Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yahudi Road (Jalan Zainal Abidin)

Yahudi Road (Jalan Zainal Abidin) & SM Zainal Abidin

The Jalan Zainal Abidin(再纳阿比汀路) is located between Burma Road and Macalister Road. It is within the rectangular grid between Penang Road, Burma Road, Anson Road and Macalister Road. The entrance at Burma Road is directly facing Kedah Road. Joined with Madras Lane(油较路) by "Z" shape lane, and connected with Lorong Selamat(平安巷) by a straight lane.

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Jalan Zainal Abidin was originally known as Yahudi Road. It got its name from the Jewish presence in the area, a reminder of which being the Jewish Cemetery along the road. It was later changed to Jalan Zainal Abidin, named after SM Zainal Abidin, BA (Zainal Abidin b. Sutan Maidin), retired Inspector of Malay Schools, Penang and politician.

The two most important landmarks are Jewish Cemetery and the 10 storey Menara UMNO(or UMNO Complex), a headquarter of Penang UMNO political party. Incidentally, the two names,Yahudi Road & Jalan Zainal Abidin were related to the two landmarks. Zainal Abidin was the UMNO Penang chairman.

Background of Haji S.M. Zainul Abidin(also known as SM Zainal Abidin, Zainal Abidin b. Sutan Maidin)(b 3/10/1898- ?)

Haji S.M. Zainul Abidin was born on 3rd October 1898 at 167, Argyll Road (Formally known as Cakela Lane), Penang. He was the fourth son of Puan Tangcima and Tuan A.P. Sultan Mydin.

He had his early education in Chowrasta School, Penang in 1903 and then he continued his education to Penang Free School till he passed the Senior Cambridge at the age of 16.

Due to his vast interest in the teaching profession, he became a trainee teacher at Penang Free School in 1915. He was the School Captain of Penang Free School from 1917 – 1918. After normal training, he served in the same school in 1918. As a teacher, he was a strict disciplinarian but popular among the students. It was reported that Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia was one of his students.

Tuan Haji Zainul Abidin was also a dedicated scout master. He was bestowed with "Medal of Merit" and was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Scout. He used the rules and regulation of scouting as his guidance.

One very special attribute of Haji Zainul Abidin was his prowess in mastering many languages such as Malay, English, Latin, Tamil, French, Japanese and Arabic.
Due to his enthusiasm to succeed in education, he enrolled in an out-campus programme with the University of London. He was the first Malay student to be honoured with B.A (Hon) Londonin 1935. In line with his success, he was appointed as the headmaster of Francis Light School in Penang in 1938. In 1945, he became the school inspectorate in Prai.

Tuan Haji Zainul Abidin became well-known in the political arena when he went against the Malayan Union in 1946. With a few friends he set up UMNO Penang. Unfortunately, as a civil servant he was not allowed to be active in politics. After retiring in 1953, he became active again in politics until he headed UMNO Penang. He won the parliamentary seat in Balik Pulau in the 1955 election. He was offered the post of Education Minister but he declined as he did not want to leave Penang. In his 11 years tenure in Penang, he managed to build UMNO house in Macalister Road.

Due to his vast experience and qualification, Tuan Haji Zainul Abidin was appointed as a member of University Court (Universiti Malaya) for several years. He was also a committee member of Razak Report and Rahman Talib Report and also a member of Alliance Council. He was also involved in the setting of Bahasa Baku Melayu/Indonesia.

In economics, he was active in Penang Malays' Co-operative Society as the president. This co-operative managed to build the first flat in Taman Abidin, Perak Road, Penang in 1973.

Despite is challenging career, he could find time for his interest. He was good in tennis,billiard, chess and draught. He was also a judo exponent until he got a black belt and became an instructor. He also wrote many books. In his free time he indulged in cooking,reading and concorted traditional medicines. His interest in music could be seen through his composition and setting up of 'Dar-Es-Salam Harmonian Party' band headed by him together with his children. He was also a member of Penang Wireless Society which used Penang Radio Station as the headquarter. He became the announcer for the Malay section managing the news and song request. During the Japanese Occupation he was appointed as the station supervisor for Radio Penang.

As appreciation for his contribution, he was bestowed the "Darja Johan Mangku Negara(DJMN) and JP or Justice of Peace(Jaksa Pendamai)medals.


