A feng shui tour of the Klang Valley #29

Last week, we looked at several properties along Jalan Raja Laut right up to the intersection with Jalan Sultan Ismail. We discussed how this area is actually sitting between two rivers – Gombak and Klang – as they flowed into a confluence.

This is actually a good location to be in, in terms of landform. Earth energy flowing from the mountains up north are funnelled down this “peninsula” and concentrated at the confluence. The closer one is to the confluence, the better. In order to benefit from this location, the entrance of a building should face the confluence. To face the opposite direction would be bad for business and harmony.

If a building were to face one of the rivers directly, its back would “inadvertently” be to the other river. This is likely to cancel out each other, resulting in a neutral situation where no additional benefits can be derived from a geomantic point of view.

The influence of each river is determined by its proximity to the buildings. So, a building is more affected by the river it is closest to. In the case of Jalan Raja Laut, the Gombak River exerts a strong influence. Thus, buildings on one side of the road that faces the river will do better than those opposite, whose backs are to the river.

Near Jalan Raja Laut, north of the Jalan Sultan Ismail intersection, there is a housing estate called Tiong Nam Settlement. Tiong Nam, in Chinese, means southeast. The mainland Chinese of the past used to look at Southeast Asia as a land of opportunity and many came here in search of a better future.

Located between the road and Gombak River, Tiong Nam Settlement was one of Kuala Lumpur’s earliest housing projects. Developed in the early 1960s by property developer Tiong Nam, this area was known to be infested by gangsters and shady underworld characters. A large number of workers in the Batu Road wet market lived here.

Based on the landform, this is not very surprising. The Tiong Nam Settlement is located at the lowest part of town. The land slopes downhill from Jalan Raja Laut towards the river. That means, lots of energy are pooled here. Where there is a lot of energy, people are drawn towards it, and where there are many people, unsavoury activities that pander to men’s vices are sure to appear.

During May 13, 1969 some of the rioting occurred in the nearby Federal and Capitol cinemas (now defunct), where apparently a large number of Chinese thugs from Tiong Nam Settlement mounted some resistance and fought back the rioters. A large number of displaced Chinese families were sheltered in centres set up at Stadium Merdeka and, you guessed it, Tiong Nam Settlement.

Even though the settlement did not start out as such, its subsequent progress mirrors that of squatter areas built elsewhere beside rivers. It is quite uncanny that dwelling places – by they planned housing or squatters – often end up becoming slum-like.

The houses in this area are mostly low-cost single-storey terrace houses. These houses are perpendicular to the river. That means, one side of the road, where houses follow the river’s flow, will do well while their neighbours across the road will not do as well. In fact, as mentioned many times before, buildings which parallel the river upstream are likely to create mental problems for their inhabitants.

Today, Tiong Nam Settlement still stands anachronistically against a backdrop of high rise buildings. In this area along Jalan Raja Laut, there are many budget hotels, night clubs, bars and pubs. Some of these hotels even turnover the same rooms a few times a day, or so we heard (we’ll leave it at that).

Businesses on the Tiong Nam side have several disadvantages from a feng shui perspective: first, their backs are to the river; their fronts are high and their backs slope downhill. Therefore, they are not likely to do well in the long term. Success will be difficult to attain or maintain – it may last for only one generation.

On the other hand, the “entertainment” business which deals with vice – in general, drinking, gambling and prostitution – may thrive since the “bad” energy can be drained away. It would be interesting to observe this trait over the long term.

Of course, there are bona fide businesses that are making efforts to raise the status and image of this area. With the right orientation, they may very succeed at holding their own. For example, Hotel Plaza is located at the right side of Jalan Raja Laut. It faces the river and a downhill slope.

The Residence Hotel, being on the “wrong” side of the road, recently changed hands and became Citrus Hotel under new ownership and management. This hotel very cleverly converted its rear into a main entrance. Though it may appear odd to some, this is a very good mitigation as the building now faces the river, has a high back and a low front. The relatively quieter entrance now lets guests access the hotel without being harried by busy traffic.

Wisma Thakurdas nearby would probably do better if it adjusts orientation similarly. The present Cosmopoint college used to be the National Library which subsequently moved to its own building at Jalan Tun Perak.

Generally, the left side of Jalan Raja Laut, as you drive down the one-way street, is not very conducive while the right side is more conducive. You can tell by how busy the road is with pedestrian traffic. You would find the west-facing right side busier with people. The shops are more vibrant looking while those on the opposite side look duller.
There are several banks on the right side, such as EON Bank and CIMB Bank. They are likely to do well with good business and clientele.

There are also several hotels here, such as City, Sun Ya, Mayflower and Rome. These are very, very old establishments and have been in business for decades. There is longevity here on the right side of the road. On the other side, there appears to be frequent changes. Good for variety for tourists, you say? Tell it to the failed business owners!

Among the newer hotels, there are Puteri Park and De First hotels. Puteri Park attempts to create a more upmarket and modern look, which is commendable. However, we are concerned that it lacked a landing or driveway. Such a holding area is important for the hospitality industry. It may not “suffer” from poor landform but the lack of space for vehicles to drop off passengers and park may cause it some difficulty.

The Federal and Capitol cinemas used to be very popular. They were virtually like cineplexes, since patrons can watch more than one movie at a time. Youngsters will find it hard to believe that in the past, there was no such thing as a cineplex. Movies were screened in a purpose-built building and only one movie was shown throughout the season, which could last days, weeks or even months. As long as the movie packs in the audiences, the same show would play, unless contractual obligations forced them to change. Blockbusters from the West could take months to get here due to long queues!

With Federal and Capitol side-by-side, there was at least some variety in the offerings. As luck would have it, small-time gangsters around the vicinity – the Ipoh Road gang, Batu Road gang, Tiong Nam gang and so forth – also created some problems. It was not unusual for patrons to be forced to part with a few ringgit with each visit.
That and the advent of video probably hurt business to the point where they went out of business, although their entrances faced the right direction – downstream to the Gombak River.

Incidentally, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) has its Kuala Lumpur headquarters here in Jalan Raja Laut, too. It sits on the right side of the road which is quite conducive actually. However, it faces a T-junction coming out from the Tiong Nam Settlement which may create uneven fortunes for the party.

The opposition political party experienced rollercoaster fortunes over the years, at times rising in prominence and power, such as in the 1969 general election, and then ebbing in subsequent ones. It seems to rise at certain times and lose much ground at others, at one point almost fading into obscurity.
Its political fortunes could be attributed to changing public sentiments, political horseplay and what have you. Yet, it is still interesting to see that landform feng shui may have played a role in the ups and downs of the party, just as the feng shui of UMNO headquarters at the Putra World Trade Centre could have wreaked havoc with the party’s internal politics.

With the next general election looming around the corner, it would be interesting to watch the interplay of these forces to see who will gain the upper hand this time round.

Jalan Raja Laut eventually joins Jalan Ipoh as the latter is about to join Batu Road (now Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman). This is a little busy short stretch of road, which leads to Jalan Pahang in the north, Jalan Raja Muda in the northeast and intersection, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to the south.

This is quite a difficult spot from a landform perspective. Buildings on the right are in the embrace of the road, which is good. However, they are on the “wrong” side in relation to two rivers: they face upstream to Gombak and Ampang rivers.
On the other hand, buildings on the left have a good river orientation but they are on the outer convex of the road. As such, each side enjoys both good and bad features. This would suggest that businesses in this area would struggle to succeed; or success would be single-generational. Mitigation, while possible, would be difficult.
This area is also well-known, or rather, infamous for the red-light district of Chow Kit Road. More on that next week.


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