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Saturday April 14, 2007

From Batu Road to Jalan TAR

Photos by SAMUEL ONG 

THE name Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman conjures images of olden architecture and business trade and it is a reputation that the road has lived up to for the past century.  

The road comes alive early in the day and is always bustling with activities as shoppers throng the street for its many boutiques and shopping arcades. 

Pre-development: A file picture of Batu Road in the 1930s.
The road was previously known as Batu Road as it was originally a path leading to the Batu village where mining activities took place. 

In the 1930s, development overtook the village turning the swamps, rice fields and coconut estates in the area into one of the busiest roads in Kuala Lumpur.  

Traders here sell a variety of items along with the retailers, wholesalers, and hawkers. There are also hotels and a cinema here.  

Post-war buildings with interesting architectural designs are also part of the road’s draw. 

Landmark: The Coliseum cinema that continues to draw moviegoers.
The road was later renamed after the country’s first Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad.  

He was also the eighth Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Seri Menanti and second Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan.  

Tuanku Abdul Rahman went to school at Jempol Malay School and went on to the Malay College in 1907. He then worked at the Federal Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur before being appointed as Assistant Collector of Land Revenue in Seremban. Tuanku then went on to serve in the Malayan Volunteer Infantry as a second lieutenant and was promoted to lieutenant in 1918. 

Developed: The present day Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
In 1925, he went to London and pursued a barrister qualification and was elected the first president of the United Kingdom Malay Association, one of the earliest Malay nationalist groups. He returned to Malaya in December 1928, and served in the Malayan Civil Service.  

Tuanku Abdul Rahman was elected first Yang di-Pertuan Agong or Paramount Ruler of independent Malaya on Aug 3, 1957. 

Popular: Globe Silk Store is also on Jalan TAR.
He was installed by kissing the keris kerajaan to the beat of the nobat, a traditional royal music rhythm. The King also pioneered the headdress Dendam Tak Sudah that has been followed by all subsequent Kings.  

The King passed away in his sleep in April of 1960 and was buried at the Royal Mausoleum in Seri Menanti, Negri Sembilan. 

A century later, the older folks still refer to the road as Batu Lut, a localised version of its old name while the younger generation often refer to it as Jalan TAR.  

The road is a haven for textile companies, carpet traders and small boutiques that sell modern Malay designs. There are also many small second-hand books dealers who have thrived despite the boom of giant bookstore chains. 

One of the significant landmarks on the road is the Coliseum cinema. It is still popular and screens movies that cater to different segments of society.  

As you go down to the end of the road, the newly-built Maju Junction stands tall, creating a modern touch to the surrounding older architecture. 


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