Thursday, July 18, 2013

Malaysian Road Names: Who's Who?

Malaysian Road Names: Who's Who?

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013 08:00
Filepic: lhakim-suarahati.blogspot.comFilepic: lhakim-suarahati.blogspot.comEVER drove down the streets in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) or in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and wondered who are all these streets named after? 
From Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, to Jalan Chow Kit, we sometimes barely acknowledge the origin of these road names or the contribution made by the individuals behind it, to have had their names 'carved in stone'.

As time pass by, the story behind these names turn vague and at the end of the day, it is just another street name.

However, we at Malaysian Digest will enlighten you and highlight some of the famous street names in Malaysia, particularly those in the Klang Valley area, and take you down memory lane on their history.

Starting off in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, who doesn't know Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (commonly referred to as Jalan TAR), Jalan Chow Kit, and Lorong Haji Taib? These names are known to be hotspots in the city center, and unlike the obvious Jalan TAR, that was named after the Supreme Head of State of the Federation of Malaya and is also well-known to be a must-go-to shopping spot, others' back stories are pretty vague.

Jalan Chow Kit

What is now one of the busier sub-district in central Kuala Lumpur, this road became the subject of a hit song 'Chow Kit Road', made famous by the late Sudirman.

Jalan Chow Kit was named after Loke Chow Kit who was a well-known miner municipal councilor, public official, and also the first local owner of a department store - Chow Kit & Co – which was the largest in KL at the time.

Known for it's wet market (Bazaar Baru Chow Kit) and night market, Chow Kit has become a tourist attraction, where tourist would come to experience the local ambience.

Lorong Haji Taib

Lorong Haji Taib was named after an Indonesian tradesman of Minangkabau heritage and originated from Sumatera known as Haji Mohamed Taib bin Haji Abdul Samad.

Hajib Taib migrated to Kuala Lumpur in 1876 and was known to have owned a tin mine factory, farmland, houses and shops located around the Kampung Baru district and through hard work and perseverance, he became one of the richest Malays of his time.

Having played a huge role in Kampung Baru's early development, Haji Taib also became a historical figure in the growth of Kuala Lumpur and was a close acquaintance of Sultan Abdul Samad.

Though his name has been preserved in one of the busiest trading areas of the city center, sadly, Lorong Haji Taib is also known to people as KL's 'red light' district, with many local and foreign prostitutes at night, alongside drug addicts and transvestites.

This is seen as distasteful as it doesn't reflect well on a street bearing the 'Haji' title.

However of late, the government has been hard at work trying to clean up the image of Lorong Haji Taib. The place has been revamped and fewer prostitutes are spotted lingering at night, although some still do lurk behind closed doors available to those who know where to find them.

Jalan Doraisamy

Jalan Doraisamy, which has been popularized as the Asian Heritage Row is home to some of the most sensational night clubs in KL.

It was originally named after R. Doraisamy Pilay.

Not much of Doraisamy's history was known, apart from him being a well-known tin miner, contractor, and was one of the donors who provided the establishment funds of Kuala Lumpur Methodist Boy's School (MBSKL).

However, Jalan Doraisamy has made headlines in recent years, the latest on a club shooting of two bouncers outside the Madurai Club sometime late August last year.

Jalan Loke Yew

Part of the bustling Cheras Highway and known for its high traffic volume and congestion, Jalan Loke Yew was named after Loke Yew who was a Chinese-born business entrepreneur.

Apart from being a famous businessman, he was also regarded as the richest man as well as a philanthropist in British Malaya.

Playing a significant role in the growth of Kuala Lumpur, Loke Yew was one of the founding fathers of one of KL's prestigious boy's school, Victoria Institution.

Due to his major contributions to society, Loke Yew did not only have his name preserved on Jalan Loke Yew, but it has also appeared in several towns in Malaysia and in Singapore, where Loke Yew Street was named after him.

Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

A firm believer in education and a co-founder of Victoria Institution, Yap Kwan Seng was the last Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, as the position of kapitan was abolished after his death in 1902.

Apart from one of the major roads in the city's golden triangle named after him, Jalan Sin Chew Kee off Jalan Pudu, was also named in his honor after his tin mining business.

Jalan Yap Kwan Seng is now home to business executives during the day and a place for food lovers at night.

Apart from political figures who were traders, mining businessmen, some of the streets in the city center were named after British Colonies such as Chochrane, Peel, Travers, and Shelly, mainly located near the diplomatic district.

Who are these 'mat sallehs' on our street signs? Here are a few to be named.

