I missed this particular remark by an MP, that Bukit Bintang is a Malaysian equivalent of Thailand’s Patpong. I don’t know when he made that statement but you can read the comment by Wong Chun Wai in The Star (29/11/2006) here.
Being one who have worked in the Bukit Bintang area for the past 7 years, I am rightfully very insulted. This is an area bustling with commercial activities and it caters for all walks of life. You can find all sorts of things here, from designer outlets to jinjang fashion stores, IT spots to bookstores, exclusive restaurants to cheap food stalls, night clubs to video arcades and 5 star hotels to backpacker dorms…. And oh… lots of legal firms too (I have to mention this otherwise you might think I work at the jinjang fashion store!), big and small. Everything is within walking distance from one another and easily accessible to anyone.
And all some people can see is the sex for sale bit. Shame on them!
The MP claimed that his Arab friends told him that the sex activities made Malaysia “better than Thailand”. Say what?????? (Actually, I’m more interested in what the MP could have told his so-called Arab friends in response to their said remarks, if it was indeed them who said it. But in order not to be speculative, I refrain myself…)
Anyway, the vice referred to above are known to exist only in several spots, Jalan Alor dan Low Yat to name a few, and not the whole of Bukit Bintang. As for the bars and nightclubs carrying out escort services, and call girls going about their business nightly, this is not exclusive to Bukit Bintang alone, you can find ‘em all over the city!
Yes, this is a social problem and yes, most of us don’t want this sort of things happening here. But branding and labeling a certain place as this and that isn’t gonna solve the problem, what with the government’s efforts to promote tourism in this country and all. We don’t want tourists coming here by the droves to participate in our ‘sex industry’. There is no such industry here in the first place. The activities referred to above are happening on a miniscule level compared to the bigger picture.
That said, miniscule as it is, the government still should step up their enforcement activities to curb this vice before it becomes uncontrollable. Abolishing ‘em for good might be very tricky, as prostitution, as we all know, is the world’s oldest profession. So you can arrest them, whip them, deport them, lock them up, kill them if you will, but new ones will spring up the next day. It’s a vicious cycle.
But what we can do is to contain these activities so that it is not so rampant, widespread, and readily available that it becomes synonymous with the name of the city. K.L is no Bangkok and surely, Bukit Bintang is no Patpong. It is a gross exaggeration that the MP had remarked as such. But that’s not to say that we are not on our way there. If the authorities leave this unchecked, who knows what the future holds for us?