THE Moving Mountains: A Pictorial History trilogy of the Chinese in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur is a project dating back more than 20 years.
With more than 1,600 old photos, the bilingual books detail the struggles and contributions of the Chinese community towards the development of the country over the last century.
The Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies, based at the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall, undertook the project.
It was penned by academicians who are passionate and knowledgeable in the field.
The editor is Dr Ser Wue Hiong while the authors are Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall’s chief executive officer Tang Ah Chai, Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies’ director Chiam Yan Tuan as well as architect and heritage conservationist Teoh Chee Keong.
Dr Ser said the collection of old photos started about 20 years ago but the project was set aside because of funding issues.
“It was about four years ago that the committee felt that the project had been put on hold for way too long and that it needs to answer to the Chinese community at large,” he said.
To the authors, the biggest challenge of the project was the sourcing of photographs.
“We visited every nook and cranny to find the old photos, including clan’s associations, temple committees and schools to check their newsletters page by page. We also collected old photos from local folk,” he said.
He added that the team also obtained photos from the National Archives of Malaysia, Singapore, the UK and the US.
When asked what was their main discovery from the project, both Dr Ser and Chiam said they were surprised to find a large amount of information lost in existing documents.
For example, Chiam said there were eight girls’ schools in Kuala Lumpur but now, the capital city was left with none as SMK Kuen Cheng adopted the co-ed policy in 2008.
Dr Ser highlighted that there was a large number of Chinese associations in Kuala Lumpur that had recorded the community’s contributions to the growth of the capital city. Sadly, many of the associations had closed and their precious records were left neglected.
Chiam said the three books exhibited the chronology of events showing how the Chinese had brought about developments in economy, culture and politics, as immigrants back then and later as citizens.
“It was an eventful and fruitful journey, their contributions should be made known to Malaysians,” he said.
Dr Ser added that he hoped the books would sow a seed among the communities to start making records of important milestones for future reference.
The books were launched by Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies chairman Chew Saw Eng, Association of Kwong Tong Cemetery (KTC) Management Kuala Lumpur president Too Hon Kwong and the representative of Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang, Gao Wei, recently at the KTC Heritage Centre.
KTC and Help University are the main sponsors of the project.
“This is a massive project that has involved extensive research and careful study, displaying the depth and breadth of the Chinese community’s endeavour in building this country.
“In a clear presentation and pictorial proofs, their contributions are now recorded in black and white, and should never be wiped out from history,” he said, adding that the association was working to build a monument to commemorate the forefathers’ sacrifice during the war. The work is expected to begin this year.
The Moving Mountains books are sold in major bookstores nationwide.