Welcome to my Kuala Lumpur

This is my way of sharing my discoveries, re-discoveries, memories & experiences

as well as other bits & pieces of information I have of

growing up in Kuala Lumpur.

Your comments & suggestions to make this blog your reference to all things KL would be very much appreciated.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Towards the Dataran Area

Sorry folks; I was down with a viral fever and out of action for more than 2 weeks. I'm still recuperating and may not be able have my walks as frequently as I'd wish, at least for a while yet. I do however still have some photos from my earlier walks which I want to share.

At the end of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Raja Laut, facing Jalan Parlimen is a man-made cascading waterfall, one of the many undertakings by DBKL (Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur or KL City Hall) to beautify KL.

A DBKL worker is seen resting in the shade on this hot afternoon.

As usual I like to start with a little sketch of the Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) area.

The meeting of the 2 rivers the Gombak and Klang (site of the Masjid Jame' Bandaraya) is what gives KL it's name - Kuala Lumpur literally translates as muddy river estuary.

One of the first sculptures you'll notice when you cross Jalan Parlimen from the DBKL building is this Pitcher Plant water fountain.

I'm not sure of the significance of this sculpture, maybe there is no significance, it's there just to add to the overall beauty of the place. Maybe.
Next to the 'Pitcher Plants' is another circular fountain.

Across the road from the fountains, along Jalan Raja is the City Theater (Panggung Bandaraya), one of City Hall's contribution towards promoting the performing arts in KL.

We'll talk about the architecture of the building when we view the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in a later post.

I've passed this structure many times on my way to the Dataran Merdeka but never once stopped to find out what it was, until today that is.

It's a commemoration of Rotary's presence in Malaysia since 1929.

Even a time capsule has been buried here by the then KL Mayor, Y. Bhg. Tan Sri Dato' Kamaruzzaman bin Shariff on June 26, 2000.

There's a nice little shady area just behind the Rotary Commemoration Monument.

Maybe someone should warn the couple there to watch out for DBKL's "Snoop Squad". Don't want them to get into any trouble with these 'holier than thou' (they wish!) guys.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Schools around Jalan Raja Laut

I should have begun my walk of this street by telling you that Raja Laut translates as Sea King. Better later then never. Actually Raja Laut is the name of one of the sons of Sultan Muhammad of Selangor.

As I mentioned in my last post the Havela Singh s/o Thakardas Dharamsala currently houses a local University College, the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University College.

The National Library was housed here before it moved into its own premises along Jalan Tun Razak.

Prior to this University College being located here, there were only primary schools in this area. I'm not counting the various technical and commercial learning institutions such as Goon Institution which has been here for decades.

This is the Batu Road Girl's School seen from the overhead bridge in front of Wisma Sime Darby.

This school was completed and started classes in 1962. How do I remember this? I was enrolled here for Standard One that year. No, I'm not female. The school that I was registered to attend was not complete, so we had to squat here for a whole year.

The little blue box building in the corner is our 'National Loo'. There are many such loos around town but you may not be able to use them in an 'emergency', as the attendents are usually not around.

Batu Road School or Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Jalan Batu.

I think this is probably the only school with 2 road names to its address, Jalan Batu and JalanRaja Laut. I was transferred here when I was in Standard 2 until I completed my primary education at Standard 6.

This school was built in the early 1900's. During the Second World War, it is said to have been used as a Japanese Garrison. The perimeter of the roof is tarred to enable easy movement of heavy artillery.

The school has classes for the visually handicapped.

Here normal students get to mix with students who are less than normal.

The Batu Road Special School.

I'm not sure of the category of students enrolled at this building which is away from the main building.

A view of Batu Road School from Jalan Merpati.

The red roof building housed our school tuck shop, now usually known as a canteen.

Chung Kwok National Type (Chinese) Primary School.

The school is located at the end of Jalan Merpati.

Access to Jalan Merpati was from Broadrick Road (now Jalan Sultan Ismail), but with the building of the Sultan Ismail LRT Station at its present location, an access was opened from Jalan Raja Laut next to the present Quality Hotel.

The Appar Tamil School, one of the more popular Tamil schools in Kuala Lumpur.

I attended a Kindergarten that was renting a classes in this school.

The school is now at what is Jalan Merpati.

In the 1960's, access was directly from Jalan TAR via a little road. You had to pass the National Registration Department, located in the yellow wooden government buildings along that road.

Jalan Raja Laut, from Jalan Ipoh, ended at its junction with Broadrick Road and accessible up to Batu Road School.

The area south of this up to Jalan Parlimen was mostly belukar and squatter settlements or to use the politically correct term, urban pioneers. That's why you don't see any pre-war buildings along this stretch.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jalan Raja Laut continued....

A little way after the Eon Bank Building, across the road you'll find the Havela Singh s/o Thakardas Dharamsala which currently houses a local University College.

