A feng shui tour of the Klang Valley #17

Our feng shui tour of Kuala Lumpur last week left us at the end of Jalan Pudu. This week, we make our way back to the city centre via one of the outer roads, namely Jalan Loke Yew and Jalan Maharajalela.

Jalan Loke Yew forms part of the ring road that surrounds Kuala Lumpur and is an important artery for traffic. It is also a major linkage between the city centre and Cheras. The road was named after Wong Loke Yew, one of the most successful and richest men during Kuala Lumpur’s formative years.

Spending his childhood as a farm hand in southern China, Loke Yew decided to head for Malaya at the age of 13. He was so determined to change his fortunes that he dropped his surname and went by just Loke Yew. The ambitious youngster struggled hard and went into the tin mining business.

Loke Yew’s big break came when he discovered a rich tin deposit at Kling Bahru and became wealthy. He went on to own many tin mines, rubber and coconut plantations. He held a monopoly on liquor sales, went into pawn broking and even licensed gaming!
Despite his fantastic wealth, Loke Yew remained a humble and generous man. He was one of the founders of the famed Victoria Institution of Kuala Lumpur. He was a major donor to the Hong Kong University and also helped establish the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore.

When he died from malaria in February 1917, Loke Yew’s funeral was one of the grandest of the time. In recognition for his contributions, two roads were named after him, one in Singapore and the other in Kuala Lumpur.

Jalan Loke Yew begins at Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka, where the Edinburgh Circle or roundabout used to be. It was converted years ago into a two-level intersection to ease traffic congestion. Jalan Loke Yew runs in a southeast direction until it meets Jalan Cheras and goes straight on to Kajang.

The scope of our article covers the segment of Jalan Loke Yew from the Jalan Sungai Besi intersection towards the city centre. The remainder section will be covered when we look at Cheras in future.

From Sungai Besi heading towards town, Jalan Loke Yew is a fairly straight and wide road that channels a bulk of traffic to and from Cheras. On its left, there is Jalan Jubilee, characterised by a long row of shophouses, and the King George V Silver Jubilee Home for the aged and SRJK (C) Sam Yoke behind.

This entire area appears to be under-developed as it is adjacent to cemeteries – the Jalan Lapangan Terbang Chinese cemetery and the Singhalese and Christian cemeteries near Dewan Bahasa.

People tend to shy away from cemeteries for many reasons. It could be superstition: who knows “who” they may meet in the dark if they are returning home late, or working late in offices located nearby. Business owners may feel it will deter customers from visiting.

Whatever the reason, cemeteries are very “yin” by nature and are not suitable for business unless harmony is restored by adding more “yang” to it. Could that mean we need to make enough noise that will even raise the dead? Let’s leave the departed in peace and get on with the tour, shall we?
Going by landform, the Jubilee side of Jalan Loke Yew is hilly and slopes towards town. This is actually a good sign for shops that face the main road, since the rear would be higher than the front. In the old days, it would have seen booming business, too.
However, apart from the “dragon” which is the mountain or highlands, we need to also consider the rivers. Here, there is a big river that comes from “tai sui hum” in the Pudu area, goes alongside SMK San Peng, SRJK (C) Chung Kwo, crosses Jalan Loke Yew, flows alongside the cemetery, reaches the Sungai Besi airport and Sungai Kerayong. One may actually call it a giant monsoon drain – and it probably is, since there is no name given for this!

A large flowing body of water like this has an impact on the energy flow and accumulation, particularly on low-rise buildings since they do not have deep piling. Earth energy has a certain level of “buoyancy” and is found at the top layer of the earth, about 20 feet in depth.

Water bodies block and deflect the energy. In some cases where a river embraces an area, energy is collected. On the opposite side of the river, the energy is deflected. Since the energy is effective to a depth of 20 feet, some seepage may occur beneath the river. The deeper the river or drain, the greater the blocking effect.
Buildings with deep pilings can still tap into energy that seeps below the river, but its unnatural vertical orientation is not as ideal as natural slopes and angles to enjoy the beneficial effects.
Since the nameless river flows southwards, buildings should ideally face it directly, or at least have their entrances follow its direction. In this case, buildings on the Jubilee side facing Jalan Loke Yew are against the flow. Thus, there are conflicting influences at play. If a building goes with the flow, it faces the hill and has a lower back. Mitigation would be difficult but necessary.

Furthermore, the transformation of Jalan Loke Yew into a busy main road with fast-moving cars has also changed localised wind patterns. As winds dissipate energy, this could have a negative effect on the vicinity.
On the opposite side of the road, we find a pocket of land embraced by Jalan San Peng. There are three schools here: SRJK (C) Chung Kwo, SMK Jalan San Peng and Tamil Primary School. Within this area, there are Jalan Gundek, Jalan Kalong and Jalan Chin Chin.

