Sunday, May 1, 2011

Macalister Lane

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Macalister Lane, or Lorong Macalister, is the first road in a series of side roads between the two main roads of Penang Road and Anson Road. It is within the grid of rectangular area bordered by Penang Road, Burma Road, Anson Road and Macalister Road. It was the first road that run parallel with the Penang Road, between Burma Road and Macalister Road. Like Macalister Road(It was also called Jalan Bahru, literally in Malay means New Road), Macalister Lane was named after Colonel Norman MacAlister, Governor of Penang (1807–1810).

Colonel Norman Macalister, who was a native of Scotland, was Lieutenant-Governor of Prince of Wales Isle (Penang) from 1808 to 1810. The present brick structure of Fort Cornwallis in Penang, was built by convict labour in 1810 during his term as Governor of Penang. He was lost at sea, in the South China Seas, while on the ship "Ocean" traveling back to Scotland (August 1810). Macalister Road and Macalister Lane in Penang are named after him. Macalister Road was originally known as Jalan Bahru or New Road, it may have changed after the death of Colonel Norman Macalister in 1810. Macalister Lane was probably built and named after 1810, prior to that it may be an area behind Ser-ong-kong-si or Ong clan house.

There is a side road connected Macalister Lane to Penang Road, the road is called Lorong Bertam.Bertam is reported to be named after a village in Kepala Batas, Kampong Bertam. The two row of houses are all painted with blue color, a blue lane indeed...

The Chinese called it Ser-ong-kong-si-au(姓王公司後), which literally means “Behind the Ong clan house”. A clan is a group which consists of families that are related to each other, clan house(会馆)is a common institution or meeting place for oversea Chinese in British Malaya, especially Strait Settlement of Singapore, Penang and Malacca. It is a social organization. Normally the family clan houses are either surname related or ancestral village related. Local Penang Hockkian called clan house, “kongsi”( 公司) or Hui-kuan(会馆). Kongsi means “sharing” in Malay, but it is today means company, a commercial enterprise. Kongsi is more meaningfully described the clan house in British Malaya, as it is a place the oversea Chinese who gather together, and shared their stories and living. Some kongsi had hostel facilities for the new comers, and provide medical treatment for the poor. Some call it ancestral temple(宗祠). Penang is the place with many Chinese clan houses, a city of clan houses. Many of these clan houses are now heritage. The earliest clan house in Penang is PERSATUAN KAR YIN FEE KON P. PINANG(檳城嘉應會館), 22, 1st Floor King Street, 10200 Penang; established in 1801. Ong clan house is for people with the surname of Ong(王氏). Ong clan house (王氏宗祠), the local Hockkien called it “Ser-ong-kongsi”(姓王公司). It is located at Penang Road, just directly opposite KOMTAR building in Penang. Macalister Lane is located behind Ong Kongsi.

Persatuan San Kiang Pulau Pinang(槟城三江公会)
Persatuan San Kiang Pulau Pinang(三江公會),槟榔屿三江公所was formed in 1897, it was the earliest San Kiang Association in South East Asia. It is now located at No. 109, Macalister Lane, 10400 Penang. San Kiang Clan house was initially established mainly for the Shanghainese(上海人). But today the clan house is not restricted to Shanghainese, it is opened to all people from San Kiang.

What is San Kiang, which in Chinese it means three rivers(三江), but in China there is no such place or iver called San Kiang or San jiang. Where is the place? It is believed that the term “Sam Kiang” first appeared in 1868 (Emperor Tongzhi’s 7th year). Chinese overseas in Japan established a Sam Kiang ancestral hall in the Xing Fu Temple at Nagaski and later formed a Hezhong Sam Kiang office.
San kiang or San jiang, can be defined in broad sense or narrow definition. In narrow definition, it is the name for three provinces, namely Zhejiang(浙江), Jiangsu( 江蘇)and Jiangxi(江西). It is also called Small San Jiang(“小三江”) . In broad definition, it is the region within the three river basins of Yangtze River(長江)、Yellow River(黃河)、and The Amur(or Heilong) River. The broad definition is also called Big San Jiang(“大三江”). For Nanyang(南洋)Chinese, or oversea Chinese, San Kiang in Hokkian means the third region, other than the two main provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi or the two Guangs which included Hainan(兩廣, 包括海南), and Fujian(福建).

That means if you are Chinese, and your ancestral home is not from Guangdong(粵), Guangxi(桂), Fujian(閩), or Hainan( 琼), you are belong to the group called San Kiang(三江), and you are allowed to join Persatuan San Kiang Pulau Pinang(三江公會).

Chee Cheong Fun at Macalister Lane

Today, Macalister Lane is today famous for the street food, Chee Cheong Fun, the stall is located outside Seow Fong Lye Coffee Shop.

Recommended articles/websites:
1. Norman Macalister,
2. Macalisters in Britain's Colonial Past, by Robert M. McAllister,
3.Macalister Road, Penang , my ealier blog dated 27th Feb 2010,

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