Its said that the late Mr. Singh used to own all that land behind this building up to Jalan Putra. Looks like Jalan Raja Laut was the boundary between his lands and that of the late Haji Mohd Taib.

Behind the Dharamsala is the Wisma Havela Thakardas.

According to a grandson of the late Mr. Havela Singh, his grandfather's will stipulates that at least 10% of the proceeds from his estate should be donated to charity. This amounts to a few million ringgit monthly. In keeping with the terms of the will, the family sponsors a free clinic in the Tiong Nam area among other things.

Wisma Sime Darby at the junction of Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan Sultan Ismail.
Did you know that Sime Darby takes it's name from its two founders, William Middleton Sime, a Scottish adventurer and fortune seeker, and Henry Darby, an English banker.
(Source: Wikipedia)
In the 1960's there used to be a mechanic shop there. Previous to that this used to be an ice factory and that's probably why the area is still known as "ais aaleay" in Tamil.

The Sultan Ismail LRT Station.

The red roofed building in the front is part of the Batu Road School premises (about it in my next post - Schools along Raja Laut). The LRT station has resulted in the school's playing field being shrunk almost 50%.

The UniAsia Insurance building along Jalan Sultan Ismail.

The American Peace Corps had an office at this site in the 1960's, operating from one of those yellow wooden government buildings that were here. In case you're wondering, Malaya was still considered an under-developed country then.

The Population and Family Development Board. This was formerly the Family Planning Board.

We need a big building to house all those people who plan the development of our nation's population and our families.

The Tun Ismail Md Ali Tower - it's been here awhile, but I don't know what offices it houses.

The building is named after the second Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia) who died in 1998.

Medan MARA along Raja Laut.

It's an office complex but also has shops and food outlets.

MARA or Majlis Amanah Rakyat (People's Trust Council) was originally the Rural Industrial Development Agency (RIDA) set up the British Colonial Admisistration in 1951.

Its main objective is to aid, train and guide Bumiputras (Malays and other indigeneous peoples) in the areas of business and industry.

A view of Pertama Complex from Raja Laut.

The complex is owned by UDA Holdings Berhad. UDA or the Urban Development Authority was originally a government agency. It was later incorporated as UDA Holdings Sdn. Bhd. a private limited company. UDA has since gone public and is listed on the Main Board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE).

Pertama Complex's food court. "The Ship" once famous for its steaks has an outlet here.

Sogo from Raja Laut.

The building is owned by Pernas or Perbadanan Nasional (National Trading Company) an agency set up during the Second Malaysia Plan.

A corporate building nearing completion next to Sogo.

G S Gill's seen from Raja Laut.
The bridge across the Gombak River and Jalan Kuching connecting the Bandaraya LRT Station to the Bank Negara KTM Station.

The Employees Provident Fund building.

The EPF or KWSP (Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja) is the government agency charged with managing the retirement fund of all private sector employees in Malaysia.

The Tun Razak tower.

Tun Abdul Razak bin Haji Dato' Hussein Al-Haj, also called the Father of Malaysia's Development, was the 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Bank Islam, Malaysia's first Islamic Bank's first branch office is in this building.

The Dewan Bandaraya 2 (City Hall 2). This was formerly the PKNS (Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor of Selangor State Development Corporation) builing.

Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur building.

City Day (February 1) celebration signage is already in place.

The courtyard infront of the DBKL building, facing Jalan Parlimen.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Let's begin

Lets begin our walk from Jalan Raja Laut's junction with Jalan Ipoh.

The first thing we notice is the Tan Chong & Sons Motor Co's showroom. This showroom has been at this location, like forever. Of course the showroom has had it's fair share of renovations and makeovers over the years.

The Tan Chong Group was founded by the two brothers, the late Tan Sri Dato' Tan Yuet Foh and Dato' Tan Kim Hor in 1957. In the nineteen fifties, Tan Chong Motor managed to get the franchise from Nissan Japan and became the pioneer company to introduce Japanese vehicles to the Malaysian public.

In the first year, 39 vehicles were sold in Peninsular Malaysia. The initial market response to Japanese products was very negative as Japanese products were considered to be inferior in design and made from cheap raw materials. This response was common as the local market was dominated by British and Continental makes. However, with a strong effort, the brothers managed to penetrate successfully into the local market. By 1970, Nissan had become one of the top selling brands in Malaysia and Singapore.
(source: nissan.com.my)

This lone building along Lengkok Raja Laut has been here at least since the 1960's.

The significance of this building is a personal one. In 1969, one of my sisters was admitted to the General Hospital in Jalan Pahang. As usual, family members visit her daily - visiting hours were quite strictly enforced then. GH to where were staying then (Broadrick Road) was walking distance - 1 or 2 miles was considered walking distance then, unlike now, when I drive to the 7-e about 200 meters away.