As with the Jubilee side, properties here have mixed influences. Those facing Jalan Loke Yew have a good orientation relative to the river, but not to the hills where the cemeteries are.
It is also interesting to note that this area is also a valley, formed between the cemetery and the Jalan Hang Tuah hill on which the Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent sits. Coupled with a river, this again attracts a lot of people – and vice.
Low-cost flats are found here, making the population density high, and Jalan San Peng has an unsavoury reputation for vice, drug peddling and illegal massage parlours. Nonetheless, it is also a popular area for food lovers. This proves once again, that people are attracted to collected pools of energy but where it stagnates in a bowl or valley, social problems also arise.

It could be due to socio-economic reasons. Cramming too many people into crowded spaces can create friction, tension and unhappiness. Only the poor and low-income group would stay in crowded spaces – the well-to-do would have found someplace more spacious and comfortable. Poor people living in packed conditions are bound to be frustrated and some may resort to vice and crime as a way to earn more or to vent their frustrations. It is a perfect storm for social ills. Thus, sociologists would likely back up ancient feng shui observations and reasoning in this regard.
Relatively speaking, properties in the San Peng area that face northwest, towards the Klang River and the nameless river (hidden in a culvert) have the best position. Those facing the opposite side are not so conducive.

On the outer arm of Jalan San Peng, the conditions are not very ideal. Apart from being on the convex, it is also very near the LRT tracks. Not surprisingly, not much development happens here.
Next we come to Jalan Maharajalela, formerly Birch Road. Dato’ Maharajalela was a Malay chief who assassinated the first British Resident in Pasir Salak, Perak in November 1875. James W.W. Birch was appointed British Resident the year before, following the signing of the Pangkor Treaty, which made Perak a British protectorate. Up until then, Perak had been under Thai sovereignty since 1816.

Birch’s murder was ultimately due to the fact that he outlawed slavery in Perak. Dato Maharajalela, whose income depended on capturing and selling orang asli as slaves (back then, they were called “sakai”, a term which is taboo today). He plotted with some slave-traders to kill Birch while he was taking his bath in the river.

The assassination was met with severe retribution: Sultan Abdullah was deposed and exiled to Seychelles; Dato Maharajalela and accomplices were hanged; and Perak’s administration was moved to Taiping.

Malaysian history kindly remembered Dato Maharajalela as someone who acted out of indignity when Birch disrespected local custom and traditions and went against local chiefs. Revisionists even go so far as to call him an early independence fighter, trying to liberate the country from colonialists – all this before colonialism even took root!

The British East India Company set up bases in Penang since 1786 and Singapore in 1818. Their presence do not colonialism make. The British just wanted to trade and do business, through gunboat diplomacy, if necessary! They did not set out to rule the peninsula and only gained a foot in the doorway when they were invited by Raja Abdullah to help depose Raja Ismail who bypassed the former for the throne, and to quell constant fighting between two Chinese secret societies.

The British did eventually expand their influence and take over as a colonial ruler, but independence could hardly have been Dato Maharajalela’s motives for his actions.

Nonetheless, Dato Maharajalela is remembered and honoured as a hero, and ironically, Birch Road, was replaced by his name after Merdeka. There is speculation that Birch Road was named for a different Birch, though!

Jalan Maharajalela is sandwiched between Stadium Merdeka hill and Bukit Petaling where Kampung Attap and the former Wisma Putra are located. However, the road is not at the base of a valley. That distinction goes to Jalan Takala and Jalan Choo Cheng Kay.

On the left of the main road, we have a row of shop-offices and tourist hotels, right up to the Chinese Assembly Hall. On the right, there are Stadium Merdeka, Stadium Negara and Victoria Institution.

The undeveloped stadium side of the road is actually quite conducive for business, provided they face the main road. This configuration puts high ground on the back and a lower front; and the entrance follows the Klang River. Of course, nothing can be developed here and only Wisma FAS fits the bill. This building was the headquarters of the Selangor Football Association from 1973 up to the mid-1990s when it shifted to Kelana Jaya.

However as before, I am concerned about the impact of the monorail system in the vicinity. The elevated tracks run along Jalan Maharajalela and bends northward into Jalan Hang Tuah. Wisma FAS sits on the embracing side of the road and tracks, and the pulling effect of moving trains may drain away good energy collected in the vicinity.
Next: we will look at buildings on the other side of Jalan Maharajalela.


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