Nazri: Closure of Jonker Street Walk not a political retaliation

Azril Annuar,

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz today denied that the closure of weekend pedestrian mall Jonker Street Walk was a “political retaliation” against the Chinese for turning away from Barisan Nasional (BN) in the last general election.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Parliament after the Yang Di Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim’s opening address, Nazri said that being an Umno member, he has nothing against the Chinese and bears them no grudges.

“To punish them (the Chinese)? For what? I’m not from MCA. I’m an Umno minister so I’ve got nothing personal with the Chinese there and I’m sure the (Melaka) Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Idris Haron), is also from Umno, and I don’t think that we want to punish (the Chinese).

“It’s just an accusation that is not true,” said Nazri, who was responding to claims by the Opposition that the closure of the weekend walk was due to “political reasons”.

Nazri also said that he has spoken to Idris regarding the issue and made a “strong appeal” to reopen the Walk for the weekends as it is internationally renowned tourist spot.

“Idris said it was closed because there have been a lot of complaints from Melakans about the jams caused during the weekends when Jonker Street is closed. As a result of that he is going to do a trial to close for 4 weeks and at the end of it, see the result whether opening the Jonker Street will actually ease the traffic flow.

“But I appeal to him saying that Jonker Street has been around for 13 years and it is well-known internationally and tourists actually come to Melaka and this is one of the attractions. I said Melakans should have known better after 13 years to adapt to this.

“So he said he’ll try for four weeks and he’ll come back to me after that,” said Nazri.

He added that Melaka is nothing without tourism and that the closure could have a negative impact on the state’s tourism industry.

“They have to think about it properly because if they do this it will affect tourism,” said Nazri.

PKR strategic director and Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli on the other hand said that if the allegations on political retaliation are true, it is a “big contradiction by BN” especially considering their call for reconciliation.

“If it’s true the decision was politically motivated …I think that’s not going to help anyone. We are still running the numbers, there’s nothing empirical for the time being to prove that a particular ethnic group supports or doesn’t the BN.

“I doubt there’s any place or sphere in Malaysia where it doesn’t involve any of the major groups. Our fate is so intertwined, our livelihood is so intertwine, a decision on one sphere affects all,” he said.