I love Kampung Baru. It is the place in Kuala Lumpur that make me feel related to my Middle Class heritage. When I first arrived in KL working in AFFIN Bank at the heart of KL and surrounded by ‘chique & modern’ colleagues in 2007, I have to say I was experiencing my awkward phase of life trying to adjust to new world.
The Ramadhan Bazaar at Jalan Raja Alang in Kampung Baru, KL! Love it!
I felt like a misfit and for sometimes, feigned and tried to blend with the “coolness of modern KL urbanite lives” but eventually I learned to discover that it was not meant for me. My world is Middle Class and that is the zone I am most comfortable with. When I discovered that not all KLites are “urbanites-like-they-seemed-as-some-do-retain-their-Middle-Class-lifestyles-like-me”, I felt I finally found my community that I am related to. You can read my blog entries on Kampung Baru :-
- 7th September 2008 (My first encounter with Kampung Baru; REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2008/09/07/kl-discovering-where-the-heart-is-embracing-penang-with-al-idruses-joy-luck-club/);
- 28th March 2011 (Visiting Kampung Baru along with Batu Caves & Pavillion; REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/malaysia-truly-asia-hinduism-emblem-peekaboo-batu-caves-malay-oasis-kampung-baru-urban-leisure-pavillion-kl-golden-triangle/).
Being the only Malay enclave residency in the middle of cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur, Kampung Baru is the epitome of Malay traditional heritage, sandwiched by the modernization-hungry capitalists eyeing for the valuable lands worth more than RM1 billion! Since I am now in the process of reading the legendary “Malay Dilemma” penned by beloved Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed a.k.a. Che’ Det; I’d like to quip quotes and remarks from him regarding Kampung Baru.
The newly-renovated Kampung Baru Mosque!
According to Che’ Det (which echoed from the historical records), Kampung Baru was gazetted by the British in 1900 as a Malay settlement because in 1890s, the living cost for Malays to afford a residence in KL was unbearably high. Since most of the Malays hailed from the rural areas, flocking into KL to work; they had no proper settlement to have shelters :-
“In Kuala Lumpur for example, by 1890s the Malays had almost no land to call their own. At the rate at which the non-Malays were buying up land and Kuala Lumpur was expanding, the Malays were on the way to becoming total strangers to the city which was the State, and later the federated Malay States, capital. The Government (British) then rapidly created the Malay Reserve of Kampong Bahru” – page 96.
The map of Kampung Baru erected near the mosque’s name placard. Apparently, Kampung Baru comprises 5 different settlements gathered together in accordance to the variety of Malay heritage of the residents. According to an article from The Star at http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Community/2014/01/24/A-village-in-the-city-After-more-than-a-century-Kampung-Baru-remains-very-much-a-kampung/ (I am so into writing & gathering information from various sources, right? Haha!), the residents were of Rawa, Javanese, and Malaccan descendants.
From this statement, we knew that Kampong Bahru is the only still-surviving amalgam of Malay traditions, engulfed in the capitalist-dominated Kuala Lumpur; and hence, should be preserved! Anyway, back to my own bit of experiences. This spur-of-the-moment idea to visit Kampung Baru just came out (wasn’t my idea) as someone heard that the Kampung Baru Mosque’s reconstruction has finally completed, thus so curious to see it. Initially, I was being skeptical as I forecast that the traffic would be congested and furthermore, this weekend is the week of payday so probably KL would be thronged by crowd! Nevertheless, I succumbed to the idea.
Fountain for ablution at the mezzanine floor.
Luckily we managed to get a parking lot at the side of the congested road. I was excited seeing stretches of Ramadhan Bazaar along Jalan Raja Alang! But since we planned to have Iftar at the mosque, I didn’t buy much except Murtabak for my Suhoor. I just love the ambiance of Middle Class Malay community there – but yeah, these days, immigrants from Indonesia are likely to dominate the place. Hmmmm……… I am not being xenophobic but it does raise my eyebrows, I have to admit.
