Yong Peng (Chinese: 永平) is a regional town in Malaysia in the state of Johor. It has an area of 1911.6 hectares with an estimated population of 29,046. Yong Peng has two main interchanges on North-South Expressway including north to Kuala Lumpur and south to Johor Bahru.
Slightly more than half of the local residents are of Chinese origin; whose forefathers migrated from southern China in the 1880s. The rest are Malays and Indians who mainly reside in the surrounding Yong Peng areas. Other than Malay, the other main language used is Mandarin with an accent strongly influenced by the Fuzhou and Hokkien Dialects.
Due to perceived lack of economy opportunity, most of the younger generation choose to leave Yong Peng after completing secondary education and migrate to bigger cities (e.g. Batu Pahat, Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Klang etc.). Some even travel further and settle in foreign countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, China, Australia, Canada, the UK or the USA for work. Those who remain mostly work in the plantation sector (especially rubber, palm oil and cocoa), light industry (especially garments) or the supporting services (banking, education, retails etc.).
During the reign of Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor and under the influence of the British rule in the 1870s, a policy was initiated to modernise Johor and increase tax revenue by opening up more of the forest and swamp area for plantation purposes (initially for spices such as pepper and gambier; then followed by rubber). But to do so, they need massive number of workers. Coincidentally the political and social chaos in Southern China during that period (ref: History of China) made the Chinese migrants an obvious choice. Most of these immigrants were poor, and so to pay for the travel fees, they had to sell themselves as indented slaves. Some of these early Chinese pioneers travelled from the river mouth starting from Batu Pahat and along the Bekok River (Sungai Bekok) and settled upon a fertile land not far from where Sungai Bekok and Sungai Sedi meets.
In fact, in 1800, there were only five Malay houses standing on the banks of Sungai Bekok and on Bukit Jambu (once sited the Bee Seng Sawmill and now the Yong Peng District Council). The town was known at that time as ‘Sri Bertam’, named after a tree by the name ‘Bertam Tree’ in Kampong Bukit Jambu. The Malays were then ruled by Arujamin Bin Runshut and most of them had just escaped from the Dutch after losing the war to the latter in Acheh.
In November 1847, four Chinese immigrants from Chaozhou led by Boo Koh Lak Loo (better known as Ah Loh) came to Sri Bertam by boat after paddling up Sungai Bekok. They then built three houses at the present Government Clinic compound. Later he and his men with the help of his Malay friends began to clear some thick forests around the river banks. When this small settlement prospered and progressed, Boo named the place Yong Peng or Everlasting Peace in Chinese.
Boo ruled Yong Peng according to the ‘Kangchu’ or headman system where the Chinese word "Kang” means river while "Chu" means house. But essentially, "Chu" is the clan name of the first headman in charge of the plantations in the area.
When more Chinese of other dialects began moving to Yong Peng, the settlement was also expanded further up the river, opening up two more areas - one was Mah Kau Kang and the other one was Seng Kang (now Kangkar Bahru).
During this time, Sungai Bekok river was navigable by small ocean-going steamers. Local produce such as pepper and gambir were transported by boat to Batu Pahat and some to as far as Singapore; the whole journey taking about 16 days.
Kangchu Boo would also give a yearly report of Yong Peng to Sultan Abu Bakar. In order to keep law and order, one Malay by the name of Ismail was appointed the policeman of Yong Peng. Minor offences were dealt with by Kangchu Boo whilst more serious ones were sent to the magistrate’s court in Batu Pahat.
Kangchu Boo died in 1907 at the age of 76. His body was buried in Tang Hak (old name for Jalan Masjid). It is around Jalan Ann Peng. After his death, his son Kangchu Boo Koh Soon Meng took over at the young age of 25. He ruled for about 35 years until his death in 1942. As he did not have a son, the Kangchu system also began to decline and it was also in the same year Yong Peng was conquered by the Japanese.
After World War II, the British returned to power. However, conflict with the Communist Party of Malaya, their former ally during the Japanese occupation, emerged. In 1950, in order to contain the communist insurgency, the British instituted as part of Briggs Plan the policy of forced relocation of large number of people and moved them into specially created settlements called "New Villages". This strategy was to prevent Communist sympathisers from supporting and supplying food to the insurgents. These camps were surrounded by barb wires and guarded day and night. Other than night curfews, residents of the camp were also strictly prohibited from carrying additional food or tools in or out of the camp. Curfews would commence at 6 o’clock in the evening and ended at 6 the next morning. In Yong Peng, a few thousand squatters who were living and cultivating along isolated jungle fringes were thus resettled in the new village.
So, Jalan Templer in Yong Peng was named after the then British High Commissioner General Gerald Templer who was known for making this famous remark, "The answer [to the uprising] lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the people." (Lapping, 224) In order to win the hearts and minds of these new villagers at this time, our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman also visited Yong Peng and opened the Yong Peng Chinese High School.
In 1952 when the local council of Yong Peng was established, Jalan Ah Loh was named in memory of Kangchu Boo Koh Ah Loh （巫许亚鲁）.
