K.G.C.K.K.B

by Eric Lim

If you have been following this blog, you may recall that yours truly wrote about visiting Kuala Kubu Bharu or KKB in short, in September. Well, guess what, I was back to good old KKB just last week (November 16) to participate in a golf competition organized by K.G.C.K.K.B ie Kelab Golf & Country Kuala Kubu Bharu.

The last time around, the whole country was facing the haze problem and it peaked at A.P.I reading of 367 “hazardous” level in Sri Aman, Sarawak on September 17. At this juncture, our country was fourth on the World Air Quality Index’s list of countries with the worst air quality. Just for the record, Mexico was reported to be numero uno on the list at that time with a reading of 882!

With the haze issue gone, we are now smack right at the beginning of the monsoon season, the North East monsoon to be precise. It usually starts in the middle of October to the end of March. It brings a lot of rain to the East coast of the Peninsular and resorts located in Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Redang and Pulau Tioman are closed during the monsoon season. In ancient times, the North East monsoon would bring traders from China to South East Asia. The Chinese came as early as the 8th century c.e, at about the time of the Song Dynasty, then through the Yuan Dynasty and the great Ming Dynasty. At Gallery B in the National Museum, visitors can see display of old time and antique pottery that Chinese traders brought for trading. These pottery were discovered from shipwrecks, mostly Chinese junks, in the South China Sea.

Shipwrecks in the South China Sea and display of old time and antique pottery from China at Gallery B National Museum.

The golf game was scheduled in the afternoon and most of the players were anticipating rain to stop the game at some point but it turned out to be “blue skies and everything nice” throughout. Even then, many players were still complaining about their high score at the end of the round. Unlike basketball, football or hockey, in the game of golf, you need low score to win. As a non-contender, I had expected the highs and lows and was satisfied with the end result. More importantly, I was happy to finish the game.

KGCKKB was officially registered as a club in 1969, and this year is the club’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Incidentally, Sesame Street, US children’s television series also celebrate its 50th Anniversary, it premiered on November 10, 1969. They have lined up a series of events, like Show Special, Fan Games etc to mark its Golden 50th celebration. For KGCKKB, it is practically non-existent and many members are not even aware of its significance. Vijaya, a long time staff here, confirmed that the club was registered in 1969 and had its official opening on 3 July 1971 by the then Second Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak. Vijaya also said that the plaque is no longer in the club and it may have been stolen. It is hoped that the piece of history did not land up as scrap metal. The first President of the club was the late YB Tan Sri Khaw Kai Boh who managed it from 1968 to 1972 and this was followed by YB Encik Chan Keong Hon (1972 – 1980).

The idea for the formation of a golf club in the Ulu Selangor district actually came from YB Tan Sri Khaw Kai Boh way back in 1965 when he was a Member of Parliament for Ulu Selangor (P078). YB Tan Sri Khaw was a strongman from MCA and he was also Minister for Local Government and Housing in Tunku Abdul Rahman’s cabinet. He went on to be the MP for two terms ie 1964 – 1969 and 1969 – 1972. Barely two years later, KCKKB was in full swing and the course was ready for play. In 1968, he was made the First President of KGCKKB. A close scrutiny of YB Tan Sri Khaw initials reveal that it is KKB, and what a perfect union! KKB heading KKB. On another front, YB Tan Sri Khaw and the late Tun Tan Siew Sin were instrumental in the setting up of Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARC) in Setapak, KL. Today, two of the buildings in the campus are named after them. By coincidence, November 16 was the by-election at Tanjung Piai in Johor and one of the key factors on the minds of the voters was the issue concerning TARC, now known as TAR UC. YB Encik Chan Keong Hon together with Kien Toh set up Selangor Dredging Berhad (SDB) when Chan was given a mining lease for his involvement in getting independence for Malaya. SDB went on to become the first Malaysian company to have its own tin dredge in 1967, and was then regarded as the largest in the world. In those days, only British companies were able to own tin dredges that cost millions of dollars. SDB’s tin dredge was put to use at a village specially built for tin mining and it is aptly called Kampung Selangor Dredging. This village still stands today in Dengkil, Selangor. Six years later, another tin dredge was commissioned close to the first site. Today, the site is known as Paya Indah Wetlands. YB Encik Chan was the Selangor State Assembly Representative for Kuala Kubu Bharu from 1969 – 1974. Currently, the District Officer of Ulu Selangor district automatically becomes the President of the club.

Some of the earliest Life Members of the club include the who’s who in KKB town like Wong Swee Soon who was a two term Selangor State Assembly Representative for KKB (1959 to 1964 and 1964 to 1969); local businessmen Ngui Thong Ling, Lee Siak Wah and Sia Yew; Coates Theater owner Lim Yau Tuan and S.M.J.K (Ing) K.K.B former Headmaster, the late A.M Francis. Moving forward to 1974, a swimming pool was built next to the club house as a remembrance of YB Tan Sri Khaw for the founding of the club as well as his sacrifices and contributions made to the club. YB Tan Sri Khaw’s wife came to declare it open to club members and the public. The pool was used for underwater filming for the making of a Malay movie entitled “Potret Mistik” on 21 April 2004.

By the 80’s, KGCKKB was growing in status as a premier 9 hole golf course in the country. The design of the course had made full use of its natural surroundings and as a result, it had a hilly character which was very demanding and challenging for golfers, with some golfers calling it a commando course. Another special feature at KGCKKB is the suspension bridge that link the clubhouse to the golf course. It was then a landmark for KKB. Today, the bridge is hardly used due to the use of golf buggies.Golfers who insist on using the bridge are advised to cross with caution. Yet another special feature of the club is its wide affiliation agreements with other clubs in the country, including major clubs like Royal Perak GC, Royal Pahang GC, Royal Johore GC and Seremban International GC. Today, the club still keeps affiliation arrangements with more than 20 clubs in the country as well as three overseas clubs; in Singapore, in Zhuhai, China and in the Hunter Valley, Australia. As a matter of fact, this affiliation list may put a lot of big clubs in the country to shame.

