The Shrinking Village

26 April 2017

We explore Kampung Segambut, the shrinking village that struggles to stay put against all odds amid the luxury developments of Mont Kiara.

In 2015, sections of Kampung Segambut were proposed to be renamed North Kiara by developers, touting the location as the next prime residential area after the nearby Mont Kiara. 

A quick scour on the internet is telling — Google “Kampung Segambut Dalam” and you will find an array of websites advertising new properties and high-rises for sale or for rent. Segambut is one of 11 districts of Kuala Lumpur, bordered by Kepong and Sentul to the north, and Bukit Bintang on its east. With the expat neighbourhood of Mont Kiara by its side, it’s easy to see why developers are moving in. Prime locations and strategic re-branding efforts like that of North Kiara are attracting new residents and higher-income investors into the area.

These thinly-veiled processes of gentrification take place all over Malaysia. Small to sizeable kampung communities are continuously being squeezed out by development on all sides, causing them to relocate to other townships further from the city centre, such as Sungai Buloh and Rawang.

​It takes over an hour to cover Kampung Segambut Tengah by foot. Here, fruit stalls are aplenty, barbershops and car repair shops are plastered with peeling placards and posters. The village smells like a conglomeration of soot, rubber and lunch.

Many of the houses in the area are modest, squatter houses with rusty zinc rooftops or public flats. Tight-knit communities celebrate local festivals and weddings in the community hall, while children while away their time with a game of futsal at a nearby field — all with the view of encroaching cranes and towering condominiums.

Text by Lillian Wee
Photos by Teoh Eng Hooi

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