Saturday, 30 January 2010

Mercantile Bank of India Limited 1912

Memorial Peperangan Dunia Kedua
Bank Kerapu (Kerapu Bank)
Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Memorial is open to public
Entrance fee: RM2

This strange looking building was painted white before it was painted yellow. It was a British bank which was used during WWII by the Japanese as its Kempetai HQ. It was converted into a museum and now houses some of the items used in WWII by both the British and Japanese armed forces.

The fact that it was a commercial bank means that the British officers were already trading in Kota Bharu, Kelantan and had control of banking and related transactions in the area.

There are a few money changers in Kota Bharu today but whether they are descendants of the early Indians of that early mercantile bank is something we can possibly research on. Here's a lead:

In the history of this bank, it had 22 branches in 1926, and 24 branches in 1929. They were:

  1. 1 in Thailand, 
  2. 2 in Indonesia (Batavia and Sourabaya), 
  3. 7 in India (Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Howrah (Calcutta), Karachi, Madras, Shimla)
  4. 3 in Ceylon (Galle, Kandy, Colombo), 
  5. 2 in China (Hong Kong and Shanghai), 
  6. 5 in Malaya (Kota Bharu in Kelantan, KL in Selangor, Kuantan in Pahang, Penang and Ipoh* in Perak), 
  7. 1 in Burma, 
  8. 1 in Singapore*, 
  9. 1 in New York and 
  10. 1 in Mauritius. 

*The 2 branches at Ipoh and Singapore were listed after December 1926..

The numismatic website of Australia published info of a coin used by this bank - it was manufactured in England. Bank Kerapu is the same Anglo-Indian bank as the ones in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Both the branches in Shanghai and Hong Kong were later bought over by Citibank and finally Mitsubishi.

WWII Memorial in Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Tourism plaque of Bank Kerapu.

This building, built in 1912 was first used as a commercial bank, The Merchantile Bank of India Limited, and the locals called it Bank Kerapu. The word 'Kerapu' refers to the rough exterior walls of the building which resemble the rough exterior of the carp (fish)(dinding menggerutu).

In 1929, the bank manager in Singapore was R. Kennedy.

During the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945, this building was used as the headquarters of the Japanese secret police, the much feared Kempetai.

After the war, the building was reused as a commercial bank (there is no date of when it was reused as a bank nor who was managing the bank).

When I was growing up in Kelantan in 1969-1971, my mother would come to this bank for transactions. As a child, I never liked this building nor its interior. I never liked the feeling whenever I went near or inside this building.

In 1981, the first floor of the building was converted into an Art Gallery while the ground floor was used to display handicrafts.

In 1992, the building was turned into a memorial dedicated to WWII and was officially opened by the Sultan of Kelantan (Sultan Ismail Petra) in 1994. Items on exhibit include artifacts, photographs and other memorabilia of the war such as a lamp, masks, Japanese bicycle, and hand grenades. There is even the Japanese anthem written on one of the big display boards on the ground floor.

In 2009, I visited the building again. Outside the building, there is a red post box (pillar). There is also an attached outdoor display which houses larger exhibits such as a ship propeller, a British bunker and vehicles used in British Kelantan. Other non exhibits are Japanese boats, a black Morris car and a wooden carriage (which needs restoration work).

Advertisements in The Straits Times 1926-1929:

The Straits Times 16Dec1926 p14
The Straits Times 17Dec1926 p14
The Straits Times 18Dec1926 p14
The Straits Times 20Dec1926 p14
The Straits Times 21Dec1926 p14 .... mentioned Singapore
The Straits Times 28Dec1926 p14
The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser 12Oct1929 p19 .... mentioned Ipoh


Mercantile Bank of India, Ltd (December 1926)
(incorporated in England)
  1. Capital           £3,000,000
  2. Subscribed     £1,800,000
  3. Paid-up          £1,050,000
  4. Reserve Fund and Rest £1,512,884 ... increased in 1929
Board of Directors (December 1926)
  1. J. M. Ryrie, Chairman
  2. P. R. Chalmers, Esq.
  3. J. O. Robinson, Esq.
  4. Sir David Yule, Bart. ... no longer in 1929
  5. Charles J. Hambro, Esq.
  6. W. H. Shelford, Esq.
  7. Chief Manager: James Stuart, Esq.
London Bankers:
  1. Bank of England.
  2. Midland Bank, Ltd.
Branches and Agents (December 1926)
  1. Bangkok
  2. Batavia
  3. Bombay
  4. Calcutta
  5. Colombo
  6. Delhi ... correct spelling
  7. Galle
  8. Hongkong ... one word
  9. Howrah (Calcutta) ... with 'h'
  10. Kandy
  11. Karachi
  12. Kota Bharu ........ before Ipoh and Singapore
  13. Kuala Lumpur
  14. Kuantan
  15. Madras
  16. Mauritius
  17. New York
  18. Penang
  19. Rangoon
  20. Shanghai
  21. Simla
  22. Sourabaya
TST 21Dec1926 p14


