Friday, September 4, 2009


Map of Kulim town

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Kulim(居林)is the southern town of Kedah state(吉打), nearest to Bukit Mertajam town, Penang state. It is also connected to Butterworth by Butterworth -Kulim Expressway.

It derived its name from a timber tree, Scorodocarpus borneensis or Olacaceae. The Kulim (Scorodocarpus borneensis) tree, for instance, is recognisable from its bark and fruit that smell like garlic. Also known as “pokok bawang hutan”. The timber is a Medium Hardwood with a density of 640-975 kg/m3 air dry.
(ref: MTC Wood wizaed, http: //

Discovery of tin
• Kulim as a town was started in mid 18th century by 100 Malays from Pattani(which is current South Thailand). By mid 19th century Kulim experienced a boom due to the discovery of tin ore. By 1890, there were 400 Chinese miners operating in Kulim. One of Kulim’s earliest settlements was a place called Belakang Tebok.
• The biggest tin mining facilities in kulim were Taman Tunku Putra, Kg. Bukit Besar, Karangan, Terap and Kelang Lama. Archived records show that by 1854 there were 8 tin mining companies that were active in Kulim with a total workforce of 1500 people.
• It is believed that the tin miners from Perak ( Larut, Matang, Taiping and Selama), where the people who started kulim as a town. The miners were looking for a new place to start as they did not want to be embroiled in the triad conflict that is constantly under the surface in the aforementioned areas in Perak (Ghee Hin and Hai San, the most active Triad during those times).
• These miners escaped from Perak through the jungles of Kulim to head to Penang (Penang was a busy English port by then), but during their journey through the forest they discovered tin in the rivers and quarries. This prompted their decision to settle in Kulim and mine the ores there, without the interference of the triads elsewhere.(Note: Kulim is connected to Taiping, via a road which go through Serdang, and Selama, which are rubber estates town. Selama is a border town where it was divided by the state border of Kedah and Perak)
(source: extract from official web site of Majlis Perbandaran Kulim)

The Beautiful Nyonya War
• In 1888 there was a major incident in Kulim, dubbed ‘Beautiful Nyonya War’ (Perang Nyonya Cantik) or Kulim War (Perang Kulim). This incident started when the mining chiefs of Kulim fought over a popular Chinese lady of the time. The chiefs mobilized their respective workers in this seemingly minor squabble escalated into a major riot. Peace and tranquility enjoyed by the people of Kulim was disrupted by this incident and it dragged on for a number of years, and claimed a number of lives of the involved parties.
• The direct consequences of this incident was the hiring of a British national (B.E. Mitchell) as the chief of police of Kulim (1890) by the ruler of Kedah.
(source: extract from official web site of Majlis Perbandaran Kulim)

The Anglo-Siamese Treaty 1909
The Anglo-Siamese Treaty 1909, Siam(now Thailand) surrendered its claim over Kedah(together with Perlis, Kelantan and Trengganu) to the British. The three states together with Johore, later become Unfederated Malay States. However, unlike the Strait Settlement, they lack common institutions to form a single state under international law. Only by 1923 did Sultan Abdul Hamid of Kedah sign a treaty which recognizes Kedah as a state under British protectorate.

Road to Independence
In 1946,the Strait Settlement was dissolved, the 5 Unfederated Malay States and 4 Federated Malay States (Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan & Pahang), and the remaining Strait Settlement states Penang and Malacca, together formed the Malay Union.In 1948, the 9 Malay states was reconstituted as Federation of Malaya, but remained as British protected states, Penang and Malacca remained as British colonies. Kedah gained indepedence together with other states on 31-8-1957 from British, and become state of Malaysia.

Kulim Independece Clock

* the Kulim’s independence clock was officiated by the Sultan of Kedah (15 September 1957) and serves as the unofficial landmark for the city of Kulim. The cornerstone of the clock was acquired by YPM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj (the First Prime Minister if Malaya, later Malaysia) on 14th June 1957.

