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Coordinates: Kluang (simplified Chinese: 居銮; traditional Chinese: 居鑾) is a town and district located near the middle of the state of Johor in the southern portion of peninsular Malaysia. Kluang lies about 110 km north of Johor Bahru, east-southeast of Batu Pahat, west of Mersing and south of Segamat. The population of Kluang district exceeds 250,000 residents and the town itself has over 140,000 residents.
The name Kluang derives from the Malay word 'keluang' which means a type of flying fox or rather a type of fruit bat. These used to be plentiful in the district decades ago. They have almost completely disappeared due to the combination of hunting and destruction of their natural habitat (deforestation).
Kluang was founded in 1915 as the administrative capital for central Johor. The main railway line linking north to south Malaya was built passing through Kluang and this helped in its growth. Roads were built to link Kluang to Johor Bahru towards the south, to Batu Pahat towards the north-west and to Mersing towards the east. Kluang is divided into two district councils namely Simpang Renggam District Council (Malay: Majlis Daerah Simpang Renggam) based at the town of Simpang Renggam and Kluang Municipal Council (Malay: Majlis Perbandaran Kluang) based at the town of Kluang which is also the district capital.
During World War II, the town of Kluang was occupied by Japanese forces advancing southwards as it was abandoned by Allied forces withdrawing towards Singapore. General Yamashita moved his headquarters forward from Kuala Lumpur to Kluang on 27 January 1942 as he advanced southwards. The Japanese later used the airfield in Kluang to launch air attacks on targets ranging from Singapore to Sumatra.
In the mid-fifties the airfield was used for helicopters searching for terrorists who were encamped in the Bukit Lambak area and as an artillery base It was also the base for Kluang Flying Club which used old Tiger Moth biplanes. Terrorism was largely driven out of the area in the six months leading up to Merdeka in 1957. The whole area around the airfield was a substantial army garrison with many different units and a large hospital.
From 1963 onwards the airfield was used by the British Army as a base for 4 aircraft workshops together with REME and a Gurkha regiment until the early 1970s when the base was closed down.
Kluang lies in an area of undulating hills.
The highest point in Kluang is Gunung Lambak, a 510m tall mountain and one of the southernmost mountains in the Malaysian main range which lies not far from the town.
The Mengkibol River runs through the town. Kluang is landlocked and has no seafront.
Kluang is served by a railway and roads linking it to all neighbouring districts. It has a railway station as well as a bus interchange. The closest on-ramp to the North-South Highway is at Ayer Hitam although travellers approaching Kluang from the south may find exiting at Simpang Renggam more convenient. There is an airfield in Kluang but it is a military airfield, not a civilian one. The air field is managed by the military.
Urban sprawl in Kluang over the last three decades or so from the 1970s to 2000 has been roughly along the major roads. The town center itself has more than tripled in size in terms of the number and land area occupied by commercial and retail buildings in that time. Many acres of rubber and oil palm plantations have been re-developed into housing estates.
Since 1915 when Kluang was founded, the area initially grew as a rubber planting district. There are vast areas planted with rubber in the early days under the Guthrie Ropel Group, Asiatic Plantations, Harrison Crossfield and various other rubber companies. An innovation was the process of vacuum evaporation of rubber latex by the Revertex company. Planters established the Kluang Club which is still thriving as the Kluang Country Club. Notable estates, i.e. rubber plantations, surrounding Kluang were Lambak Estate, Mengkibol Estate, Kluang Estate, Wessington Estate (now renamed as Simpang Renggam Estate), Benut Estate, Paloh Estate, sepuloh Estate, Chamek Estate, Niyor Estate, Kahang Estate, Pamol Estate and Kekayaan Estate.
Among the early Indian settlers who migrated here during the British era were those who built some temples and the notable toddy shops in the surrounding areas of Kluang. You may find interesting stories on the website containing the biography of Ravindran Raghavan (), a native Kluang boy who grew in a rubber estate.
Rubber planting has, however, since then taken a back seat to other types of crops. Kluang now boasts large tracts of oil palm plantations as well as pineapple, cocoa and tea plantations. New kinds of plantation such as dragon fruit and organic vegetables are also popular.
Industry and commerce
From its early days as an entirely agricultural economy, Kluang has developed various industries including polymer, paper, textiles, ceramics, industrial paints and electrical products. Most of Malaysia's major banks have branches in Kluang. In the last few years, several stock brokerages have opened shop in Kluang.
Kluang is served by a district hospital, a district police station and fire station. It has numerous primary schools, several secondary schools and a public library. Sekolah Menengah Sains Johor, a government boarding secondary school with a special emphasis on science subjects, was built in the 1970s on the outskirts of Kluang along the Batu Pahat road.
Kluang High School or Sekolah Tinggi Kluang is one of the best known schools in Kluang, and the Chong Hwa High School is the third biggest Chinese secondary school in Malaysia. A number of other schools were built between 2000 to 2006.
Kluang has three shopping malls; first established was BCB Plaza, then Kluang Parade, while the latest addition is Kluang Mall. These three shopping malls and other convenient stores like The Store are in the same vicinity. It means you can park your vehicle at one place and conveniently walk to any of these or perhaps visit all. While for hypermarket lovers, you may opt to shop at Giant in Tmn Sri Kluang, further uptown from Kluang, approximately 2 km from Kluang city centre.
The Kluang railway station is a KTM train station in Kluang, Johor. The station is located in heart of Kluang town and access to every location in town can done by walking distance. The Kluang railway station provides KTM Intercity train services. There is well known coffee shop in the station named Kluang RailCoffee.
Kluang express bus terminal located at Jalan Bakawali, Kluang. It is near to Kluang Parade. Express buses depart from this terminal to most of city in Peninsular Malaysia.
Gunung Belumut and Gunung Lambak are popular with jungle trekkers. You can enjoy horse riding activities at Gunung Lambak. The area of Machap (between Simpang Renggam and Air Hitam) is well known for its pottery and porcelain.
Also noteworthy is an authentic coffee shop located at no. 56, Jalan Lambak by the name of Tong Fong Cafe (a.k.a. Eastern Cafe) which was very popular with British soldiers when Malaysia was still under British rule. The operator is a second generation descendant of the owner and the coffee shop has been operating since 1954.
The majority of eating establishments are outdoor-style hawker stalls or simple restaurants. There is a wide range of Indian, Malay and Chinese food available. Interestingly, there is a wide selection of very good quality Chinese food on offer including an outdoor/indoor dim sum restaurant.
There are also a few shopping malls in Kluang town, like BCB Plaza, Kluang Parade and Kluang Mall.
Nightlife is relatively restricted although there is a modern nightclub and separate large KTV lounge & pub in the Kluang Parade mall.