Monthly Archives: September 2012

New Clock, Old Tower

Kuala Lumpur, as defined by the bus conductors, is here, where the Clock Tower in Medan Pasar is. Note the foreign worker in the picture, representative of the current populace of that area.

Here lies a clock tower, immortalized at 4 O’ clock. These pictures were taken on the 22nd of September 2012.

(Edited 1st October 2012, 0054 hours, +0800 GMT) Fast forward to one week later, and surprise! New clocks! Notice the solar panel on top.

(Edited 1st October 2012, 0054 hours, +0800 GMT) Here is one side.

(Edited 1st October 2012, 0054 hours, +0800 GMT) The clocks appear to stick out now.

All four sides look the same. Notice the block above the door, and four screw holes? All four sides have the same block with the same four screw holes. That is because it used to hold a plaque!

Here is an example of a plaque, at the nearby UOB Bank (formerly Lee Wah Bank, whose operations were taken over by UOB Bank in 1994.)

I have not asked for permission for the following pictures, but am using them under terms of fair use.

Old Market Square (circa 1930)
Image credit: Selangor: 300 Early Postcards by Cheah Jin Seng, RM99

Yap Ah Loy was responsible for developing Kuala Lumpur from a settlement into a prosperous mining town, developing much of the land in Kuala Lumpur and owning over a quarter of all the buildings!

Coincidentally, this is the view from what would have back then been Yap Ah Loy’s house. Also notice that there was no clock tower!

Old Market Square is Medan Pasar’s old name, because that’s where Yap Ah Loy’s large market and gambling sheds were. This was until 1882, when Frank Swettenham (the first Resident General of the Federated Malay States) wanted it demolished, citing health reasons, and that the site was state land, so Yap Ah Loy rebuilt the market place. In 1885 when Yap Ah Loy died, the Government took over and moved the market to where Central Market is today.

However, before the market was moved, it was referred to as Macao Street or Hokkien Street by the Chinese.

From the postcard above, you can see in the middle, Hong Kong Bank, opened 1914, unfortunately demolished at the beginning of the 1970s. It is now called HSBC Bank. Photograph taken from HSBC Group Archives, and found from a website describing its architect, Philip Charles Russell.

This picture is labelled to be taken in the 1940s. Notice the plaques!

The Clock Tower was built in 1937. The plaque states that the Clock Tower was built to commemorate the coronation of King George VI (Queen Elizabeth II’s father, the current Queen of the Commonwealth realms.) Well his name was really Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, the Duke Of York – George was his regnal name, a name he took upon becoming king.

So where did the plaques go?

Immediately after Malaysia gained its independence from Britain, the tower’s plaques, which glorified colonialism, were removed.” – A Walking Tour, by Victor Chin and Cheryl Hoffman

I am extremely curious as to what the plaques actually said – I imagine it would be written in classic, bombastic British English. I also feel somewhat sad that the Clock Tower becomes somewhat meaningless with the plaques removed, almost a kind of disrespect to the person it was commemorated for.

This picture is labelled 1950s. I have to say, I really liked how Hong Kong Bank looked.

This picture is also labelled 1950s (with Federation Of Malaya and Selangor flags!) This was because Kuala Lumpur was once part of Selangor, and Petaling Jaya was part of Kuala Lumpur…

Yap Ah Loy’s houses on Market Square, Kuala Lumpur 1884, taken from Arkib Negara Malaysia.

And now, for a picture facing the other direction. The filename indicated that this was taken in the 1900s, but I’d say anytime after 6 May 1913.

From The Straits Times, 6th May 1913, page 9:

The Mercantile Bank. Opening of New Premises at Kuala Lumpur

On Saturday last, the new building, which is to be the local branch of the Mercantile bank of India Ltd., in Kuala Lumpur opened its doors to the public. The new premises, which stand at the corner of Market Street and Roger Street and facing into Old Market Square… the contract was in the hands of Woon Ah Wong, the architects were Messrs Swan and Maclaren, for whom Mr. Phil Russell has been acting locally… The bank was opened at noon when in the presence of an excellent company Mr. P. C. Russell handed over the new premises to the bank officials…

The filename says 1900 but I’ll assume anytime after 1937. Note the Bank Of China and the Clock Tower.

