A Very Rough Guide to Banting, Tanjung Sepat and Sungai Pelek

by Eric Lim

Introduction

Still staying in the southern part of Selangor, this article will take us on a road trip to a combo of places –  first to Banting, followed by Tanjung Sepat, both in the Kuala Langat district, and then make a turn back to the Sepang district as we head on to Sungai Pelek. These towns are connected by Federal Route 5, which is one of the three north-south backbone federal highways in Peninsular Malaysia; Federal Route 1 and 3 are the other two highways. The Kilometre Zero of Federal Route 5 is located at Skudai, Johor in the south and it runs mostly along the west coast of the peninsular and ends at its northern terminus at Jelapang near Ipoh.

Image Credit: Dennis Ong. Base image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanjung_Sepat,Selangor#/media/File:A_visit_to_Tanjong_Sepat(14242827477).jpg

Banting – History and Places of Interest

While researching Banting, this name kept popping up on the screen but of a different nature. It was the name of Frederick Banting, who made one of the most influential discoveries in medical history. He discovered insulin, the first available medicine for the treatment of diabetes. Banting and his fellow researchers were awarded US patents on insulin in 1923 and later the same year, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for the discovery of insulin. He died in World War II, in a plane crash on 21 February 1941 during one of the transatlantic trips to Britain.

Frederick Banting on the cover of Time Magazine 27 August 1923 issue / Photo source : Wikimedia Commons

Banting originates from the Malay word ‘banteng’, which is buffalo in English. Banting’s moment in history also came during World War II at Morib beach, which lies to the southwest of Banting. On 9 September 1945, the 46th Indian Beach Group comprising 42,651 personnel and 3,968 vehicles landed at the beach in an operation to retake Malaya from the Japanese army. It was reported that one of the soldiers who came on that day was Muhammad Zia ul-had. He returned to India and joined the Pakistani army in 1947 after partition. On 5 July 1977, the military, headed by Zia, took over the government, imposed martial law and deposed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a bloodless coup. Zia was sworn in as the sixth President of Pakistan on 16 September 1978. He was killed in an air crash on 17 August 1988, possibly sabotage. Today, part of the beachfront has been converted into a recreational park called Dataran Pantai Morib [A] and it is becoming a popular destination during weekends and public holidays.

Dataran Pantai Morib / Photo source : Pantai Morib (Morib Beach) – Visit Selangor

Banting is the hometown of Malaysia’s most famous badminton siblings, the Sidek brothers. Misbun, Razif, Jailani, Rahman and Rashid began competing internationally from the early 1980’s. History was made in 1985 when all five of them were selected to represent the country in a competition in Hong Kong. On 16 May 1992, the final of the Thomas Cup that was held at Stadium Negara and Malaysia was pitted against arch rival and top favourite, Indonesia. Rashid gave us a winning start but it was all level when Razif and Jailani lost the first doubles match. Foo Kok Keong regained the lead and the second doubles match turned out to be a titanic battle and, finally, the pair Cheah Soon Kit and Soo Beng Kiang gave us the winning point. The Thomas Cup, which had eluded us for twenty-five years, was finally won. Razif, Jailni, Rashid and Rahman were in the winning team. Razif and Jailani went on to become the first Malaysians to win a medal at the Summer Olympics when they won the bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona games. Four years later, Rashid brought home the bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.

Image shows Sidek senior admiring the bronze medals won by Razif and Jailani at the 1992 Summer Olympic. Photo credit: The Star – 18/7/2021

A monument was erected at the Sidek Family Residence [B] in Kanchong Darat in 1992 when Malaysia recaptured the Thomas Cup. Last year, restoration work on the monument was carried out and a wall was added. Visitors can have photographs taken at the monument free of charge.

Monument at the Sidek family residence / Photo source : Badminton Monument to mentor restored

Today, Banting is the administrative-cum-commercial centre of the Kuala Langat district. Further growth in and around Banting can be expected when the long awaited West Coast Expressway (WCE) [C] is scheduled for full completion by the end of 2022. The 233 km highway that runs from Banting to Taiping, when completed, would be the third longest highway in the country, after North South Expressway and East Coast Expressway.

Tanjung Sepat – History and Places of Interest

Moving on to the next destination, Tanjung Sepat is about 29 km from Banting. Tanjung is cape in English and Sepat is the name of a freshwater fish from the Osphronemidae family, which is commonly found in tropical countries. It is predominantly a fishing town and the locals also engage in agriculture, initially planting coconut and rubber trees, but have since moved on to oil palm and dragon fruit. The latter is also known as pitaya, pitahaya, strawberry pear and thang. It is a member of the Cactaceae family and is native to the tropical forest regions of Mexico, Central and South America. There are many dragon fruit farms [A] located outside the town, along Federal Route 5, up to the Sepang district.

Tanjung Sepat is a popular tourist destination in the Kuala Langat district. The first site is Kuan Wellness Ecopark [B]. It is primarily a bird’s nest ecology park established by a local, Guan Jian Qi, in November 2010. In 2011, the company was awarded the international ISO 22000 food safety management system and in 2014, it was one of eight companies in Malaysia given approval to export bird’s nest to China. The eco park comprises an exhibition hall, natural organic pavilion, childhood pavilion, eco farm with bird park and aquarium and a restaurant. They are looking into adding a theme resort, durian orchard and outdoor team building area.

