Aug 3, 2012

Petaling Jaya History in Brief

Here's a brief history about Petaling Jaya. It was a satelite town to Kuala Lumpur but now has grown to be a little city (and getting rather congested too!) with many new buildings sprouting out office lots, shopping centres and brand new condos. This is getting to be a prime location to live in. I studied here, live here, work here and practically get most of my things done here. Though I grew up in KL, Petaling Jaya or PJ for short, is now my hometown!

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PJ: The little town that grew and grew
By Priya Menon
Photos by Art Chen & Muhammad Syamil Johar
Friday August 3, 2012

ARTIST photographer Soraya Yusof Talismail tried moving out of Petaling Jaya once, but her love for the satellite town — declared a city six years ago — drew her back in no time.

The 44-year-old artist and photographer was born in Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya, close to where her family was living at that time in Jalan Kelang Lama. They moved to Section 14 in the 1970s.

A PJ girl through and through, she studied at the popular Jack and Jill Kindergarten before moving on to Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Petaling and later shifting to Bukit Bintang Girls School in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

After years of living in PJ, Soraya and her husband Ariff Awaluddin moved to Jalan Duta for a while but found that it was nothing like her "hometown."

Picturesque: The Taman Jaya Lake is an iconic lake for nature lovers and joggers who frequent it every day.
Picturesque: The Taman Jaya Lake is
an iconic lake for nature lovers and
joggers who frequent it every day.

"Our place in Jalan Duta was really nice, we had large grounds and a superb view but we just had to come back," said Soraya.

She then recalled her father's prophetic words on her wedding day.

"I remember my late father telling my husband, ‘This is Soraya's hometown', meaning that we should not move out.

Petaling Jaya was founded in 1952 to overcome the overpopulation in neighbouring Kuala Lumpur.

The new satellite town started with over 800 houses in what is now known as Old Town, made up of Jalan 1 and Jalan 2. These two roads have since been renamed Jalan Templer, after Sir Gerard Templer, and Jalan Othman respectively.

Soraya's love for Petaling Jaya is shown clearly on her face as she describes the best things she had while growing up.

Her family owns the house in Section 14 where she still lives with her mother.

Good old days: Soraya and her mother Rogayah Ismail reminiscing about their times in PJ at their home in Section 14.
Good old days: Soraya and her mother
Rogayah Ismail reminiscing about their
times in PJ at their home in Section 14.

According to her mother Rogayah Ismail, their house was surrounded by bushes and it was really a quiet neighbourhood.

Having large grounds was an advantage for the family, who often played host to their cousins, who turned up for the holidays.

Both of Soraya's siblings are still in Petaling Jaya; her brother is also living in the family home while her sister lives across the road.

Back then, the only shopping complex was Jaya Shopping Centre, best known as the Jaya Supermarket, which Soraya loved to visit, especially when shopping for Hello Kitty toys at the Sanrio Shop. There was Kathy's Toy Shop, a record store where everyone went to get the latest albums and the always sweet-smelling bakeries.

"Then there was the Asia Jaya Shopping Centre. It is no longer there but the LRT station has retained the name. The old mall had an ice rink as well as a roller-skating rink," she said.

Petaling Jaya was a small town then, with only a few development projects. The only tall building was the Jaya Puri Hotel, now Hilton Petaling Jaya.

As a child, there were a few thrills she indulged in. One of them was the only fast food chain available at that time — A&W.

She spent a better part of her teenage life there, meeting up with and dining with family while listening to songs on their casette players.

The A&W restaurant is still standing tall today, drawing a crowd during lunch, not just from the offices nearby during weekdays but also families and large groups of friends on weekends.

When not hanging out at A&W, Soraya loved eating at Medan Selera, a food court in Section 14 that had "one of the best" ayam golek with prawn crackers and satay.

There was also Gazebo near Jalan Gasing, which served her favourite mee Bandung.

She and her family still frequent Jackson's Burger in Section 14, a household name among PJ folks.

These days, however, she spends most of her time with her husband at their own restaurant, Kokopelli Travellers Bistro. Yes, it is also in Section 14!

"My husband and I love travelling and good food, and we always wanted a neighbourhood art gallery so we started one in Jalan Bukit, Section 11 in Petaling Jaya. After more than a year, we decided to relocate to this current place," she added.

The couple's bistro serves as a gallery as well, featuring new artists especially photographers since both she and Ariff are professional photographers.

They are also parents to a teenage boy, Ushuaia.

Soraya enjoys the morning walk as she accompanies her son to school, which is located next to the Taman Aman park.

"The view is beautiful and it is great to see so many people exercising or doing their tai-chi routine in the morning."

For Soraya, Petaling Jaya is a great place because it has everything and anything within easy reach.

Having said that, she said certain parts of the city could do with a makeover.

Looking at some of the abandoned houses along Jalan University and the run-down factories, Soraya believes that these places can be turned into something more useful to prevent them from becoming an eyesore.

She suggested that houses along certain main roads should be turned into commercial areas for hip restaurants, businesses and office units.

As for abandoned factories, she hopes an organisation will undertake the redevelopment but retain the original structure and renovate them into an arts centre comprising a museum, gallery, a place for performing arts and a library.

"There are so many universities in this area (Section 14, Section 13, Section 20) and with so many students, this corner of the city should be more hip.

"The arts centre will draw a larger crowd to Petaling Jaya and will serve the community as well," she added.

Soraya also hopes Petaling Jaya will become a more disabled-friendly city with sufficient wheelchair ramps and other facilities to aid those in need.

Source: The Star Metro

As we celebrate Malaysia's independence, StarMetro takes a look at the places you grew up in and how they have changed. In this first part of the series, we take a look at Petaling Jaya, which was established years before the founding of this nation.

Tune in to Astro's channel 318 for more My Hometown stories from Aug 31 to Sept 17.

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