Don’t glorify Yap Ah Loy, says Perkasa

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PETALING JAYA: Perkasa has questioned those who credit Yap Ah Loy for the development of Kuala Lumpur, after a recent tribute to the Chinese kapitan in the form of commemorative stamps by Pos Malaysia.

Instead, the Malay rights group said Yap was involved in criminal activities in the city.

“Yap Ah Loy came to Kuala Lumpur much later. And his businesses were opium trading, prostitution and running gambling dens,” said Perkasa deputy president Sirajuddin Salleh.

He went on to attribute the opening of Kuala Lumpur to Raja Busu, a member of the Selangor royalty during the 19th century.

Sirajuddin was commenting on a statement made during the launch of Yap Ah Loy commemorative stamps issued by Pos Malaysia in cooperation with several Chinese organisations, in conjunction with the 180th year of Yap’s birth.

“When we look at history, we can see that without Yap Ah Loy, there would not be a Kuala Lumpur,” said Yap Wai Ming, Yap’s great-great-grandson, at the launch of the stamps on Wednesday.

Yap was a trader from China who in 1868 became the third kapitan of Kuala Lumpur – a powerful leadership role within the Chinese community with close ties to Malay chiefs of that era.

Yap, who died in 1885 at the age of 48, was also widely credited for his role in ending the civil war in Selangor.

He was frequently mentioned in history books as the man who helped turn Kuala Lumpur from a small tin-mining town to a booming commercial centre.

Historians and academics have long debated on who founded Kuala Lumpur, but generally agree on the role played by Yap in the early development of the capital city.

Prominent historian Prof Khoo Kay Kim had previously said that the founder of Kuala Lumpur was Sutan Puasa, a merchant who travelled from Sumatra and established himself in the city’s fledgling mining industry.

Meanwhile, Sirajuddin said the role of Chinese migrants in the growth of Kuala Lumpur had been exaggerated.

“Can you say without Chinese, Brunei will not be what it is today?” he asked.

“Can you say without the Chinese, Indonesia will not be what it is today? There are big cities in Indonesia which have grown without the Chinese?”

“Don’t blow about Yap Ah Loy so much. He was here. He could have been one of the community leaders then,” he added.