a glimpse of life in Kuala Lumpur Chinatown, they also evoke a sense of belonging for Malaysians who identify and relate to these references.
The Kuala Lumpur 2008 Development Plan determined the parameters of restoration works that were carried out to ensure only minor changes were made to its original building maintaining the striking blue and yellow painted pre-war shop houses’ design and façade.
Project Kwai Chai Hong was the brainchild of the Bai Chuan Management founders as established entrepreneurs, they believe that a profitable business need not sacrifice the quaint local flavor that Kwai Chai Hong has left behind.
The vision was to preserve and celebrate the heritage of the Chinese community and its contribution to the golden era of Kuala Lumpur Chinatown, a place of personal significance to the founders, the strong nostalgic value towards the location was the reason why they took on the project.
“Project Kwai Chai Hong represents the profound cultural heritage of Kuala Lumpur Chinatown and for many, Kwai Chai Hong will spark curiosity surrounding its history given the kind of businesses that were operating in the laneway.
“We are delighted to be able to rejuvenate these 10 shop houses turning them into a tourist attraction and a hotspot for budding artists, photographers and Instagrammers alike.
“We also wish to acknowledge the financial grant from Think City that has spurred us to co-invest in the renewal of the lane and its surroundings, the possibilities are endless with this exciting start, and we are confident it will be well-received by the public,” said Bai Chuan Management managing partner, Zeen Chang.
The launch was also graced by Bukit Bintang Member of Parliament, Fong Kui Lun who commended Bai Chuan Management on their initiative and he hopes that potential businesses will follow suit and be inspired to do more than the conventional concepts to increase footfall in the prime location.
“Project Kwai Chai Hong is a good example that will not only create opportunities for businesses and the jobs that will strengthen the local economy, but also enhance commerce activities in the area and attract more international and local tourists,” he added.
The origins of the moniker “Kwai Chai Hong” is undetermined as some long-term residents claim it came about when children ran around the laneway on rainy days.
Senior citizens would refer to the children as “kwai chai” which translates to ghost children as a colloquial slang and the word “hong” refers to laneway in English, however the energy emitted from the children’s voices made residents in this area believe they were up to mischief.
Another source cited the presence of illegal businesses in this area as the reason for the moniker of Kwai Chai Hong where during the early days of the Chinese settlers, it was an area haunted by petty gamblers, drunkards, drug addicts and people participating in vice activities.
Despite all this, many who have lived in this area previously recall the lively atmosphere during festive seasons when families had come together to celebrate as a close-knit community.
Project Kwai Chai Hong is intended to withstand time and preserve its sacred history of rich culture and heritage to be passed down to generations to come.
The addition of interactive thematic murals is to help inject artistic and cultural expression to the project, thus giving it purpose and character.