Mercantile Bank of India, Ltd (October 1929)
(incorporated in England)
  1. Capital          £3,000,000
  2. Subscribed    £1,800,000
  3. Paid-up         £1,050,000
  4. Reserve Fund and Rest £1,612,046
Board of Directors (October 1929):
  1. J. M. Ryrie, Esq., Chairman ...... he was also on the KL Sanitary Board, for KL markets
  2. P. R. Chalmers, Esq.
  3. Charles J. Hambro, Esq.
  4. J. O. Robinson, Esq.
  5. W. H. Shelford, Esq.
  6. Sir Thomas Catto, Bart. ... replaced Sir David Yule, Bart. 
London Bankers:
  1. Midland Bank, Ltd.
  2. Bank of England.
Branches and Agencies:
  1. Bangkok ... Thailand
  2. Batavia ..... Indonesia
  3. Bombay ... India
  4. Calcutta ... India
  5. Colombo .. Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
  6. Delhi ... India
  7. Galle ...... Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
  8. Hong Kong ... now a part of China
  9. Howrah (Calcutta) ... India .... add 'h' to Howra
  10. Ipoh ... Malaya (now Malaysia)
  11. Kandy ... Ceylon
  12. Karachi ... Pakistan (could be undivided India then)
  13. Kota Bharu ... Kelantan, Malaya (now Malaysia)
  14. Kuala Lumpur ... Malaya (now Malaysia)
  15. Kuantan ... Malaya (now Malaysia)
  16. Madras .... India
  17. Mauritius
  18. New York ... USA
  19. Penang ... Malaya (now Malaysia)
  20. Rangoon ... Burma (now Myanmar)
  21. Shanghai ... China
  22. Shimla ... India (corrected spelling from Simla to Shimla)
  23. Singapore
  24. Sourabaya .... Indonesia
TSFPMA 12Oct1929 p19

A History of Kuala Lumpur 1856-1939

Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (MBRAS)

MBRAS Monograph No. 29
A History of Kuala Lumpur 1856-1939
by J.M. Gullick

Monograph 25
Glimpses of Selangor 1860-1898
by J.M. Gullick

YAM Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail instructed me to read A History of Kuala Lumpur if I wanted to know the history of Kuala Lumpur. He reminded me to call him at home as he had the book at home and I had called his office.

The following day, I called Tan Sri at home and he gave me the title of the book and its author. I then requested USM Library to search for the book, for me.

This is a hardcover book with dark blue photo of the Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad building.

I happened to watch TV when JM Gullick suddenly appeared on TV! I may still have a snapshot of him somewhere in my PC. I have never met him in person.

The Encyclopedia of Malaysia has his name for a write-up under architecture entitled "The British 'Raj' style". Here it mentioned that the Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad building was completed in 1897.

His name is John Michael Gullick and is written as JM Gullick. He is regarded as Sejarawan Negara (national historian) at the Sejarah Malaysia website.

There are 5 Sejarawan Negara listed at the Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia (PNM) website. They are Buyung Adil, Dato' Khoo Kay Kim, JM Gullick, Joginder Singh Jessey, and Mubin Sheppard.

Sejarah Malaysia: JM Gullick, Sejarawan Negara
Accessed on 1 December 2012

District Hospital Kuala Lumpur


In 1870, the British developed a district hospital at Jalan Pahang in Kuala Lumpur, which comprised three wards - the Chinese Tai Wah Ward, the Indian Choudhry Ward and the Malay Ward.

In an interview with Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid in May 2007, the author had asked him the description of Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) during his era. According to Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid, the hospital buildings were wooden and single storey.
The District Hospital Kuala Lumpur (after 1870) which became the General Hospital Kuala Lumpur (after 1962).

General Hospital Kuala Lumpur - the buildings were wooden and single-storey.

