Labis is the second largest town in the district of Segamat
, Johor, Malaysia
, with a population of about 20,000 people. It has a large Chinese community. Labis is an agricultural town whose main export is rubber. A main trunk road that runs north-south Peninsular Malaysia passes through it, as well as the Keretapi Tanah Melayu railway line that connects it with the state's capital in the south, Johor Bahru
Labis started as a small village known as Kampung Paya Merah. The village got its name from a type of river grass which became the favorite food for river terrapins. In early 20th century, British officers came to the villages to survey for new areas to be developed in Segamat district.
The British officers were surprised to see the river terrapins since they had not seen those animals before. They asked the villagers the name of those animals and the villagers answered, "Labi-labi, tuan," ("River terrapins, sir"). Because they didn't know the name of those animals, the British officers referred to them as labis in the plural form. Therefore, the British officers decided to name the settlement Labis.
Another theory is that in the 17th century, a member of the Malaccan royal family was travelling through the area. He saw something that intrigued him. He called out to his advisors to tell him what it was, he went "Habis? Habis?" thus accidentally blurting out the name Labis.