Cheong Ah Peng, the Father of Kalumpang

by Karen Loh

An hour’s drive north from Kuala Lumpur on the North-South Expressway lies the town of Kalumpang. Situated in Hulu Selangor near Tanjung Malim, not many have heard of this small town much less its location. Founded by a tin miner, Kalumpang was unknown until the early 1900s and much of its development was due to the perseverance of one man – Cheong Ah Peng.

Cheong Ah Peng with his famous walking stick

Hailing from Guangdong, China, Cheong Ah Peng @ Chong Mun Peng or Cheong Hoong made his way to Malaya sometime around 1895 in search of tin. Cheong was fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. He eventually learnt to speak Malay and a bit of English whilst living in Malaya. It is unclear how many places Cheong looked for tin in the early days but he eventually struck big in a hill at Hulu Selangor. The mine was in the hill itself and miners had to walk up the hill every morning to enter the mine.

As more tin was mined from this hill generating much profit, Cheong built a row of nine double-story shophouses in Kalumpang (and similarly in Tanjung Malim), a Chinese temple close by, and a school for boys with male teachers. Later as the town of Kalumpang grew, more shophouses and houses were built together with a marketplace, a bus station, and a police station. Cheong even managed to secure five acres of land for a Chinese cemetery from the government. He became very rich, had two wives and three sons. He was recognised for his achievements by the Sultan of Selangor, who presented him with a walking stick and with this walking stick, the story goes that he would reprimand youths who dared to misbehave in his town. In 1924, Sultan Ibrahim of Johor also wrote a letter of commendation recognising Cheong as a progressive miner in Hulu Selangor. Such were his contributions that a road was named after him in Tanjung Malim.

The Chinese temple in Kalumpang

A Chinese newspaper; Malayan Thung Pau Daily News, published an article in October 1975 about Cheong Ah Peng, the town he built, and the tin miners who worked and settled there from early 1900. Here are excerpts from some of the tin miners’ stories:

A “My name is Yap. I came to Malaya when I was 14 years old. I came to work for Cheong Pak (uncle) who had a very big tin mine in the hill. I had to walk for 9 hours to reach the mine. The hilltop is a very lovely place to be on as the scenery is beautiful. From the top, one can even see the Straits of Melaka. The air is very cold around the hill. Cheong Pak was a very smart and nice man. Even though we were not allowed to take a day off from work, we had a big feast every time there was a festival. We culled chickens and ducks for the feasts and celebrated the festivals together. Some of the workers had to stay up in the hill to guard the mines. Cheong Pak built a long house for us to live in. Our days consisted of daily shifts of 4 hours per shift and we were paid every half year. During each payday, we used some of the money to gamble and Cheong Pak would join us too.

Besides working in the mines, we also grew vegetables during our free time. There were wild animals up in the hills. We encountered a black bear once and fortunately, no one was harmed. In 1926, the Government ordered the mine to be closed due to a very heavy thunderstorm that resulted in a severe landslide. It was rumoured that at least 10 men drowned but the workers were not from our mine. In fact, the people in our village were all very healthy and those who got sick were likely to have visited a prostitute den! Though we appealed to the Government not to close the mine as it still had tin deposits, we were still ordered to close it.”

B “I am Wong and 70 years old this year. I came to Malaya when I was 17 years old to look for work. My first job here was to dig out tin ore from the drains. The early miners believed that there were white crocodiles around the village but I have only ever caught one. With the help of 14 youths, we managed to trap the crocodile under a wooden bridge when the water was shallow. The crocodile was not white but grey in colour like any ordinary crocodile; it was 8 feet (2.4m) long and weighed over 100 kati (60 kg). Catching crocodiles seemed to be a favourite hobby for the people. Some even used dead chickens to lure the crocodiles though they often succeeded in catching only the smaller crocodiles weighing 10 kati (6 kg). We were paid every half year and I was the perfect gentleman as I did not go for the ‘dirty stuff’ (vices). With the money I saved, I got married and had eight children: 4 boys and 4 girls. Unfortunately, my wife passed away a few months ago.”