In 1920, after the First World War (WWI), the facilities were upgraded to include 25 wards. However, the First Class Ward was not sited at Jalan Pahang but at Bangsar. Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid was quick to inform that the Bangsar Hospital was meant for Europeans only. The second and third class wards were sited at Jalan Pahang. The development of HKL was carried out in phases. At one time, funds for building HKL was insuffient and development came to a complete halt. The unfinished parts of the HKL became known as Huxley's remains, after Huxley (the reason will not be reproduced here).

Upon graduation from the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore in March 1930, Dr MJ Che Lah had first worked with the British Government at the District Hospital Kuala Lumpur on 30 April 1930. He earned $250 monthly ($3,000 per annum) with a three-year agreement. He was appointed an Assistant Medical Officer and served as the Assistant Surgeon at the hospital. He had served the hospital from 1930 to September 1937 (he had served other hospitals during that period).
The District Hospital Kuala Lumpur was further developed in the early 1960s. It was renamed the General Hospital Kuala Lumpur (Hospital Besar Kuala Lumpur or HBKL) and later Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL).

The development of HKL began in 1962 from Phase I to Phase IV and ended in 1975. Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid retired as the first Director General of Health the following year.

The development of the various phases were as follows:
  • Phase I (1962 - 1968): Maternity Hospital, North Ward Block, Radiotherapy Department and Hostels for staff were built.
  • Phase II (1968-1972): South Ward Block, Neurology Institute, Surgical Block, Radiology Block, National Blood Transfusion Centre and more hostels were added.
  • Phase III (1972-1973): Specialist clinics, Outpatient Department and Doctor's hostel were constructed.
  • Phase IV-A (1973-1974): Trainee Nurses hostel and Clubhouse added.
  • Phase IV-B (1975): Orthopaedic Institute, Urology Institute, Artificial Limb Centre and Radiology Block built. The last phase of HKL was completed at the cost of RM 77 million.
In 1973, HKL became a teaching hospital for UKM medical students.
  • From 1986 - 1988, repairs and refurbishment of old building (Wooden Block) were performed.
  • The Paediatric Institute was constructed in 1989-1992.
  • Phase II upgrading of the Institute of Radiotherapy, Oncology and Nuclear Medicine  were performed in 1994-1997.

Information on Huxley's Remains was obtained by personal communication & interview with Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail.

Link to Hospital Besar Kuala Lumpur, formerly District Hospital Kuala Lumpur before 1962.

Orthopaedic, HKL

Orthopaedic Surgery

Coco was a pioneer of orthopaedic surgery in British Malaya. When I interviewed Coco in May 2007 about orthopaedic surgery during his time, he said it was crude. The surgical methods have improved tremendously since then (1950). 

Prof Saw Aik was the only HKL orthopaedic doctor who corresponded with me while I was researching on the early Malay doctors. I had asked Prof Saw Aik whether he had a photo of the old buildings of HKL. He gave me an old photo of HKL that showed many long single-storey buildings. He also provided the names of the orthopaedic pioneers who established orthopaedics at HKL.

On 15 December 2012, I returned to Kuala Lumpur and visited the grounds of Hospital Kuala Lumpur. I walked towards Medan Selara adjacent to Hospital Kuala Lumpur and saw the old orthopedic building. It was a low single-storey building. Its rear was light blue. The front facade was pink.



Link to Orthopedic, Hospital KL

Link to VI Web

(5) Coco Majid

Kuala Lumpur

Coco recommended me to read on the history of Kuala Lumpur. I thought that was odd as I was not writing on Kuala Lumpur history but history of medicine, focusing on the early Malay doctors.

He asked me to call him at home for his copy of a book on Kuala Lumpur history was at home.

I dared myself to call his house and we spoke. He gave me the title of a book and its author's name.

Coco referred me to "A History of Kuala Lumpur 1856-1939" by JM Gullick. He wanted me to have some idea about early developments in Kuala Lumpur.

(4) Coco Majid

Foreword for TEMD

I had called Coco to ask if he could write the Foreword for TEMD, explaining to him that I had tried in vain to get Tun Dr Siti Hasmah to write the foreword. He agreed and I faxed his office a sheet that had only the word 'Foreword'.

I totally forgot about the Foreword that I requested from Coco as I went about my daily work. The time came for me to submit my TEMD manuscript. I called Coco's office to ask why Coco had not returned the Foreword. I was told that Coco never received the Foreword and I was to fax a drafted foreword.