Jalan Peel

Located off Jalan Chan Sow Lin in Kuala Lumpur, this road was named after the British Chief Secretary of the Federated Malay States and Governor of Hong Kong, Sir William Peel.

Other than his title and status, there has been no significant contribution made by him in Malaya.

Jalan Cochrane

Stretched not far from Jalan Peel and the home of many government quarters, Jalan Cochrane was named after the British General Advisor of Johor, Charles Walter Hamilton Cochrane, British Resident of Perak.

Jalan Travers

Named after Selangor State Surgeon in the 1890s, Dr Ernest Aston Otho Travers, Jalan Travers was previously named after the Damansara district or the Damansara River.

Dr Travers was the doctor who brought about reform in the care of leprosy patients and had recommended an asylum built for leprosy patients.

*(Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a kind of bacteria.)

Moving to Taman Tun Dr Ismail, or fondly known as TTDI among KL-ites, it is located near the Damansara district, and its roads are named after public figures, such as Jalan Antinahapan, and Burhanuddin Helmi.

So who are these people again? Let's begin with the obvious and also one of TTDI's main roads, Jalan Athinahapan.

Jalan Athinahapan

Jalan Athinahapan was named after Tan Sri and Puan Sri Athi Nahappan, who happened to be of great significance behind the formation of MIC and had independently contributed much to the

He was an entirely self made man and had came to Penang with his father at the age of 9, without knowing a single word of Malay or English.

Athi Nahappan, who was then the deputy president of MIC, was appointed deputy minister of law by Tun Abdul Razak in 1974.

He was later appointed as the second cabinet minister representing MIC by Tun Hussein Onn in 1976, and was in charge of law and justice portfolios as the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.

However, just two months after his appointment as full minister, Athi Nahappan died of a sudden heart attack.

Jalan Leong Yew Koh

Alongside Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Colonel H.S Lee, Tun Leong Yew Koh co-founded MCA on 27 February 1949 and was the first Secretary-General of MCA.

Tun Leong Yew Koh was awarded the first Yang Dipertua Negeri (Governor) of Melaka on 31 August 1957 until 30 August 1959, making history as the first Chinese to be appointed as a Governor in any Malaysian state.

He was appointed as Justice of Malaya three years before he died in 1963.

Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi

Named after a Malaysian politician Burhanuddin bin Muhammad Nur al-Hilmi, or commonly known as Burhanuddin al-Helmy, he was the President of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) from 1956 to 1969.

Burhanuddin set up the Malay Nationalist Party after World War 2, which advocated Malay rights and proposed a "political union" with Indonesia.

Under Burhanuddin's presidency, PAS was left-wing oriented, where he had supported trade unions and anti-colonialism.

In 1965, he was arrested under the Internal Security Act over plans to overthrow the Malaysian government and install an Indonesion-friendly environment, which interrupted his presidency for a year of imprisonment.

Did You Know?

Here are some brief info of some street names that were named after British figures but have since been localized.

Jalan Maharajalela, previously known as Birch Road

Jalan Maharajalela was renamed after Datuk Maharajalela, a local chief who was responsible for the assassination of the first Resident of Perak, James Wheeler Woodford Birch, or JWW Birch.

In a twist of irony, Birch Road was not named after the assassinated Birch, but was named in honor of the much popular Sir Ernest Woodford Birch, who was the eldest son of the former and one-time acting Resident of Selangor.

Jalan Hang Lekir, previously known as Cecil Street

Sir Cecil Clementi, was Governor of Hong Kong in the 1920s and Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner for the Malay States (1930 to 1934).

Jalan Hang Jebat, previously known as Davidson Road

Formerly named after James Guthrie Davidson (J.G. Davidson), the first British Resident in Selangor in 1875.

Hang Jebat, as in the case of Hang Lekir were two famous Malay warriors from the folklores of Melaka.

Jalan Tun H S Lee, High Street

Henry HS Lee was Malaysia's first finance minister from 1957 to 1959. It was previously known as "High Street", which spread across the old Kuala Lumpur.

Jalan Esfahan, previously known as Straits Road

Paved in 1993, it was one of the shortest roads in Kuala Lumpur. This road was named after an Iranian city, Isfahan. It was originally called the Straits Road, named after the Straits of Malacca or the Straits Settlements.

Jalan Esfahan is more of a linking alley than a proper road which connects Jalan TAR to Jalan Raja Laut.

Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman,  previously known as Batu Road

The previous name was given as it was said to be the first road made of "batu" (rock). Currently it is named after Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong.


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