C “I am Siew and I remember that Cheong Pak was the person who lobbied for Chinese translation to be printed on railway tickets for our convenience, as most of us did not read English. Cheong Pak’s nickname was Sun Tai Wong (Mountain King). I was employed by Cheong Pak to guard and look after his buses. Cheong Pak owned a few buses and each bus could sit 23 passengers. Those days, a bus could travel 18 miles (29 km) with one gallon of petrol. Once there was a Japanese man who opened a photograph shop in Kalumpang. He turned out to be a spy. My second job with Cheong Pak was as a storekeeper in his mine. Everybody feared Cheong Pak, including Government officers as he was a fierce person and kept a revolver with him, which was a present from the Sultan at that time. Today, I believe that one of his daughters-in-law is living in Petaling Jaya and two of his grandsons, Cheong Loong Seng and Cheong Chap Ching are in Kuala Lumpur.

Today, there is only a small road in Kalumpang with 30 shophouses remaining and a population of about 3000 people. The original row of nine shophouses built by Cheong Pak was destroyed in a fire 50 years ago. The Cheong Fong Coffee Shop has a photograph of Cheong Pak with his friends. In this photograph, Cheong Pak is dressed in white, standing next to a car with his friends. It is believed that one of the people in the picture is Shuen Choong Sun (great man of China also known as Dr. Sun Yat Sen).”

Cheong, dressed in white, standing next to the cars in Kalumpang

D Leow, 74 years old. “I came to Kalumpang when I was 14 years old. When I arrived, Cheong Pak was already 50-60 years old. I remember my life with him around. He built two rows of houses at the Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh trunk road. When the houses were completed, many of the residents there rented the houses from him to start new businesses in the town. He was called Penghulu of Kalumpang.

Cheong Pak was a very nice and generous man. He did everything he could to keep us happy. He even attended court sessions with us. We adored him. Wherever he went, he would carry his walking stick, which was given to him by the Sultan. He built the (Chinese) temple in Kalumpang, which Dr. Sun Yet Sen visited and stayed a few nights while in Malaya. The temple has since been renovated three times. Cheong Pak donated a lot of money for the renovation. There is a plaque in the temple, which list him as a major donor. In 1907, Cheong Pak received $6000 from the Government for a major renovation. An important deity in this temple is the Malay Datuk statue, which stands 3 feet (0.91 m) tall. Nobody knows his actual name but it was believed that he was Cheong Pak’s good friend. When he died, Cheong Pak commissioned a statue in his form to remember him.”

Cheong decided to return to China after a few unfortunate incidents, taking his first wife with him. Maybe it was bad luck, cruel fate or maybe it was just an accident when a big fire burnt down his shophouses and much of the town. A severe thunderstorm also caused his mine to flood and collapse. He never recovered from these losses. His daughter-in-law, Choo Yuen Heng shares her story:

I married into the Cheong family when I was 20 years old. I lived with my husband, Cheong Po Seng in Kalumpang before moving to Ipoh. My father-in-law was a very nice, humble and generous man who was liked by all the people in Kalumpang. Even though he could only speak a few words of English, he managed to get along with government people and during each festive season, he gifted them food and wine. Those who worked with him became very rich but my father-in-law was unfortunate. First, his tin mine collapsed due to a big flood and then his shophouses burnt down. To rebuild the houses, he took a loan from a bank but as he could not repay the loan, he ended up selling his shophouses in Tanjung Malim. When his businesses failed, he returned to China leaving his second wife and myself behind in Malaya. My husband died shortly after the war (WWII). My father-in-law died at the age of 83. My son never knew his grandfather. We were only informed of Cheong Pak’s death by some sources in China.
Choo Yuen Heng, Cheong’s daughter-in-law

Although Cheong Ah Peng returned to China, his descendants here in Malaysia and the people of Kalumpang today remember Cheong’s legacy as the tin-miner who developed the town, built a famous temple, a school, a cemetery, created jobs, and was much revered by the people of Kalumpang.

Letter of commendation from the Sultan of Johor in 1924.