I sat down to think what to draft for a man who had survived that long in Malaya and Malaysia and done almost all things he possibly coould to help Malaya/Malaysia. I could not draft anything for him as a foreword. I had no idea what to draft and what to emphasize. The ugly thought of sending him another single-word fax was the only option.

I decided to list only a few keywords and fax that to him in the hope that he would write and I need not have to draft. I got worried as the deadline for submission closed in. I started to panic as I had no Foreword to go with my manuscript submission.

With the deadline almost a week away, I decided to draft for Coco a text which I thought would be best for him and befitting the overall theme of my TEMD. I made several drafts and made countless revisions. I settled on one which I particularly liked and faxed that to him.

I learnt from Puan Safiah that Coco had agreed and was pleased except for 2 typos. I was happy. Had I read Coco's mind?

Friday, 29 January 2010

(3) Coco Majid

Interview (part 2), May 2007

Panic striken as I was, I started scribbling everywhere all over on my papers and any paper I could grab instead of take good notes. I did not want to miss this opportunity and the important points.

Then we got into this conversion which I will share with you.

Coco: Faridah, where are you from?
FAR: Malacca. 

Coco: Where in Malacca?
FAR: Banda Hilir.

Coco: Do you know Ujong Pasir?
FAR: Yes, I have relatives there.

Coco: Whom do you know in Ujong Pasir?
FAR: There was Pak Abas & family.

Coco: Who else do you know?
FAR: Nenek Mun.

Coco (smiling): Then, we are related!
FAR: @#$%^!&*!!! (totally shocked)

Coco (smiling): Yes, we are related.
FAR: Who are you? Are you Dr Majid who treated my grandmother? My grandmother lived in KL and only wanted to be treated by a Dr Majid. Are you that Dr Majid? Are you the only Dr Majid in KL?

Coco: Yes. I'm the only Dr Majid.
FAR: OIC. I'm sorry. I never expected that we are related.

Of course, my husband put down the video camera in sheer surprise. I instantly got up to salam my newly found granduncle!

We continued talking but in a more merrier manner now that we are related after all these years plus the first half of this interview. Goodness!

Coco asked if I wanted to drink anything. He offered teh tarik! I replied "No" as I did not want to trouble him.

Finally, after 2 hours of interview, Coco got up and walked me out of his room to where my kids were waiting. I instructed the kids, "Salam, ni datuk (saudara) Mummy" and the kids got up one by one to hold and kiss his hands. They were delighted!

I was tired from the 2-hour interview which had a totally unexpected outcome! Coco did not sound nor look tired! Strange?

So, it was this man whose name was always playing on my mind whenever I was doing domestic chores (usually sweeping the floor) ... when my mind was free to think. His name was always there and I had never met him all my life except on this special day. Come by chance?

I thanked Puan Safiah. We bade Coco goodbye and made our way to our hotel. Coco closed the door behind us. It was sad to leave my granduncle for I do not know when I will ever meet him again.

(2) Coco Majid

Interview: May 2007

Selesa Hillhomes Sdn Bhd
No. 20, Jalan Lumut, Kompleks Damai
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6-03-4042 6033 / 4042 4759 / 4045 2309 / 
Fax: +6-03-4041 0792 / 4045 3585
Receptionist: Puan Safiah Mohamad

While in Kota Bharu, I contacted Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid for brief info. I informed him that I needed more details and a photo to write his chapter. He was delighted and expressed his interest in TEMD. He was agreeable to a face-to-face interview. His secretary (receptionist) then posted his CV and a coloured portrait. In May 2007, I packed and travelled south with my family to KL. We had agreed to meet him at his office behind the Grand Seasons Hotel in KL.

In KL, we found his office at Kompleks Damai, a small office which took up the ground floor and one above it. It was a quiet office and I was looking for an old man with a big smile. I introduced myself to Puan Safiah and the reason I had come. She immediately attended to me and disappeared to find the doctor I was due to interview.

I waited a few minutes in the small office lobby while my kids got excited about whom I was to meet. I was then called in and walked slowly towards a dimly lit room. I was nervous, like I usually was, whenever I had to meet a doctor. I could just turn back and run away, but I wanted to see this doctor for my TEMD book. I braved myself and walked in.

Over in a corner was a small man talking on the phone with a Chinese-English accent. I stood in front of him and just watched him talking, giving directions that sounded more Chinese than English. He was not paying attention to me. For a while I thought I got the wrong place and the wrong man! I wanted to exit and as soon as I was about to... he put down the phone and said, "Dr Faridah..." I was alarmed and froze! "That's the doctor?" I asked myself.

Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid (his gave me this portrait in 2007)

I got seated and introduced myself in the usual formal academic way. I was still scared stiff as I wasn't expecting this somewhat 'small man'. I was expecting a tall man! In the midst of acquainting myself and getting used to the dim light, I pulled out my chapter revisions on him and he shoved the one I had mailed but with amendments in his own handwriting.

I took the amended one and went through it with him. He pointed out the necessary corrections. When he started to narrate more than I could take down notes with pen and paper, I requested his permission for videography and called to my husband. I could not stop to talk to my husband nor give him directions to video tape as this man was just talking non stop! Nobody warned me that this man does not stop narrating once he starts to talk!

(1) Coco Majid

An Old Man Remembers. The Memoirs of Tan Sri Dato' Seri Dr Haji 'Coco' Abdul Majid bin Ismail, Dato' Seri Maharaja di Raja Selangor, As told by the old man himself.

Published by The Written Word 2006

ISBN 9839925245

In his book, An Old Man Remembers, Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid wrote that his grandfather was a gharry driver (he told me that this was the equivalent of today's taxi).

He also wrote that at age 5, he and his grandaunt who made barut bayi, travelled in a carriage to deliver the barut bayi to a Chinese customer who had ordered it - they made their way through the flood of December 1926.

[KGC - I need your input here re what that barut bayi is called in Chinese. TQ. FAR]

British Doctors in Kelantan

British Malaya

Muzium Kelantan has kindly provided 4 b/w photos of the British doctors in Kelantan, British Malaya. Here are some highlights of those photos:
  1. The British doctors wore white uniforms and had hard hats much like Bismark's helmet (topi keras). 
  2. One photo showed a carriage during dry weather and another had a cart during the flood season.
  3. The photos indicate that the carriage and cart were used by the British doctors in Kelantan from 1914/5 to 1927.
  4. Flood is an important feature in Malaya's history. 
  5. Three photos featured the doctors while on duty during the flood in Kota Bharu in 1927
  6. Sampan and cart were used in Kota Bharu during the flood in 1927.

  1. Did the early Malay doctors also use the same vehicles (carriage, cart & sampan) for their work as the British doctors?
  2. Who were the Malay doctors in British Malaya between 1914 and 1927?
  3. Did the early Malay doctors work side by side with the British doctors?
  4. If the early Malay doctors had worked side by side with their British counterparts from 1914 to 1927, do we have that evidence?
  5. Was there any Malay or were Malay doctors featured in any of the photos provided by Muzium Kelantan?
  6. Where can we obtain evidence that the early Malay doctors had indeed worked alongside their British counterparts?
  7. If the early Malay doctors had worked together with the British doctors, were they treated as equal?
  8. Did the early Malay doctors have the same qualifications as the British doctors who served in British Malaya?
  9. Were the early Malay doctors paid the same as their British counterparts?
  10. If no, why were the early Malay doctors not as well paid as their British counterparts?
  11. Where were the early Malay doctors trained? 
  12. Where were the British doctors who served British Malaya trained?

Photo #1
"The Doctor's carriage in Kelantan circa 1914-1915."
Photo from Muzium Kelantan.

Photo #2
British officers during the 1927 flood in Kelantan.
Photo from Muzium Kelantan.

"Terkenang Bah Merah" by Mona Ahmad & Nasron Sira Rahm. Dimensi, Berita Harian, Malaysia. Sunday, 21 January 2007. page 4. The article showed the photo above during the great flood which hit Kota Bharu in 1927 with this caption: "British officers ... Mr Ferrier, Dr Tailor, Mr Kemp & Mr Worham ...". Courtesy of Muzium Kelantan.

(Another British doctor in Kuala Krai, Kelantan at the time was Dr JD Gimlette.)

British officers and doctors in Kelantan 1900-1957. In this list, William Langham-Carter already left; William Kerr had also left.

  1. Mr Ferrier
  2. Dr Tailor/Taylor
  3. Mr Kemp
  4. Mr Worham

Newspapers & articles which mentioned the British men above:

The Straits Times, 25 August 1902, Page 5
- Mr Ferrier

The Straits Times, 16 June 1933, Page 13
- British Malaya's golf tournament
- J. Straton Ferrier

The Territory Remembers - 75 Years.
- 58. Len Harris to John Ferrier, CMS, 14 May 1943. Copy in Harris’s papers

Photo #3
British doctors with a horse-driven cart in flood water in Kota Bharu, undated (1927?).
Photo from Muzium Kelantan.

