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.