Anyway, coming back to this building, it was occupied by an Indian Muslim grocers called Adam Ahad & Co. One evening when my parents were coming home after visiting, they had to pass this building on the way. The proprietor, recognising my father, quickly pulled my parents in and made them stay the night there. You see, that was the beginning of events of May 13th.

My siblings and I were at home, worried about their safety - telephones not being so common then. It was only on the next day that my brother ventured out looking for them and brought them home.

Since then the building has seen a number of tenants including being and A & W outlet.

Adam Ahad & Co is now a money changers outlet along Jalan TAR a few doors from the former Hankyu Jaya (now Plaza TAR).

Federal Theater. This is where I watched my James Bond movies among others. Since cinema was closed, the building has been a pub and a disco. It now houses 2 cineplexes and a restaurant.

Capitol Theater. This used to show Chinese movies. I have watched 1 or 2 kung-fu flicks here. It is now a super-market.

If today, the movie theaters and movie distribution is split between the two major players - TGV and GSC; those days it was Shaw Brothers and Cathay Organisation. Of course there were some independent cinemas such as Coliseum.

2 movies,
Raja Bersiong (The Fanged King) and Mahsuri (The Maid of Langkawi), both legends from Kedah and written by out first Prime Minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, were produced by Shaw and Cathay respectively.
(source: wikipedia)

A budget hotel along Jalan Raja Laut.

In the 1960's this area was mostly made up of wooden and semi-brick residential buildings. Almost every year, about the time of Chinese New Year when fire-crackers and other fireworks were let off, there was bound to be building fires. Sometimes a whole row of houses would be in flames.

Once, a 4 story building under construction collapsed. Among the people killed was a lady and her child who had gone into the building to seek shelter from the rain.

In those days there was no ban on fire-crackers or building safety regulations in force.

Usually there was no barrier preventing access to building sites. I remember playing at construction sites as a child. Those were the days....

A wholesaler along Jalan Raja Laut.

The Selangor Hwee Hin Association building.

There was no requirement in those days to have your signage in Jawi script but many choose to do so anyway.

A Chinese vegetarian restaurant.

I initially thought of doing a separate post on the eateries along this road as I had done for Jalan TAR, but I do not have the personal experience of patronizing them.

A toy wholesaler.

Selling bags and stuff.

Cane, cane and more cane.

PAS Kuala Lumpur headquarters.

In March 1947, the first Pan-Malayan Islamic conference was held at Gunung Semanggul, Perak. As a result of this conference, sponsored by Parti Kesatuan Melayu Muda (PKMM) under the leadership of Dr. Burhanuddin al-Helmy, the Majlis Agama Tertinggi (Supreme Religious Council, MATA) of Malaya was formed.

MATA began organising political events and meetings to mobilise the masses which led UMNO leader Dato Onn Jaafar to issue warnings about the "threat from the mountain" (a reference to Gunung Semanggul).

The Parti Orang Muslimin Malaya (Hizbul Muslimin) was formed on March 17 1948, but were later banned by the British authorities anxious to retain control of the territories, alleging Hizbul Muslimin of having ties with the Communist Party of Malaya.

Many members of Hizbul Muslimin escaped the purge of the British and joined UMNO.

When the ulama faction in UMNO broke away from the party, they formed an association called Persatuan Islam Sa-Malaya (Pan-Malayan Islamic Association), abbreviated as PAS.

For the sake of contesting in the general election of 1955, the party was re-registered under the name Pan-Malayan Islamic Party (PMIP).

The name was later changed to Parti Islam Se-Malaysia during the Asri Muda era in the 1970s

(source: wikipedia)

It is to be noted that PAS, MCA and MIC are the only pre-Independence parties still around today in the Peninsular.

Bee Seng Hotel.

Eastern Hotel.

In the 1960's there were many of these 'rumah tumpanggan' type hotels along this road. They may have attracted the reputation of being sleazy these days, but they used to be reputable and was where travellers had to put up when they came on business to KL. Even our elected representatives (MPs) used to stay at establishments such as these when they attended Parliament sessions.

An 'Islamic' pawn shop.

I sometimes wonder how Islamic they really are.

Another Chinese vegetarian restaurant near the junction with Jalan Sri Amar.

This bah-kut-teh restaurant operates at night and is very popular as evidenced by the chaotic traffic along this stretch of the road every night.

A mamak restaurant I can relate to.

The Eon Bank building. This was formerly Wisma Cycle Carrie. The area between Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan TAR used to belong to Cycle & Carriage, agents of the Mercedes Benz.

My good friend Azlan bin Dato' Adnan had this to say: "BTW, Haji Mohd Taib (of Jalan Haji Taib fame) is my great-great grandfather. He used to own all that whole area and was landlord to Chow Kit. Also whole of Malay Street and the Rodger Street (what is now Central Market). I remember in the 60's accompanying my dad every month to collect rent from Ceylon Bakery."