Walking Petaling Street Under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO)

Walking down (normally crowded with vendors) Petaling Street / Jalan Petaling / 茨厂街 / 茨廠街 (last Sunday) under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) as most wholesalers were closed; but many restaurants on Merchant Street and Jalan Balai Polis etc are at least open for lunch. The original Chinatown centred on Market Square. Jalan Tun H.S. Lee or High Street. The High Street was popular as it was higher than the rest of the town and was therefore less prone to floods, and the wealthier population were inclined to build their shophouses here. As a result, the more ornate shop houses were built north of Jalan Cheng Lock, and closer to the High Street business centre. Kuala Lumpur was a typical “pioneer” town around the start of the 20th century. The population was largely male and they were typical of the rough and tough pioneers of those times. The men were mainly Cantonese and Hakkas who had come to the city because of the tin trade, working as coolies in the mines. They were governed by a Chinese Kapitan or headman. The most famous Chinese Kapitan was Yap Ah Loy, a Hakka. In 1870, civil war erupted within the Chinese community. This was split along partisan lines between the Hokkien Ghee Hin and the Hakka Hai San secret societies. The British realising that the war is disrupting their economy and chain of supply, decided to enter the war. As a result of the long civil war, many buildings were destroyed or severely damaged. During this Selangor Civil War, the tin mines were abandoned. The neglect during this time caused them to become flooded. When the war was over, and when the miners returned after the war, they found that the mines were now unworkable due to flooding. Yap Ah Loy managed to persuade the miners and coolies to remain in KL and also persuaded the Malays in surrounding districts to grow rice and other garden products. He opened a Tapioca Mill in Petaling Street where the tubers from his farms were brought to be ground into flour. Petaling Street is fondly called ‘Chee Cheong Kai’ in Cantonese which means Starch Factory Street. In 2003, Petaling Street underwent a major RM11 mil face lift when two large Chinese arches to welcome visitors were placed at either end of the street. A green roof cover was constructed, covering the whole street, dubbed the “Green Dragon”. The street is now totally pedestrianised and transformed into a pedestrian shopping mall. The Street is regarded as a heritage site. Petaling Street is still the best place to shop for counterfeit branded products and for trying out its large selection of local Chinese cuisine. For buyers, it is often possible to haggle on the price of watches, clothing and all the counterfeit items. The Street is always crowded not only with tourists, but also with locals.

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