Petaling Jaya

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Heading southwest from Kuala Lumpur on the busy Federal Highway, one is greeted by a majestic arch marking the gateway to Selangor. Beyond the monument lies Petaling Jaya (PJ). Drive on, feel its pulse and if you keep going for another 40km or so, you will sense the different beats of two more cities.

Petaling Jaya

As you approach the third interchange on the Federal Highway, the city's first international class hotel, Petaling Jaya Hilton, will be on the horizon. A left turn here will bring you to one half of Seksyen 52. This 'New Town', or 'The State' as the locals prefer, is the heart of PJ where various public, financial, and commercial services abound.

A right turn across the Federal Highway will bring you to the other half of Section 52, where Plaza Armada and Hotel Armada dominate the skyline. Section 14, a popular area for residents and workers in the vicinity to shop, eat and drink, is only a stone's throw away. Another favourite haunt for the locals is SS 2, a busy commercial area known for its night market with a great variety of hawker fare.

To the north of Section 14, within 20 minutes drive away, lie another two bustling commercial areas which are only few kilometres apart. While Damansara Utama offers an enclave lined with offices, shops, restaurants and entertainment outlets, Bandar Utama showcases one gigantic shopping complex in One Utama Shopping Centre where practically everything can be found under one roof. Both are also known for the nightlife activities they offer. The area beyond Bandar Utama, notably Bandar Sri Damansara, is becoming a much sought-after residential and commercial area.

Going straight along the Federal Highway after the third interchange will bring you to Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya, and by the Federal Highway Route II, all the way to Shah Alam and to the outskirts of Klang.

Bandar Sunway and Subang Jaya

Bandar Sunway is a blossoming township where a premier theme park, a shopping and entertainment complex, a modern convention and exhibition, and a hotel resort congregate to form one of the most glamorous spots in Malaysia. Sunway Lagoon Resort, with its world-class land and water amusement facilities, has been one of the forces that attract people from all over the country to the Capital City and PJ.

The majestic Sunway Pyramid, accompanied by an equally imposing sphinx, is ranked among the largest shopping and entertainment centres in the country. It also houses a modern convention and exhibition centre. The two are conveniently supported by the international class Sunway Resort Hotel, which has also been fast in establishing itself as a popular nightlife spot.

Subang Jaya and Bandar Sunway have established themselves as the satellite towns of PJ. The Sheraton Subang Hotel & Towers and Holiday Villa Subang offer first-class accommodation complemented by one of the longest shopping and entertainment malls in Asia, Subang Parade. The old Subang International Airport lies just a few kilometres away.

Shah Alam

A leisurely town it may be, Shah Alam is certainly known to the world with its Shah Alam Racing Circuit and Shah Alam Stadium that hosted the 1997 World Youth Cup Football Championship. These sporting venues are located a few kilometres from the Batu Tiga Toll on the Federal Highway. To the north of the two lies the Kelab Golf Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah, a 27-hole USGA class championship course designed by the famous Thompson Wolveridge.

The heart of Shah Alam, located on the west of the racing circuit and conveniently accessible by the Federal Highway, is an enclave surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing Taman Tasik Shah Alam on one side, and residential and educational areas on the other. Its dominant feature is the Sultan Salahudin Abdul Aziz Mosque, with four minarets, each defining the skyline at 142.3m. Its computer-designed blue dome is known to be the largest in the world.

Other popular landmarks in the area are the Kompleks PKNS, Quality Hotel, Grand BlueWave Hotel and the Sultan Alam Shah Museum. The popular Shah Alam Mall and Wet World, a water theme park, are also a short distance to the north and the east respectively.

The unique Malaysia Agriculture Park lies only about three kilometres north of the town centre. This 1,295-hectare agroforestry park, a permanent showcase of Malaysia's development and progress in agriculture, is a must-see for nature lovers.

Klang

Klang, known as the royal town, lies about 20km from Shah Alam and some 30km from Kuala Lumpur. Being one of the oldest cities in the country, older than Kuala Lumpur, it has lost most of its glitters and glamour compared to other cities in the Klang Valley. This former state capital of Selangor, however, still has the support of the largest port in the country, Port Klang, which is only eight kilometres away.

Being old means that it has something nostalgic to offer to the romantics. Within the heart of the city, which is split in two by the Klang River, are reminders of Klang's glorious past'the stately Sultan Sulaiman Mosque of classic Islamic architecture and the colonial-style Bangunan Sultan Sulaiman. Once the office of Klang District and the Head Office of the Selangor Police Contingent, the latter now serves as a branch office for the Municipal Council of Klang (MPK). Another royal landmark found within the vicinity is the majestic Istana Alam Shah, the venue for umpteen official royal ceremonies.

Other historic sites are the Kota Raja Mahdi, the fort built in 1886 by Raja Mahdi, ruler of Selangor during the civil war; and the Gedung Raja Abdullah, built in 1856 as a warehouse for weapons and food.

History of Petaling Jaya

It all started when tin deposits were discovered at the mouth of Klang River in the 15th century. As miners and immigrants, who were mainly Chinese, flocked in for a piece of the action, a small town soon took root and was named after the river, Klang. It continued to grow under the protection of the Sultan of Malacca until the 16th century when the Bugis, an ethnic group from Indonesia, landed here and established the royal Selangor Sultanate in early 18th century.

By the middle of the 19th century, Klang, also known as Kelang, had prospered into a royal town whose strategic location played an integral role in the development of the state. Meanwhile, the quest for bonanza continued up at a muddy confluence of Klang River and it soon led to the birth of another settlement, Kuala Lumpur, which literally means 'muddy confluence' in Malay.

