Bentong is Unique with All its Main Streets Named after Chinese Sages
There are five main streets in Bentong town named after Chinese sages of the past. This best presents the town’s role as the center of Pahang Chinese politics, economy and culture. In fact, Bentong is the only town throughout Malaysia that has all its main streets named after ethnic Chinese!
The five main streets of Bentong town are Jalan Loke Yew, Jalan Ah Peng, Jalan Chui Yin, Jalan Dato Poo Yew Choy and Jalan Tan Sri Chan Siang Sun. The first three streets are century-old while the rests were incorporated in recent years.
Certainly, there are more than ten roads named after the past Chinese sages in each of the big cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Klang, Seremban, etc. But Bentong as a small mountain town is unique as its whole town’s main streets are named after the Chinese.
The layout of the Bentong town’s main streets, from right to left are Jalan Loke Yew, Jalan Ah Peng, Jalan Chui Yin and Jalan Dato Poo Yew Choy. Jalan Tan Sri Chan Siang Sun is located at the new business area.
The legend of this small mountain town began with its founding father- Loke Yew who built the earliest three main straight roads. It is believed that Bentong was founded at that time. In 1895, Loke Yew arrived at Bentong from Kuala Lumpur to expand his tin mining business there. Jalan Loke Yew was the first street he built in Bentong. It was termed the “Main Street” among the locals as it had more than hundred old shop houses, Chop Tong Shun which was founded by Loke Yew also located there.
The years rolled by but Jalan Loke Yew still retains most of its old time look. The Sin Sze Si Ya Kwong Fook Temple at one end of the road has seen through 142 years of history. The three conjoint shop houses of Chop Tong Shun are still there, only it has changed hands. Once Loke Yew’s trusted aides Cheong Yoke Choy and Liew Weng Chee took over and renamed it Chop Pak Wing. Today it is owned by Chop Tong Fatt. It’s downstairs is rented to a dress shop and The Chinese Youth Association Bentong (1988) rents the upstairs.
At the same period, Jalan Ah Peng was built and it is located in the middle of the three old streets. It was called Middle Street by Bentong locals. There are many landmark buildings on the street, such as Chinese Chamber of Commerce Bentong (founded in 1909), the century-old Sang Cheong Goldsmith Company, Pasar Besar and TF Value Mart.
Jalan Chui Yin originated from a previous graveyard in which hundreds of nameless dead that died from plague were buried. The graveyard was eventually turned into the street as the number of miners increased. The landmark buildings on the street are Persatuan Kwangsai Bentong (founded in 1910), Bentong Chinese Assembly Hall (founded in 1914), and Khai Mun School (founded in 1916). Jalan Chui Yin was also nicknamed “Chinese Associations Street” by the locals.
Both San Peng and Chui Yin were Loke Yew’s partners back to the early years, they worked together to create Bentong. San Peng was originally renowned as a contractor for government buildings in Kuala Lumpur. It is said that Chui Yin was the partner of San Peng. They were invited to participate in the creation of Bentong by Loke Yew who contributed to these three streets. Primarily no names, the streets were later named after these three founders to remember their contributions to the creation of Bentong.
Three Old Streets Witness Sages’ Legend, While Two New Streets Highlight MCA’s Contributions
The three old streets in Bentong witness the legend of Chinese sages creating the town, while the later two new streets are testimony to the recent Bentong Chinese leaders’ splendid success linking the past and the future. Both of the streets are named after the early leaders of the MCA in Bentong, which highlights MCA’s remarkable contributions to the town.
Jalan Tan Sri Chan Siang Sun is located in Bentong town’s new business district. Formerly known as Jalan Pasdec, it was renamed over ten years ago to commemorate the late Tan Sri Chan Siang Sun who was the founding hero of Bentong’s MCA in Pahang. Tan Sri Chan was elected seven times as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Bentong from the first general election in 1959 to the election in 1986. Being the longest-tenured MP for Bentong, Tan Sri Chan was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Education, Minister of Housing and Local Government as well as Minister of Health. He passed away in 1989. This street is also where Pahang MCA’s headquarters is located, the MCA Pahang State Liaison Committee is located at the building of Wisma MCA, Pahang.
The newly built Jalan Dato Poo Yew Choy is adjacent to Jalan Chui Yin. In remembrance of the longest-tenured state assemblyman - the late Dato’ Poo Yew Choy, the street was renamed from the former Jalan Chui Yin 1. From 1974-1990, Poo Yew Choy was elected five times as the Bentong Town / Bilut State Assemblyman, and he also served as Senator for one-term.
The Bentong MP Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai and Bilut State Assemblyman Dato’ Hoh Khai Mun had the proud honor of launching the unveiling ceremony of Jalan Dato Poo Yew Choy on November 27, 2010. This fashionable street has already become Bentong youth entrepreneurship world, which is full of clothing stores, beauty shops, hairdressing shops, cellular phone stores and others.