May 1961 – View of Medan Pasar area, showing the clock tower (middle) and the old Mercantile Bank which was still under construction…” – picture from New Straits Times Press. The Lee Wah Bank is also visible on the right, but I can’t tell if it was under construction. Interestingly, the plaque is still visible, but I’ll clarify with Victor…

This was also labelled 1960s, with the plaque. It couldn’t be much earlier unless Lee Wah Bank was taking forever to build…

Notice that Bank Of China had become Bank Of Tokyo, Ltd.! What a beautiful Art Deco facade. It could not have been anywhere before October 1957, when Bank Of Tokyo, Ltd. opened their first representative office in Malaya.

The filename says it was taken in the 1960s, which might be a mislabelled picture, unless it was before May 1961 that both the 1961 Mercantile Bank and Lee Wah Bank were built. Assuming the Federation Of Malaya flag was only flown after 31st August 1957, and that Bank Of Tokyo, Ltd.’s first branch was here, and Bank Of China is still in the picture, that this picture was taken between 31st August 1957 and October 1957.

I’m not sure of the chronology of events either, since the Hongkong And Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) had acquired The Mercantile Bank in 1959!

The label says 1980. Lebuh Pasar Besar is nearby Medan Pasar, and is often referred to by buses as Bangkok Bank due to the Bangkok Bank nearby!

Apparently, the Victorian Fountain found in Dataran Merdeka, used to be in Old Market Square as well! I have not seen any pictures that show it in its old location, though.

The Section 17 Neighborhood Park

I was born in Assunta Hospital, on Jalan 1, the first road ever built in Petaling Jaya. It goes by the name Jalan Templer these days. I lived in my grandparents’ house in Section 17, Petaling Jaya. One fine day I decided to ask my dad what happened to the park that he used to take us to as kids, and where was it?

As it turns out, the playground/recreational park was in Section 17 itself, and it was still around!

I remember very vaguely memories of this parking lot marking the entrance, getting there in my dad’s Datsun 120Y.

The steps to this place.

The road. Notice the MBPJ logo – Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya, or Petaling Jaya City Council, effective 20th June 2006 when Petaling Jaya was granted city status.

An entrance that was now blocked off. I remember back in the early 90’s when you could leave your gate unlocked in Section 17 and crime wasn’t so rampant.

Up on the hill was a signboard with the old MPPJ logo – Majlis Perbandaran Petaling Jaya, or Petaling Jaya Municipal Council.

As you entered, a common area lies, growing moss. Admittedly I have been digging up a bit on Malaysian history where it comes to buildings so this strikes me as something that might have been built when this park was built. I don’t know when that is, but Petaling Jaya was established in 1953, so it could’ve been anywhere from that point onwards.

You can imagine kids just going apeshit running circles around this. Well, maybe 90’s kids.

Behind it, more garbage bags with fallen leaves.

To its right, a basketball court, and a new playground up the hill.

A bit further was a playground that had a bit of fresh paint.

The new playground up on the hill. I remember this type of playground back in Bangsar Sports Complex, in the 90’s. There is also one near my current residence.

I seem to have regretfully forgotten to take a picture of the signboard, in case it would have any clues. Also note the benches. Classic!

From on top of one of the many hills.

Same basketball court.

Some hut on top of a hill.

But you know, I really didn’t care for all that back then. I think I was under the age of 10, and the playground didn’t excite me…

…it was the laterite hills that really did.

The shape was the same, but the color was different. It was now covered in moderate vegetation and leaves, regretfully! I remember going apeshit, seeing the bright red laterite, climbing it with my bare hands!

Some parts of it still show what originally was all orange.

On the right is some good ol’ laterite, a rich crust of rust due to the presence of iron oxides.

When I asked my dad about this park from my childhood with the red rocks, he expertly identified it as laterite. Of course, I learnt that in Geography, many years ago, but quickly forgot. Perhaps it was his qualification as a chemical engineer that hardened it.

I think I remember this rock from my childhood! What a beauty.

This is a peak I don’t remember going to, which overlooked the older playground. I don’t think stone walks were in fashion back then. I remember the craze back in the 90’s, and we’d go to Bandar Utama Park and abandon our slippers for some acupunctural goodness.

This is the view when you’re on top, looking over to the other end of the uh… mountain range.

This is the view from the front. Honestly not as appealing without its trademark rusted red.

This is the view from the other side of the park. For some reason, I never really journeyed here.

Random rocks. Exciting, like discovering kryptonite!

A little rock that strayed.

I don’t remember if there was also earth that was easy to chip, causing rocks to come off.

Halfway up.

More of that rich red goodness.

I’m not sure which angle this is from.

A plainer looking view.