Two Colonial Monuments and a Malay Fort

by Eric Lim

I would like to bring your attention to two monuments located on the grounds of the National Museum. It is a pity that these monuments are hidden away in an obscure corner outside the main building. To access them: if you are entering the car park via Jalan Damansara, look out for a white archway that serves as one of the entrances to the National Museum (through the car park). Take the steps on the right (in between the archway and the locomotive) to reach the monuments. If you are already in the outside compound of the museum, locate the Bukit Bendera Penang Railway coach pavilion, and then take the steps on its right. Upon reaching the top, turn right for a further few steps. These two monuments are the King Edward VII bronze bust on a marble pedestal and the statue of Sir Frank Swettenham.

Before looking at the history of these two colonial monuments, it would be good to examine the white archway, which is a replica of Kacapuri Archway, one of two archways located at the Kuala Kedah Fort (the other archway is called the British Archway). Incidentally, there is also another replica (smaller in size) of the Kacapuri Archway at Gallery C in the main building.

Replica of Kacapuri Archway at Gallery C

The original fort was built during the reign of Sultan Sulaiman Shah II (1602-1619) with the help of the Portuguese who then used it as their military outpost. In 1619, Sultan Mahkota Alam of Aceh sent a fleet to destroy the fort and the Portuguese were ousted while 7,000 Malays including Sultan Sulaiman were taken captive. Next came the Bugis, who sided with the ruling Sultan Muhammad Jiwa against a power struggle with his younger brother in 1724. The feud ended two years later when the Bugis succeeded in driving away the enemy but it devastated Kedah. War broke out again in 1771; this time, the Bugis gave their support to dissident forces who wanted to depose Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah II, the 20th Sultan of Kedah. The Bugis managed to take control of the fort but Sultan Abdullah later obtained help from Captain Francis Light of the British East India Company (EIC), and the British recaptured the fort for Sultan Abdullah. Construction of the present fort then took shape and Sultan Abdullah immediately went on to strengthen the walls of the fort with stonework and bricks. He also purchased cannons from the British and Dutch, which were placed around the fort. The fort was completed in 1780.

The fort was then used by the EIC who in return, agreed to protect the Sultan from any attacks, in particular from its northern neighbour, the kingdom of Siam. This prompted the Sultan of Kedah to cede Penang Island to the EIC. In 1786, Francis Light declared British rule in Penang and named the island Prince of Wales Island and the town, Georgetown, in honour of King George III. However, the promise of protection by the British was never kept. The Siamese made a surprise attack in 1821 and the then Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah II, fled to Penang. In 1831, Tunku Kudin, the son of the Sultan of Kedah, and his men managed to drive the Siamese away from Kedah but the Siamese returned with a stronger force to take over the fort once again. It was the same story again in 1838, but that was the final time the Siamese laid siege to the fort. During the period of the Japanese Occupation (1941-1945), the fort was used as a military base by the Japanese. Today, the area is called Kuala Kedah Fort Historical Complex and it was certified as a ‘historical land site’ by the Department of Museums and Antiquities on 31 August 1978.

King Edward VII

King Edward VII was born on 9 November 1841 in Buckingham Palace, London. He was the second child and first son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and was given his father’s name and christened Albert Edward. Growing up, he was given rigorous education but he did not measure up to it. He was also forbidden to have a career in the army by his parents. In his role as Prince of Wales, he made many Royal Visits overseas that gained him popularity. In 1860, he became the first heir to the British throne ever to visit North America. It was a four- month round trip between the United States and Canada. He also toured the Middle East and India. In 1863, Albert Edward married Princess Alexandra of Denmark and they were bestowed a son, Albert Victor, the following year. Prince Albert Victor did not live long and died before both his parents in 1892. After the passing of Queen Victoria on 22 January 1901, Albert Edward ascended the throne and chose the title King Edward VII (Queen Victoria was at that time the longest-reigning British monarch, until 9 September 2015 when the current Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her). King Edward VII ruled for 9 years and he passed away on 6 May 1910 of heart failure.

One year after the passing of King Edward VII, British officials in Kuala Lumpur decided to start a fundraising targeting two proposals – a memorial to the late King and upgrading works for the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School in Singapore. A total of $2,446.89 (Straits Dollars) was collected for the memorial and $15,135.00 for the latter. The huge sum collected for the Medical School was made possible when local businessman Loke Yew contributed $15,000.00. In 1921, the medical school changed its name to King Edward VII College of Medicine.

