End of the road after exhilarating discoveries

  • Focus
  • Friday, 19 Jun 2015

Interlinked: Roads, elevated pedestrian walkways and monorails connect the busy Jalan Sultan Ismail, MRT is under construction.

THIS article on Jalan Sultan Ismail is the last of this column that has been running for two years. I think some cosmic power must have worked its magic that made me find the sultan’s rousing speech which reminds us about a Malaysia for all Malaysians as an apt conclusion to this two-year street exploration.

The journey was truly inspiring, opening my eyes to what the personalities did to build Kuala Lumpur to what it is today.

They were persons of different ethnic origins who all called this their land. They were entrepreneurial, philanthropic and patriotic. Their racial and religious backgrounds might be different but their combined knowledge had brought forth greater growth.

The street names are reminders that these great men who built the country had displayed unity in diversity, therefore dissimilarities should enrich us, not divide.

Writing for this column was especially rewarding because of the enthusiastic response from readers.

Following the piece on the Yaps who lent their names to many streets here, a reader spotted one more – Jalan Yap Hin in Pudu. Kuala Lumpur City Hall, which is supposed to have named the road, could not tell me who Yap Hin was.

Such was the case of Jalan Naomi Yap, my pursuit to find out who she was had regrettably led City Hall to take down the road sign because they had no such records. I hope someone out there can tell me who these two Yaps were when they see this.

Another reader, James McAnna, who penned a book titled The ‘Good Brothers’ of Pudu: A Chinese Malaysian Community of Kuala Lumpur sought my help to help find a biography of Yap Kwan Seng, written by Yap Tai Chi. I have been unable to find it. Can someone provide any clue?

While there are several books on the history of Kuala Lumpur, write-ups about these leaders whose names have been emblazoned on the streets are scarce and scattered. The search was not easy, but it was exhilarating.

The chance to connect with the grandchildren of these icons through this column was surreal, and reminded me that there’s more to learn from them than what has been documented, especially their values and virtues.

I have to also reiterate my respect for those who dedicated themselves to KL’s historical research and heritage preservation as what they do is truly noble.

I hope this column has, in its small way, stirred up a stronger love and curiosity for KL’s past, so that we will learn how to better appreciate the present and build the future.

If you have anything to share about heritage and history, write to metro@thestar.com.my.

Related story:

The swanky heart of the city

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