Of course, there were huts in the distance. For some reason I never got excited about the cemented jogging path on the left, that made a circle around the park. In a way, this rock in the foreground, was what I remember to be my invisible bounds – nothing interesting beyond there!

Today it might be a different story, as there were two chicks jogging the circuit. 😀

There was an electricity control box nearby, and there was an alternate entrance, guarded by… a cat!

I got nice and close with the 1985 Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan. Intentionally, I went there with the oldest Minolta lenses I had – the 1987 Minolta 24-50mm F4 being the other. I left the 1985 Minolta 50mm F1.4 at home, though, thinking I could get by with Super SteadyShot since I wasn’t shooting moving subjects in twilight. To be pure I’d have used Fujifilm Velvia and a Minolta Dynax 7000 but I don’t have a Dynax 7000 and I wasn’t keen on using film so I brought the Sony Alpha 900 instead. It would’ve done good since I was shooting late into the evening where I had to use ISO1600 as both lenses were cutting off at F4.

I then walked out Jalan 17/33 and spotted this dramatic scene, in time for magic hour.

There was a torn-down house to the left.

I went down the stairs to Jalan 17/31.

However, 17/31 proved to be too modern for me so I headed back up the stairs and into nostalgia.

You know, I really don’t remember what this used to look like. This is the darn toll people keep avoiding by cutting through Section 17.

I normally don’t like going to Petaling Jaya, as I attract lots of mosquitoes, and Petaling Jaya is just full of them. Especially Section 17.

There is a reason why I went down nostalgia lane (or nostalgia park?) but I will blog about it soon, hopefully, when I am done collecting information on the subject. Unfortunately, not many pictures of that subject can be found, which is why I went down to Section 17 to document as much as I could about the park I loved as a kid!

Democratic Promise

On the 30th of August 2012, I went down to Dataran Merdeka to photograph the Janji Demokrasi demonstration! This was at 9:11pm, when the demonstration was to start at 10pm.

From above.

I took the STAR LRT to Bandaraya and back, to get overhead shots.

Spotted in Masjid Jamek LRT station.

On the way there, there were banners, with the new Merdeka Day logo, with the Kementerian Penerangan Komunikasi & Kebudayaan’s sanction below.

Vuvuzelas seem to be the new way to celebrate.

From the inside – we could enter from this end. This was at 9:36pm.

The crowd wasn’t very dense, and the yellow shirts were not that common yet.

And yet, more were trickling in.

This was the barricaded part. Right: The same sign was at the fountain area (that was free access.)

The field was also barricaded.

A few steps back, I overheard Urdu.

A few more steps back, was a satellite dish, I assume for the outside broadcast (since there was a RTM van nearby.)

So why were the other people there? The official Merdeka Day countdown celebrations were at Bukit Jalil Stadium.

Kids in yellow, too. I wonder if they would ever learn about this in the history textbooks.

A lot more Indians spotted around. Some said that Bersih 3.0 didn’t have that many Indians, but I saw plenty this time!

The headband actually says 1Merdeka.

People being interviewed.

People recording and being prepared for tear gas, perhaps – however, there were no Federal Reserve Unit trucks around!

I don’t know what’s going on here.

The Sang Saka Malaya. Do you remember what the East India Company‘s flag looked like? (There are more flags that look similar over at Wikipedia’s Flag of the United States page.)

Selangorkini’s Merdeka spread, with the Pakatan-endorsed Merdeka Day logo. Because really, nobody likes the official 2012 Merdeka Day logo. You can Google it.

This is how you know you’re at Dataran Merdeka.

It’s always nice to see many different variations of yellow shirts, but all with that common theme of Bersih – for free and fair elections.

Janji Demokrasi was organized by Gabungan Janji, a coalition of 47-49 NGOs, with some of the organizing committee also being part of the Bersih 2.0 steering committee. Plus the gathering was initially announced as Janji Bersih, that was then rebranded Janji Demokrasi, but not many picked up on that, as you’ll see in T-shirts later…

Some dude educating tourists about the movement.

10:17pm, and you could see a lot more people around, much more in yellow, too.

Lots of bikes parked.

I didn’t know the DBKL had such sporty motorbikes!


It was 11pm and A. Samad Said, National Laureate, was not at the fountain, where he was supposed to recite the poem he had wrote for this gathering.

And so, the Unit Amal PAS led the crowd across the road…

The traffic passing there took pictures of us, too!

Crossing Jalan Tun Perak.

