Larry Lam's Guide Note


(Collated and compiled by Billy Woo.)

Visitors to Kuala Lumpur will come across this old Chinese temple if they take a stroll along Jalan Tun H.S.Lee (adjacent to Jalan Petaling - KL's Chinatown). They will be greeted by the two Guardian Gods of the temple standing ostentatiously outside, on either side of the entrance. This temple is built in 1888 by the Selangor & Federal Territory Kwong Siew Association. Restoration work has been carried out in 1994/5.

This temple is dedicated to Kuan Ti (God of Righteousness). He was a famous general during the late Eastern Han Dynasty in China and his deeds have been prominently featured in the Chinese classic novel - "Romance of the Three Kingdoms". Some of the other deities worshipped here include Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy), Mun Cheong (God of Education) and Tai Sui (Grand Duke Jupiter).

Visitors may find it interesting to know that the temple houses an antique - a 'guan dao'. This long knife has been brought here from China more than 100 years ago. Legend has it that such a weapon was the favourite of Kuan Ti. This item is usually displayed at an altar that is about 3 metres in front of the main altar. During certain festivals, the long knife is brought out to the courtyard facing the entrance for public viewing. Many devotees believe that whoever touches the knife will receive its blessings.

Besides being a place of worship, language classes are also being conducted in classrooms at the back portion of the temple. Students need to pay only a nominal tuition fee. The Kwong Siew Free School is set up in 1927 and its aim is to offer tuition classes in Mandarin. There are also facilities for students to learn to play the Er Hu, a traditional Chinese musical instrument.

Many of the early immigrants in Kuala Lumpur were from southern China. Thus in 1886, a group of villagers from 2 municipalities, namely Guang Zhou and Zhaoqing initiated the formation of an association. The two municipalities consisted of a total of 32 counties. The main objective was initially to strengthen the relationship among the fellow villagers and develop the spirit of mutual aid.

Till today and for more than a century, the association has and still is contributing to the development of Chinese culture and social education. The Zhao Yu Library & Information Center dates back to 1924 and maintains important documents from the Selangor & Federal Territory Kwong Siew Association as well as those from other Kwong Siew Associations throughout Malaysia and China. Zhao Yu was one of the very important founding members and he had contributed significantly to the association.

From 1898 to 1902, it also helped to settle disputes that were lodged with the association by fellow villagers as well as those from other municipalities. According to records, a total of 486 cases of dispute were mediated within this period, many of which were settled to the satisfaction of all parties. It is therefore not surprising that the temple is dedicated to the God of Righteousness.

The Selangor & Federal Territory Kwong Siew Association has been enjoying close relationships with other local associations. For example, it co-operated with other Chinese associations to build the Kwong Tong Cemetery Kuala Lumpur. Members like Yap Kuan Seng, Zhao Yu and Loke Yew, spared no efforts in the planning and building of the cemetery. Subsequently, several representatives of the Selangor & Federal Territory Kwong Siew Association have held the post of chairman of the Kwong Tong Cemetery Kuala Lumpur.

For more information, please refer to the official website of the Selangor & Federal Territory Kwong Siew Association.

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Last updated: 23rd June, 2009.
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