The legacy left to us and to future generations would be lost without such a publication. Heritage can only be appreciated through an awareness of our past.
The story of how Johor was transformed, in just over a century, from virgin jungle into a vigorous economy and a harmonious society, and how its present capital Johor Bahru grew from a village on the shoreline into a bustling metropolis, is charted within the pages of this book. It accomplishes this via the chronicling of two primary themes, namely the theme of continuity from the past to the 20th century, and the theme of harmonious growth and dynamic development. Who better to narrate the story than Patricia Lim Pui Huen, the great-granddaughter of Wong Ah Fook – a key player in the development of Johor Bahru and whose name has been immortalised in the city’s thoroughfare? It’s been said that if the development of Johor could be captured in a single sentence, it would read Iskandar Puteri was like a tree just sprouted from the ground, with its leaves and branches growing every day more profuse (Iskandar Puteri is believed by many to be the historical name for Johor Bahru, although some quarters would dispute this as a fabrication).
The story of Johor’s past is told through old photographs and historical maps accumulated through careful archival research, fieldwork through the highways and byways of Johor, and through the lives and memories of many people.
Johor was the world’s leading producer of pepper and gambier as well as Malaya’s largest rubber producer. It led the struggle for independence, forged the first state constitution and spearheaded educational priorities for both sexes. Among the Malay States, Johor’s visionary leadership, the people’s energy and enterprise, modernistic policies, a multicultural outlook and a fairly active publishing industry kept the state one step ahead. Together, all these elements helped make Johor what it is today. Johor: Local History, Local Landscapes 1855–1957 is available at Areca Books.