No Mall Matter
December 26, 2012

In case you haven’t noticed, we have too many shopping malls. Here’s an example.

The LDP stretches for 40km from Damansara to Puchong. Along this expressway, the distance from Sunway Pyramid to The Curve is about 17km. Within this stretch, there are exits to Subang Parade, Empire Shopping Gallery, Paradigm Mall, Citta Mall, Tropicana City Mall, 1 Utama, IPC Shopping Centre and e@Curve (formerly known as Cineleisure Damansara -- which obviously made less sense than “e-at-curve”).

That’s a total of 10 malls branching out of a 17km road. If they are to be spaced evenly, that’s about one mall for every 1.7km. Getting from one mall to another would take no more than a 15-minute walk. Or a 10-minute drive. Or a 5-minute train ride. Or a RM25 ride on a taxi with a “broken” meter.

In other words, close enough for the cabbie to not overcharge you more.

So do we need that many malls? Do we need that many buildings designed with the same template of shops mirroring each other at such close proximity? We can only watch so many movies and consume so much bubble tea.

Arguably, we have some of the highest density of malls per distance ratio anywhere in the world. Our townships have evolved to become urban jungles of commercial districts sprawling uncontrollably like the hair on David Hasselhoff’s chest.

And it’s killing the soul and character that used to define us. “Less is more” is dead. More is always more. Plus with approval for credit cards becoming easier than issuance of birth certificates, our shopping habit isn’t making the situation any better.

Earlier this year, CNN Travel ranked Kuala Lumpur at number four in their list of “10 Best Shopping Cities in the World” -- after New York, Tokyo and London. The article also mentioned that three of the 10 biggest malls in the world are in KL.

For a country that has its own Book of Records that acknowledges “largest dinner” and “youngest to pull a car”, CNN’s recognition was an orgasmic feat. Not to mention that Singapore didn’t even make it to the top 10.

But to be known for having the largest number of megamalls with the largest number of shops and the largest number of parking lots, is probably just that. An achievement many others can achieve given the time, space, and money.

Is it a sign of economic growth? Maybe. Is it a sign of a nation giving in to the power of commercialism? I don’t care. We did better than Singapore in that CNN list.


so deep.

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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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