Friday, 2 August 2019

The Founding of Kuala Lumpur

Who and when exactly Kuala Lumpur was founded remains an open question. Yap Ah Loy is popularly known as the founder of Kuala Lumpur, but historians point out that he was not even the first but the third Kapitan China of Kuala Lumpur. Latter-day historians consider that Raja Abdu'llah, the Bugis Raja from Riau to be the real founder.

The Mandailings claim that Kuala Lumpur was founded, or co-founded, by one of their historical personalities, Sutan Puasa. According to an autobiography on Yap Ah Loy, Sutan Puasa, who was living near the mining settlement at Ampang, advised two Chinese traders who were supplying goods to him "about the quick profits to be made at Ampang" and "finally persuaded them to go". So it came about that Hiu Siew and Ah Sze Keldek became the first Chinese traders to arrive at Ampang. They set up shop at a spot near the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers, and the place eventually became known as Kuala Lumpur.

According to the Eurasian Pasqual, the Mandailings arrived in Hulu Klang, Ampang and Kuala Lumpur ahead of the Chinese. The Mandailing - mistaken for "foreign Malays" (as opposed to the "indigenous Malays";) - were the main traders and miners in Kuala Lumpur in the period preceding and during the Selangor war (1867-1873).

Of the Mandailing and Muslim tin traders in the early days of Kuala Lumpur, Pasqual has this to say: "It seems strange to be told that the Malays were the principal tin dealers in the days of Kuala Lumpur, as besides Sutan Puasa there were Thamby Dollah (a Malacca chitty) and Che Imby and Che Sahid (if I remember their names) who were jawi-peranakan from Penang and retired to Jelutong year after. Sutan Puasa must have amassed a fortune from the mines of the Kanichoos in Kanching..." In another instance, he said that Sutan Puasa became rich by financing the Chinese miners.

The Tarikh Raja Asal dan Keluarganya corroborates Pasqual's account that Sutan Puasa was a principal Mandailing merchant in Kuala Lumpur, before and during the Selangor war. The Tarikh also named Jalila, Jasuman, Haji Abdul Majid, Raja Duri as amongst the more successful Mandailing merchants in Kuala Lumpur. Raja Duri was named as the Mandailing leader in Kuala Lumpur. Chinese sources say that Sutan Puasa was recognised as the leading trader there.

According to the Tarikh, the Mandailing notables and elders in Selangor at the time were Bendaharaja, Jalumut, Sutan Maga, Imam Perang Rakat, Imam Perang Jabarumun, Sri Handalan, Sigaroh, Melapak, Jamanungkoli, Raja Mengatas, Haji Ibrahim Tambangan, Kudarat, Anchalchal, Haji Ali Pahang, Sutan Puasa, Sutan Duri, Raja Suman and many others. The Tarikh reported that Raja Asal's nephew, Raja Bilah and his entourage came from Mandailing around 1860. Raja Bilah sent for his wife and daughters later.

AMPANG -- According to the Tarikh, the Mandailings founded settlements in Ampang. The Mandailings in Ampang was led by Raja Bernang and later Raja Banding. For that matter, Ampang could have been named after the reservoirs built by the Mandailing for mining. The Mandailings are expert builders of reservoirs and waterways as evidenced to this day in many Mandailing villages in the Mandailing homeland.

BUNUS -- In Bunus (present-day Kampung Baharu) the Mandailing people were led by Jabaltuq or To' Bunus, in Gerongkang by Hulubalang Ali, in Kajang by Raja Berayun, in Ulu Langat by Engku Tuha (Tua) dan others not mentioned in the Tarikh Raja Asal. According to Riwayat Tuan Abu Bakar, Bunus saw a lot of blood shed during the Selangor War, known to the Mandailing as Porang Kolang.

BUKIT NENAS - Bukit Nenas is a hillock that overlooks the confluence of the Gombak and Kling Rivers in Kuala Lumpur. A British historian notes that "the traditional seat of Malay authority in Kuala Lumpur was a stockade originally built in the 1860's on Bukit Nenas, and known after the civil war as 'Sutan Puasa's stockade' from the Malay headman who had once occupied it". Sutan Puasa was of course not a Malay headman but a leading Mandailing trader. The original name of Bukit Nenas, according to Mandailing oral tradition, was Bukit Gombak. It was renamed Bukit Nenas because during the civil war, the Mandailings planted pineapples on the hill slopes as a foil against advancing enemy troops.


2/8/2019: 6.20 pm

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