So full! Alhamdulillah! Courtesy of Malabar Gold & Diamond. Bless the company for the charity. This can be considered as corporate social responsibility (CSR) for the company.
I was flabbergasted and in awe with the majestic new facade of Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru. Totally a far cry from the miniscule size I remembered. The architecture is modern with metallic colours; the inner compound is spacious; with mezzanine part built at the inner-corner of the mosque which places a fountain in the middle of circular pond-like pool dedicated for Muslims for ablution.
The prayer hall.
You know, I am a very “rice” person. Typically, I would have my rice for my iftar. Nevertheless, having the popular Kampung Baru’s “bubur lambok” (porridge) as well as a box of food such as chocolate, bread, a bun-like ‘kuih’, dates, apple and juice (courtesy of Malabar Gold & Diamond; bless the company!) – already make my stomach FULL! Subhanallah!
D’Lala Seafood, the authentic Thai cuisine restaurant. Just a walking distance from Kampung Baru New Mosque.
After Maghrib, Isya’ & Tarawikh; we went to the nearby D’Lala Seafood which specializes in real Thai cuisines. I was told that the food there are sumptuous; so just followed suit. It is a unique restaurant with traditional house well-kept in the innerside of the restaurant & there are also tables-and-chairs arranged at the verandah, the housing compound, etc – to create the ambiance of ‘kampung’. Initially, I was skeptical about the food (well, the same menu like other Thai stalls) but in the end, I succumbed to what been said :- I think the salted fish ‘kailan’ and the butter prawns were amazing and delicious! The steamed fish with garlic and lime was OK (although the presentation was somewhat ‘untidy’ but the taste was not that bad).
Wooden house in the innerside of D’Lala Seafood to create the ‘kampung’ ambiance. The owner must be rich. Haha!
I guess Kampung Baru holds special place in the breath of Malays residing in KL. It was also enthralling to walk along the road and find wooden Malay houses that are still loyally erected on the soil of Kampung Baru despite some of their counterparts already demolished to make ways for concrete jungle surrounding the Malay enclave. I realize that capitalists would stop at nothing to persuade these Malay residents to sell their precious lands and will definitely be tempted with TONNES OF MONEY (what’s that money to the capitalists in comparison to the valuable land, no?) but if possible, PLEASE DO NOT SELL THE LANDS!
After reading Che’ Det’s “Malay Dilemma” (I will write an entry about it after finish reading it), I feel a new paradigm shift evolving in my mind and head. What Tun Dr. Mahathir wrote in 1970 is so relevant until today to the Malays. To illustrate the predicament of Kampung Baru residents, I like to close the entry with this excerpt from page 96 :-
“Elsewhere, the Malay Land Reserve Laws formed a legal basis for keeping some land in Malay hands. As has already been mentioned, ways and means were also provided to get around this laws. These ways and means, as well as the wealth of the non-Malays, effectively nullified the superior position which this law at first seemed to give the Malays. The law did not completely prevent the riches land from being excised and transferred to the non-Malays. Over the years, the effect of this law was to push the Malays into less valuable land while non-Malays, and especially the Europeans, took over tin-bearing land and land easily accessible for rubber plantation. In certain states, despite the Malay Land Reserve Law, there is more land belonging to non-Malays than to Malays. And certainly in terms of actual assessed value there are probably only one or two states where total Malay holdings are greater in value than non-Malay holdings.”
Steamed fish with garlic and lime. OK, not bad.
The salted fish “kailan” and the butter prawns were surprisingly delicious! I love the juice of the butter prawns. So nice! (,”)
Money is a great temptation, we understand. If possible, I hope the residents in Kampung Baru will not kowtow to the persuasions to push them into selling the lands. Those are the smithereens of our Malay heritage debris, entrusted from the colonial era, and hopefully – until now. Preserve our hopes.
Iftar at Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru. A humble experience. I guess this is me and the person I go with. Of course there is nothing wrong of breaking fast at hotels or banquets (I do that sometimes, as well) but I guess I am drawn with these type of people. After all, I am a Middle Class boy, and will always be. I am kind proud of it. (,”)