The dam broke in Ampang Pecah
New Straits Times 2010/06/13 By Badrolhisham Bidin
Beautiful trees lining the road.
Residents of Ampang Pecah near Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor now may not have personally experienced the big flood of 1883, but the incident has not been forgotten.
They are familiar with the story narrated to them, usually during bedtime, by their elders.
According to the tale, the dam broke that fine day more than a century ago, killing scores of villagers and displacing hundreds more. Why it broke, however, has remained a mystery to this day.
Yahaya Nayan, 65, who has lived in "ground zero" since the 1960s, relates the tale told to him by the village elders.
"An Englishman killed a white crocodile at a nearby river and boasted about it. Soon after the incident, the excess water which flowed down to Sungai Selangor was pushed upwards by unseen forces."
The dam could not hold the sudden surge of water and broke -- hence the name Ampang Pecah, or Broken Dam -- causing the whole area, once known as Kuala Kubu, to be wiped out.
"The white crocodile was said to be the guardian of the river and a harmless creature. Some villagers have seen it.
"But the Mat Salleh (Englishman) could not resist taking a shot at the reptile and killed it with his rifle," said Yahaya, fondly known as Pak Ya among locals.
According to historical records, the man who shot the crocodile was Cecil Ranking, a district officer.
His body was found stuck on a tree that day. This clearly showed how Mother Nature went wild that day.
V. Segaran, 53, heard the same story from his parents when he was young.
"The white crocodile was said to be the guardian of the river. As it was shot dead, the villagers had to be 'sacrificed'," said Segaran.
"It was a long time ago. But the legend of the white crocodile lives on," he added.
He said the survivors of the big flood have since passed on. "No one can really verify the story.
"The dam then was not very sophisticated. We were told that it was made of wood. It spanned across Sungai Selangor and may not have been able to hold the excess water.
"Whether the story is true or not, I hope it will not be forgotten. It is a good thing locals still relate the story of the great white crocodile to their children."
The death of the settlement led to the birth of another town, now known as Kuala Kubu Baru nearby.
Those who lost their homes were relocated to the area, now a popular stop for those going up Fraser's Hill.
The site of the big flood, however, is now a hive of activity. Apart from Taman Ampang Pecah, two more housing estates have been built.
Once a major tin mining area, Ampang Pecah now has terrace houses. Bungalows and even mansions line the roads. Many of the residents are retirees, who prefer to live in relative quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Kuala Lumpur is only an hour's drive away.
There is also a recreational area for children, a row of foodstalls, and beautiful trees lining the roads.
Kuala Kubu Baru has a Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) and a Fire Department Academy.
It is also famous for white water rafting and several natural waterfalls. The area is also well known for another tragedy. In 1951, Sir Henry Gurney was ambushed and killed by communist insurgents while on his way to Fraser's Hill for a meeting.
Earlier this year, Ampang Pecah and its vicinity saw a sudden surge of visitors when the Hulu Selangor by-election was held following the death of its Member of Parliament Datuk Zainal Ahmad.
Promises to develop the retiree's haven were made. There is now a huge dam built further up Kuala Kubu Baru but residents are unperturbed.
Pak Ya joked that if the new dam broke too, he would probably float all the way to Kuala Lumpur.
"There is no jungle to stop the flow of water. But I have faith in the authorities who built the dam. I am sure it is built to last a lifetime," said the Kedahan who migrated to the area in the 1960s.
The ex-fireman said Ampang Pecah is now a peaceful housing estate with a mixture of Malays, Chinese and Indians.
"The old place was inhabited by only the Malays and maybe several Englishmen," he said.
The younger generation prefers not to dwell on the past.
One of them, 27-year old Zuleely Kahar, said he heard about the big flood from his parents.
"But I don't know much about the incident.
"As far as I am concerned, Ampang Pecah is a peaceful place. It is home," he said.
Charming sleepy hollow
The Star Saturday April 17, 2010 By FLORENCE A. SAMY
Kuala Kubu Baru's attractions include white water rafting, Chiling waterfalls in Pertak, the scenic view of the Sungai Selangor dam and famous home-made kaya.
TO many, Kuala Kubu Baru is nothing but a sleepy hollow.
But it has its charms. City dwellers who opted to quit their hectic lifestyle have chosen to settle down in this small town, fondly known as KKB.
Its low cost of living and close proximity to Frasers Hill have also made it an appealing destination.
Its other attractions include white water rafting, Chiling waterfalls in Pertak, the scenic view of the Sungai Selangor dam and famous home-made kaya.
The town was actually born after a massive flood in 1883 that wiped out the original town, Kuala Kubu, located nearby.
Kuala Kubu was then well known for its tin mining activities. In its heyday, it was the second biggest town in the state.
It was also a fort for Raja Mahadi and Syed Mashor when they fought against Tengku Kudin's army during the Selangor civil war from 1867 to 1874.
However, tragedy struck in 1883 when a heavy downpour caused the Kuala Kubu dam to burst and flood the town, affecting its tin mine activities and killing 33 people, including the then District Officer Sir Cecil Ranking. Thirty-eight homes were also destroyed.
Ranking had supposedly shot a white crocodile deemed as the river guardian despite being told not to do so.
Superstition has it that his act had caused the calamity to occur and all that was left of him was his hand. The hand was interred in a grave at the Kuala Kubu Rest House. Since then, the old town was known as Ampang Pecah (Broken Dam).
Another tragedy struck in 1951 when Sir Henry Gurney, the British High Commissioner to Malaya, was assassinated by communist insurgents who ambushed his Rolls Royce along the Jalan Kuala Kubu Baru-Frasers Hill road.