Left – Dragon fruit / Photo source : Wikimedia Commons
Right – Pantai Cunang / Photo source : Pantai Cunang wujud selepas tsunami, MDKL komited komersialkan

The next site is one that not many people know of. Pantai Cunang [C] is hidden behind a mangrove forest and is adjacent to a Mah Meri Orang Asli village. Pantai Cunang offers a stretch of white sandy beach and is an ideal spot to watch the sunset. It was once an isolated beach but the Mah Meri community and the district authorities transformed it into a tourist attraction. Cunang is in fact a Mah Meri word meaning calm and peaceful. It was first developed in 2010 and by the end of 2013, they had built 22 rest huts. In 2015, it won the best beach management and care title awarded by the state government. Kuala Langat District Council is committed to improving the economy of the Mah Meri community, and to making Pantai Cunang a major tourist destination in the state.

Kampung Baru Tanjung Sepat (today Tanjung Sepat Indah) [D] was established in 1950 and the settlers are composed of Chinese communities from neighbouring Tanjung Layang, Batu Laut, Kanchong Darat, Tumbuk and Sungai Belankan. It started with a population of 4,150 and reached 15,000 in 1995; today, the figure stands at 22,340. It has grown to become the commercial heartbeat of the town. SRJK (C) Tanjung Sepat, which was established in 1951, and most of the popular eateries and souvenir shops are located here.

Left – Outdoor dining / Photo source : Tanjung Sepat – Visit Selangor; Right – Lover’s Bridge / Photo source : Wikimedia Common

The star attraction of the town is the Lover’s Bridge/Qing Ren Qiao [E]. Originally, it was a long wooden jetty built before our country’s independence. It was a favourite haunt for couples to enjoy the scenery and sunset. In 2013, part of the bridge collapsed and it took the state government five years and RM 3.2 million to rebuild it. The new concrete jetty is 306 metres in length and it stretches into the Straits of Melaka. Besides the reconstruction, new amenities like food stalls, gazebos, kiosks, car park and toilets have been added to the site.

Sungai Pelek – History and Places of Interest

Selangor used to be covered by dense virgin jungle. The district of Sepang was notorious for tigers roaming the jungle. It was reported that 35 men, mostly Chinese rubber tappers from Chee Woh Estate, were killed by tigers. As a follow up action, the government raised the reward to catch/kill a tiger from 25 to 50 dollars. Still, the man-eater claimed another victim immediately after this announcement. On the other hand, it was reported that a resident of Salak, Lui Jing Tong, had killed a tiger with his bare hands!

Sungai Pelek is not the name of a river; it is the name of the town. ‘Sungai’ means river in English and ‘Pelek’ is strange/unusual/odd. There are two versions of how the name came about: 1) the unusual formation of a temporary river when the Sungai Sepang overflows its banks during high tide and disappears during low tide; 2) it happened during a flood where the water strangely flowed upstream rather than downstream! During the reign of Sultan Abdul Samad, Lukut (near Port Dickson) was part of Selangor but in 1880, it was ceded to Negri Sembilan in exchange for Semenyih. Since then, Sungai Sepang [A] serves as part of the boundary between the two states. Interestingly, there is a ferry service plying the route across Sungai Sepang, from Sungai Pelek to Bukit Pelandok on the Negri Sembilan side. It has been in service since 1930 and the ferry transports pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles only. The Sungai Pelek Jetty [B] is located near the town.

Ferry across Sungai Sepang / Photo source : Good to be home

Kampung Baru Sungai Pelek [C] was set up by the British in 1952, settling Chinese communities from Bukit Bangkong, Bagan Lalang, Jalan Lapis and Ladang Tai Long; and a few Indian families. It started with a population of 1,750. According to an estimate in 2012, the settlement has grown to more than 6,000 residents with 536 residences. Today, there are two Chinese primary schools in its immediate vicinity, namely SRJK (C) Wah Lian and SRJK (C) Tche Ming.

Trivia – Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah spent his younger days in Sungai Pelek before moving to Kuala Lumpur with his mother and elder sister.

Photo source : Google Maps

Getting There

From Kuala Lumpur, use Plus Highway (E2) southbound. Exit at Exit 209 UPM to join Jalan Sungai Besi and continue on to join South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE) at Ayer Hitam toll plaza. Continue on, and exit at Teluk Panglima Garang toll plaza and after the toll plaza, keep left to Jenjarom. Drive past Jenjarom and head towards Banting. Take Federal Route 5 to Tanjung Sepat and Sungai Pelek. From Sungai Pelek, continue using Federal Route 5 to Sepang, then head towards KLIA using B48 and turn to Jalan Kuarters KLIA and to Jalan Pekeliling. This will lead to E6 (Elite) and AH2 to Shah Alam or E608, E609, E611 to join E2 North South Highway.

In this Series

Please click HERE for a list of articles in the ‘A Very Rough Guide’ series.

References

Badminton Monument to mentor restored

Bumi Satu Kampung Dalam 2 Negeri – i Kampung Baru . Imbasan Sejarah Kampung Baru Cina Selangor – Published by Jawatankuasa Tetap Pembangunan Kampung Baru Kerajaan Selangor -First edition 2012 – pp 134 – 135 and 144 – 147.

Bygone Selangor; a souvenir(page 63 – 64)

Cover Story: WCE to spur growth in Banting

Malaysia Federal Route 5

Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1921

Further Reading on Mohammad Zia ul-Haq

Good to be home

Nation NST175 Cup and away: Malaysia’s 1992 Thomas Cup win

New jetty paves way for development in Tg Sepat

Pantai Cunang wujud selepas tsunami, MDKL komited komersialkan

Pantai Morib (Morib Beach) – Visit Selangor

Tanjung Sepat – Visit Selangor

Author: Museum Volunteers, JMM

Museum Volunteers, JMM Taking the Mystery out of History

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