Photo #4
British doctors wading in less than knee-deep flood water in Kota Bharu, undated (1927?).
Photo from Muzium Kelantan

There is a wooden carriage (very different from photo #1) at the outdoor display of the War Memorial in Kota Bharu. Other modes of transportation in early British Kelantan are also on display.

Malay Poisons and Charm Cures

Malay Poisons and Charm Cures (Oxford in Asia Paperbacks)
John Desmond Gimlette
Oxford University Press,South East Asia (1972), Edition: 3rd Revised edition, Paperback, 314 pages
ISBN 0196381509

Reading this currently... loaded with information, have to read real slowly and use my diary and laptop to take down notes. Here's what I have on the author off-hand, deep in my memory.

USM Library Call Number:

JM2 G491

Here are the details of the book:

ISBN 019 638 150 9



Update 21-22 August 2012:
There are many versions of the book Malay Poisons and Charm Cures:
  1. First published 1915
  2. Third edition, 1929
  3. Reprinted 1971
  4. Third Revised edition, 1972
  5. Third Impression 1981
  6. There is a 2011 version of the book by Thailand available from Select Books:

Dr John Desmond Gimlette

Dr John Desmond Gimlette (Dr JD Gimlette) was a British doctor in Kuala Krai, Kelantan, Non Federated Malay States, British Malaya.

I haven't got a date yet on his services rendered. There is Padang Gimlette in Kuala Krai named after him. There may be many more as he was a famous British doctor in Kelantan and British Malaya.

The British Association of Malaya and Singapore (BAM) has a photo of Dr JD Gimlette and a description of his departure.
A group photograph of European officials, medical staff and orderlies gathered to say farewell to J.D. Gimlette. Others present were Mr and Mrs William Langham-Carter. The precise date of Gimlettes departure has not been determined, but this photograph must have been taken prior to August 1915, when Langham-Carter departed on furlough (long leave). Dr L.H. Taylor took over from Gimlette.

The British Association of Malaya and Singapore has a photo of Dr JD Gimlette and a description of his contact with the Kelantan royal family, with whom he had contact with the royal Malay traditional doctor (tabib sultan) and then wrote his book, Malay Poisons and Charm Cures. The sultan at the time was Sultan Muhammad IV.

The photos shows a group of the Kelantan royal family and British officials posed at an unidentified function. From left to right (first figure unidentified): Dr John Desmond GIMLETTE (1867-); Medical Officer, Malaya 1896-circa 1922; served in Kelantan 1909-circa 1916; Sultan MUHAMMAD IV; William LANGHAM-CARTER; The Raja Kelantan, Later Sultan ISMAIL; Tuanku Seri Indra, later Sultan IBRAHIM.

Important names to note in Kelantan History:
  1. Dr John Desmond Gimlette (b.1867-deceased), Medical Officer, Malaya 1896-c.1922; served in Kelantan 1909-c.1916
  2. Sultan Muhammad IV of Kelantan (r.1900-1920) (link to Sultan Kelantan)
  3. William Langham-Carter, British Adviser in Kelantan 1913-1916
  4. Tengku Ismail, later Raja Kelantan, later Sultan Ismail (r.1920-1943)
  5. Tuanku Seri Indra, later Sultan Ibrahim (r.1945-1960)

Muzium Kelantan

According to Muzium Kelantan, Carter had given his photo albums to the Sultan of Kelantan for safekeeping - this was before/after/close to the flood of 1913. The Sultan of Kelantan then gave the photo albums to the Muzium.

Dr JD Gimlette, Mr Carter and Dr LH Taylor were photographed together during a flood - probably their last moments experiencing the flood before they all left Kelantan for good.

"Doctor's carriage" before 1915. Photo from Muzium Kelantan.
Could this be Dr JD Gimlette, wife and daughter?
British doctors in a flood in Kelantan. Photo from Muzium Kelantan.
Same flood as above in Kelantan. Photo from Muzium Kelantan,

There was a newspaper article on Bah Merah (the big flood). It featured the British doctors during the flood (as shown above). I can't locate the article yet.

How to write for TEMD

Chapter format

Divide 250 pages by 36 chapters and you get 6-7 pages per chapter. If each chapter must remain within 6-7 pages and not exceed that #, TEMD is unpublishable!

