Sungai Pelek

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Sungai Pelek is a town in the district of Sepang in Selangor, Malaysia. This town is about 20 minutes from the Sepang International Circuit and about 25 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The town is near Bagan Lalang beach and Golden Coast Sepang. It has numerous mangrove forests and the local clay supports a thriving brick-making industry.

Etymology[edit]

Local legend has it that Sungai Pelek got its name from the temporary river formed by the overflow of the Sungai Sepang and Sungai Sepang Kecil during high tide. In the local Malay dialect, "sungai" meant "river, and "pelek" meant "strange" or "unusual".

This "strange/unusual" river lasted only for as long as the high tide, as most of the water would have drained out to sea by low tide.

History[edit]

During the Second World War, Sungai Pelek was under the control of the Japanese. There was active local resistance to the Japanese occupation. Some British military personnel were trapped in Sungai Pelek by the advancing Japanese forces. These British soldiers were aided in their escape by Mr Lim Yee Ko and his friends.

The Communist insurgency during the 1950s, also known colloquially as "The Emergency", saw the building of a chain-link fence around the village. Up until the 1970s, remnants of the fence could still be seen around the village but these are now largely overgrown or have been torn down to make way for the burgeoning population growth.

Notable Village Headman[edit]

Ong Eng Siang, PJK (born 1910 - 1989)

A natural leader and highly looked up to by most of the villagers. He was often being sought to help solve problems faced by individuals or families in Sungai Pelek.

Ong Eng Siang was given a walking stick by Sir Gerald Templer as a symbol of respect and "authority to cane" the Assistant District Officers (ADOs) should they not do their job well.

Sir Gerald Templer was in Sungai Pelek with his military trucks to evict and remove the villagers to other locations just to overcome the British frustrations of Sungai Pelek being heavily infested with communist guerillas and their sympathisers.

The villagers were suspected to be frequent suppliers of food and medicine materials to the communist guerillas. In order to eliminate this chain, Sir Gerald Templer was adamant to evict and re-distribute the villagers to other areas.

Ong Eng Siang was among one of the then village community leaders to convince and appeal to Sir Gerald Templer to abort his decision and to understand the problems faced by the villagers who had to scratch for a living at the fringes of the forests, risking their lives daily should they be confronted by communist guerillas.

The villagers knew too well that the security forces of the government could never protect them every day from the communist guerillas. Therefore, they had to oblige reluctantly with fear for their lives and family members, to supply rations whenever the villagers were asked to do so by the communist guerillas. Communist guerillas also did do their rounds, knocking on doors in the village, in the wee hours of the night to source for rations.

Therefore, Sir Gerald Templer had to acknowledged the legitimate fears and dilemma faced by the villagers of Sungai Pelek. In order to reduce constant contact between the villagers and communist guerillas, Sir Gerald Templer ordered the village to be completely fenced-up around its perimeters, leaving a few gates strategically located as entrances. These gates were heavily guarded by police and home guards.

Demographics[edit]

The population of the village are predominantly ethnic Chinese from the Fujian Province of China. There are also Malays, who are mainly of Javanese/Sumatran descent, and Indians, who are a mixture of Tamils, Singhalese, Bengalis, etc. in this small town.

The Chinese are distributed amongst the New Village and various housing developments known collectively as Taman-taman. A large number of the Chinese are still connected to the land as land farmers. Pig farming was devastated by the JE virus.

Around the village are some smaller settlements like Bukit Bangkong, Batu Empat, Batu Dua, Teluk Merbau, and Sepang Kecil.

Bukit Bangkong was a small aboriginal settlement, which now houses a predominantly Javanese Malay population.

Batu Empat and Batu Dua are small Malay settlements on the road to Sepang town from Sungai Pelek.

There are few small Indian settlements built by the local palm oil company, The settlements consisted of dwellings mainly occupied by Tamil speaking Indians, with mix of Malaysia and small number of Chinese.

Religion[edit]

The main religious groups in Sungai Pelek are split between Buddhists, Hindus, Methodist Christians and Muslims. There are also a small number of Catholic Christians, Taoists and Sikhs.

Places of worship in Sungai Pelek consist of a small Methodist church preaching in Chinese, a catholic chapel situated behind the Post Office building, a mosque for the local Muslims and several small Buddhists and Taoist temples. The Sri Ganesha Indian temple is located approximately 300 meters from the main town, neighbouring Taman Sri Sungai Pelek.

Education[edit]

Sungai Pelek has several schools which serve the local community. These schools provide educational instruction in Chinese, Indian, Malay and English. The educational level of these schools range from primary education to secondary education.

The first headmaster of the private Chinese primary school, Wah Lian Chinese School, the Tamil school which served the local Indian population were set up by the government which is located near Taman Teluk Merbau.

Economy[edit]

Besides its thriving brick-making and clay products industry, Sungai Pelek has numerous small plantations of rubber trees, coffea plants and oil palms. Home to the prized teka, tawa and pinoh durians. Recently, dragon fruit has also been planted widely here. The people of Sungai Pelek are active in the bird's nest industry as well.

External Links[edit]

Coordinates: 2°39′N 101°43′E / 2.650°N 101.717°E / 2.650; 101.717