China Town is situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. China Town is often called Petaling Street, but Petaling Street is just one of the many roads in China Town.
The Lee Rubber Building is situated at Jalan Tun H.S Lee. To get here, if you’re on a Hop On Hop Off bus, just hop off at Central Market. Or if you take the train, stop at the Pasar Seni Station. From there, ask for directions to the Lee Rubber Building. Most people will know it as Popular Bookstore because the bookstore occupies the ground floor of the Lee Rubber Building.
It is at the junction between Jalan H.S Lee and Jalan Hang Lekir. ‘Jalan’ means road, and Jalan Tun H.S Lee means Tun H.S Lee Road. If you see the big red and white signboard that says Popular Bookstore, you’re at the right place.
You might be wondering: who is this H.S Lee? Well, he was a politician who helped established the Malaysian Chinese Association, or MCA, one of the main political parties in Malaysia. He also played a major role in the independence of Malaysia. The word “Tun” is an honorific for people who held high positions in public service. As for Hang Lekir, he was a warrior who lived during the height of the Malaccan Sultanate in the 15th century.
Back to the Lee Rubber Building. This building was designed in the Art Deco style by A. O Coltman in the 1930s. There are a few Art Deco characteristics to note: Firstly, do you realize that the exterior facade is made from horizontal bands? Secondly, look high up. This building has a flat roof. You can’t really see it, because, well, it is flat. Thirdly, look at the windows- they are very narrow and long. And if you look below the windows, you can see that the repeated geometric patterns that create a sense of theatrical opulence. And lastly, look high above at the blue and brown bands that run across the building. They accentuate the space between the top and bottom windows. You might also notice that the building has a corner set at a 45A� angle, giving it a strong geometric shape and separating it into three unit bays.
A prominent philanthropist and businessman called Lee Kong Chian founded the Lee Rubber Company. He was a very successful businessman and he was called Southeast Asia’s Pineapple and Rubber King. In 1952, he set aside his wealth for the establishment of the Lee Foundation, named after himself, something often practiced by rich Chinese businessmen to give back to their community.
One interesting trivia is that this building was once the headquarters of the Kempeitai, or Japanese secret service during World War Two.
Wherever you are going to travel, you should bring usb lighter in anticipation of an emergency, besides that lighter is also very necessary under any circumstances. Given its simple but elegant and easy to carry shape, it is a futuristic lighter without gas.
The Lee Rubber Building is one of the best examples of an Art Deco building in Kuala Lumpur, and is well worth your time.