Come the 90’s, there were huge transformations in KGCKKB, akin to the coming of the Neolithic Age. The exploits of members of the club who did very well in local competitions and these put the club very much in the limelight. P.Gunasagaran who used to be caddying at the club to earn pocket money during his younger days, represented the country in the 1989 SEA Games in KL and he won the Gold medal in the Team event. He then turned professional in 1992. His moments of “near “ glory came in March 1994 where he nearly captured the prestigious Malaysian Open that was staged at the Royal Selangor Golf Club in KL. He lost out in an eight-hole playoff to Sweden’s Joakim Haeggmann. Later that year, Guna, as he was popularly known, partnered his uncle M.Ramayah in the World Cup of Golf held in Puerto Rico and they came out in ninth position, the best finishing for the country in this event. They were paired again for the 1999 edition that was held at the Mines Resort and Golf Club in Seri Kembangan. Sadly, Guna had passed away in 2017 at the age of 53. 

KGCKKB became the talk of the local golf fraternity when the club came out top in the 2nd Petronas Inter Club Team Championship in 1995. It was held over two days (7th and 8th April) at two different courses, namely Perangsang Templer Golf Club and Templer Park Country Club, Rawang. KGCKKB beat 49 other teams to be the Champion and the victorious quartet comprises of Wilson Liew (Captain), A.Durairaj, Jefferson Tan and R. Nachimuthu. It was even sweeter when the same quartet retained the team title the following year, held on 19 and 20 March 1996 at the Tropicana Golf and Country Club. They beat the second placed team, Kajang Hill Golf Club by a massive 10 strokes. They were not satisfied with just the team title as R.Nachimuthu captured the individual title when he carded an 8-over 152 to take home the title. Nachimuthu is still actively competing in the local Professional Golf Malaysia circuit.

A new wing was opened in 1993 and by now, there was talk of developing the second nine holes. As far as club competitions were concerned, there were easily two or three every month and practically, members were spending most of their weekends at the club. I could remember very well that a Malay golfer friend told me that GOLF means Golongan Orang Lupa Famili (Group of people who forget their family). One particular competition that yours truly remember and find it to be interesting was the Ulu Semangkok Trophy. It was a team competition and competed amongst four clubs namely, Bentong GC, Raub GC, Frasers Hill GC and KGCKKB. It was held annually and each club would take turns to host the event and most of the time, the hosting club would win the trophy (talking about home advantage!). Incidentally, Ulu Semangkok is a name of a mountain that sits on the Main Ranch, within the borders of Pahang and Selangor and its height is 1,394 metres. It is a popular destination among hikers in and around the Klang Valley. Golfers from Klang Valley were making a beeline to join the club and soon, the new second nine holes were opened to upgrade the course into a full 18-hole course. It had its soft opening of the second nine holes on 31 December 1999.

For a rural club to come this far is indeed no small feat. For that, due recognition must be given to the Committee Members who have been working tirelessly to ensure that the course is kept well and that scheduled competitions are run come rain or shine. Yours truly know of bigger clubs who have stopped organizing Monthly Medal competitions for their members for many years now. Also, KGCKKB is lucky to have members who are still active playing in the club competitions and supporting all the club’s activities. At the just concluded Deepavali Golf Classic event, the organizing committee generously handed over a cash sum of RM 10,000.00 to the club. It is hoped that such contributions from the members would continue to keep the club moving forward to achieve the next ten years just as the country is targeting to achieve the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

KL Car-Free Morning: Part 2 – Colonial Walk

by Eric Lim

This article continues on from “Part 1 – Morning Run”, which can be viewed at https://museumvolunteersjmm.com/2019/11/17/kl-car-free-morning-part-1-morning-run/

There is no better way to start the Colonial Walk around Dataran Merdeka than to start at Sultan Abdul Samad Building (SASB) – the most iconic and instagrammable landmark in KL. The building was officially opened on 3 April 1897 by Sir Frank Swettenham who was then the Resident General of the Federated Malay States (FMS), and it was at the time known as The Government Offices. The name changed to Sultan Abdul Samad Building sometime after independence in honour of Sultan Abdul Samad, the fourth Selangor Sultan (1857-1898) who reigned when the building was constructed.

The famous features of the building include a 43.6-metre clock tower with a large magnificent copper dome, two smaller staircase towers also with copper domes at either side and smaller domes made of white cement on top of pillars in front of the building. The building’s design is a blend of Indian and European architecture. On record, the building was designed by British architects Arthur Charles Alfred Norman, Arthur Benison Hubback and Regent Alfred John Bidwell of the Public Works Department. The SASB now houses the office of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture.

Next stop – the Old Supreme Court. This two-storey building was built on the bank of Gombak River and it took 2 years and 9 months to complete – in 1915 to the cost of $208,500.00 Straits Dollars. It replaced the first High Court building located at Court Hill (currently where Menara Maybank is situated). A.B. Hubback did the design and Ang Seng Mooi was the contractor. Ang was also the contractor for the Government Offices. Hubback designed it in the Indo-Saracenic style, which blended well with other buildings of similar style in its vicinity. This building is now being used by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

Located next to the Old Supreme Court is the Old City Hall. Again, it was A.B. Hubback who was given the responsibility to design the building. Construction began in 1896 and it was completed in 1904. Again, Hubback used the Indo-Saracenic eclectic style including the use of different arches and chatri (domed-shaped pavilions) on the roofline. It was occupied for a time by Panggung Bandaraya DBKL to stage plays and musicals. The interior of the theater was destroyed by fire in 1992 and City Hall restored it soon after. The building is vacant at the time of writing.

Moving across the busy street of Jalan Raja on the north of Dataran Merdeka is the Saint Mary’s Anglican Cathedral. The original St Mary’s was a simple wooden building, built in 1887 and located on a hill on Bluff Road (now known as Bukit Aman). In order to cater to a larger expatriate congregation, the church was moved to the current site where the first brick church in the Federated Malay States (FMS) was built in 1894, designed by none other than A.C.A. Norman. The following year, a pipe organ built by Henry Willis was installed in the church. Willis also made the organ for St Paul’s Cathedral in London as well as the grand organ of the prestigious Royal Albert Hall. Today, the church conduct services in English, Iban, Nepali, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin.