Another road to cross.

And then we reached Dataran DBKL, where A. Samad Said was to recite his poem.

A sea of yellow was already there!

That familiar feeling, from Bersih 3.0 – yellow as far as the eye could see!

On the other side, of course, being the DBKL officers on guard.

One big flag.

Then, we could spot the organizing committee – Maria Chin, and A. Samad Said sitting down.

Hishamuddin Rais was the emcee of the night, telling everybody to sit down.

The loudspeaker didn’t work well, making people talk in dubstep, so somebody brought a sound system, which didn’t seem to be used, either.

We all waited for 11:30pm…

…where A. Samad Said would recite his poem.

He spoke rather softly, plus the loudspeaker wasn’t very loud or clear – so Hishamuddin Rais recited the poem again for everyone’s benefit.

Spotted in the crowd: Mat Sabu, PAS Deputy President, and Tian Chua, National Vice President of PKR.

Mat Sabu took the loudspeaker for a while, to sing Sudirman’s Tanggal 31. Quite a classic Merdeka song, compared to the classic failure that was Janji Ditepati, universally panned, not just by pro-opposition people but by seemingly fence-sitting people as well. Fortunately that was it – no campaign speech whatsoever.

The Jingga 13 group also started singing the Janji Dicapati chorus, but they were barely audible.

This guy was loud and clear. He said “Janji“, to which the crowd responded with “Demokrasi!” (And later, “Bersih!“)

A Chinese guy wearing his support for PAS, an Islamist political party. Let it be known that there are Chinese people, who are not Muslims, who read the Harakah, a newspaper printed by PAS.

This Punjabi’s turban caught my attention. Also note the Guy Fawkes mask on a fellow Punjabi!

Then, Kill The Bill people gave out balloons…

…which we had to blow ourselves…

…to celebrate midnight, just 2 minutes away! We were all asked to sit down, which we did…

…but at midnight, everybody stood up! That was pretty epic.

Chants of Janji Demokrasi started again. A group nearby started singing Negaraku, the National Anthem of Malaysia.

This dude has a cool hat.

Kill The Bill people cleaning up, picking up garbage.


I then crossed the road back to Dataran Merdeka. There was a much bigger crowd now!

I had never noticed this here before.

Medic on a motorbike.

Michelle Hoo interviewing people.

Meanwhile, back near the fountain, there was some reassigning.

A kid with a Ben 10 balloon. I wonder who the firemen grew up idolizing.

I took the LRT to Titiwangsa to grab a cab. The LRT was open up to 1am for Merdeka Day.

And now, a bonus section – the various shirts! Here are two unrelated guys with A. Samad Said T-shirts.

On Jalan Tun Perak, DIY shirts.

Top-left was the first version I saw, using the Pakatan Rakyat-endorsed logo. Top-right says 709 – notice how demonstrations against the government typically have 3 numbers?

709 = July 9th 2011, Bersih 2.0 Rally
428 = April 28th 2012, Bersih 3.0 Rally
308 = 30th August 2012, Janji Demokrasi Rally
901 = 9th January 2012, Free Anwar Rally

I wonder why this wasn’t called the 830 rally, then. My personal preference is YYYY/MM/DD because nobody uses YYYY/DD/MM, so there is no confusion there, plus going in order of size, it makes sense, while MM/DD/YYYY does not.

These shirts were sold near the waterfall at Jalan Tun Perak. Not sure where the right-most shirt came from, though.

This is the same shirt, with 308 and the Pakatan Rakyat-endorsed logo, but much bigger. I have to say the logo is very visually stimulating.

And finally, a unique take – Bersih in Jawi!

Disappointingly, I did not see a single shirt having the official Merdeka Day 2012 logo, nor the Bersih 4.0 (unrelated to Bersih 2.0) logo! Would’ve loved to get a picture of that just for the record.

The gathering passed without incident, which was great. I have to thank the sensibility of the government for not ordering the police and FRU to chase us out, when it really is our constitutional right to gather. Also, only two people were arrested, for lighting fireworks (in case anybody forgot, fireworks are supposed to be illegal in Malaysia.)

If you have decided you want to do more for Malaysia, be a Polling/Counting Agent!

Sign up for the training here. It is open to all citizens of Malaysia – you don’t need to be a member of any political party or the Election Commission, to participate in making sure the elections are free and fair! I’ve gone for the course myself, and learned so much about the electoral system.

More here:
Bersih 3.0
Vote For Cleanliness!