KL - SELANGOR CHINESE ASSEMBLY HALL


1.0 History and Background



Photo: The KL – Selangor Chinese Hall after Refurbishment in 2010
Picture taken by Zamri Salleh (USM)


Situated at 363, No. 1, Jalan Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur, the Kuala Lumpur – Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall was built in 1923 and completed in 1934. This building was built by the initiative of a Chinese philanthropist, named Loke Yew. He invested $50,000.00 British Dollar together with his son, who invested $20,000.00 British Dollar to build this majestic building in the heart of this KL city. When the hall was completed, Cheong Yoke Choy was chosen as the first President of the association, and Choo Kia Peng was selected as the secretary.

The idea to set up this building was the brainchild of Loke Yew, and three other influential Chinese Towkey during that period of time – Yap Kwan Seng, Choo Kia Peng, and Cheon Yoke Choy – familiar names to the city dwellers. These few people wanted an organization that would unite the various Chinese associations (Hainan, Hokkien, Kantonese and Teochew), and it was between the year 1889 to 1902, that this idea was actively discussed by these men that were well-known for their wealth and contributions. They wanted to form a governing building that would act as its centre of operations and cultural activities. The committee for the hall was already existed since 1910 but officially form in 1923.



Photo: The presidents of the KL – Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall from 1935 to 2010
Picture taken by Zamri Salleh (USM)



Before the passing of Yap in 1902, he applied for a piece of land from the British colonial government for the construction of the building and in August 1925, the authorities approved the building plan. After the completion of the in 1934 at the cost of $200,000.00, Cheong Yoke Choy was selected to become the president. The hall was quickly became a hub and center for cultural and educational activities, and played an important role in many significant events in the country’s history.



Photo: Standing majestically in Neo-Classical style in the heart of KL City gatherings for the Chinese community
when KL was still part of Selangor
Source: Picture taken by Zamri Salleh (USM)


2.0 The Architecture



Photo: Standing majestically in Neo-Classical style in the heart of KL City
Source: Picture taken by Zamri Salleh (USM)


In July 2007, this building was gazette as one of the 50 National Heritages by the National Heritage Department, under the National Heritage Department Act 2005. The Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage (now known as Ministry of Information, Communication and Cultural) donated RM500, 000.00 to refurbish this building to its original state.

The total restoration cost is estimated at RM1.86 million. In 2005, the hall received RM200, 000.00 from the ministry to renovate its auditorium. The original building was built in Neo-Classical, with huge roman pillars, European-style carvings and high ceilings. It was said that the three entrances at the front were built in the original structure because the number three has special significance in Chinese culture, which means – man, earth, and the sky which balance out the universe. During its glory days, the hall was filled by the Chinese community that gathered for news, to participate in cultural programs or to watch stage performances. During the World War II, it was a place where many people sought refuge and aid, and later in the 1950s, after the Independence Day, members of the hall played significant role in encouraging Chinese community to apply for citizenship. In the early days, many Chinese retained a close attachment to mainland China and during the World War II, they even collected money to fund China’s war against Japan. But after the war, the communities felt there was a need to change the perception of the Chinese community towards the then Malaya and to create sense of belonging. The hall played important role in this social movement.

 


Photo: KL – Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall at night
Source: Picture taken by Zamri Salleh (USM)

 

The hall was also the location for the historic meeting that to the formation of the Alliance Party (Parti Perikatan) between UMNO and MCA. These days, the hall plays host to a myriad of multi-cultural activities, ranging from wedding and stage performance to talks by well-known speakers and festive celebratCopyright @ Pusat Pengajian Seni, Universiti Sains Malaysia ions. Although this building was name Chinese Assembly Hall, but it is opened to all ethnic communities in Malaysia and it is hoped that this place will be even more majestic and something all Malaysians can be proud of given its place in history.