* The construction of the clock was completed within 3 months and upon completion, was made formalized by DYMM Tuanku Sultan Badlishah Ibni Almarhum Yang Di Pertuan Paduka Seri Sultan Abdul Hamid Shah, KOM, CMG, KBE Sultan Kedah on 15th September 1957, or 2 weeks after the declaration of independence of Malaysia (31st August 1957).

(source: extract from official web site of Majlis Perbandaran Kulim)

Kulim used to be a quite town in late 70s and 80s, with the row of re-war colonial shop houses at both side of the main road(Jalan Raya) abandoned and unoccupied. The busiest area is still around Jalan Aman and Jalan Pasar. In front of Jalan Tunku Assad used to be bus station. There was a cinema near the Catholic Church, Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is dead after 9p.m. There were few residential areas at that time.

The town has experienced rapid development after Intel and other factories opened factories in Kulim Industrial Park. It is now a booming town. Many Penang people moved to the town. Some of the pre-war shops at Jalan Raya are now occupied, and some are demolished for development. It is a pity, if the pre-war houses were allowed to demolish or in its dilapidated condition, Kulim will lost part of its most valuable heritage. I hope the Kulim town council will do something to conserve the pre-war buidings for the future generation. Kulim old town has its historical value. Kulim still have other available space for development.

The development has spilled to Lunas and Kampong Kelang Lama(which used to have Indian settlement). Many residential areas were developed in Kulim now. There is Kulim High Tech Park, Kulim Indutrial Park.

List of suburbs

Bukit Keranji
Bukit Kulim
Kampung Air Merah
Kampung Darul Aman
Kampung Syed Syeh
Kampung Tunku Putra
Kelang Lama
Taman Bersatu
Taman Dahlia
Taman Kempas Indah
Taman Kemuning
Taman Selasih(biggest suburb, completed with commercial centre)
Taman Semarak
Taman Seroja

Kulim have changed somuch, I just cannot find any traces of familiar places where I stayed here in early eighty, except Jalan Aman......

Night view of Jalan Tunku Putra from T junction

Jalan Tunku Putra and Jalan Tunku Assad T junction

The lowest hydrant ever seen

Night view of Jalan Tunku Assad from Jalan Tunku Ibrahim junction

The corner shop at junction of Jalan Aman and Jalan Tunku Ibrahim. Beside the shop used to have row of stall, including the one selling cassettes in the 80s, which played the song loud.

View of Jalan Aman, toward Jalan Merdeka( it used to have hawker complex which is popular before 1980s, now demolished).

Row of colonial shop houses at Jalan Aman

view of shop houses

Night view of Jalan Aman

View of junction toward Jalan Tunku Putra, from Jalan Aman

Jalan Aman

Jalan Tunku Putra,believed named after the 1st Prime Minister of Malaysia, YPM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj. Tunku was the 7th district officer of Kulim (1939-1943) after he returned from England. He was the only Malay district officer at that time in Kedah public service. He was also district officer during Japanese occupation, but an ex-Japanese barber from Alor Star with the name of Ohata, who become Japanese army officer during WW2, was sharing the role of district officer with him. Tunku, was reported to have used his royal position to save lives during Japanese occupation in Kulim,

Jalan Tunku Putra,the sky is dark now...

An old colonial bunglow, inside Jalan Tunku Putra

Near St Thomas Secondary School

In the late 70s, this was the new block of shops in town. Remember there was Ong Clinic at the ground floor of the corner lot.

居林張茂樹路 超市林立商機勃勃

2004-4-28 14:45:07

在居林縣內,近乎所有的街道名字都以馬來名命名,只有一條位于居林商業中心的道路,以華裔先賢的名字命名,那就是張茂樹路(Jalan Teoh Moh Soo)。




20歲小夥子下南洋 帶動僑胞發展居林






創辦居林覺民小學 張茂樹化解大災難




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