The Royal Selangor Club was my next stop. It was originally known as The Selangor Club, and opened in a tiny wooden building with attap roof in October 1884. Five years later, a two-storey Clubhouse was completed at the current location thanks to a donation made by the Selangor Government. By 1910, the Clubhouse had been extended and redesigned in mock Tudor-style. The original building was designed by A.C.A Noman while A.B. Hubback redesigned it to mock-Tudor. In its early years, the club was fondly known as “The Spotted Dog”, purportedly named after the two Dalmatian dogs owned by the wife of one of its founding members, Captain Harry Charles Syers. Over time, the club was simply called “The Dog”. At its 100th Year Anniversary in 1984, it was granted a royal charter by DYMM Sultan Selangor and from thereon, it is known as the Royal Selangor Club. The club was further expanded with the opening of the Royal Selangor Club’s Kiara Sports Annexe at Bukit Kiara in 1998. Today, RSC is regarded as one of Asia’s oldest sporting institutions.

Moving past the 100-metres flag pole and large outdoor screen, and located next door to Perpustakaan Kuala Lumpur (KL Library) is the Old Government Printing Office (GPO). The Selangor Printing Office was initially established on Bluff Hill (now Bukit Aman) in 1890. John Russell who arrived from England was put in-charge of the Selangor Printing Office, and he helped A.C.A. Norman to design an ideal building to fit the large printing machines and this building was completed in 1899. The Perak Printing Office, established earlier in 1888 in Taiping, was consolidated with the Selangor Printing Office in 1904 and the single Federal department was housed in this building. In 1961, the Ministry of Labour took over the building until 1977 when it was converted to the Metropolitan Postal Security Office. DBKL purchased the building in 1986 for a sum of over RM3 million and turned it into Memorial Library, then renamed it KL Library in 2000. In 2004, a new building was constructed for the KL Library. The Old GPO now houses the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery and has become a popular tourist destination.

Just before reaching the traffic lights, the building on the right is the Old Chartered Bank Building. The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China (later known as Chartered Bank and today, Standard Chartered Bank) was the first bank in KL. It started operations in 1888 at Clarke Street (Jalan Mahkamah Tinggi), then shifted to Market Street (Lebuh Pasar Besar) before moving to the current site in 1891. It then expanded into a three-storey building designed by A.C.A. Norman in 1909. In the 1960’s, it housed the National History Museum before it was turned into a restaurant and later, became the Music Museum in August 2014. Floods in this part of the town were very frequent due to the close proximity to the Gombak and Klang River, right behind Sultan Abdul Samad Building. During a flood in December 1926, the strong room of the bank was inundated. After the flood water receded, currency and documents had to be taken out to the Padang (now Dataran Merdeka) and dried in the sun. Again, bank staff had to do the same when another flood disaster happened in January 1971, even though they had moved to a new location!

After crossing the traffic lights, I reached the Old Central Railway Offices & North Goods Yard. The previous building on this site was single storied that housed the Railway’s offices and it was designed by A.C.A. Norman. The building was extended in 1905 to cater for the expansion of the tin industry and railway requirements. This time, it was designed by A.B. Hubback and built by contractor Ang Seng for $116,122.00 Straits Dollars. Besides the North Goods Yard, there was a South Goods Yard located at Brickfields where KL Sentral stands today. The Railways Central Offices then moved to the present KTM Headquarters in 1917, subsequently FMS Public Works Department occupied the building. From 1959 to 1971, this building was the first headquarters of Bank Negara Malaysia. It is now the National Textile Museum, having started its operations in 2010.

And the last stop of the Colonial Walk is the giant field now known as Dataran Merdeka / Merdeka Square / Independence Square that sits at the centre surrounded by the colonial buildings that I had visited earlier. The British called it the Parade Ground when it was cleared in 1884 but it later evolved into the Malay word “Padang”. DBKL acquired the field in 1987 and named it Dataran Merdeka in October 1989, to coincide with the Visit Malaysia Year 1990 campaign. History was made here at 12.01 am of 31 August 1957 when the Union Jack flag was lowered for the very last time and the flag of the Federation Of Malaya was hoisted up for the very first time to the world. It marked the end of British rule of our country and the end of colonisation. Since then, many of our Independence Day parades were held here. Also located at the Dataran Merdeka, is the Queen Victoria Fountain. It was supposedly built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 but it was only assembled in 1904 by which time Queen Victoria had passed away. Queen Victoria was Victoria Regina and she lived from 1837 to 1901. There is another Queen Victoria Fountain in Melaka, this one was erected by the people of Melaka.

Top Queen Victoria Fountain at Dataran Merdeka. At a glance, the top of the fountain looks similar to the top of KL Tower in the background. 

Do not miss this spot when you visit Dataran Merdeka.

I had finally completed my morning run and Colonial walk, with a time of 1 hour 59 minutes. And that was the time it took Eliud Kipchoge to complete the marathon (42 km) run recently. Eliud is the first man to run the marathon in under 2 hours, and for this great effort, he is now the Greatest Marathon Runner of All Time. With that, it was time for me to enjoy my breakfast.

KL Car-Free Morning: Part 1 – Morning Run

by Eric Lim

“Hi hi hi, beautiful Sunday. This is my, my, my beautiful day”, lyrics from the song “Beautiful Sunday” sung by British pop singer Daniel Boone, and it became a hit song in 1972. 

Moving forward to November 2, 2019, it was also a Sunday and it was to be a beautiful day for me as I managed to complete two of my favourite activities in just under two hours. For the first part, I ran in the KL Car Free Morning and right after, took a walk round Dataran Merdeka, marvelling at the colonial buildings surrounding it.

