Tuesday, August 15, 2006

News Flash: Coliseum Cinema Stays!

TUESDAY, Aug 15: The Government will not acquire Coliseum Cinema, said its owner Dr Chua Seong Siew after meeting Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim today.

In a phone interview with Dr Chua this afternoon, he said that all Dr Rais wanted was for the Coliseum to promote Malaysian cultural activities. "Details will be worked out later," he said.

"By ‘Malaysian cultural activities', I take it to mean that we should show Malaysian productions including local Malay and Chinese movies and not just Hindi films," he said. "I fully support this proposal and I will do my best to comply."

Dr Chua said he was very relieved that his fears, that the cinema would be acquired by the Government and turned into a Cultural Heritage Centre, proved unfounded. He said he was very happy with the outcome of the meeting which was scheduled last week amidst reports that the 86-year-old cinema would be taken over by the Government for a RM500,000 compensation.

The 828-seat Coliseum, in bustling Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, employs 12 staff, and is the sole remaining stand-alone cinema in Kuala Lumpur. Dr Chua said he is grateful to all those who had supported him in his quest to keep the cinema going.

The structure was built by Dr Chua's grand-uncle, Chua Cheng Bok, and leased to a group who opened the cinema in 1921. Constructed of reinforced concrete, with a double roof and numerous fans, the building was one of the coolest places in town in those days. The wide verandas upstairs (now covered up), the balcony seats and private boxes were fitted with separate fans and lights. The Coliseum also had its own power plant, making it independent of the town's electrical system.


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