These days, KKB is a peaceful town “where everyone knows each other”, said long-time resident and kaya maker Wong Ann Chuang, 80.
“The town folk are really close-knit. It is easy to differentiate between an outsider and a local.”
Recalling the period of the communist insurgency, he said those days were scary indeed.
“Those who broke the 6pm curfew risked being shot,” he said.
Life, however, is relaxed now.
“Everyone lives is harmony with one another regardless of skin colour,” said Wong who runs a coffee shop.
The town had attracted city folks such as teacher S. Sarala, 44, who decided that this was where her home would be.
“I moved here because my husband got a transfer but now I can't imagine living anywhere else. I have fallen in love with this place,” she said.
Her views were echoed by cendol seller Sulaiman Satar, 39, who said he had no regrets moving here five years ago from Johor Baru.
KKB is the administrative centre for Hulu Selangor. Government agencies have set up training bases here, including the police which established its academy here.
Mitos buaya putih sakti
Kosmo Oleh AMREE AHMAD
Sebut saja nama Kuala Kubu Baru, kebanyakan kita segera terbayangkan suasana sepi pekan kecil itu yang menjadi pintu masuk utama ke pusat peranginan Bukit Fraser di Pahang.
Juga keheningan jirannya, Ampang Pecah yang terkenal dengan pusat kemahiran belia Pertak selain maktab polis, bomba dan institut tahfiz al-Quran di bawah seliaan Jakim.
Nun tidak jauh dari pekan itu, tidak ramai menyedari hutan simpan Hulu Selangor menyimpan khazanah misteri beberapa lokomotif tinggalan penjajah Inggeris akhir kurun ke-19.
“Semua penduduk di sini tahu cerita kepala kereta api itu namun tiada siapa menemuinya hingga saya sendiri menjumpai lokomotif tersebut,” kata Abdul Rahim Noor Mohamad, 41.
Anak jati pekan itu seterusnya bercerita bagaimana bermula ekspedisi beliau mencari bangkai kereta api lama tersebut yang berjaya tersembunyi di tengah-tengah hutan tebal berkenaan.
Minat mencari lokomotif itu timbul daripada cerita mulut orang tua sejak sekian lama dan maklumat daripada seorang pembalak dikenali sebagai Sallehuddin atau Aki Udang.
“Allahyarham jumpa secara kebetulan pada 1981 tetapi dia terlupa lokasi tepat namun daripada maklumatnya, saya membuat kajian kedudukan sebenar kereta api itu,” jelasnya.
Hasilnya, Abdul Rahim mendapat kisah sebenar pekan itu yang tidak diketahui sesiapa waima Jabatan Muzium Malaysia sendiri termasuk rahsia mitos buaya putih tasik Kuala Kubu.
Hakikatnya tiada seekor buaya pun di situ namun penduduk menggunakan isu reptilia sakti itu sebagai alasan untuk enggan berpindah apabila dipaksa penjajah Inggeris pada tahun 1883.
“Ini kerana mereka tahu muslihat pihak kolonial mahu bina lombong bijih timah terbesar di pekan itu dengan usir penduduk asal Melayu ke hutan bersebelahannya,” kata Abdul Rahim.
Marah dengan kedegilan penduduk, Inggeris lalu meletupkan sebuah empangan yang berusia 100 tahun waktu itu menyebabkan kawasan tersebut dikenali sebagai Ampang Pecah.
Ironi, Pegawai Daerah Hulu Selangor, Sir Cecil Ranking yang cuba membuktikan mitos buaya putih sebagai dongeng turut terbunuh malah mayatnya cuma tinggal sebelah tangan saja.
“Kubur pegawai ini masih ada di halaman Rumah Rehat Kuala Kubu di Jalan Syed Mashor dan batu nisannya mencatatkan ‘Di sinilah semadi pusara tangan Sir Cecil’,” tambah beliau lagi.
Bencana ini biarpun meragut ramai nyawa penduduk, tidak mematahkan niat jahat penjajah untuk projek perlombongan itu malah terus membawa masuk ribuan buruh imigran China.
Galian berharga itu rupa-rupanya banyak terdapat di dalam hutan tebal menyebabkan Inggeris membina landasan kereta api mudah alih untuk pengangkutan bijih tanpa kos besar.
“Malangnya setelah stok bijih habis, semua peralatan lombong termasuk lokomotif dan gerabak kereta api tersadai di tengah hutan puluhan tahun lamanya,” jelas Abdul Rahim.
Bagi mencari tinggalan itu, seseorang kena berjalan kaki selama enam hari kerana ia terletak di sembilan lokasi berselerak dekat Gunung Rajah atau 1,053 meter dari aras laut.
Penemuan pertama pada 19 Oktober 1996 juga menarik minat Jabatan Muzium Malaysia untuk terlibat dalam projek arkeologi di kawasan hutan tersebut namun ia terkandas separuh jalan.
Lucunya, kejayaan Abdul Rahim dijadikan bahan berita utama akhbar Singapura pada 11 Oktober lalu tetapi memaparkan kejayaan rakyatnya menemui artifak bersejarah itu.
“Walhal dua rakyat negara jiran itu yang kononnya dilaporkan membuat 28 kali ekspedisi mencari lokomotif tersebut pun terpaksa bergantung ihsan daripada saya,” katanya kesal.
Beliau seumpama kamus bergerak sejarah Kuala Kubu kini membantu krew paranormal PSI Uncle Seekers menerbitkan dokumentari televisyen 13 siri mengenai lokomotif terbabit.
“Program Onomostik ini mendedahkan kisah sebenar saya menemui rangka tersebut berbanding propaganda akhbar jiran yang mendakwa mereka jumpa dulu kereta api itu,” tegasnya.