KL Car Free Morning was introduced in 2013. Over the years, this initiative by DBKL has received good support from KLites/Kuala Lumpurians and currently, it attracts about 3,000 participants each time. It is held on the first and third Sunday of each month and the circuit is approximately 7 kms long, covering the major streets of KL Golden Triangle. Participants can walk, jog, cycle (free rental of bicycles provided by OCBC Bank), hand-cycle, roller skate, rollerblade and even go skateboarding, including using of two-wheel smart self-balancing scooters drifting board.

When I reached the starting point at Dataran DBKL, it was already crowded and participants were all eagerly waiting for the start of the event. We were flagged off at exactly 7.00 am; for safety reasons, joggers had to keep to the left and cyclists as well as skaters to the right.

The start of the circuit took us through the straight stretch along Jalan Raja Laut, passing Sekolah Kebangsaan (L) Jalan Batu, formerly known as Batu Road School (BRS) [1]. BRS was established in 1930 to serve as the preparatory school for Victoria Institution. Today, part of its premises has been converted into a school for students with special needs and visual impairment. At the intersection, we turned right into Jalan Sultan Ismail and at the first intersection, we turned right again into Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, KL’s Golden Mile. Two KL landmarks are located at this road’s intersection with Jalan Dang Wangi. On the right is Pertama Complex [2]. It is one of the earliest shopping malls in KL and I remember having bought my first pair of Adidas sports shoes here. On the left, is the building of the old Odeon Cinema [3]. This cinema was designed by architect A.O. Coltman and it opened in 1936. It closed temporarily in 2010 but reverted to screening movies a year later with a new management until it was finally shut down in 2015. The building is slated to be demolished to make way for a retail-apartment building.

Next, we turned left into Jalan Dang Wangi and passed by Campbell Complex [4], Dang Wangi Police Station [5] and Kompleks Wilayah [6], all located on the right. Jalan Dang Wangi was previously known as Campbell Road. Straight ahead is Bukit Nanas [7], where KL Tower is located. It is here in this small hill that one can see the only virgin tropical rainforest left in the city of KL; this rainforest dates to 1.3 million years. At the T-junction, we turned left into Jalan Ampang and, at the next intersection, we turned right into Jalan Sultan Ismail where we soon arrived at Hard Rock Café [8] and Concorde Hotel [9] on the left; and Shangri-La Hotel [10] further up, on the right. Fans of Michael Jackson will remember that The King of Pop came to KL to perform as part of his History World Tour, a solo concert tour that spanned the globe with concerts in 57 major cities in 35 countries, on 5 continents! MJ was in KL from October 27 to 29, 1996 and he stayed at Concord Hotel.

At the traffic lights, we then turned left into Jalan P.Ramlee, one of the nightlife hotspots in the city. It was known as Jalan Parry until the name changed in 1982. About 500 metres ahead is the iconic Petronas Twin Towers [11], once the tallest skyscraper in the world (1998 to 2004) and now the tallest standing twin towers in the world (at 452 metres). In the olden days, the area surrounding KLCC used to be the site of the Selangor Turf Club. At the next traffic lights, we turned left into Jalan Ampang and headed towards its intersection with Jalan Sultan Ismail. We turned right at this intersection and headed towards Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman intersection. On the way, we could see Quill City Mall KL [12] on the right and Sheraton Imperial KL [13] on the left.

At the same intersection that we passed earlier on, we turned left back to KL’s Golden Mile (Jalan TAR) and this time, we went straight to the end of the street. Another standalone cinema is located at this section of the street, and it is none other than the Coliseum Theatre [14]. It was built by businessman and philanthropist Chua Cheng Bok in 1920 to become the first cinema to open in Malaya; it opened in 1921. Today, the cinema specialises in screening Hindi and Tamil films. Located next door is the Coliseum Cafe and Hotel [15],which opened at the same time as the cinema. It was a popular social hub for British planters and miners. It is here that KLites come to do their festive shopping, at places such as Globe Silk Store, Emporium Selangor and Mun Loong.

At the end of Jalan TAR, we arrived at Jalan Tun Perak where we turned right and just a short distance away, we turned right to Jalan Raja Laut to the finishing point at Dataran DBKL. I took about 42 minutes to complete the circuit, averaging 6 minutes for one kilometre and I was quite pleased with the timing. Then I went over to get a cup of free refreshing isotonic drink and hurried across the busy Jalan Tun Perak to Jalan Raja for my next activity, the Colonial Walk.

This article continues to Part 2 – Colonial Walk at https://museumvolunteersjmm.com/2019/11/26/kl-car-free-morning-part-2-colonial-walk/

An MV’s report on ANMA7

by Afidah Zuliana binti Abdul Rahim

Social Unity through Culture, Art and History: The Museum Challenge

This gripping theme prompted me to sign up for the first conference of its kind in Malaysia. I was excited to hear and learn from the experiences of National Museums across Asia. Luckily, Jega said he would hold up the fort for training the new volunteers so thanks to my fellow Tuesday trainers for releasing me.

Premiera Hotel was a bustling place on the morning of October 29th. Around 10MVs were dotted around the conference hall. I met some Korean representatives from ICHCAP, UNESCO whom I quickly introduced to Angela Oh, our Korean MV trainer.

The opening ceremony was grand with a spectacular cultural performance by our tourism dancers. The Deputy Minister of Tourism graced the occasion and delivered the keynote address. He acknowledged the challenges to the role of museums in promoting social unity considering the competition from other forms of entertainment available.

Subsequently, session one began. The representative from Mongolia shared a list of overseas exhibitions they had run since 1989, mainly with the Genghis Khan tagline. The most notable development he mentioned was the barcode inventory project they undertook between 2017-18, which has greatly eased storage and retrieval of their massive artefact collection.

The Japanese rep focused on the Asian Gallery at the Tokyo National Museum which houses 20% of their total collection. They connect viewers with artworks through exhibitions and related events. The goal is to provide the experience of different cultures towards a greater understanding of cultures. They hold multi-faceted events on unique themes eg. special tours by curators and Indonesian wayang kulit performance on the theme of love. Also, yoga sessions were held at the museum for better appreciation of Buddhist artefacts.

