KL has not been great at persevering its physical history. Roads are constantly being remade. Ugly flyovers are being built. I hope Melbourne never has flyovers and a couple we did have, King Street and at Port Melbourne, have been demolished. Clifton Hill is somewhat spoilt by flyovers. After seeing KL and its hundreds of flyovers, I can inform you that they may only improve traffic in the short term.
Amazingly when searching for something, I discovered that the marvellous website SkyscraperCity has a forum of some forty pages devoted to the old Kuala Lumpur. There are some fabulous photos there, but I don't know where they are taken because the street names used, with exceptions, are as they are now named. Malay names don't stick in my brain as English names would and while the roads are being altered all the time, some remain that had grand names.
KL has all but obliterated its English street name history. Obliterating history is one thing, but this would have happened for purely political populist reasons and I think it is unfortunate. Malaysia may not have liked being a colony but it was and that is its history and that is why the streets had English names.
Gone is Mountbatten Road, Foch Avenue and many similarly English named roads. They were not even happy with them being described by their street name such Jalan Mountbatten.
One local Malaysian person in the forum lamented that the street names had been changed and was thankful that it had not happened in Malacca or Penang. I have news for him. Many have been now. More history gone.
As I said, I suspect it was done for political reasons, a bit of nationalism.
Malaysia did truly surprise me though. It is modern and functioning western style city. While the roads are on a par with the sophisticated Singapore, there is little law enforcement as in Singapore. As Manny said, the traffic light was only dark green, which is actually a red light. Pedestrians, fend for your selves. God help cyclists. Like in western countries, freeways have emergency lanes, but in Malaysia these are for travelling along if there is a traffic delay. Once all freeway lanes are full and stationary, then you fill the emergency lane.
Police do pull drivers up and set up road blocks, but the penalty generally seems to be an 'on the spot fine', graded according to your perceived wealth.
My first real knowledge of Malaysia came when I started studying colonial history but I knew little of the modern Malaysia. In my past life I was a colonial administrator in India and Malaysia who spent the hot seasons at the cooler hill stations, taking my retinue of servants with me. Malaysia kind of popped up onto my horizon when Australian's Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hung(hanged?) after being convicted of drug trafficking. Our then Prime Minister Bob Hawke called the punishment barbaric. Malaysia's PM, the larger than life Dr Mahathir Mohamad, responded to a question about the right to take someone's life with 'You should tell that to the drug traffickers'.
Malaysia and Australia were not good friends anymore, the relationship further damaged by our next PM Paul Keating who referred to Dr Mahathir Mohamad as recalcitrant when he refused to attend an APEC summit.
Mahathir was Malaysia's PM from 1981 to 2003 and while he advanced and modernised the country significantly, it came at a great cost to civil liberties. Like in many countries, if you kept your head down and got on with life, you were probably ok but if you rebelled against the government, then draconian laws are in place to deal with you. As Opposition lead Anwar Ibrahim discovered, if there isn't a law to deal with you 'circumstances can be constructed'. Anwar has been gaoled twice, once for corruption and once for sodomy. He was acquitted of a second charge of sodomy.
Malaysian politics is very complex and not for me to understand but I expect Anwar Ibrahim will become PM at some point. While with high religious ideals, which is a worry, he does believe in an open press, an independent judiciary and recognises the extreme corruption endemic in the country and needs addressing. Now where have I heard those words before?
Although most of the local Malays who we came across were clearly moderate in their beliefs, some areas of Malaysia are not, but they are not tourist areas. Old Mahathir had some unpleasant things to say about Jews and even now citizens of Israel are not welcome, perhaps not allowed, into the country. (what if you are a Moslem from Israel? I assume some of the Arab citizens are)
One piece I have just read states that Malaysia is almost a failed state. If you can go by appearances, it is most certainly not. It is a progressive country where there are not the extremes of poverty that can be seen in some countries, like its neighbour to the north, Thailand. I expect once the tech generation come through, it will be even better.