Though the boom in tin trade during that time also brought forth continued struggles among the Malay nobilities, Bugis and Chinese, eventually leading to the interference and control by the British, both Klang and Kuala Lumpur continued to thrive well beyond Malaysia's independence in 1957.

Today, while Kuala Lumpur has become the country's capital city, Klang remains home to Port Klang (formerly known as Port Swettenham), the country's largest port. The success of the two has also spilled over to other parts of the country, notably the neighbouring Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam, which are some 40km apart.

Petaling Jaya is located in the Petaling District, one of the nine districts that have made Selangor the most developed and prosperous state in Malaysia. While the state itself has a long history, the birth of Petaling Jaya, fondly known as PJ among the locals, did not come until early 1950s.

Petaling Jaya was born as Malaysia's first satellite town to support the fast developing Kuala Lumpur, an economic hub since the 1850s. The Kuala Lumpur of the 1950s, a time when Malaysia was still under the British rule, was also the administration centre of the Federated Malay States, which comprised Johor, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor. Bustling but congested, Kuala Lumpur was soon confronted with critical problems of accommodating its workforce and issues on the building up of squatters. To the British administration, a satellite town was the way out.

The migration from Kuala Lumpur to the Petaling area had indeed started before the town was officially named in 1953 as Petaling Jaya. Denoting success, as taken from the literal meaning of jaya, Petaling Jaya started out as a town of slightly over two square kilometres scattered with low-cost wooden houses built largely by people whose livelihood was to be found in Kuala Lumpur. This little pekan, or town in Malay, was the predecessor of what was to be known as 'PJ Old Town'. The name remains until today and it now includes Seksyen 1, 2, and 3 of Petaling Jaya.

The satellite town began to take shape in 1952 when 800 houses were built and another 200 under construction. In 1954, the Petaling Jaya Local Authority was officially formed. From then on, seksyen (or "section" in English) after seksyen of residential and commercial areas sprouted as rubber and oil palm plantations made way for systematic infrastructure development.

By the end of 1957, there were well over 3,200 houses in Petaling Jaya, along with more than 100 shops and 28 operating factories. The year also saw the opening of the first phase of the Federal Highway (Lebuhraya Persekutuan) which divided Petaling Jaya into two. Linking Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Port Klang, it enhanced PJ's reputation as a strategically located town, particularly in the eyes of industrialists and the affluent searching for prime residential land.

Petaling Jaya reached another milestone in its history in 1964 when its Local Authority status was upgraded to Petaling Jaya Municipal Board. With an extended area of 19.9 square kilometres, the population then stood at 35,100. Relentless progress continued and by 1977, when it was conferred the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) status, it had grown into an expansive town that included Seksyen 52, the Sungai Way-Subang (SS) area and the new township of Subang Jaya. Further expansion to the north later saw the rise of the vast Damansara area, which includes Bandar Utama, Kota Damansara, Damansara Perdana, Bandar Sri Damansara and Damansara Impian.

Carved out of an oil palm plantation known as Sungai Renggam, Shah Alam was officially founded in 1963 as a modern city to succeed Kuala Lumpur, which was then serving as both the federal capital and the state capital of Selangor. Being centrally located between Port Klang and Petaling Jaya and a mere 30km away from Kuala Lumpur, the site was chosen following a proposal by V Antonic, an advisor of the United Nations Town Developer.

Shah Alam became the state capital on 7 December 1978. Unlike the imposing Kuala Lumpur, it is today an orderly town exuding an air of serenity, thanks to an environment-friendly blueprint which has been dictating developments in the town right from the beginning. Amid the tranquility, it houses the biggest mosque in South East Asia, the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque that can accommodate 24,000 people. It also boasts two world-class sporting facilities, Shah Alam Sports Complex and Shah Alam Racing Circuit, and the Malaysia Agriculture Park, known as the only agro-forestry park in this part of the world.

Today, PJ's strategic location has made it a metropolis in its own right in the Klang Valley, a bustling area that stretches from Port Klang northeastward to Kuala Lumpur and southeastward to Bangi. Scattering around the 97.2 square kilometres of PJ are modern shopping complexes, international-class hotels, and entertainment outlets that rival their respective counterparts in Kuala Lumpur.

Seksyen 52, the 'New Town' or 'The State', has remained the heart of PJ with the many public, financial and commercial services it offers. Petaling Jaya Hilton, the first international-class hotel in PJ, is found here. Subang Jaya, on the other hand, has gone on to establish itself as the satellite town of PJ. The old Subang International Airport lies just a few kilometres away.

Next to Subang Jaya is Bandar Sunway, a blossoming township where a premier theme park, a shopping and entertainment complex, a modern convention and exhibition centre and a hotel resort come together to form one of the most glamorous spots in Malaysia.

Bandar Utama symbolises yet another achievement for PJ. Amid its peaceful environment filled largely with upper- to middle-class houses, its centerpiece, One Utama, is ranked among the largest and most trendy shopping complexes in Malaysia. Together with the enclave of Damansara Utama, it is a popular area known for its nightlife activities. The area beyond Bandar Utama, notably Bandar Sri Damansara, has in turn become a prime spot for residential and commercial purposes.

So rapid is the progress made by Petaling Jaya that it has become an apt alternative to Kuala Lumpur in practically every aspect, for both locals and tourists. Its most comforting achievement, however, may well lie in its ability to remain green and roomy.

 

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