During gatherings with family members and relatives, we tend to catch up with each other to find out more of the happenings in each others life, career, surrounding and also connected parties, i.e mutual friends or relatives who were not there.
With my hometown being Kluang, obliviously I would be more inclined to ask what is happening in Kluang touching on people and places of interest such as the famous Kluang Railway coffee.
On the other hand, relatives and friends who are residing in Kluang and surrounding areas do enquire about happenings in KL but they always have a upper hand in terms of information as KL is widely covered, be it in mainstream media, internet or blogs.
Kluangites usually tend to try to ascertain whether what they view, read or hear is in fact true. That much of trust they have nowadays on media. Naturally they also ask us about rumors and smses that they receive from time to time.
I also find a huge gap in terms of our (KLites) knowledge on small towns (also known as ‘cowboy town’ in Malaysia. KLites, especially those who were born in KL and those who have been residing in KL for a long time knows little about these towns except for towns which are already a popular tourism destination.
None of these town would have come about without its own piece of history. Although in the olden days, these town serves as the collection centre, train transit or ports for tin mines , rubber and cocoa estates, there are other towns existed for other reasons.
It would be interesting to know about small towns and its history. The information gap is certainly not helped by the fact that the media in the country are very much KL Centric. If you happen to scrutinize the papers, News on TV channels, little is mentioned about small towns unless something has happened there.
School history books, while does mention about some historically significant small towns, in my opinion, there are many historical events which are excluded due to space constraints and importance.
For example, a small town called Bekok bordering Kluang and Segamat district in Johor used to be a communist base during the 60’s. When were residing in estate (Chan Wing) near there, we used to visit a communist built bunkers. This piece of historically significant evidence has been left to rot. I believe that this is the case with many other structures built by the communist in the 50’s and 60’s as the government, at that time, did not want communists and their activities to be remembered.
Another significant point to note is that many other similar smaller towns, known to be a transit point within the national rail network, have now been sidelined due to development of more modern highways. In Johor, trains used to stop at Bekok,Jagoh, Paloh, Chamek, Nyior, in between Segamat and Kluang. I hear that stops at these towns are now limited to once a day.
I am quite sure that everyone has a similar tale to tell about other small ‘cowboy’ towns. It’s just that the whole media is very much KL centric that small towns are completely ignored. It may be due to the fact that media behaves to according to happenings in their own surroundings (many are based in KL), which is the power centre of the nation, be it business or politics.
Every town still has its history and relevance. It would be good if someone records all the information on small towns, its history and current development. It would be even better if each town has its own newspaper or blogs that would documents all the information about the town. Look forward to that day. Till then we will have to rely on gatherings.