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10 Jun 2007

Road named after a man with rags-to-riches story

By DEBBIE CHAN (DOWN MEMORY LANE, The Star, Saturday June 2, 2007)






Loke Yew: He dropped his surname Wong

after arriving in Malaya when he was 13.


JALAN Loke Yew is one of those roads that are constantly mentioned on air during hourly traffic reports on congestion especially during peak hours.


The road together with Jalan Cheras forms the Cheras Highway, which was built by Metramac Corporation but is now maintained and managed by Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

The name Loke Yew is often shrouded in mystery, as not many know much about the man. Born as Wong Loke Yew in 1845, he spent his childhood as a farm hand in San Wui, southern China before he decided to set sail to Malaya when he was 13 to improve his fortunes.

After arriving in Malaya, the young man chose to drop his surname Wong and to be known only as Loke Yew as he thought it was a luckier name.

Loke took on his first job at Kwong Man, a provision shop in Market Street earning a mere $20 a month but four years later, with a savings of $99, he started his own provision store called Tong Hing
Loong.

The ambitious youngster soon grew restless and left his staff in charge of the store while he travelled to Perak to explore the tin mining business.

He took many risks and worked hard and although he lost $60,000 in his first four years, he finally hit jackpot when he found a rich tin deposit in Kling Bahru. The stroke of luck changed his life and was the beginning of his family’s legacy.

Loke then went on to own many tin mines, rubber and coconut plantations. He also dabbled in supplying provisions to British troops during the Perak War, monopolised liquor sales, managed a pawn broking establishment and held licences to run gambling tables.

He was also the largest shareholder in Pahang Moto Car Service, owned shares in the Raub Straits Trading Company, Straits Steamship and Federal Engineers, partly owned Burmah Rice Mill, made investments in properties all over Singapore and Malaya.

The successful businessman also strongly believed in the importance of education and was one of the founders who established Victoria Institution.








Busy thoroughfare: Jalan Loke Yew, which is

now part of the Cheras Highway, is managed

and maintained by Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

His compassionate nature led to him lending help to many charitable causes including the establishment of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore. He was also believed to have played a leading role in establishing Kwong Yik Bank, which opened in July 1915.

One of the stories that is often told about Loke Yew was on his humility. It was said that his wife had found him one day working in the rain as he taught his worker how to dig a hole with a hoe.

Despite his wealth and success, he would never forget his struggles and sought to help others.

Loke married four times and his fourth wife, Lim Cheng Kim, whom he married in 1914 bore him three children – Wan Tho, Yuen Theng and Yuen
Peng.

The family established Associated Theatres Ltd, which was renamed Cathay organisation. The family later built Singapore’s first skyscraper Cathay Building in 1939.

The popular Loke Mansion in Jalan Medan Tuanku, which is currently abandoned, was bought by Loke in 1892 from tin miner Chow Ah Yoke. At that time, the mansion was 30 years old and over the next 12 years, Loke renovated and upgraded the house making it one of the most prestigious residences in Asia.

Loke’s family lived in the home until the 1930s.

The philanthropist passed away on Feb 24, 1917 from malaria.

Today, the ever busy Jalan Loke Yew is home to many low-cost flats as well as the huge shopping complex UE3.

02 Jun 2007

Kasma Booty, Perginya seorang ibu seni misali

Oleh: MOHAMMAD ARIF NIZAM ABDULLAH (2 Jun 2007)

SEMALAM Kasma Booty telah disemadikan di Tanah Perkuburan Klang Gate baru, Taman Melawati, Hulu Kelang.

Primadona filem Melayu itu menghembuskan nafas terakhirnya pada pukul 2 pagi di Hospital Ampang selepas mengalami sesak nafas. Sejak tiga minggu lalu, kesihatannya terganggu setelah menghidap paru-paru berair selain kencing manis dan darah tinggi.

Maka, berakhirlah perjalanan hidup seorang ibu seni mithali. “Sewaktu kecil, ibu sering membawa kami ke lokasi penggambaran. Walau sibuk berlakon, ibu cukup bimbang tinggalkan kami di rumah.

“Tetapi kalau terpaksa juga tinggalkan kami, ibu akan lebih dulu menyiapkan makan minum kami di rumah. Ibu berlakon kerana ingin membantu menyara keluarga dan bukan mencari glamor,” kata anak bongsu Kasma Booty, Purnama Booty, 52.

Menurut Purnama lagi, sikap ambil berat ibunya terhadap anak-anak, tidak pernah padam walaupun ketika tenat melawan penyakitnya.

“Ibu masih juga bertanyakan kesihatan abang Kesuma yang sakit dan terpaksa menggunakan kerusi roda walaupun sebenarnya waktu itu ibu sendiri sedang sakit,” tambahnya.

