Colonial British administrators gazetted Kampung Baru as a Malay agricultural settlement in 1900 to allow the Malays to retain their village lifestyle within the city. Since then Kampung Baru has held out against development and modern-city living, turning into a political symbol of Malay culture.
The area held a special place for Malay politics during the pro-independence movement that grew up after World War II. Anti-colonial protests were held there, and founders of Malaysia's dominant political party, theUnited Malays National Organisation, held their early meetings there.
New evidence revealed by the National Archives of Malaysia shows that UMNO has its origins at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kampung Baru. Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the documents were unearthed recently when some work was being carried out at the club.
Kampung Baru, which sprawls over almost a square km (250 acres), also played a part in the May 13 Incident in 1969, where bloody racial clashes occurred between ethnic Malays and Chinese. The riots started after Chinese-led opposition parties marched through the village to celebrate their good showing in general elections of that year. New research (May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969) based on newly declassified documents at the Public Records Office in London, the book alleged that contrary to the official account which had blamed the violence on opposition parties, the riot had been intentionally started by the "ascendent state capitalist class" in UMNO as a coup d'état to topple the Tunku from power.