SM Haniff, elder brother of SM Zainal Abidin
The late Muhammad Yusof b Sultan Maidin or SM Yusoff, brother, was office assistant Education Office, Penang

SM Zainal Abidin & Persaudaraan Sahabat Pena Malaya(PASPAM)

The first national conference of Sahabat Pena, a pen-pal club, was held at Sunlight Muslim Association, 212 Kota Road, Taiping on 11 November 1934. It was "the first pan-Malayan Malay gathering of a non-official kind ever held." Among those present were Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheikh al-Hadi, S.M. Zainal Abidin and Sheikh Abdullah al-Maghribi, literary figures and Kaum Muda Islamic reformist leaders who were later to become prominent in the Malay nationalist movement. One of Islamic reformist Syeikh Abdullah Magribi was elected as Penasihat Umum(general advisor); SM Zainal Abidin was elected as Yang Dipertua(President) and Syed Alwi al-Hadi was General Secretary(Setiausaha Agung).

SM Zainal Abidin & Penang Malay Association or Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang(PEMENANG)

Penang Malay Association or Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang is an association in Penang. Also known by its acronym PEMENANG, the association has its headquarters at an Art Deco bungalow at 60, Jalan Pemenang, formerly part of Cantonment Road.

The Penang Malay Association traces its history to the gathering held at the home of local Malay millionaire Mohamad Ariff Tajuddin(or popularly known as Mohamad Ariff) at Hutton Lane (across the road from Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin) on a Sunday afternoon in March 27th, 1927. The gathering was attended by members of the Malay intellectuals and property owners. The members discussed the setting up of an organisation to look after the interest of the Malays in Penang and to protect their religion under British administration.

In the 1970's, the state government under Dr Lim Chong Eu granted the association a plot of land at the junction of Anson Road and Macalister Road, where they built Bangunan Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang, a four-storey shoplot. The building, at 117 Jalan Macalister today houses a car showroom on the ground floor.


SM Zainal Abidin was the President of Penang Malay Association between 1948 - 1951.

SM Zainal & UMNO(The United Malays National Organisation)

After the British returned to Malaya in the aftermath of World War II, the Malayan Union was formed. However, the Union was met with much opposition due to its constitutional framework, which allegedly threatened Malay sovereignty over Malaya. A series of Malay congresses were held, culminating in the formation of the nationalist party, UMNO on May 11, 1946 at the Third Malay Congress in Johor Bahru, with Datuk Onn Jaafar as its leader. Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang was among the 41 Malay societies to the Malay Congress, the three representatives from Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang were Tuan Yusoff Izuddin as Yang Di Pertua(or President), Tuan Haji Taha Ali, and Tuan Mohamad Zain bin Ahmad(Master Zain).

1946 - On April 1, 1946 the Malayan Union officially came into existence with Sir Edward Gent as its governor. The capital of the Union was Kuala Lumpur.

Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang had participated with other establishment and institutions in Kongres Melayu or Malay Congress, under the leadership of Dato Onn bin Jaafar was held at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman, Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur from 1st to 4th Mac 1946. The result of the congress that was attended by 41 society and institution, establishment , it was resolved that a national organization to be formed, and to be named Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu (PEKEMBAR) or United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

After the completion of registration , in the second Malay Congress held at Istana Besar, Johor Baru between 11th and 12th May 1946, Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu (UMNO) was officially announced established on 11th May 1946.

Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang was one of the 40 establishment and societies that was accepted as Foundation Member( Ahli Pengasas) of UMNO on 11 Mei 1946. With the acceptance of Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang as UMNO alliance member( Ahli Gabungan UMNO), all 2,000 members of Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang become direct member of UMNO.

UMNO strongly opposed the Malayan Union, but originally did not seek political power. The Malayan Union was a federation of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca. It was the successor to British Malaya and was conceived to unify the Malay Peninsula under a single government so as to simplify administration.

UMNO was comfortable with continuing to play its supporting role to the British rulers. The leaders cooperated with the British and helped to defeat the communist insurgency.

1948 – The Federation of Malaya (Persekutuan Tanah Melayu), a federation of 11 states formed on 31 January 1948, based on Federation of Malaya Agreement signed in Kuala Lumpur on 21 January 1948. Comprising the nine Malay states and the British settlements of Penang and Malacca. It went into effect on 1st February 1948.

When UMNO annual conference was held at Francis Light School, Penang on 24th April 1948, it was agreed that direct membership vide the membership of alliance institutions (AhIi Berdaftar Terus, yakni menerusi Persatuan-Persatuan Bergabung) to be terminated, and branches to be established in various states of Malaya.

After the formation of the UMNO branch in Penang, Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang resolved that the society will not involve in political activities, but only concentrated their activities in social, religion, culture art, of Malay community in Penang.