The job to make a bronze bust of the late King was awarded to a young sculptor in London by the name of A. Stanley Young. The memorial was completed and shipped out from London on 30 December 1911 and when it reached our shore, it was immediately erected in front of the Government Offices (now Sultan Abdul Samad Building). The unveiling ceremony took place on 16 April 1912, performed by Lady Brockman, the wife of the Chief Secretary and witnessed by the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah. During the Japanese Occupation, the bust was removed and hidden away by Mr. K.S Maniam of the Public Works Department. After the war, it was returned to its original site and now, the monument sits at the National Museum.

Sir Frank Swettenham

Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham was born in Belper, England in 1850. He arrived in our country as a young lad of 21 and learned the Malay language. This proved useful when he was involved in the Pangkor Treaty in 1874 as a translator on behalf of the Straits Settlements. After the first British Resident of Perak, J.W.W. Birch, was murdered, he became the British Resident for Perak for a while before moving to Selangor where he became the third British Resident of Selangor. He then returned to Perak and played a role in the formation of the Federated Malay States in 1896. He was appointed the First Resident General of the FMS from 1 July 1896 to 4 November 1901, taking up residence at Carcosa in Kuala Lumpur. While in office, he attended the First Durbar of the FMS held at Istana Negara at Kuala Kangsar in July 1897. From 1901 to 1904, he was the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Straits Settlement; he retired in 1904. Sir Frank Swettenham was also a well-published author. His first book was “Vocabulary of the English and Malay languages” written in 1881. The book was printed at the Government Printing Office in Singapore. Upon retiring, he returned to London and died at a ripe old age of 96 on 11 June 1946.

Sir Ernest Woodford Birch, the eldest son of J.W.W. Birch, was the eighth British Resident of Perak, from 1904 to 1911. When he retired, he initiated a fundraising project to build a monument to commemorate the services and contributions of Sir Frank Swettenham. The monument took the form of a bronze statue made by a well-known English sculptor by the name of C.L Hartwell, A.R.A of London. The statue was erected at the front right-hand corner of the Government Offices (now Sultan Abdul Samad Building), facing Gombak River. The unveiling ceremony on 19 January 1921 was attended by the sultans of Perak, Selangor, Pahang and Negri Sembilan as well as High Commissioner Sir Lawrence Guillemard, Chief Justice Sir John Murison and Sir Ernest Birch. The statue was removed during the Japanese Occupation but re-erected on the original site on 15 October 1946. A month later, sultans from nearly all the Malay States attended the unveiling of the restored statue by the then highest British officer, Sir Edward Gent. It was again moved in 1964 and today, the statue of Sir Frank Swettenham stands on the grounds of the National Museum, next to the bronze bust of King Edward VII.

Footnote

Coming event – Festival Kota Kuala Kedah (Kuala Kedah Fort Festival)

                         18-21 March 2020 @ Muzium Kota Kuala Kedah.

University Malaya Medical Centre

by Eric Lim

After the war, Kuala Lumpur was developing rapidly as an economic hub, and by the early 1950’s, the British were worried about overpopulation and the building of squatters in and around Kuala Lumpur. To eliminate this problem, the solution was to build a satellite town. It was also a plan for the highest ranking British officer in Malaya at that time, Sir Gerald Walter Robert Templer, to resettle ethnic Chinese who were living at the fringes of the jungle and was supporting the Communist Terrorists to new settlements. 

In 1952, saw the creation of the satellite town and the following year, the satellite town was named Petaling Jaya (“Petaling” being the name of the district and “Jaya” Malay word with Sanskrit origin meaning victory or success). By the end of 1957, PJ (as called by the locals) grew into a township with over 3,200 houses, 100 shops and 28 factories. Also in the same year, saw the opening of the first phase of the Federal Highway linking the capital Kuala Lumpur, PJ and Port Klang and it was opened to traffic in 1959; and it essentially divided PJ into two halves, Southern PJ, that include the first settlement and by now known as PJ Old Town and Northern PJ.

