“Gu Mao” is the direct translation into the Hakka dialect from the Malay language “Kuala Kubu”, meaning “fortress upon the river”. Located between the rivers Sungai Kubu and Sungai Rening, after the Selangor civil war ended in the mid 19th century (1867-1874), the fortress used to defend against attack from the opposing forces (Tengku Kudin and Yap Ah Loy) remain standing, thus the namesake.
Due to the strategic geographical location and rich tin cassiterite resources, Kuala Kubu Lama was the pearl in Selangor river. Water transportation along Sungai Selangor and Sungai Kubu played a vital role in the local economy development, as it was the main channel of transporting goods, especially mined tin. The abundance of tin in Kuala Kubu Lama attracted the interests of various mining tycoons to initiate mining activity, e.g. Yap Ah Loy, Loke Yew etc. and the vast majority of Chinese mine workers were Hakkanese who came over from Huizhou, still making up 70 percent of the present village inhabitants.
The small town of Kuala Kubu Lama leaped into prosperity as Selangor’s second largest town, rivalling Kuala Lumpur in its golden era of tin mining, and was the British colonial administration centre in Ulu Langat. However, the wealthy land faced flood hazards over the years. The ancient dam upstream of Kubu collapsed in 1883, where the flood water destroyed the whole town of Kuala Kubu Lama, generally referred to as “White Crocodile” legend, which is still talked about nowadays. The former town of Kubu (Kuala Kubu Lama) eradicated by the flood is now named Ampang Pecah, meaning broken dam.
On a side note, the unauthorised changing of Sungai Kubu’s watercourse owing to mass mining and lawless excavation activity damaged the river structure and the riverbed became increasingly shallow, thus causing Kuala Kubu Lama to suffer from flash floods. In 1926, a heavy downpour once again submerged the streets of Kubu, victims of the great misfortune had to emigrate. Hence, the British colonial government relocated the town to a highland three kilometres away north of Kubu – Kuala Kubu Bharu.
After the new village of Kuala Kubu Bharu was built during the national emergency in 1948, the local residents refer to the two separate areas as ‘the town’ and ‘the village’. In the 1990’s, the new village was renamed to Kampung Assam Kumbang, attributing it to the roselle flowers.
The historical trace of a town consists of advancement and regression, old and new, destruction and establishment, diminishment and rebirth, not to mention progressing a new history. There is no harm to pay a visit, to listen to the evolution and transformation of the town as time lapses, to experience the depth of history, as well as humanity tales.
Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen
有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Evon Pang
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : 37.2度雜貨店 Three Seven Two Shop
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