KL Cemeteries, part I

Five years ago, on CNY 2014, I visited with my friend Joe Yap a number of Houses of Worship in KL. This year I decided to visit cemeteries in KL on CNY day. Not with Joe this time, but with my Dutch friend Paul.

And not as “exhaustive” as the 2014 trip. There are many cemeteries in KL of course, often on the outskirts of the town, we visited only two major ones this time, the Kwong Tong Chinese Cemetery and the Cheras Christian Cemetery.

The Kwong Tong cemetery is huge, split in two parts by the Middle Ring Road 1. There are sign boards with information about interesting graves, but only in Chinese.

From the sprawling cemetery. you have a nice view of the imposing KL skyline.

It is a beautiful cemetery. In two months time, at Cheng Beng, it will be crowded with people cleaning the graves of their loved ones, now it was very quiet and serene. I like cemeteries 🙂

There was one grave in particular I wanted to visit, that of Yap Ah Loy, generally considered to be the founder of Kuala Lumpur. With the help of the very informative Malaysia Traveler website of my friend David, I had found the approximate location, in part C (see the map). Walking around we found without problem the marker stone at the beginning of a small lane leading to his grave and those of a few relatives. Beautiful flowers.

Near his grave a plaque gives information about his life

His grave is nice, but not especially impressive. In case you like to visit yourself, the GPS coordinates are 3° 7.31’N 101° 42.05’E .

Left the inscription on Yap Ah Loy’s grave, right the inscription on the grave of his wife.

Some of the graves nearby are much more impressive.

We visited two memorials. This is the Kuomintang Cenotaph, erected in 1947 as a memorial for the Chinese who repatriated to China to fight against the Japanese. I guess they went back after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese war and the Nanjing Massacre in 1937.

The other memorial is for the victims of the Japanese occupation in World War II. Click on the right picture for background information.

There will be many more interesting things to see in this cemetery, but you really need a guide who is fluent in Chinese.

Next we visited the Christian cemetery in Cheras, also with a nice view of the KL skyline.

A nice part of this cemetery, probably Roman-Catholic, has beautiful graves with statues of Jesus, Mary and angels.

Part of the Cheras cemetery is a war cemetery, immaculately kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It contains the graves of military personnel, killed during the Malayan Campaign and the Japanese Occupation, but also of those killed during the Malayan Emergency.

Also in this cemetery I was interested in one grave in particular, that of Henry Gurney, the British High Commissioner, who was killed in 1951 during the Emergency. We found it without much difficulty, next to the war cemetery proper. GPS coordinates are 3° 6.38’N 101° 43.95’E . The tombstone was put in the center of a separate compound and well kept. Not far away another tombstone with “Here lie buried” with illegible names. I was struck by the difference …

The tombstones of Henry Gurney, and two servicemen, one English, the other one Gurkha. All three killed during the Emergency.

War cemeteries are impressive because many of the people buried there are so young. They gave their lives, so others could live.

Several of my friends feel uncomfortable in a cemetery, but I don’t. Maybe because I don’t believe in an eternal soul or an afterlife?

I am planning to visit more cemeteries in KL. Next on my list is the Ampang Muslim cemetery, where I will try to find the grave of P. Ramlee. There is also a small Japanese cemetery.

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