Records and Recollections 1884-1934
By J.H.M Robson with introductory material and edited by J.M. Gullick
300pp. Size:150x220mm. Hardcover
In 1934 J.H.M. Robson published in Kuala Lumpur his Records and Recollections, which gives much information on the personalities and issues of the era. The book has long been a collectors' item, and this reissue is accompanied by an introduction and various notes by John Gullick.
To this has been added certain additional material which is attributable to Robson, culled from newspapers and other sources of the period.
Robson, being a newspaper man, was particularly sound on details concerning contemporary personalities both foreign and local. For example, he provides short biographical sketches of leading colonial officials of the day such as Sir John Pickersgill (J.P.) Rodger, Pahang's first British Resident who crowned his career as Governor of the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana);
the fabulously wealthy Chinese businessman Loke Yew, one of the few among his compatriots to be decorated with a C.M.G. (Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George), who reputedly quipped that he
would rather earn a C.M.G. from Tuan Allah when he died than any other temporal honour; Captain H.C. Syers, widely considered to be among the founding fathers of the Malaysian Police who organised the force in Selangor in 1875 and Raja Sir Chulan, the first Malay unofficial member of the Federal Council, who was known to be both
fearless and notoriously outspoken.
Robson's recollections also render an illuminating account of the little-known "Tauchang Riots", a communal disturbance among the Chinese in Kuala Lumpur early in 1912 that lasted for several days and was so grave that military reinforcements had to be called in from Taiping to help put it down. The ostensible source of the incident
was traced to high-spirited antics during the Chinese New Year in which anti-Manchu elements went on a rampage through Kuala Lumpur streets, seizing individuals and cutting off their queues (tauchang in Chinese).
As a source on the early history of Kuala Lumpur, the development of the town and its neighbourhoods, Robson provides a particularly rich account. However the use of older versions of street names like Batu Road (present-day Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman) and Pudoh (presently spelt Pudu) would mean that newcomers to Kuala Lumpur history
may find parts of this book to be more than a little challenging. The experience of tracing out the development of Kuala Lumpur from a nondescript, mosquito-infested swampy town to the metropolis it now is would, however, prove particularly rewarding to the intrepid and doughty reader.
About the Author:
John Henry Matthews Robson was born on 8 May 1870, the eldest son of the Rev. Dr. Robson of Guildford, Surrey. Robson first arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 1889 and for the next half century worked as a government official, newspaper editor,
businessman and prominent figure in public affairs in Selangor.
Among his other achievements, Robson was responsible for establishing The Malay Mail in 1896, the outcome of his decision to resign as government tax collector. Robson was no stranger to journalism, having been a regular contributor to the short-lived Selangor Journal that was started by John Russell and operated between 1892 and 1897. Russell had been graceful enough
to bow out leaving room for Robson to pursue his venture a year after the latter started the Malay Mail. Robson Heights and Jalan Robson, an upscale area in the Seputeh neighbourhood of present-day Kuala Lumpur were named after him. When the Japanese occupied Malaya, Robson found himself incarcerated as a
prisoner of war in Singapore, where he subsequently died in internment in 1945.
It Seems So Long Ago
Personalities of the Past
Events and Happenings
Kuala Lumpur Riots