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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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."

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