Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kedah Road(吉打路)

Kedah Road or Jalan Kedah(吉打路), is named after the Malay state of Kedah, north of Penang state. Penang historically was part of Kedah sultanate until 1786. It was also known as Kampong Malacca, the Chinese called it Kam-pong mâ-la̍k-kah(鑑光麻六甲). It was named after Malaccan village, after the Malaccan inhabitants. The official name is Kedah Road, yet it was called privately as Kampong Malacca. Is it the village for Kedahan or Malaccan?. But we know this place is the Indian Muslim area. Since it is the off road of Transfer Road, its history must related to it.....

Kedah Road is a minor road in George Town. It forms an "L" linking Transfer Road to Burmah Road. As with many of the roads west of Transfer Road, Kedah Road started as one of the village paths of the primarily Malay, Jawi Peranakan and Indian Muslim settlements of 19th century George Town. Kelantan Road is another L shape road joining Kedah Road.

It was once a Jawi Peranakan settlement, it used to have timber upper floor, and masonry ground floor, the Indo-Malay style half timber half masonry bungalow houses. The typical tiled Malacca style staircase leading to the house. This is the only sign that reveal the Malacca cultural influence.

Kedah Road Flats is one of the public housing project by state government.

Abdullah Ariff(1904-1962)

One of the Penang personality was the Penang pioneer painter and Municipal Councillor, Abdullah Ariff(1904-1962). He was a teacher in Anglo Chinese School(now MBS). Like Yong Mun Sen, he was self-taught artist, and acknowledged as pioneer of watercolour painting in Malaysia. He was co-founder of the Penang Impressionist Society around 1920. He went to Kuala Lumpur in 1945, and work as cartoonist for The Straits Echo. He returned to Penang in 1947 and became active in politics. In 1955, he served as a Municipal Councillor, at the same year he established the Ariff Advertising Agency, and become the first Malaysian to be made a Fellow of Royal Society of Artists(FRSA), London.

A road was named after him, Jalan Abdul Ariff, Air Itam, an honour that no other artist in Malaysia has been accorded. Persiaran Abdullah Ariff, is also named after him.

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Mohammed Iskandar(1880-1960)

It is reported that the area was where the father of Tun Dr Mahathir, Mohammed Iskandar come from.

The list of famous Malabaris of the period cannot be complete without the mention of one Iskandar, who was of Kerala Muslim descent. His son, Mohammed Iskandar(1880-1960), some said Mohammed Iskandar Kutty, who was born of a Malay woman (Siti Hawa)in 1880 at Penang. He studied in Penang Free School, and completed school certificate. Late 1908, Mohamad bin Iskandar, then a senior teacher at the Penang Free School, was invited by the Kedah government to become the first headmaster of the first English school in the state. Appropriately named Government English School or G.E.S for short(now known as Maktab Sultan Abdul Samad), the school had the unique distinction of being established some time before Kedah came under British protection. Mohammad Iskandar married a Malay, Wan Tempawan binti Wan Hanafi, and the union produced nine children. The youngest, Mahathir bin Mohammad Iskandar, rose to become the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. who was born on 20 December 1925 at No 28, Lorong Kilang Ais, Jalan Pegawai, Alor Star, Kedah.

Mr. Mohamad bin Iskandar did not remain long enough at the fledgling school to guide it through the difficult teething period. After a slight misunderstanding with the Education Department he resigned from his post and returned to the Penang Free School in 1910, leaving the Government English School (G.E.S) in the hands of Mr. Md. Salleh. The Iskandar Assembly Hall Est. 1939 was named after him. He was the headmaster of the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. He must had returned to Alor Star later.

Guru Besar, Pekan English School. (1911)
Jabatan Audit Kedah (1914-1930)- until retired.
1931-1960 - retired

Do you know that SRK Iskandar, Alor Setar was wrongly named ? It was initially intended to name after Dr Mahathir's father, Mohamed bin Iskandar, but the school was named after Dr Mahathir's granfather instead..... It was an error since many assumed that his name was Iskandar Kutty, instead of Mohamad Iskandar.

Tun Mahathir, the father is a Malabaris Muslim, a Kerala Muslim, an Indian Muslim; the mother is a Malay, so he is the Jawi Peranakan. Constitutionally he is a Malay.

The Tengkasi Indian Muslim

Kadayanallur males first migrated to Penang in the 1880s and 1890s during times of severe famine in India. The sojourners first found their way to Nagapattinam on the east coast of Tamilnadu, and from there followed Tamil traders on the 10-day boat journey to Penang.

Tengkasi, a small ward of the famous Hindu town of Kasi 16km from Kadayanallur. The Tengkasi migrants took up similar occupations as the Kadayanallurs, and settled in the same neighbourhoods with Kadayanallurs. They moved into neighborhoods as Kadayanallur Muslims, the neighbourhoods of Transfer Road and Hutton Lane and attended Friday prayers at the Hutton Lane Mosque, the Bengali Mosque on Leith Street as well as Masjid Tarik Ayer and the Masjid Titi Papan on Burmah Road. They also gathered around the Datuk Koya shrine at Transfer Road.

By the 1920s, the Kadayanallur and Tengkasi women had become well known for their curry paste and they started the trade of giling rempah (grinding spices). They would carry the spices in baskets on their heads and sell them door to door. They also sold freshly made curry paste along Tamil Street near the Chowrasta Market, which they ground with a granite rolling pin and slab.

Kadayanallur curry pastes were made famous through one of Penang’s most popular foods, nasi kandar. The nasi kandar vendors, usually Tamil males from Ramnad, would carry a basket of rice and another of curry, slung on a bakau (mangrove) wood yoke.

In the 1930s, members of the Tengkasi community in Penang wanted to start their own community association. According to their 50th anniversary souvenir programme, the Tengkasi Muslim Benefit Society (TMBS) was formed in 1946, just after the war. Among the members’ activities were weddings, circumcision ceremonies, Maulidur Rasul, and funerals. They formed a committee to hear and settle problems and disputes, a youth committee to organise sports activities, and provided English, Malay and Tamil classes for the children.

At the time, the Tengkasi Muslims supported the MIC. With the help of the tycoon Arumugam Pillay, they started a Tamil school at Popus Lane, and the opening was attended by then MIC president, V.T. Sambanthan. Some years later , the Tengkasi community, realising where its political future lay, switched allegiance and began to support Umno.

When the Tengkasi’s association premises at No. 39, Kedah Road in Penang was acquired by the state government for the Kedah Road redevelopment project, the association moved into the Popus Lane school for some years before finally gaining its own premises at No.59, Kedah Road, and named it Light of Islam (Persatuan Nurul Islam) in 1987.

There are about 20,000 Kadayanallur Muslims and 5,000 Tengkasi Muslims in Penang today.

Clan Association

Ong Si Leng Eng Seah Family Association, Penang(槟城王氏龙泳社)
56 Kedah Road, 10500 Penang. Tel:604-2284069

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