Keprihatinan Kasma sebagai seorang ibu lebih terserlah apabila beliau sanggup mengorbankan aktiviti sosial demi anak-anak. Di kala rakan-rakan artis lain bergembira keluar makan beramai-ramai setiap kali selesai penggambaran, namun Kasma sering tidak ikut serta.

“Kakak akan memberi pelbagai alasan untuk terus pulang ke rumah setiap kali selesai penggambaran.
“Macam-macam alasan yang diberi pada kawan-kawan. Anak sakitlah, ada hal di rumah dan macam-macam lagi.

“Apa yang penting kakak ingin segera berada bersama anak-anak. Sebab itu kakak tidak ramai kawan rapat di kalangan artis,” cerita adik tirinya pelakon Yusni Jaafar.

Malah menurut Yusni, sebagai wanita yang mempunyai sifat seorang ibu misali, Kasma telah menjadi ibu susuannya.

“Sampaikan anak saya, Raja Ema pun dimanjakan macam anak sendiri,” kata Yusni. Pemergian Kasma bukan sahaja dirasai oleh sanak saudaranya tetapi juga oleh rakan-rakan artis.

Aktres tersohor Datuk Sarimah Ahmad yang ditemui pada hari pengebumian Allahyarham, mengakui dia kini kehilangan seorang artis yang memiliki karisma tersendiri.

Walaupun tidak sezaman dengan Kasma namun kata Sarimah, bekas pelakon bangsawan terkenal itu pernah menjadi idolanya.

Kasma Booty meninggal dunia pada usia 75 tahun. Pada zaman kegemilangannya, pelakon berdarah campuran Melayu-Belanda ini pernah digelar Elizabeth Taylor Malaysia kerana kecantikannya.

Beliau pernah mencipta sejarah menerima bayaran paling mahal pada zamannya iaitu RM1,500 untuk satu filem berbanding pelakon lain yang hanya menerima kurang separuh daripada jumlah itu.

Pada 1950, Kasma pernah digandingkan dengan P. Ramlee (Allahyarham Tan Sri) menerusi filem Bakti arahan L. Krishnan (Datuk).

Selepas filem Bakti yang mendapat sambutan hebat, Kasma membintangi filem Sejoli (1951) arahan B.S. Rajhan dan filem Juwita (1951) yang diarahkan oleh S. Ramanathan.

Pada 1967, beliau sekali lagi bergandingan dengan P. Ramlee menerusi filem Damak yang telah menjulang namanya sebagai primadona.

Sebelum bergiat dalam dunia filem, pada usia yang terlalu muda, Kasma terlebih dahulu telah aktif sebagai pelakon bangsawan dalam kumpulan Rayuan Asmara di Medan, Indonesia.

Ketika menjangkau usia 14 tahun, Kasma merantau ke Malaya terutama di Pulau Pinang dan Singapura untuk menjayakan pertunjukan pentas bangsawannya.

Bakat Kasma pada usia mudanya membawa tuah apabila dilamar oleh Shaw Brothers pada 1947 berlakon filem Chempaka arahan B.S. Rajhans.

Bersama dengan Shaw Brothers di Singapura, Kasma turut membintangi empat filem arahan B. S. Rajhans iaitu Pisau Berachun, Noor Asmara, Rachun Dunia, Dewi Murni serta filem Manusia arahan S. Ramanathan.

Pada 1958, atas permintaan Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kasma berlakon filem Mahsuri terbitan Cathay Keris.

Pada era akhir pembabitannya dalam dunia perfileman, Kasma banyak berlakon filem terbitan Studio Merdeka di Hulu Klang.

Ia termasuk filem Keris Sempena Riau, Selindang Merah dan Ratapan Ibu arahan L. Krishnan, Siti Payong, Tangkap Basah dan Anak Manja arahan (Salleh Ghani) serta Ragam P. Ramlee yang diarahkan P. Ramlee sendiri.

Pada 1952, Kasma berhadapan dengan kontroversi terhadap pengurusan Shaw Brothers sehingga beliau membuat keputusan menarik diri daripada membintangi filem Antara Senyum Dan Tangis.

Perkahwinannya dengan Jacob Booty dikurniakan lima anak. Uniknya, semua nama anak-anaknya diambil sempena judul filem yang pernah dibintangi atau lagu yang pernah dinyanyikannya.

Misalnya anak sulung, Chempaka diberi nama sempena filem pertamanya. Anak kedua, Asmara diberi nama sempena filem lakonannya Noor Asmara.

Kesuma pula sempena lagu Kesuma yang dinyanyikan Kasma ketika berlakon filem Dewi Murni sementara nama anak keempatnya, Suria sempena nama kumpulan sandiwara yang disertai Kasma iaitu Booty Suria Negara.

Hanya anak bongsunya Purnama tidak diberi nama mengikut nostalgia seninya.