It was a couple of weeks into sending the questions to Kuala Lumpur Ceria and while awaiting their response, I decided on taking myself to the city for the kick of it. Sitting in the car at the traffic light and discussing the day with my friend in the driver’s seat, I leaned back and, well… looked up to see a billboard-sized sign on the Masjid Jamek LRT tracks that shook me to an awakening of sorts. The words, printed out in a generic black typeface on a white background, simply said the words “Kuala Lumpur Ceria’. As candid as it could have been, the string of words held no meaning. Searching its meaning in a Google search bar has yet to yield any results. I’m steering away from the point of this article. I shall now reframe my focus to shedding some light on the thesis of this write-up: my need to peer into the machinations of the anonymous individuals running KLC and understanding their perpetual shifting modes of function.
Having established themselves by another title altogether, Kuala Lumpur Ceria – or KLC as they liked to be known – came onto the scene as a nameless entity. First interviewed by our very beloved contributing writer, Anisha Khemlani, the profile piece covered the roots of KLC’s start in the digital space. When the interview took place, Anisha was yet to leave for Melbourne and KLC was known by semi-chronically online folks as What Is Kuala Lumpur. We’re not going to be rehashing deadnames here.
With that in mind, I shall try to do both KLC and Anisha justice by making sure that this article is seen through, made interesting, and most importantly, capturing the essence of what KLC stands for – the irony in the injustice of things. What has maintained, through the years since first coming into the online space, is their esoteric allure in offering insights into what Kuala Lumpur is truly like as a city. In an almost anthropological way, Kuala Lumpur Ceria going through its moment of change is reflective of the changes that the city and the country have gone through as a whole. But tying these two points would moot the main thesis altogether – after all, it is just an opinion of a presumptuous writer trying to make sense of the world around them.
Signifying themselves as a brand [almost] through their AVI – a caricature of the “I Heart KL” logo – is how KLC stands itself apart from the slurry of Instagram pages dedicated to showcasing Kuala Lumpur through a digital lens. How, might you ask? In the place of the heart of the “I Heart KL” logo is instead a pair of briefs, where on the waistband, the words Kuala Lumpur Ceria is written in a loop. When the anonymous admins made the change on the 17th of January, they made a clear and bold statement as to how KLC would function – an understanding of their mission being deeper and clearer than what it was before. Though the content may seem parodical to the current circumstances and events taking place in the heart of the city, KLC affirms itself as a reflection of what its audiences view it as. “We’re definitely not a meme page”, says the anonymous narrator behind KLC. “It is all dependent on how audiences view the page in itself. There is no set definition, but rather what you make of it”.
Scrolling through their Instagram page is familiar. It is as though reaching through a dusty cupboard in your grandparents’ house, pulling out a photo album and looking through photos that you’ve become so accustomed to. When prompted on why the page began, KLC explained that they did not want viewers of any kind to miss out on what was taking place across the city. But then, the intention becomes deeper and clearer as per their mission. At its heart, KLC’s ethos is rooted in the injustice of all things happening around the city. The unbecoming of humanity, the lack of empathy and the destitution of the human institution of individuals in the social age – where using surroundings and events taking place as a means to “share” bits and pieces of their lives – comes at a cost, the founder mentions. “There is a disregard for the surroundings that people occupy and in doing so, social issues go ignored”. In their attempt to showcase the nitty and gritty side of KL as a city, the admins behind KLC have availed themselves through the discomfort portrayed on their page to urge a necessary observance of their audience with the day-to-day intermingling with the city.
“We’re definitely not a meme page”, says the anonymous narrator behind KLC. “It is all dependent on how audiences view the page in itself. There is no set definition, but rather what you make of it”.Kuala Lumpur Ceria
Open to submissions, KLC avers that the people of Kuala Lumpur are the ones running the account. Content is captured – either through video or photographs – and submitted as anonymously as the editors and creators of KLC remain to this day. When prompted on why they have remained hidden behind the shadows, the curators simply stated, “marketing purposes… Rahsia [a secret]”. And their tactics have worked! Having amassed over ten thousand followers since they first launched during the lockdown in 2020, the team behind KLC have admittedly been puzzled by the way in which they have been received by digital consumers of their recherché media. Working in line with its branding strategy, KLC has since released a number of collectable merch items that have garnered its fair share of attention. When I first noticed the “sejahat-jahat ibu tiri, jahat lagi ibu kota” bag, I was manning a booth, and someone was walking around with it. When I saw it, the words, “REVOLUTION”, immediately popped into my mind. In writing this and reflecting on it, I have come to the consensus that the opinion in itself is “meta”. But isn’t that how all movements are started? The play on words and the stoking of the fires that have always resided as embers within us – one that is fueled by the injustices that have and continue to take place before our very eyes. It’s just time to keep it open now.