I KNOW it sounds like wishful thinking, but it's nice to be able to stay in a kampung house amidst the bustling city. I, for one, would love to stay in a house which has so many stories to tell. And there's a particular house that I have on my mind now -- the one that Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum's pioneer built.
The idea of staying in a kampung house without having to leave the comfort and conveniences a city has to offer is really appealing.
Located next to PRR Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum, it is the only village house left in the 10ha land currently being developed by SP Setia Bhd Group.
With the LRT (Abdullah Hukum station) and Mid Valley Megamall within walking distance, it is a good idea to turn it into a tourist attraction -- which SP Setia and City Hall have agreed to do.
There are also plans to build a KTM station there, which will be integrated to the LRT station.
I spoke to Abdullah Hukum's grandson, Mohd Amin Mahmood, 81, some time back when he was still staying there with his family (they lived in a few houses there).
He told me that they were to move out to make way for redevelopment of the area. He said the house, however, would not be demolished as there were plans to restore it.
At that time, Rumah Abdullah Hukum (as it is named in the draft plan) was already vacant and the family members lived several houses away.
A man who introduced himself as Ariff later called me and told me that it was originally entrusted to his late mother Zabedah Mahmood who was also Abdullah Hukum's grandchild.
I remember his tone when he expressed his feelings of having to part with the house. He said he hoped that the house would be preserved as it is the only visible memory of the village remaining, left by the family head.
Although I could not get much information on Haji Abdullah Hukum (whose real name is Muhammad Rukun), I found out through Wikipedia that the man, who was born in 1835 in Sumatera, Indonesia, came to Malaya when he was 15.
He was a prominent figure in the Malay society and was appointed by the then Sultan of Selangor Sultan Abdul Samad (KL used to be part of the state) as the society leader with the title "Tuk Dagang Dianjuk".
At that time, the people still used perahu (small boats) or go on foot to get to places. Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum (in Jalan Bangsar) itself was located along the Klang river.
I learnt that Abdullah Hukum built the house in 1860s (or maybe earlier) without using a single nail.
The family is holding onto hopes that house would be retained, as it was proposed as a heritage in the draft to KL City Plan 2020. It is the only residential unit in the list of the proposed heritage buildings, alongside Coliseum and Odeon cinemas in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman; Central Market in Jalan Hang Kasturi; PAM House in Jalan Tangsi; Royal Selangor Club in Jalan Raja; and Menara Maxis in Jalan Ampang, among others.
If approved, they will be an addition to the already gazetted 39 buildings in the city under the National Heritage Act 2005.
With the River of Life project, the house will definitely add charm to the KL Eco City project.
Another house (or rather a mansion) that I know with its own historical value is Majestic Malacca which I am also hoping to to one day. It was built in 1927 by tycoon Leong Long Man and handed down to generations before sold to a businessman in 1955 and later bought over by YTL in 2006 which turned it into a hotel with the original facade retained.
Each house or building has its own stories to tell. Instead of retaining it as residential unit or turning it into a privately-owned gallery, it's better to make it a tourist attraction where the public can learn a thing or two about Kuala Lumpur.
What better way to have a feel of the past than to stay in a house that was part of the history? A house that has contributed so much to Abdullah Hukum's family and would probably continue contributing for years to come.