Special Report

Exploring the impenetrable kampung parit of Ayer Hitam

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SPECIAL REPORT | The town of Yong Peng in Johor has only two rows of shops on the main road cutting through it, but it is one of the most popular stopovers for those travelling between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Catering to these travellers is the lifeblood of this bustling town.

Politically, the town is part of the Yong Peng state constituency, which makes up one half of the Ayer Hitam parliamentary constituency, where an increasingly interesting clash between BN and Pakatan Harapan is shaping up.

Some 20km south of Yong Peng town lies Semarang, the other half of the Ayer Hitam constituency where life is a lot more laid back.

Unlike Yong Peng which is dotted by express buses, container trucks and plenty of cars with Singaporean registration plates, the Semarang constituency is surrounded by hundreds of palm oil and rubber plantations, as well as Malay villages, dubbed “ kampung parit” (trench villages) built along the canals.

It is estimated that at least 30 kampung parit are located in the state constituency. These villages were mostly named after their ancestors and have a long history...