Klang ~ Selangor Malaysia



Whenever you find profitable resources, there are riches to be made. In Klang there was plenty of tin to be had. And the opportunists moved in. Tin had been mined by the Malays for centuries. The Chinese later introduced more efficient techniques to tin mining. And the British supported the industry relentlessly to feed the voracious needs of its Industrial Revolution.

As all other places where tin was found, Klang flourished. Infrastructure sprouted and roads were built. Britain invested benevolently and wisely. The excavated tin must find their way to the ports en route to Great Britain.

Meanwhile, tension amongst the locals brewed and seethed. Two local chieftains of Klang, Raja Abdullah and Raja Mahadi, fought for supremacy over the tin trade. Their Chinese allies backing them strongly. It was no surprise that Civil war erupted in 1867. It was unavoidable. For seven years, Malay soldiers wielding Kris and spears fought alongside their Chinese counterparts armed with their long menacing swords. Onslaught after onslaught assaulted and dominated besieged forts. One of the forts still stands; Kota Raja Mahadi was the stronghold of Raja Mahadi . Sadly today, all that remain to be seen are the main gate and the earthen ramparts. And that is if you can find it. After a lapse of an industrious century, development and tropical weeds and creepers brutally camouflage its pitiful existence.


The two warring sides called in aid from outsiders. The loss proved to be truly theirs. The year following the end of the Civil War, a British Resident was appointed to oversee matters in Klang, inevitably putting a stop to the era of the Malay chieftains' control over the proceeds of tin.


The Gedung Raja Abdullah is about the only historical structure that is still standing. In its heyday, Raja Abdullah reigned on the top floor of the building where he also housed his family. On the ground floor, sprawled his warehouse where he safely stashed all his tin in. A few hundred yards away lies the Klang River, a most convenient highway to transport this highly valuable raw material. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the building only has a short-lived moment of honour. It is doomed to a tragic fate of suffering many unkind experiences since then. When the Civil War broke out, Gedung

Raja Abdullah was abandoned. His landlord deserted him, retreating to Melaka on his paddle steamer. When peace was once again restored, Gedung Raja Abdullah barracked the district Police Headquarters for a hundred years. Worn out and worn down, it was almost scheduled to be demolished when the Heritage of Malaysia Trust stepped in and saved it. (Please Note: As of 1st May 2004, the last time we visited Klang, Gedung Raja Abdullah had been closed for renovations. No date of reopening was stipulated on the notice board.)


Today, Gedung Raja Abdullah proudly shelters the Klang Tin Museum, a structure deserving the honour to recount the past history of the once coveted tin. A delightfully informative museum. You can simply wander in and immerse into the realm of days long gone. The exhibition on tin mining is superb and truly educational. Spend some time there and learn about things you would never have guessed. You will find unexpected gems and trivia. For instance, the first Europeans to soil their hands in tin in Malaya were actually the French!!


Alas!! A wretched cloud of unhappiness still hangs over Gedung Raja Abdullah. This oldest surviving building in Selangor now only manages to meekly prop itself in between some hideous looking architecture. Flanked on its right are tall pink buildings obstructing Raja Abdullah's view of his beloved steam paddler mooring by the river. All lined up along the frontage are beaten up cars, vehicles burnt down to rust, confiscated cars that owners have preferred to forget. To forget is the choice that the people of Klang has made, relinquishing the glory of its golden era. Its rich history rusting away in the abyss of these misshapen burnt automobiles.


Indeed, if you look at Klang today it is hard to imagine that this was a place where a civil war erupted, dividing families and clans. For seven long years embroiled anarchy festered and fed on the insatiable lust of two men desiring to be King of Tin. No longer are there traces of wealthy chieftains rolling around in tin derived riches, their paddle steamers docking impatiently awaiting the orders to chug down the yellow river to their designated destination. History and all the grandeur of affluence satisfied from tin is buried, long dead and gone, deep underneath the monstrosity of modern structures. Neglecte

d evidence of Civil War and rivalry eroded away into the clutter coordinated town planning.


If you have the time, venture into Jalan Stesen. There you will find a quaint little kopitiam, and what a charming Chinese café it is. Right from the exterior of its long glass windows to the high ceilings to the unique iron wrought works emit a delectable warm colonial feel about it. It is also here that the three main races of Malaya mingle indiscriminately. An elderly Chinese bloke roosting crosslegged on his chair sharing a joke with a religious looking Malay guy who has his back against a poster with a Carlsberg girl flaunting her assets. An Indian chap fully attired in his un-ironed white dhoti sitting quietly as he anticipates the arrival of the latest political gossip. And the cherry on top of the icing walks around the shop in the suit of a delightfully welcoming and friendly hostess. Ask her to get you the 'roti bakar', some homemade bread grilled over charcoal which you can later slap on it some butter or 'kaya' , some Malay jam made of eggs, sugar and coconut milk. Peep into their kitchen and marvel at how they prepare the roti bakar in exactly the same way their grandfathers had done so fifty years ago! It just goes to show that there are some parts from the past that you can never leave behind.

All is not lost for Klang, though. Cruise along the old side of Klang where lies the Municipal Council and other whitewashed government offices. Steal into the quiet lanes that divide these old colonial buildings. Tall lush trees file erect and magnificent, complementing and making whole the scene before you. Breath in and you will almost forget the chaotic medley and mishmash cacophony of colours, sound and agenda of Klang town.

If you have the time, venture into Jalan Stesen. There you will find a quaint little kopitiam, and what a charming Chinese café it is. Right from the exterior of its long glass windows to the high ceilings to the unique iron wrought works emit a delectable warm colonial feel about it. It is also here that the three main races of Malaya mingle indiscriminately. An elderly Chinese bloke roosting crosslegged on his chair sharing a joke with a religious looking Malay guy who has his back against a poster with a Carlsberg girl flaunting her assets. An Indian chap fully attired in his un-ironed white dhoti sitting quietly as he anticipates the arrival of the latest political gossip. And the cherry on top of the icing walks around the shop in the suit of a delightfully welcoming and friendly hostess. Ask her to get you the 'roti bakar', some homemade bread grilled over charcoal which you can later slap on it some butter or 'kaya' , some Malay jam made of eggs, sugar and coconu

t milk. Peep into their kitchen and marvel at how they prepare the roti bakar in exactly the same way their grandfathers had done so fifty years ago! It just goes to show that there are some parts from the past that you can never leave behind.

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