DiGi 'Sleuths' Uncover Brickfields Treasures

Press Release
May 29, 2008

DiGi 'Sleuths' Uncover Brickfields Treasures
The Treasure Keeper of Kuala Lumpur inspires 65 heritage ambassadors

Kuala Lumpur, 30 May 2008: For three months, a group of 65 students from Brickfields and surrounds have been doing some CSI work. Instead of inspecting gruesome deaths, however, these CSI agents have been conducting a Cultural Site Investigation into the vibrant enclave. They discovered that Brickfields is a trove of 'hidden' treasures!

These were showcased to visitors and the local community at the official closing of The Treasure Keeper of Kuala Lumpur project this evening. The Showcase of this corporate responsibility project by DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd was held at the Methodist Girls' School, Brickfields.

The students discovered many hidden treasures that came in all shapes and guises such as:

  • the Malaysian Association for the Blind that provides facilities and empowerment for the visually impaired;
  • the YMCA, which hosts many sports and social activities; and
  • the Temple of Fine Arts, that runs cultural classes.

But most importantly, the students came to appreciate the strong spirit of camaraderie that exists among the multi-ethnic community, and the many historic links Brickfields has with Kuala Lumpur as a whole.

Brickfields is one of the oldest developed areas in Kuala Lumpur and has contributed significantly to the development of the rest of KL. In the 19th century, it was one huge clay pit, which Kapitan Yap Ah Loy converted into manufacturing grounds that produced quality bricks used in the construction of buildings in Dataran Merdeka and, indeed, most of late 19th century Kuala Lumpur.

The Treasure Keeper of Kuala Lumpur project was inspired by the late conservation architect Chen Voon Fee, whom DiGi selected as one of its Amazing Malaysians last year. Voon Fee had always harboured a passion for the cultural and historical richness of Brickfields, which he called "one of KL's best-kept secrets". Unfortunately, he died a couple of months after the project was launched in February 2008, hence was not able to see what the children had learnt and accomplished.

The primary and secondary students - from SMK Sri Pantai, SRK La Salle (2) Brickfields, SMK Vivekananda, SJK (C) St Teresa and SK Perempuan Methodist (1) - met every weekend during the three-month project; and almost daily during the school holidays from 11-15 March; and 26-30 May 2008. During their workshops, led by members of Badan Warisan that Voon Fee co-founded, they got to know Brickfields better. They were also taken to neighbouring areas - such as Dataran Merdeka and Federal Hill - to see how the development of Brickfields has influenced, and was influenced by, the rest of Kuala Lumpur.

The students were divided into four groups, each of which concentrated on a particular mode of telling the story of Brickfields:

  • The Berita Group was responsible for producing the newsletter, Brickfields Kita - in which they featured interesting people and places of Brickfields, delving into personal stories and issues facing the community.
  • The Video Group made a documentary of life in Brickfields, again concentrating on social issues, such as those facing the blind. They interviewed members of the Malaysian Association for the Blind as well as traders to find out how roads in Brickfields can be made safer for the blind to navigate. The students experienced first-hand how it feels to walk on roads when one is visually impaired when they participated in a community-organised "Blind Leading the Blind Walk" in PJ.
  • The Performance Group spent many hours at the Temple of Fine Arts, where they were taught the dandiaras, a traditional stick dance that originates from the Indian desert state of Rajasthan.
  • The Arts & Crafts Group used their creative talents to reproduce historical and other important sites in Brickfields through drawings, paintings and photographs. They were taught to notice the rich architectural details in order to recreate them in their artworks.

At the Showcase, the newsletters were distributed to guests while the video documentary was shown. There was an exhibition of the artworks produced - including a heritage walk that "takes" the observer to Brickfields' major landmarks: the YMCA, Sam Kow Tong temple, B'Sentral, Sri Kandaswamy temple, Temple of Fine Arts, Buddhist Maha Vihara temple, Vivekananda Ashram, Lutheran Church and pre-war shophouses on Jalan Rozario.

Albern Murty, Head of Strategy and New Business, whose Marketing division had adopted this project, said: "I believe that the children have become more conscientious about their surroundings and developed a better appreciation of the rich history that a seemingly simple location like Brickfields has. With newly honed skills as 'investigators', they are better equipped to ask the right questions and discover the hidden secrets behind many wondrous stories and secrets waiting to be unraveled anywhere in the world."

Elizabeth Cardosa, Executive Director of Badan Warisan, said: "Voon Fee was very passionate about Brickfields, and very passionate about educating people about our heritage. Although he's not with us today, I feel certain that he would have been so proud of what the children have done. He would have loved the way they have spent time talking to the people of Brickfields and really getting to know the area. As the children discovered more and more about Brickfields, you could see that they became more and more proud of their ties with this amazing microcosm of Malaysia." 

About DiGi
DiGi is Malaysia's fastest growing mobile operator driving innovation, simplicity and best value through DiGi Prepaid, DiGi Postpaid and DiGi Business.

About DiGi's Amazing Malaysians
DiGi's Amazing Malaysians is a corporate responsibility (CR) programme, launched in January 2005, which identifies passionate individuals who, quietly but with dedication, work towards preserving Malaysia's natural, social, art, cultural or built heritage. DiGi provides resources for these ordinary people doing extraordinary things to share their knowledge and skills with groups of 50-100 children or youth. Most of the projects are centred in rural locations, and the children involved come from the surrounding areas. This way, DiGi is able both to support commendable heritage work, and to introduce children to the rich tapestry of culture and tradition that makes up Malaysia's unique heritage.

For more info, go to www.digi.com.my/aboutdigi/community/amazing.jsp