Some chapters are thinner while others are thicker. The pages reflect the amount of information & photographs gathered from contributors. The more they contributed, the more # of pages for the chapter (and vice versa).

To give each chapter a fair go at content, I created a flexible template and used that to gather information from contributors. Otherwise my search for information would have absolutely no structure, I would miss out on a lot of information and there may be lots of gaps in the write-up.

Because TEMD is a historibiographical book (and maybe one of a kind) every single bit of information contributed and gathered is important.

If I don't document history today, a huge chunk of historical information may go missing for a long time and maybe forever! It is with this sense of urgency that I had continued searching, researching and writing for 7 difficult years, on top of my hectic schedule plus dual role as a lecturer in biochemistry & IT at USM, more so now when I have graduated and become a professor!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Dr Roger Raymond Sellman

Dr & Mrs RR Sellman
Pound Down Corner
Exeter EX 42HP

(Phone Tedburn St Mary 293)
Dr RR Sellman is a British historian and was my mum's tutor when she was attending the Malayan Teachers' Training College at Kirkby near Liverpool, England in 1952-1954. They have never stopped corresponding after my mum left Kirkby. My mother passed away in June 2004. My father passed away in 2009. I have not communicated with Dr RR Sellman since my parents passed away.

Pack of photos from Mr Sellman, 1964-67

A card my mum had received from Roger Raymond Sellman and Mia Sellman

Had it not been for a chance meeting with Dr RR Sellman at his home at Pound Down Corner in Exeter during my brief 9-day visit to England in August 1980, I would not have continued writing TEMD with the fervor I did and to this end.

Dr Sellman's strong words when he advised me to quit biochemistry right away and start write Malaysian history at age 21, continued to linger in my mind for another 22 years before I actually commenced writing on History of Medicine.

His advice always came back during times when I faced writers' block and was the major driving force which pushed me to continue writing TEMD for 7 years till it was completed in October 2009!

Who is he, really? Mum told me that he had written on British history (she gave me no further details before she died). I searched further today (29 January 2010) and found more on him.

Here is a list of Dr RR Sellman's books:

His name is Dr Roger Raymond Sellman (Dr RR Sellman). He was born in 1915. He was 103 in 2018.

Mrs Sellman (her name is Mia) kept her black poodle named Twiggy, in the toilet when I visited them. It gave me a fright when I entered the toilet and Twiggy started barking from inside the bath tub! Mrs Sellman also made my favourite bread-and-butter pudding for my visit. She used fresh cow's milk, which was delivered to her doorstep.

Photos at Pound Down Corner, Exeter (August 1980):
(obtained from my dad's pendrive after he died in March 2009)
Left to right: myself, Mrs Sellman (Mia), mum and Dr RR Sellman (Roger Sellman).
Their house is in the background. August 1980.
Left to right: Mr Gurney (with tie), Dr RR Sellman and Mrs Sellman with their dog.

Sitting in front row from left: The Gurneys with Dr RR Sellman & Mrs Sellman with their dog. I am standing with my parents. This was in the living-room, facing a large picture window.

The Gurneys
4 Langaller Close
Bovey Tracey
Newton Abbot
Devon TQ13 9EB
(Phone Bovey Tracey 832728)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Who were the early Malay doctors?

Who were they?

What are the likely places to look for their names, photos and biographies?

What I did was I first emailed the VI Webmaster and then hosted a website with names I knew or roughly knew. That website was the USM Telehealth website which I helped to manage since 2002. Then I started to search in every possible way...for approximately 7 years!

Here is my list of 'likely places':-

[1] Parents
[2] Colleagues at USM
[3] VI Webmaster
[4] IMR, KL
[5] Office of Alumni Relations, NUS

[6] Newspapers & archives
[7] Malaysian TV channels
[8] USM Library
[9] KE VII Alumni
[10] MMA

[11] Elders in the community; anyone who lived between 1900 and 2007
[12] Muzium Kelantan
[13] Tabung Haji
[14] MoH
[15] Neighbours

[16] IPTAs & medical schools
[17] Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia
[18] Arkib Negara Malaysia
[19] DBP
[20] Books published by NUS, MBRAS, including coffee-table books

[21] Bookstores
[22] Relatives
[23] Friends
[24] Old scientific publications and archives

