PETALING JAYA: A gathering of descendants of the man known as the founding father of Kuala Lumpur are elated over the decision by Pos Malaysia to issue commemorative stamps in his honour.
Yap Ah Loy is widely known as having laid the foundation for the growth of the Malaysian capital, and his descendants, now into the sixth generation, related his contributions, Star reported.
“Immediately after the war, he went into rebuilding the town by setting up accommodation for employees, hospitals, schools, a temple and a market.
“He also introduced street lights with hanging kerosene lamps.
“It is also important to note that he helped to end the (Selangor) civil war in 1873, after which he started the rebuilding of the town within three to four years,” James Yap Mook San, 79, who is the great-grandson of Yap Ah Loy was quoted as saying.
He added that while people were free to debate if his ancestor was the actual founder of KL, nothing will change the historical facts of what he had achieved.
James also related the stories that he was told by his grand-uncle, Yap’s second son Loong Shin, with whom he stayed for about five years.
“One of Yap’s strategies that helped him win the war was the bamboo cannon experts he brought in.
“Yap also knew the routes that the enemy came in from, such as Rawang, Kepong and Pahang. He also camouflaged pit traps and many fell inside them, giving Yap the time to attack,” James told the daily.
According to James, he had first suggested to Pos Malaysia years ago to honour Yap by issuing stamps recognising his achievements.
“This is not only a proud moment for Yap’s descendants but also for all people from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor,” he said of the stamps which will be released in a month’s time.
“It is unfortunate that he died young (aged 48) but thank God, the foundation (for the growth of Kuala Lumpur) had already been laid,” James was quoted as saying by Star.
One of James’ sons, Glenn, also related the fact that it was Yap who started a brick factory in the area which came to be known as Brickfields in KL.
“Frank Swettenham, the British Resident of Selangor, ordered buildings to be constructed using bricks. Yap led the way by setting up a brick factory,” Glenn told Star.
Yap Ah Loy, who was of Hakka descent, was born in the city of Huizhou, China, on March 14, 1837. At the age of 17, he left his homeland and headed for Malaya, arriving first in Melaka before coming to KL eight years later.
He worked as a miner, like most Chinese immigrants in KL and Selangor at the time. Later he became a petty trader before eventually rising up the social ranks and becoming the third Kapitan Cina in KL. He served for 17 years in the role until his untimely death in 1885.