Our Penang State Museum rep shared her cross-cultural project, ‘Silang Budaya’ which redefines the museum perspectives through the interpretation of artefacts by young people. For example, students had used a tiffin box as inspiration for creating a multi-level phone accessories carrier. The project has instilled a love of history amongst polytechnic students, whose core subjects would be more technical. Museum staff supported the students to set up and curate their exhibition. She welcomed collaborations with other museums for future projects.

A cultural performance at the start of the conference

Next, the Philippines rep shared the experience of heritage building restoration at their National Museum. Even though there were many challenges, the restoration has brought recognition and appreciation of museums by the public through partnerships and donations. She also shared how they disseminated their national hero stories via a tour for school teachers, who could then translate their passion for the hero on to their students. So many ideas shared in just one morning!

Lunch time was networking time again. We sat with a gentleman from UiTM who has initiated the survey on Muzium Negara; and also, with some police officers who are now administering the Police Museum in KL.

Session 2 was moderated by a well-spoken Malaysian lady. In fact, we were impressed by all 3 moderators who were of retirement age. Next, China astounded us with its exponential growth of museum visitors. Customer service is at the top of their agenda. We were treated to a video on their Joint Asian Civilisation exhibition.

The Indonesian reps showed how their culturally diverse 700 ethnic groups considered themselves “different but still one”. Museums feature traditional games, batik workshops and theatre stories to engage their audience. There are dance performances every Sunday and university students play traditional musical instruments. Their outreach programme allows the blind to touch artefacts with gloves.

Social inclusion through multi-disciplinary aspects are echoed at the National Museum of Nepal. Homestays are offered to enhance their cultural experience.

The Malaysian Ministry of Tourism held a “keretapi sarong” movement, which encouraged millenials to wear their sarongs on the train to a secret destination– a nod to traditional wear in a fun environment.

The annual Sabah Craft Exotica programme has been running since 2005. It features local handicraft by Sabah’s 35 ethnic groups. The Korean rep was impressed by the bottom-up approach to culture-sharing in Sabah. With 115 sub-ethnic groups, Sabahans are eager to demonstrate their particular crafts, enabled by Craft Exotica. This programme also helps to preserve ethnic crafts.

Vietnam has 54 ethnic groups, unified in diversity. Their museum connects communities in order to build a cultural identity and to preserve national cultural values. However, they face difficulties in approaching the public in terms of budget for IT since young people would connect better with ancient objects through technology. Also, their staff needs training to obtain professional skills and to overcome language barriers. They are keen to cooperate with foreign museums and to combine museum with other social and cultural activities.

In session 3, the rep from Thailand introduced us to the ancient city of U Thong, located in central Thailand. With 20 sites found along with many Dvaravati (Indian-influenced) artefacts, U Thong museum is now a cultural hub. The museum serves as a learning centre, which develops critical thinking skills, encourages innovation and instils a love for history amongst the public, especially children. They organise family activities on Sundays and integrate efforts with the local government in experiential learning. Also, their museum places importance on social media presence.

Personally, I found the final presentation by South Korea most impressive. In an increasingly multi-cultural Korea, museums have increased their role in diversity education. They have embraced these changes by offering targeted activities for immigrant workers, marriage immigrants and members of the international community. Also, to encourage mutual understanding and respect, their folk museum has culture discovery boxes for children, which can be loaned to schools, libraries and kindergartens. The National Museum of Korea has many exhibition exchanges with numerous countries around the world, bringing a myriad of cultural diversity experience to its people.

We left the conference with plenty of food for thought. There is no doubt that the ANMA executive closed-door meeting can build on the conference proceedings. Hearty congratulations to Department of Museums, Malaysia (JMM) for a successful conference!

Speakers and officials

Visit to Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB)

by Eric Lim

As I am writing this article, the Air Pollutant Index reading in four stations had recorded very unhealthy levels yesterday. Johan Setia in Klang, Selangor was the highest with a reading of 229. 

The API was hovering around the 100 level a week earlier when I brought a couple from Hong Kong to a half-day tour of Kuala Kubu Bharu. I met Rochas and Alexis Tse during my call of duty at the National Museum on 2 September 2019. At the end of the tour, they had enquired about other museums in the city and we communicated using social media. When I mentioned about visiting Kuala Kubu Bharu, they immediately said yes. So off we went on an early Wednesday morning, leaving KL city centre at 7.00 am.

Kuala Kubu Bharu or affectionately known as KKB, is 60km north of the city using the trunk road known as Federal Route One. The journey is now made easier and faster with the use of the Rawang Bypass, which was opened to traffic on 28 November 2017. In less than an hour, we had reached our destination and our first stop was for breakfast. Alexis had ordered a bowl of Laksa noodles, which I thought was adventurous for someone from Hong Kong. Then we went to the nearby wet market where I was told that bananas from our country are better than imported bananas that are available in HK. A local elderly Chinese woman who was standing beside us gave us some in-depth information about the dokong and duku langsat and Rochas decided to buy some dokong to take home. We returned to the car to keep all the purchases and off we went to explore KKB.

History of Kuala Kubu

KKB and its surrounding area, collectively known as Ulu Selangor, were inhabited since the Neolithic Age 4,000 years ago (discovery of slab stone burials in the Bernam Valley in the North of Ulu Selangor) and through the Metal Age 3,000 – 2,500 years ago, with the discovery of iron artefacts and bronze celts in nearby Rasa and Kerling. Moving forward, the 18th century CE saw the arrival of people from Sumatra, the Rawa and Mendailing, who came in search of new land and for tin. Sungai Selangor was the main river that transported goods including tin, to Kuala Selangor, which was then the royal capital of Selangor. It became an important route and it even prompted the Dutch to set up post to collect taxes from the Malays when they managed to capture Kuala Selangor towards the later part of the 18th century CE.