Leaders of Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang who were appointed as office bearer in UMNO Malaya were Tuan S M Zainul Abidin had been Pengerusi Tetap Persidangan Agung UMNO Malaya when UMNO was having their annual conferences at Francis Light School, Penang on 1946 and 1948. Tuan S M Aidid was Economic & Treasury officer(Pegawai Ekonomi dan Kewangan), and eventually become Treasurer(Bendahari) UMNO Malaya in 1948, Captain Mohamed Noor Bin Mohamed was appointed as Treasurer(Bendahari) UMNO Malaya to succeed Tuan S M Aidid in 1950.

1951 - In 1951, Onn Jaafar left UMNO after failing to open its membership to non-Malay Malayans to form the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP). Tunku Abdul Rahman replaced Dato' Onn as UMNO President.

1953 - After retiring in 1953, SM Zainal Abidi became active again in politics until he headed UMNO Penang under the presidency of his former pupil, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

1955 - SM Zainal Abidi won the parliamentary seat in Balik Pulau in the 1955 election


SMK Haji Zainul Abidin再纳阿比汀中学

Sekolah Menengah Lanjutan Westland(Westland Extension Secondary School), which together with Sekolah Menengah Lanjutan Georgetown, Sekolah Menengah Lanjutan Tanjong, Sekolah Menengah Lanjutan MaCalister, Sekolah Menengah Lanjutan Jalan Kelawei and Sekolah Menengah Lanjutan Glugor to form a new lower secondary school on 11th January 1965, the name of the school is Scotland Road Secondary School, named after the road nearby. The first headmaster was Mr. Lim San Hoe who was transferred from Westland Secondary School on 1st January 1965. It was later renamed Haji Zainal Abidin Secondary School, named after a teacher, SM Zainal Abidin.

SMK Haji Zainul Abidin was located formally at Scotland Road, Penang. It was opened in 1965 as an extension school. Six other extension schools were also transferred to this school at that time. It was then transformed into a lower secondary school with the name Scotland Road Secondary School with a student population of about 726.
In 1967, the school was officiated by the then cheif minister of Penang, YAB Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee. 1986 saw an increase in the number of students to 1371. In 1972 the name of the school was changed to Haji Zainul Abidin School in rememberance to the noble deed of a local Malay educationist who is none other than Tuan Haji Zainul Abidin bin Sultan Mydin of Penang.

On 12th Sep 2009 Sekolah Haji Zainul Abidin, Jalan Scotland officially transferred to Sekolah Menengah Agama Lelaki Al-Manshoor. SHZA then relocated to Jalan Hamilton and was known as SMKHZA(SMK Haji Zainul Abidin). It is now located at Jalan Hamilton Jelutong, Penang.

Taman Abidin and Jalan Zainul Abidin are the other legacies.

Jewish Cemetery in Yahudi Road, Penang

The first contact between Jews and the inhabitants of Malaya (later part of Malaysia) goes back to the 9th century A.D. on the riverbanks of the Bujang Valley, and later well into the 18th Century A.D. in the cosmopolitan bazaars of Malacca. The presence of Sephardic Baghdadi Jews in Penang probably occurred in the turn of the 19th century as the fledgling British ruled entreport grew and attracted Jewish trading families like the Sassoons and Meyers from India. There was also significant emigration of Jews from the Ottoman province of Baghdad as a result of the persecutions of the Governor, Daud Pasha whose rule lasted from 1817 to 1831.

The Malaysian Jews consist mainly of Oriental Jews (the majority of whom are Baghdadi Jews), with the rest being European Jews (Ashkenazi Jews) and possibly Chinese Jews, who fled from Kaifeng, China, during the Communist take-over of mainland China from the Nationalist Chinese in 1949.

The presence of Jewish cemetery revealed the harmony of the area before WW2, with people from various communities living peacefully together, practicing different religions. Mosques, churches and temples are nearby, especially along Burma Road . There were Malays, Indian Muslim, Jawa Peranakan, Indian, Chinese, Indonesian(Acheh,Java, Rawa etc). The cemetery was established in 1805, by the Legislative Council, opened by Rev Ezekiel Menassah, and the Lieutenant-Governor of Penang,Phillip Dundas(d 1807, Penang).

After WW2, most of the Jews left the place for Singapore , Australia or other places due to political climate changes.

Recommended articles/websites;

1. Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang (PEMENANG),
2. Malayan Union,
3. United Malays National Organisation,
4. UMNO official website;
5. Federation of Malaya,
6. My earlier blog dated Sunday, April 12, 2009, Jewish Cemetery in Penang;
7. A Penang Kaddish: The Jewish Cemetery in Georgetown,
8. Jewish Cemetery,
9. The Jewish Virtual History Tour Malaysia ;

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