Moving forward to the 1960’s, it was reported that the population of PJ had reached 35,100 in 1964 and the size had extended to an area of 19.9 square kilometres. PJ was growing steadily, in particular Northern PJ, where tall structures were built and one such building is the Main Tower of University Hospital, completed in 1966. This building became one of the landmarks of PJ. In the 1990’s, University Hospital was renamed University Malaya Medical Centre, in line with the expansion from a hospital into a full medical centre. We shall now look at the history of U.M.M.C.

To know about U.M.M.C, we have to first get to know about  King Edward VII College of Medicine and Raffles College. In the Anglo Dutch Treaty signed in 1824 between the British and Dutch, Malacca was offered to the British and in return, the Dutch got hold of Bengkulu (Bencoolen) located in Sumatra. Following this, saw the establishment of the Straits Settlements, combining the states of Penang, Malacca and Singapore, in 1826 with Penang as the administrative centre. Prior to the formation, the importance of Singapore as an international trading port grew tremendously since its founding in 1819, and in a short span of 4 years, Singapore already overtook Penang and Malacca in total trade figure. Recognizing the speed of growth, Singapore became the new administrative centre for the Straits Settlements in 1832. It was further boosted with the introduction of steamships and the opening of the Suez Canal to navigation on 17 November 1869, which cut travelling time from London to Singapore, from 117 days to just 45 days. 

King Edward VII College of Medicine – Photo from UM Memory

The population of Singapore also grew in tandem with the progress and this prompted a call to establish a medical school in 1889. But the plan did not take off until 1904 when a local businessman and philanthropist Tan Jiak Kim, petitioned to the colonial government for the setting up of a medical school. Immediately, the Chinese and non-European communities raised enough funds for the project and the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School was officially opened on 28 September 1905. The name was changed to King Edward VII Medical School when the school received a donation of $ 125,000.00 from the King Edward VII Memorial Fund in November 1912. The school was renamed again in 1921 as King Edward VII College of Medicine. When Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, the college building was taken over by the Japanese Army Medical Corp and used as it’s department of bacteriology and serology. After the surrender of the Japanese in 1945, the building was returned to the college authorities and classes resumed in June 1946.

Aerial view of Raffles College – Photo from UM Memory

The establishment of Raffles College was in 1918 to commemorate the centenary of the founding of  Singapore. The college was designed by two London architects, Cyril Farey and Graham Dawbarn, after they had earlier won the competition for the design. It was set up as a college for higher education in the field of arts and sciences. However, due to a series of delays and unforeseen circumstances (Sir Stamford Raffles was away from Singapore most of the time was one of the reasons for the delay) it only commenced operation ten years later, in June 1928 with an inaugural batch of 43 students. It had its official opening on 22 July 1929 by Sir Hugh Clifford who was then the Governor of the Straits Settlements and British High Commissioner in Malaya. Earlier on, Sir Hugh Clifford was the British Resident in Pahang 1896 – 1900 and 1901 – 1903. It ceased operation during World War II and reopened on 10 October 1946.

The evolution of the University of Malaya

After the war, a commission was set up to make recommendations concerning university education in Malaya. On 8 October 1949, King Edward VII College of Medicine and Raffles College merged to form the University of Malaya. A grand ceremony was held at Raffles College to mark the event. Ten years later, on 15 January 1959, the university split to form the University of Malaya in Singapore and University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. The University of Malaya in Singapore became known as University of Singapore in 1962 and then in 1980, it is known as National University of Singapore, when it merged with Nanyang University.

University of Malaya was established on 1 January 1962 and is located on about 750 acres of land in Pantai Valley,Kuala Lumpur. Our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman was installed as the first Chancellor later that year. On 2 August 1965, saw the official opening of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Malaya by the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister Tun Haji Abdul Razak Bin Hussein. At the same time, Tun Haji Abdul Razak also laid the foundation stone of the University Hospital. The earliest erected structure of UM Medical Training Centre comprises of the faculty and the hospital. And by December 1966, the main building which is also known as the Main Tower of the hospital was completed. University Hospital began operation in March 1967 and before the end of that year, all the wards, clinics and the 24-Hour Accident and Emergency Unit have started operating. University Hospital was officially opened by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong IV, Al-Marhum Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Ibni  Al-Marhum Sultan Zainal Abidin (Sultan of Trengganu) on 5 August 1968 to serve the three main areas of teaching, research and service. Tunku Abdul Rahman was also in attendance on that day. 