The Malays in Ulu Selangor were involved in the Selangor Civil War (1867-1874) and it was during this turbulent time that the town got its name. The conflict separated the Malays into two factions, on one side led by Raja Abdullah, Raja Ismail and, later, Tengku Kudin. The opposing faction comprised Raja Mahadi, Raja Mahmud and Syed Mashhor. The Chinese rival groups also joined the fight with Hai San led by Yap Ah Loy, throwing their support for Tengku Kudin while Ghee Hin led by Chong Chong offered support to Raja Mahadi. The Malays in Ulu Selangor supported Raja Mahadi. As a defence against his rivals, Raja Mahadi had built an earthen fort near the mouth of a river and that was how the town got its name – Kuala Kubu (fort at the mouth of the river). Raja Mahadi managed to capture Kuala Lumpur in March 1872 but a year later, Tengku Kudin together with reinforcement from Pahang and Hai San came charging back to retake Kuala Lumpur. Raja Mahadi fled to Singapore while Syed Mashhor retreated to Perak. Years later, both men were given pardons by Sultan Abdul Samad but Raja Mahadi died in Singapore while Syed Mashhor returned to Kerling as a Penghulu (chieftain). He developed the place by opening up lands for tin mining and he died in 1917.

Selangor became a British Protectorate at the conclusion of the Selangor Civil War. At that time, tin mining activities in Kuala Kubu was second only to Kuala Lumpur and this prompted Frank Swettenham as the First Assistant Resident of Selangor to visit Kuala Kubu in 1875. He commented that the huge dam constructed by the Malays with the help of the Orang Asli in the 1700s as gigantic in size. Tin mining was carried out just below the dam.

Kuala Kubu circa 1906. Photo taken from http://peskubu.org/latar-belakang-sejarah-kuala-kubu/

In July 1883, Cecil Ranking, a young man of 26, started work as Tax Collector and Magistrate and he immediately got down to serious work wanting to show his capabilities to impress the Resident. However, his work was cut short because three months later, on the fateful evening of 29 October 1883, the huge dam broke and flooded the town. It was recorded that floodwaters rose as high as 10 feet; 38 houses were destroyed and 50 people perished, including Cecil Ranking. Local legend has it that Cecil Ranking had on that day, shot a sacred white crocodile believed to be the guardian of the dam. As a result, the dam broke. However, there were other factors more likely to have caused the tragedy.

  1. The dam was more than 100 years old and the wood was already rotting away.
  2. Cecil Ranking was seen dropping three dynamites on the dam ten days before the tragedy for the purpose of killing fish and this action could have shaken the foundations of the dam.
  3. It was raining non-stop few days before the flood.
  4. It may be linked to the Krakatoa volcanic eruption on 26 and 27 August 1883 in Indonesia. The tremor was felt in Kuala Kubu. It was to be one of the deadliest and destructive volcanic events in recorded history.

The new township was built nearer the left bank of Selangor River and the British were by now leading the development. In a short span of four years, the population grew to 7,580 making Kuala Kubu the third largest town in Selangor. Tin mining continued to be the main activity of the town and more lands were opened up for mining including Peretak, which is on the Main Ranch. By 1887, tin output for the year had doubled that of 1885. Also in 1887, British announced its “greatest undertakings in road making ever essayed in the Federated States” with the start of the construction of a bridle track from Kuala Kubu to Kuala Lipis in Pahang (capital of Pahang at that time as well as a gold mining centre). It was to be the earliest federal road ever constructed in Pahang. With this massive undertaking, Kuala Kubu became known as the Gateway to Pahang. It was on this very road that another historical event took place – the assassination of Sir Henry Gurney on 6 October 1951 by the Malayan Communist Party terrorists. Gurney was travelling in a convoy to Fraser’s Hill. Today, this road is known as Federal Route 55.

Mail service using motor vehicle in 1910. The vehicle is passing through Jalan Kuala Kubu on the way to Kuala Lipis.

Train service arrived in 1894 when the final section of the railway track was completed linking Kuala Kubu to Serendah, Rawang and Kuala Lumpur. In 1906, bus service from Kuala Kubu train station to Kuala Lipis was made available.

 Kuala Kubu railway station in 1900

Also available in Kuala Kubu was a nearby hill station called Treacher’s Hill (a.k.a Bukit Kutu), named after Willam Hood Treacher who ventured into the place in 1893. W.H. Treacher was the British Resident of Selangor from 1892 to 1896. There were two bungalows serving as a sanatorium at the peak of the hill until its closure on 31 December 1932 due to soil movement that rendered the resort unsafe. There was also an army training camp set up in 1915 to recruit volunteers for World War I in Europe.

Sanatorium on Treacher’s Hill

However, the improvements done to Kuala Kubu did not last long as the township was constantly ravaged by floodwaters. There were floods in 1885, 1913, 1917 and by 1921, the District Officer of Ulu Selangor announced the abandonment of Kuala Kubu and shifted its district headquarters to Rasa. Between 1923 and 1926, Kuala Kubu was flooded a number of times and finally upon the advice of the Public Works Department at the end of 1926, the Government decided to move the town to a new site up river and to higher land.

Flooded area of Kuala Kubu in 1926
Kuala Kubu in the 1920’s

Kuala Kubu Bharu – 1930 to present

Charles Crompton Reade, a town planner from New Zealand, who was employed by FMS, was given the task to plan the new town – Kuala Kubu Bharu. Reade planned the town along the garden city concept, such as distinctive use of zoning, angular visual entry to the town centre, and a compact town centre to allow space for the parkland separating the residential areas and hospital. Today, KKB is recognized as the first garden township in Asia.

Earliest shophouses in KKB. Post office on the right.
Charles Crompton Reade

One of the earliest shophouses built in the commercial sector of the town has the year 1930 embossed on its top front façade, which marks the birth of KKB. Other significant structures built in the 1930s:

  1. The former Land Office built in 1931 by the British on top of the administrative sector, overlooking the town.
  2. The clock tower commemorating the coronation of King George VI.
  3. The stone monument commemorating the Silver Jubilee of King George V.
  4. The former Holy Ascension Church, which is now being used as the Hulu Selangor Traffic Police Headquarters.
  5. KKB Post Office (neoclassical architecture with round gable window and round tribe casement window).
  6. Old Fire Station built in 1931.
  7. Shophouse No 1 & 2 at Jalan Dato Tabal (formerly Bowen Street).
Commemorative clock tower

Besides these structures and buildings, it was recorded that an airfield was set up on the outskirts of the town in 1931 as a means of transport for high-ranking officials as well as for goods. The airfield was used during the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) for the landing of Taylorcraft Auster light aircraft.

