Petaling Jaya – a satellite township of Kuala Lumpur

by Soundaravalli Paraman

150px-MBPJIn Malaysia almost all new townships have a suffix, the word Jaya which in Malay means success in the hope that the town will live up to the given name. The city of Petaling Jaya has lived up to its name. Petaling Jaya lies alongside KL in the heart of Klang Valley and can be said to be the most advanced region in Malaysia. It is the leading growth centre of Selangor and arguably the foremost industrial hub in Malaysia.

When Kuala Lumpur was becoming overcrowded in the 1950s, squatter enclaves sprouted in and around the city. To solve this problem the British conceived the idea of a satellite settlement in the neighbouring Petaling area in 1952. The Selangor Government allocated 1200 acres of the Effingham estate and to attract people to this settlement it offered 1300, 50’x90’ lots at a nominal price to the landless. In 1953, residential areas of sections 1, 2 and 3 were developed. About 800 wooden houses were built around the area now known as “Old Town”. The only two main roads were Jalan 1 and Jalan 2, now renamed Jalan Templer and Jalan Othman respectively. Here, public amenities and facilities for commerce were developed. Lieutenant-General Sir Gerald Templer (High commissioner of Malaya, 1954-56) was made chairman of the Petaling District Council to plan the development of Petaling Jaya as a satellite town. Due to communist insurgency the earlier housing areas were fenced off from the surrounding areas to prevent the people from assisting the communists.

Initially the town was administered by the Kuala Lumpur District officer and the Petaling Jaya Board until the end of 1953.

1954            Under Ordinance No 36 a legislative body, Petaling Jaya Authority, took over

1964            Petaling Jaya Town Board was given financial autonomy    

1/2/1974      When KL became a Federal territory, Petaling Jaya became a township in the state of Selangor

1/1/1977      PJ Town Authority became PJ Municipal Council (Majlis Perbandaran Petaling Jaya, MPPJ)

20/6/2006    Petaling Jaya attained city status (Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya,  MBPJ)

After 1954, rapid development took place. More land was acquired from rubber and oil palm plantations and refilled tin mines, for industry, infrastructure and housing. As of 1957 there were over 3200 houses, more than 100 shops and 28 operating factories. By 1964 Petaling Jaya expanded to 19.9 sq km and a population of 35 100.

As of 2003, PJ had grown to 51.4 sq km  and had a population of 450 000 consisting of 55% Malays, 30% Chinese and 13% Indians.

In 1954, the Federal Highway was developed to link the Federal capital to Port Klang and thus areas developed north of the highway came to be known as PJU or Petaling Jaya Utara and areas which started in 1953 onwards were known as PJS Petaling Jaya Selatan.

Petaling Jaya Selatan (PJS) refers to an area which started off around 1953 from section 8 to PJ Old Town. Petaling Jaya developed rapidly due to rural-urban drift in areas like Sungai Way, Subang Jaya and Seksyen 52.  PJ New Town is the central Business district of PJ with the landmark Menara MBPJ which acts as a focal point. Interestingly PJ New Town is called State because of the location of the first theater known as State.

In a realignment exercise in 1997, parts of PJ such as Subang Jaya, Putra Heights and Bandar Sunway came under jurisdiction of the newly created Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ).


Author: Museum Volunteers, JMM

Museum Volunteers, JMM Taking the Mystery out of History

4 thoughts on “Petaling Jaya – a satellite township of Kuala Lumpur”

  1. Hi Jen. Yes indeed KL was declared a city in 1972. On 1/2/1974 KL was ceded Federal Territory and PJ became a township in the state of Selangor. Please note the topic of discussion is Petaling Jaya.

  2. You say that PJ is the ‘foremost industrial hub in Malaysia’ but you don’t give any details, statistics or other information to support your comment. Can you please?

  3. Hi Jen, thanks for pointing this out. I have made the correction.

    Best regards

  4. Hi there slight correction needed: KL achieved FT status on 1 Feb 1974. She was declared a city in 1972. Kind regards Jen Chong

    On Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 5:32 PM, Museum Volunteers wrote:

    > Museum Volunteers Malaysia posted: “by Soundaravalli ParamanIn > Malaysia almost all new townships have a suffix, the word Jaya which in > Malay means success in the hope that the town will live up to the given > name. The city of Petaling Jaya has lived up to its name. Petaling Jaya > lies alongsi”

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