University Hospital has since expanded extensively from its sole Main Tower and ancillary blocks and now is a medical complex with additional modern and purpose-built buildings like primary care medicine building (1992), East Wing containing the expanded Clinical Diagnostic Lab and Clinic Services Complex (1997), trauma and emergency building (2003), Obstetrics and Pediatrics building (2008), South Tower (2012) that houses the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine,Department of Bio-Medical Imaging and Cardiology Unit. Today, the hospital is officially known as University Malaya Medical Centre (U.M.M.C).

I make regular visits to U.M.M.C to donate blood at the Department of Transfusion Medicine. For those of you who are making resolution / plan for the coming new year, do consider to become a Blood Donor. You can register at the Department of Transfusion Medicine, U.M.M.C, National Blood Centre in Kuala Lumpur or at any blood bank of selected Government hospitals, and these centres are open every working day during office hours.

Kendi

by Karen Loh

A kendi is a drinking or pouring vessel with two distinctive openings and a handle-less form. The two openings are the wider mouth on top of the vessel, where liquid can be poured in, and a spout to pour out from. It may or may not have a neck or lid. Liquid cools very quickly in the kendi. To drink from a kendi, the neck of the vessel is held and the liquid is poured without touching the lips. The vessel’s shape makes it easily transportable either on foot or by boat.

Whilst it is unknown when the kendi first appeared, etymological evidence suggests that such vessels were first used in Asia. This is evidenced from the various names used in Indonesia, such as ‘kandi’ in Toba and ‘kondi’ in Acheh, Sumatra, as well as ‘gendi’ in Java and ‘gandi’ in Macassar, Sulawesi. In South India, kendi was known as ‘gindi’ and ‘kindi’ in Kerala. Buddhist ceremonies in Sri Lanka utilized an earthen or metal ‘kendiya’ or ‘kotala’ (kotayala). The Sanskrit name for the container is ‘kundi’, which means a pot without a spout, and this is probably where the vessel’s name originated. It is also referred to as a ‘kundi-ka’; ‘ka’ meaning small in Sanskrit. The smaller kundika usually serves as a sprinkler. In addition, it is called “kamandalu” in Hindi, which means water jug or container used by Buddhist monks and priests.

Blue-and-white elephant-shaped kendi. © Karen Loh

Kendis have been produced and traded widely in South East Asia since early times. Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam became major sources, although kendi were also produced in China from the Tang Dynasty (618-906CE), primarily for export. The discovery of ceramic ware, such as celadon and brown-glazed ware, fine paste bottles and kendi was made from artefacts recovered from the Intan Wreck (930 CE), Cirebon Wreck (11th century), Java Sea Wreck (c1275 CE), and Bakau Wreck (15th century). Such discoveries underline the demand and use of the kendi. By the 17th century, kendis were made in Japan, the Netherlands and Germany, and Dutch blue-and-white delftware kendis depicted pictures of nature and everyday scenes.

The kendi is functional and utilitarian, being used for everyday storage, cooking as well as in spiritual ceremonies. Besides water, kendis were also used to decant wine, administer medicine, and as alterware for rituals, such as pouring or sprinkling ‘holy water’ during religious ceremonies. The practice of sprinkling holy water from kendis was widely used in Hindu and Buddhist ceremonies from the 7th to the 15th centuries. The kendi is one of the eighteen sacred items carried by Buddhist pilgrims, and Buddhist statues of Avalokitesvara and Maitreya (the future Buddha) are depicted holding such jugs. Similarly, Hindu statues and images of deities such as Brahma and Shiva are also depicted with kendis. The kendi is made of metal in Pakistan and is named the lota, and is still used by Muslims for ablutions before praying. The pots were also used to ward off evil and given as wedding gifts. In traditional Indonesian and Philippine societies, kendis were offered as funerary items and used in ritual ceremonies for pouring libations of holy water collected from sacred rivers. Archipelago rulers cleansed themselves with holy water poured from a kendi as a symbol of purification during their installation ceremony. Europeans also made use of kendis and even manufactured them, which they referred to as a ‘goglet’, from the Portuguese word ‘gorgoleta’, (with ‘gorja’ meaning throat).