In the book “Tarikh Kuala Kubu 1780 – 1931” published by Persatuan Sejarah Kuala Kubu, it revealed a letter written by the District Officer of Ulu Selangor to the Resident about the naming of streets in KKB. The British discarded the local names written in Malay and mentioned about the unavailability of “well known Asiatic gentlemen connected with Kuala Kubu”. He then forwarded a list of five names of “Europeans who have been intimately connected with Kuala Kubu”:

  1. Ranking (as in Cecil Ranking, the first Tax Collector and Magistrate to be stationed at Kuala Kubu)
  2. Bowen (long serving District Officer of Ulu Selangor)
  3. Davidson (who made Kuala Kubu his home for about the last 25 years of his life)
  4. Stonor (who was the District Officer, then the Secretary to the Resident and finally the British Resident of Selangor)
  5. Maxwell (possibly William George Maxwell who was Resident of Perak and after whom Maxwell Hill was named before the name changed to Bukit Larut or his father, William Edward Maxwell, who was Resident of Selangor).

The four main streets in KKB were named after Bowen, Davidson, Stonor and Maxwell, only Ranking was not selected. Today, they have all changed to local names – Jalan Dato Tabal, Jalan Dato Balai, Jalan Mat Kilau and Jalan Dato Muda Jaafar respectively.

A sketch of Kuala Kubu Bharu and surrounding areas. Taken from Kamalruddin Shamsudin (2015) Charles Reade: Town Planning British Malaya 1921-1929, pp. 291

Next, we shall look at some “well known Asiatic gentlemen connected with Kuala Kubu Bharu”.

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru made two visits to Malaya i.e in 1937 and 1946. Both visits were to look at the welfare of Indians in the country. It was during the second trip when he visited KKB at the invitation of one of his family members who were then working in KKB.
  2. Rehman Rashid wrote the book “Peninsula – A story of Malaysia”. In one of the sections, he wrote about small towns in the country. After he retired, he came and stayed in KKB and immediately fell in love with the place. He then wrote a book Small town as a special tribute to KKB.
  3. Popular Malay singer, the late Sudirman Haji Arshad also sang about KKB. In his song entitled Joget Kenangan Manis, he sang “kalau pergi Kuala Kubu, tulis nama atas batu”, which translates to “if you go to Kuala Kubu, write your name on a rock”.
  4. David Chin, owner of Dave Deli restaurants owned a shophouse in KKB. Whenever he came to cycle with his buddies, he will open his shophouse for them to enjoy their meals and to rest. He called his place “Bicycle Stopover”.
  5. B.Rajkumar is a local-born athlete. He broke the national men’s 800m record by clocking 1.47.37 to win the gold medal in the Asian Track and Field (ATF) Championship held in Jakarta in 1985. It remains a national record.
  6. The late P.Gunasegaran was a top local golfer and he made his name at the 1994 Malaysian Open where he lost an epic eight-hole playoff to Joakim Haeggmann of Sweden at the Royal Selangor Golf Club in KL. Until today, no other local golfers have ever come close to his achievements in the Malaysian Open history.

Today, KKB remains the main administrative town of Hulu Selangor district. And there are plenty of training centres around the town such as Royal Malaysian Police Academy, Central Region Fire and Rescue Training College, Royal Malaysian Signals Army Unit, AsiaCamp (Team Building Camp), Kem Bina Semangat Ampang Pecah, just to name a few. 

The following are some of the main attractions in KKB:

  1. Sungai Selangor dam
  2. St. Paul Catholic Church
  3. Former Coates Theatre built in 1953
  4. KKB Hot Spring @ Taman Arif
  5. Chilling Waterfalls
  6. Kampung Orang Asli in Pertak
  7. Bukit Kutu
  8. Old Chinese Temple at Ampang Pecah

By the time we left Galeri Sejarah Kuala Kubu, after our last stop of looking at old photographs of KKB, it was almost noontime. We went straight to Teo Kee stall to have our lunch. They serve delicious Teochew dishes and porridge. After lunch, we took a last look of Kuala Kubu Bharu town before heading back to the city.

Kuala Kubu circa 1910. Photo taken from Cheah Jin Seng (2008) Malaya: 500 Early Postcards, Singapore: EDM, pp. 52

Note: I forwarded a copy of this writeup to Alexis and this is what he wrote in return:

“Kuala Kubu Bharu is absolutely a strange city to me. After being guided through various historic sites within the city, a strong sense of similarity floated. Vaguely, KKB seems like one of the New Zealand cities, which I have visited. Would it be like Port Chalmers, Picton or Napier? Eric told me that KKB was the first city in Malay Peninsular with town planning initiative by Charles Reade, a colonial town planner. We are lucky and privileged to be guided to this special city for an in-depth understanding of the history of Malaya”.

References:

  • Persatuan Sejarah Kuala Kubu – Tarikh Kuala Kubu 1780 – 1931
  • Muzium Negara – Information board

The Great Steppe exhibition – MV Guided Tours

The on-going exhibition at Muzium Negara is a fascinating look at the ancient history and culture of the nomadic peoples from the Eurasian Steppe. During the Iron Age, around the 9th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, the Scythian culture flourished in the steppes and the exhibition showcases many artefacts from this culture. The showpiece of the exhibition is Altyn Adam, the Golden Man. This is the name given to a skeleton discovered together with 4000 gold ornaments in 1969 in a burial mound near Issyk. It has become the symbol of Kazakhstan, from where this exhibition originated.

Was the Golden Man really a man? Could it possibly have been a woman? Find out at Muzium Negara where Museum Volunteer guides will be on hand to take you on a guided tour through this exhibition. Our tours start on Thursday 10 October at 11:30 am and these will be on a daily basis (except Sundays) until the end of the exhibition on 31 October. Tours will also be conducted in French on two of these days. Please find the tour schedule at the link below (you will need to scroll down).

