The Uprising of Kuala Lumpur and Yap Ah Loy in 1860s

Yap Ah Loy is no doubt the most significant person in the early development of Kuala Lumpur. Started from a penniless gambler, miner and petty trader, Yap became the headman in Sungei Ujong in his early twenties and was accordingly attracted by the new settlement in Kuala Lumpur.

Late 1860s was the golden time of the development of Kuala Lumpur. Under the peaceful context and with the prosperous tin mining industry, Kuala Lumpur had developed to a small town with six main streets in the area of about 8 hectares. But the main body of the town remained moderate with wooden houses. By the time being Kuala Lumpur had developed different commercial activities. Within the Chinese society, the immigrants joined secret societies where they swore to serve and obey the rules of the society in return for mutual help and also to control the brothels, gambling booths and opium trade in the settlement. Along with neighbouring Kanching, Kuala Lumpur became one of the most important commercial and mining centres in Selangor.

Yap Ah Loy seized the opportunity in this fast growing small town. He started investing on new mines and commerce and become very wealthy. In 1869, Yap Ah Loy was appointed the new Capitan China of Kuala Lumpur after the death of the previous Capitan Liu Ngim Kong, who he served as a trusted lieutenant for several years. He built a temple at Old Market, in which still the one of the landmarks of Kuala Lumpur nowadays. The temple brought Chinese immigrants together as the regional religious centre and it also proved the social and political class of Yap Ah Loy.




2 Comments on “The Uprising of Kuala Lumpur and Yap Ah Loy in 1860s

  1. As the tin mining industry is dominated by mostly the Chinese, I am really interested in knowing about the roles of the other races in the development of Kuala Lumpur? Were all the races concentrated in Kuala Lumpur or were the Chinese mostly dominating the lands of Kuala Lumpur?

  2. The historical narratives and images are fascinating, and they should give you the background for the required urban analysis. This write up reads well as general history with urban contents, however the descriptions of certain urban patterns and architectural features have not been strung together to reveal a strategy employed towards this particular form of industry and settlement. The real urban project and analysis have not been fully articulated. In a nutshell, this research must demonstrate how the mining industry leads to a specific urban form in Kuala Lumpur. In this process, what kind of specific planning strategy and control did Yap Ah Loy employ to become successful? For example, where were the sites of extraction and production in relation to the marketplace and housing quarters, in order for a hierarchy to be established in the city. Or, through the example you have raised of the location of the temple at the old market, how does the organization and planning of religion, ethnic, clan institutions play a role in this city of migrant workers.

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