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Tuesday July 31, 2007

Goodbye to another urban kampung


ONE of Kuala Lumpur’s early Malay settlements has been earmarked for development. Rumour has it that the 200- year-old Kg Haji Abdullah Hukum in Bangsar has been marked for a major development comprising condominiums, office blocks, shopping complex and there is even talk of a transit hub to be built in the area. StarMetrospeaks to the residents there to see what they think of the changes that are coming their way. 

For most of the remaining residents of Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum, it is the sense of closeness to the city and the warm neighbourhood atmosphere that they will miss when they move out of their home of more than 30 years. But they all agree that it is time that some form of development take place in the area. 

Long-time customer: Mani giving Abdul Samad a hair cut at his barber shop in Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum. Abdul Samad has been going to Mani for his monthly hair cuts for the past 30 years. (Right) The shop’s exterior.
“My family loves this place very much, but if we want our country to be a developed nation then we have to shift and let the proposed developments take place. We cannot be living in this area for our entire lives. But it is not going to be easy to leave this place as it holds many fond memories for all of us,” said V. Mani Velu, who operates a barber shop next to his home. 

His shop, situated near the Sri Sakthi Nageswry Amman temple, is shaded by tall coconut trees and has no proper door. It is a popular stop for many seeking to have an economical haircut. 

Mani, who followed in his father’s footsteps, said he left school and took up the hair-cutting job at 12 and one of his regular customers, Abdul Samad, 62, has been frequenting his shop from day one till today. 

“I have got so used to visiting Mani’s shop that if he has to leave the village, I would definitely look for him at his new shop for more haircuts,” said Abdul Samad who lives in an adjacent village but would often meet up with Mani for tea. 

Leong Chong Moi and her husband Lam Kam Chong, who would be moving out of the village with their four children at the end of the year, said they too were happy that the village was going to be developed. 

“We heard that a new bridge linking our village and Mid Valley would be built next year and we are very happy over the news,” said Leong, who sells vegetables for a living at Brickfields. 

Both she and Lam love taking care of their pet dogs and planting fruit trees around their home in the village. After moving into their new home, they felt it would be impossible for them to continue their hobbies. 

Sad goodbye: Vegetable seller Yong Chong Moi and husband Lam Kam Choy find it difficult to part with their pet dogs and the fruit trees they have planted.
“I am going to put my dogs up for adoption and also take on new hobbies when I leave the village,” said Leong. 

Traders Mohd Salehan Abdullah and Hashim Othman, who operate a burger and satay stall respectively, felt that the impending development was generally good but they hoped to be able to continue their businesses elsewhere. 

“There is no place like home, and this place is just so peaceful and quiet,” said Hashim, who returns to his former home daily to prepare ingredients to cook the satay gravy. 

Crowded out: Massive malls and tall buildings are going to take up the space where the village now stands, forcing these children and their families into the city’s many flats.
Hashim would spend half a day in the village preparing ingredients and cooking the gravy using the traditional method – over a wood fire. 

“Sometimes I stay here on weekdays and only return to the flats where my family is staying on weekends. This is such a homely place to live in,” said Hashim. 

He too felt that developing the area was necessary but he would definitely be missing his favourite pastimes such as planting trees and cooking outdoors. 

Simple life: Mohd Salehan has been operating his burger stall in the village for the past 10 years.
Mohd Salehan, 32, who has been selling burgers for the past 10 years in the village, said he only hopes to be able to find a place to continue his business.  

How the village got its name 

Haji Abdullah Hukum, whose given name was Muhammad Rukun, came to Malaya at the age of 15 with his father back in the 1800s. 

To earn a living he worked as a farmer and a contractor before he started opening lands and villages with the consent of Raja Laut, who was then the Raja Muda of Selangor.  

Abdullah was later chosen by Raja Laut to head a mosque in Pudu.  

He was also given the authority to start a nursery in Bukit Nanas and to open a village in Sungai Putih (now Jalan Bangsar).  

After retiring, he continued to stay in the village in Sungai Putih which is now known as Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum. 

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