Today, Selangor is truly the sight to behold. Currently the richest and most populous state in Malaysia, Selangor prides itself on its modernity and prosperity.
Yet, as with all things, behind this success story lies a rich history of experiences that have led up to this modern-day state.
Two and a half century ago, the son of a Bugis warrior prince was given sovereignty to rule a piece of territory just north of Malacca. Raja Lumu, later bestowed the name Sultan Salahuddin Shah, was to become the first Sultan of Selangor, establishing our present hereditary sultanate from the mid-1700s. When he took over, Sultan Salahuddin Shah established Kuala Selangor as the administrative centre of the state.
There, he built a strategic hilltop fort to enable the state to defend itself against outside forces, especially those coming in through the Straits of Malacca. He called it Fort Malawati.
It was also during this time, in the 16th and 17th centuries, that tin mining was at its peak. The industry thrived in Selangor, bringing about much economic growth and an influx of Chinese immigrants to work as miners. Many of the Chinese people in Selangor today are descendents of these early immigrants.
In 1857, the state capital was moved to Jugra, which is now known as Kuala Langat. That year, Gedung Raja Abdullah was built for the purpose of storing tin and food supplies. Before the end of the 19th century, the building was gone through two changes – the British first converted it into government offices before it was turned into a museum, which it remains until today.
In early 20th century, the fifth Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Alaeddin Shah, ordered both a mosque and palace to be built in Jugra. Although both were informed by Islamic design and concepts, the Alaeddin Palace (or Istana Bandar) does contains some Chinese influence, as a few Chinese craftsmen were engaged to help build it. Jugra was Selangor’s capital for about half a century.
After that, the state was united with Pahang, Perak and Negeri Sembilan to form the Faderated Malay States, and Kuala Lumpur, the biggest town, was chosen to be the administrative centre.
Kuala Lumpur was eventually given city status, the first in Malaysia since independence in 1957. During this time, Kuala Lumpur is still the capital of Selangor – it was a proud moment indeed for all Selangor citizens.
Barely two years later, though, Kuala Lumpur was handed over to the federal government and became Malaysia first Federal Territory, with the Kota Darul Ehsan arch eventually being built to mark the boundary between Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
The Kota Darul Ehsan arch over the Federal Highway, as seen from the Kuala Lumpur side. Picture courtesy of malaysiatrulyasiholiday.com
Shah Alam became the state’s new capital and it has city status. But that was not the only time a part of Selangor became a Federal Territory. In the new millenium, Putrajaya was also converted into a Federal Territory.
Another major urban area in the state is Petaling Jaya, which was awarded city status in 2006. Selangor is one of only two states in Malaysia, the other being Sarawak, that has two cities.
Currently, Selangor is host to Cyberjaya (the epicenter of Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor project), the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Sepang International F1 Circuit. It has numerous highways and expressways as well as light-trail transportation and infrastructure.
Selangor has been much through the years. Today, it is the richest state in Malaysia in terms of gross domestic product per capita. The state also has the largest population in Malaysia – about 5.5 million people, who enjoy a high standard of living. The state’s poverty rate is also the lowest in the country.
Source: Vision Selangor magazine.