Yong Peng was also disturbed by the racial riots (mostly took place in Kuala Lumpur) during the May 13 event in 1969. Luckily, the Chinese Penghulu (Head Villager) from Yong Peng and the Malay Penghulus from the surrounding Kampungs had a relatively good relationship; and working together they cobbled several arrangements that help prevent the severe bloodshed seen in other urban areas.
Then in the mid-1970s, the town was again affected by gang fights among rival gangster groups which usually took place at night outside the only cinema in Yong Peng at Jalan Templer. Peace was again restored when ASP Mokhtaruddin Yunus, dubbed by the locals as ‘Justice Pao’ was sent to Yong Peng. Within weeks, he was able to maintain law and order and until today many locals still remember him fondly as a strict and incorruptible policeman who came to save Yong Peng.
Today most of these Chinese around are now in the fourth generation and have been thoroughly integrated as part of the Malaysian society.
(The above information obtained partly from the article The best place to be on earth.)
It is administered by the Yong Peng District Council (Majlis Daerah Yong Peng (MDYP)) (formerly known as East Batu Pahat District Council (Majlis Daerah Batu Pahat Timur (MDBPT)) ). The district council was established on 1 September 1979.
Schools in Malaysia is based on the British Education standards (Ref: Education in Malaysia). Calendar wise, school year start in Jan and ends in Oct\Nov time frame. Kindergartens are optional (mostly private). Mandatory education starts from the Primary School at the edge of seven year old (aka Standard/Year One) and ends at twelve (aka Standard/Year Six). After the primary education is completed, the students would proceed to secondary school which starts at thirteen years old. Secondary school students will either starts from "Remove" (mostly reserved for non National school students for strengthening their skills in Malay and English) or "Form One" and ends five years later in "Form Five". Lower and Upper 6 classes are available for those who make the grade to get their STPM certification; some is also known to move to bigger city such as Kuala Lumpur to prepare them for privately paid higher education or professionals certification. A large majority of the Malay student will either proceed to MARA or attend the pre-university class.
Primary School - Yong Peng has One Chinese and two Government run National School (schools where Malay is the primary medium) - Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Bertam and Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Yong Peng (SRKYP). SRKYP was the smallest of the three primary school. It was originally part of a missionary school (Anglican Church) with an emphasis on the use of English as a teaching medium. As a result, the students and teachers there have been known to be relatively more well verse in the use of English. Not long after independence, it was converted to a National School where the Malay language is used as the primary medium instead.
Secondary School - Yong Peng has one Chinese Independent school (Yong Peng High School); and two government run National schools - Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Yong Peng (SMYP) & SMK Dato' Seth. SMYP was the biggest of the three. It has students from all the three primary schools in Yong Peng and also from the surrounding areas such as Lam Lee, Kangkar Baru, Parit Yanni and even as far as Sri Medan.
Yong Peng is known for its Fuzhou (福州) style cuisine. This would include HockChew Chow Mien (handmade noodles that are first boiled, then stir fried); HockChew Egg Soup; HockChew FishBall (one of the bounciest fishballs; with fish on the outside and pork on the inside); Fermented Red Rice Wine Chicken; Fermented Red Rice Wine Noodles; HockChew Square Bread (typically pork fat or meat is added as filling); and HockChew plain bread (also known as Yong Peng bread - round shaped yeast bread that is available as plain with sesame seed, sweet or salted; no fillings within). The aforesaid are all classically unique food only available in Yong Peng.
Of course, there are other nice adapted Chinese food too. The "Duck Noodle" near Tian Hou Gong temple, Laksa (served in Thai style where you could choose to add your own curry & chili powder) near the old cinema), Lu Mien (dark noodles cooked with black vinegar) near the Eastern Garden, Fish Ball & Fish Cakes from Yuen Yuen restaurant are some of the old favorites. Even some of the stalls in Jalan Meng Seng, near the Pasar served pretty good food too.
Even muar famous handmade food, otak otak is now can be found in yong peng from a newly set out outlet, AH JIE otak otak opposite the RONG CHENG restaurant. AH JIE otak shop is famous with handmade otak otak in frozen packet, seremban SiewBao, pineapple tart, Matisu, popiah otak,setiawan misua, TAN KIM HOCK product. The shop has been an attraction to the Singaporean and those from selangor.
There is plenty of local Malay and Indian food stalls (warung). One famous place is near the wet market, where people usually go for breakfast. It is famous for its nasi lemak, lontong and mee goreng (fried noodle, Malay stype). The Rendang, Kari Ekor (Ox Tail Soup) and a few of the Roti Canai are all wonderful addition to the local cuisines.
Also there is known well asam pedas restaurant at Taman Kota Aman which very tasty and spicy. Also got many variety choice of fish to choose at this restaurant. RESTORAN ASAM PEDAS AREEN at Taman Kota serve Asam Pedas at whole day and in night, they also serve Nasi Lemak Ayam Berempah and roti canai which famous among the folks.
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