17th century Chinese blue-and-white kendi made for the European market. © Karen Loh

Kendis can be either plain or patterned. The form can be either male or female: a male form taking an angular shape with square shoulders, while the female form is round. There was no tradition that dictated which form should be used for any specific purpose, although in remote Sumatran agrarian villages, men drink from a female kendi while women drink from a male kendi, to symbolize the importance of procreation and fertility. Another type of kendi which is a symbol of fertility is the kendi susu (milk kendi), which has a squat body and a spout in the form of a female breast.

Plain kendis usually have a flat base and take the shape of either a pumpkin or an onion, having either a mammiform or an elongated body with a tall neck, while others have short, straight necks. Kendis normally have a lipped mouth at the end of the neck and a spout on the shoulder. Bulbous kendis are the most common shape, usually made from unglazed fired clay or earthenware. Patterned kendis are often more elaborately shaped, taking the form of a creature such as a dragon, crocodile, frog, elephant, or goose, and can be scored with floral patterns or geometrical strokes. Some kendis have stylized leaf, floral or botanic scrolls, still life motifs or Buddhist emblems. Such ornate pieces are usually made either of precious metals such as gold, silver or bronze, or of fine porcelain or celadon. The kendi maling or thieves’ kendi is an interesting and unusual variety that originates from Indonesia. Also known as valalu kotalaya (secret jug) in Sri Lanka, this type has no upper aperture, and is filled by means of a funnel in the base when the inverted vessel is submerged.

A terracotta kendi from Java. Photographed at ACM

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/

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

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?

Penang Botanic Gardens

by Eric Lim

photo source: Penang Botanic Gardens website

The definition of the idiom “old habits die hard” is that it is hard to stop doing things that one has been doing for a long time. This is actually what happens every time I visit Penang, The Pearl of The Orient. I will go to the Penang Botanic Gardens, “come rain, come shine” and always between 7.00 and 9.00 in the morning, the best time of the day to achieve that daily 10,000 step goal. I was in Penang last month with friends and, of course, we visited Penang Botanic Gardens.

An information board located outside the garden’s office building mentions that the Penang Botanic Gardens were established in 1884. It may come as a surprise even to Penangites that the Botanical Gardens on the island goes back earlier than that, in fact, to the 18th century when the island was under the control of British East India Company. Francis Light declared British rule in the island and named it Prince of Wales Island in the year 1786; eight years later, in 1794, saw the setting up of the first Botanical Gardens in Penang. A Kew Gardens-trained botanist by the name of Christopher Smith was given the task to establish the gardens. The first Botanical Gardens was essentially a spice garden as Smith brought in specimens of nutmeg, clove, canary nuts and sugar palm from the Moluccas Island (Maluku Islands) in Indonesia, which were known as the Spice Islands. These grew very well. However, Smith did not enjoy the fruits of his labour as he died unexpectedly in 1805. The Company decided to close the Gardens and it sold off the Gardens’ contents.

Alstonia sp. (Pulai), photo source: Penang Botanic Gardens website

After a lapse of 17 years, the second Botanical Gardens took shape in 1822, due to the urging of Sir Stamford Raffles who had a keen interest in Botany and was at that time the superintendent of the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Sir Stamford Raffles is best known for the founding of modern Singapore in 1819 and this year, the Republic is celebrating its 200th Anniversary. George Porter who was working as the headmaster at Penang Free School was recommended to manage the Gardens. He managed the Gardens for 12 years and once again, it suffered the same fate as the earlier Gardens, as in 1834 the then Governor Kenneth Murchison decided to sell it off for a sum of 1,250 rupees. With the closure, Porter returned to his job as headmaster.

These two earlier Gardens are believed to have been sited at Air Hitam valley and at Sungai Keluang in Bayan Lepas; however the actual locations cannot be identified. It would take another 54 years, i.e in the year 1884, as stated in the information board, for the creation of the third Botanical Gardens. This time, the running of the Gardens came under the Strait Settlements Department of Gardens and Forests with its parent establishment, the Singapore Botanic Gardens. One of its responsibilities was to conduct research on tropical plants for their economic use. One of the success stories was the promotion of rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis) to be planted in the Malay Peninsular by British botanist Henry Nicholas Ridley who was at that time working for Singapore Botanical Gardens.