Tour Schedule: daily at 11.30 am between 10 October and 31 October 2019. The schedule is available at https://museumvolunteersjmm.com/mv-calendar/

Photographs of some exhibits are shown below. Find out their stories from the museum volunteers. Also find out the symbology behind the design of a yurt (tent) and the Zoroastrianism practices behind the burial of the Taksai princess. A touch-screen display examines some of the cultural practices such as the ritual to cut a rope when a child reaches the age of one.

The Steppe culture was equestrian-based and each piece of the saddle has symbolic meaning.
Akinak dagger decorated with heads of two griffins in profile. Dated to the 4th/3rd century BCE.
This necklace consists of pendants with garnet insets. The exquisite workmanship is dated to the 3rd/2nd century BCE.
An image of an elk in yellow metal framed by a metal ribbon. Dated to the 4th/3rd century BCE.

A Charcoal Factory at Kuala Sepetang

by V. Jegatheesan

Charcoal is a controversial fuel these days due to climate change and atmospheric pollution fears. Nevertheless, this fuel was a standard feature in the kitchens of most Malaysian houses. It is still being used although on a much reduced scale. Making charcoal is not a matter of just heating wood until it is burnt. It is more involved than that requiring the right type of wood and the right method. However, it is still a very basic process with no high tech blast furnaces or machinery. A recent visit to the Khay Hor Holdings Sd. Bhd. Charcoal Factory provided me with good insight on how charcoal is made.

This signboard is of the dealership but it involves the same people

The factory is located in Kuala Sepetang, formerly and better known as Port Weld. Kuala Sepetang is within the Matang mangrove forest reserve, which at 40,000 hectares is the largest and best-managed mangrove forest in Malaysia. The west coast of the peninsula has many other mangrove forests, Kuala Selangor for example, but they do not replant the chopped trees thus depleting the forest. Matang, however, is recognised as a good model of sustainable mangrove forestry and conservation.

The images above are from https://www.rainforestjournal.com/kuala-sepetang

There are a few factories in the area, but the one we visited was the only factory that gave a tour. This was led by Mr. K. Y. Chuah, a member of the owning family, who, in his work clothes of a sports shirt, shorts and sandals, gave us a spirited and engaging tour of the factory and its operations.

Mr Chuah explaining the process

Among the mangrove, the two species most commonly used are Rhizophora apiculata and Rhizophora mucronata. Mangrove trees are locally referred to as bakau. Any wood can be made into charcoal. However, these species can withstand high heat. The charcoal-making process involves high heat to remove the water content in the wood. This is smoked out rather than burnt out. It also gives a shine to the charcoal.

The Rhizophora apiculate tree (Image from https://www.rainforestjournal.com/kuala-sepetang)

The wood from these trees is initially very heavy, as we found out when carrying one of the logs, because of high water content. In fact, this wood will sink in water and not float like other woods, because there is no air space due to water saturation. It is after all a mangrove swamp tree.

The kiln is igloo shaped and there are six of them located in a large shed. The bricks used are of the same type as used in housing. The structure is plastered with very fine clay and sand to seal the kiln completely. It does take an expert to do this perfectly. The kilns are all 7m in height by 6.7m in width. These sizes are specified by the Forestry Department to make it easy to calculate the duty to be paid.

Wood is stacked to fill up the kiln. It will weigh some 50 tons inside. This is high because of the water content of the wood and when the process is completed, it will weigh some 10 tons only. The fire is not inside as the wood is not burnt. The fire is on the outside and it is the heat that slowly goes in to heat the wood and remove the water content. There are six flues or vents around the kiln to allow the vapour to escape. Simply put, heat goes inside and heats the wood to release the water content.

This is just the first stage with the fire burning for 14 days. Workers in three shifts have to check every 3 to 4 hours to top up the wood and keep the fire consistently going. If not topped up and the fire lowers, the oxygen leaks inside and the fire follows inside and burns the wood.

A close-up of the fire just outside the kiln
Vapour coming out of the vent

The vapour comes out of the vents. It is in fact steam, which is very hot and has a strong pungent odour. Expertly smelling and seeing the colour, as well as using a thermometer to be sure, the workers will know when it is ready to reduce the fire to a smaller one. Through experience, the workers know how to control the slow fire. It is still hot inside but the vapour is reduced and, thus, not as hot as before. This will continue for another 11 days after which there is no longer any vapour. The workers then shut down the fire and seal the kiln completely. It will take another 7 days to cool it down completely.

Finally, the kiln opening will be hacked, the bricks removed and the charcoal taken out. The six kilns in this factory are used in turn to continuously produce charcoal.

The condensed vapour is referred to as vinegar; it is liquid oil, which is collected. Mr. Chuah extolled the virtues of this and of other products, which can be used as mosquito repellents and soaps with no chemicals added.

Mr Chuah holding a bottle of the Charcoal Vinegar

The factory is in a swamp area and the stench takes some getting used to. The canal by the side is used to bring in the wood from the forest. It is a tidal canal and therefore used on certain days only. Contract workers are paid to cut and transport the wood and are paid after delivery. As the forest is harvested, the cutters have to go in deeper and so it takes longer to bring the wood in.

The Forestry Department annually allots the specific lots for harvesting and they have to use their allotment. Otherwise, the following year’s allotment will be reduced or the licence cancelled. The replanting is also managed by the Forestry Department but tendered to contractors.

Mr. Chuah explained that Japan buys 70% of the production and they insist on these species. According to him, the Japanese despite being very high tech still believe in charcoal. They use it as barbeque fuel as more people prefer traditional methods. For those who can afford it, houses are built with a layer of charcoal beneath to keeps the houses warm in winter and it absorbs odour. In addition, among its many other uses, charcoal is also used as an absorbent.

All in all, it was a very interesting tour and appreciation of charcoal. Questions were in our minds as to whether charcoal is environmentally friendly to use. It is not fossil fuel and it is touted as being green. However, how much of the carbon released is recaptured by reforestation?