Schima Wallichii, photo source: Penang Botanic Gardens website

The third Botanical Gardens were established at the site of an abandoned granite quarry that lies deep in a tropical valley, at the foot of a big waterfall. Additionally, a river meanders through the valley. Due to a cascading waterfall, the Penang Botanic Gardens were also popularly known as the Waterfall Gardens. Charles Curtis, an avid botanist and a devoted plant collector, was appointed as the first superintendent of the Botanical Gardens. Under his supervision, the Gardens transformed from an old quarry into a magnificent garden – due his great vision in landscaping and his ability to blend into a tropical rain-forest settings. Curtis also focused his research in native plants as well as introduced non-native exotic plants to Penang and Singapore. He continued his good work for the Garden until December of 1903 when he formally retired due to health issues.

All was well until 1910 when there was a proposal to turn the valley into a massive reservoir that would serve the needs of the majority of households on the island. Fortunately, the plan was abandoned and instead, a small reservoir was constructed at the foot of the waterfall. This reservoir is still in operations today and it is supplying water to about 10-15% of the population of the state. During the Second War World, the Japanese army took over and immediately went into excavating tunnels, which were turned into assembling and storage facilities. After the war, Penang Botanic Gardens was separated from its parent establishment in Singapore. The year 1956 saw the appointment of the first local, Cheang Kok Choy as the curator of the Penang Botanic Gardens. Earlier on, Cheang was trained by the British and he continued on the good works of his predecessors until he retired in 1976.

Canon Ball Tree, photo source: Penang Botanic Gardens website

Today, the operations of the Penang Botanic Gardens come under Jabatan Taman Botani Pulau Pinang (Penang Botanical Gardens Department), an arm of the Penang State Government. It is divided into 11 sections namely Aquatic Garden, Economic Garden, Quarry Garden, Secret Garden, Herbs Garden, Aroid Trail, Lily Pond, Curtis Trail, Formal Garden, Sunken Garden and Japanese Garden. There are also four plant houses – Fern House, Cactus & Succulent House, Orchidarium and Bromeliad House. And among the flora that visitors can see includes Cannon Ball tree (botanical name: couroupita guianensis / origin: Guyana), Argus Pheasant tree or commonly called Sengkuang tree (dracontomelon dao / Indo-Malesia), Pinang palm (areca catechu, from which Penang got its name), black lily (tacca integrifolia), Ipoh tree (antiaris toxicaria, from which Ipoh got its name), angsana (Burmese rosewood), Rain tree (samanea saman / South Africa) and many more. The fauna includes the dusky leaf monkeys, long tailed macaques, squirrels and many insects and butterflies.

Apart from the department’s involvement in conservation efforts, research developments and educating the public on nature and gardening, the department is also targeting on the tourism aspects by adding new attractions and organizing events to make the park a popular destination for locals and tourists. Dataran Teratai is one of the attractions; it opened in June 2011 and it features the giant water lilies of the Amazon River basin. It is the venue for the annual International Flora Festival (in May) and Penang Orchid Show (this year, it is scheduled for 11 – 18 August). It is the starting point for the many Penang Hill trails and a non-governmental organization called The Friends of the Penang Botanical Gardens organizes monthly visits to the waterfall which is now privately owned. On a daily basis, visitors can join in the practice of Tai Chi, Qigong and aerobics or go jogging and strolling around the park.

With so much to do and with activities scheduled throughout the year, it is my hope that the next time you visit Penang you will visit the Penang Botanic Gardens/Waterfall Gardens, just like I do. It is open every day, from 5.00 am to 8.00 pm and is just about 8 km from Georgetown city. If you are driving, there are plenty of parking bays. Penang Botanic Gardens, here I come, again.

The large rain tree (Pukul lima) at the Gardens’ entrance (at the centre of the photo) was planted in 1887 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It stood tall for 130 years. Unfortunately, it had to be chopped down in 2017 as the dying tree posed a danger. This photo was taken circa 1910. Photo source: Cheah Jin Seng (2012) Penang: 500 Early Postcards, Singapore: EDM.