  • My parents provided 5 names of people they knew
  • Colleagues at tertiary centres provided 12 names
  • Mr CM Chung (ex-VI & webmaster residing in Vancouver) provided the first 11 names of graduates of KE VII, Singapore
  • IMR provided 2 names
  • I was able to obtain 4 names at a gala dinner held by Office of the Alumni Relations, NUS at Marriott Putrajaya on 29 November 2003
  • NUS published a book, To Sail Uncharted Seas in 2005, which had 48 names of the early Malay doctors
  • Off and on, I found something in the newspapers or on TV and obtained 3 names. My daughter found a name
  • Datuk Mohamed Anwar Fazal Mohamed suggested that I try Who's Who. USM Library assisted me with the Who's Who searches and I obtained 20 names
  • Tabung Haji had the names but it could not furnish me the names of the doctors by pilgrimage year as its archived records was in Tanah Merah and that branch could not send the documents to Kota Bharu
  • MoH provided 10 names of the first 10 Director-General of Health, Malaysia (after Merdeka)
  • Datuk Yeoh Poh Hong (MMA) responded with a name that was not in the 2005 book published by NUS
  • Asking neighbours and email correspondence returned 5 names
  • Muzium Kelantan had provided photo albums and allowed me to use their images of the British doctors
  • Haji Tamin Merican provided 4 names
  • History books returned 3 names
  • Dr Mohd Bakri Musa suggested 3 names
  • Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia had no further information on the doctors
  • Arkib Negara Malaysia had 2 names
  • DBP staff provided a name
  • MBRAS book had something on KL
  • Archives in the UK returned 2 names

Using the 24 'likely places' listed above, I was able to come up with 60 names to work on.

With too many names to handle, I organised the names into 4 categories -

  1. Graduated from KE VII before WWII = 25
  2. Graduated from KE VII after WWII & before Merdeka = 23
  3. Non KE VII graduates = 7
  4. MOH DGs = 10
Since it was difficult to find contacts for some of the doctors, I had to drop a few names and was left with 43 names for my proposed book. Since some of the doctors were related or married each other, I organised the information into 36 chapter; some had 3 biographies.

26 January 2010

Shahriza Hussein

Author of Legacy, Shahriza Hussein has passed away on 23 January 2010

Shahriza Hussein (Shah) was the person who assisted me in contacting Dr Din's sons, Kamal Din and Rosman Din.

Dr Din is Tan Sri Dato Dr Professor Mohamed Din bin Haji Ahmad (1912-1999), an early Malay doctor. Shah was Dr Din's nephew. Dr Din's eldest son is Ar Tuan Haji Kamal bin Mohd Din. Rosman bin Mohd Din is Marketing and Advertising Manager for Dunlop.

-->Here is the notification of Shah's death by his youngest daughter, Narissa:
date: Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 8:59 AM
subject: Notification
Dear All,
It's Narissa here (Bam), Shah's youngest daughter, writing on behalf of my mother.
My father passed away on the 23rd of January 2010 at 10.30pm local time and was buried on the 24th of January 2010 at 2pm local time.
As many of you may know, he was unfortunately not the in the best of health for a while and following a fall on Thursday, 21st of January 2010, he was admitted into ICU under sedation and then passed away two days later.
The ultimate cause of his death was attributed to heart failure but he passed away peacefully.
My mother is holding up well and we'd like to thank everyone for their kind words and condolences during this confusing time.
Best wishes,

Masjid Nabawi, Madinah and Masjidil Haram, Makkah

Saudi Arabia

Please contribute photos & text here.

Masjidil Haram, Makkah

Saudi Arabia

Please contribute photos & text here.

Masjid Acheh, Penang

Lebuh Acheh Mosque
Acheen Street Mosque 

This is my assumption of the history of Masjid Acheh...

Cauder Merican had built Masjid Kapitan Keling after he became a successful entrepreneur. He had travelled to many places in the region including north Sumatera. The people of Acheh could have been among the pioneer batch of builders of Masjid Kapitan Keling.

Why are there two mosques within close reach of each other? This, I do not understand. When there must be a minimum of 40 men assigned to each mosque, how can there be another mosque nearby? There must be some reason.

A plausible reason could be that the sermons at Masjid Kapitan Keling were delivered in the native tongue (Tamil or Urdu?) which the Acheh people could not understand. They therefore built another mosque where the Acheh language was used (till today?).

Another reason could be, there was insufficient space at Masjid Kapitan Keling that the Acheh people constructed another mosque nearby.

Yet another reason could be that the Acheh people lived in that area, populated that area, there were so many of them (more than 40 men and families) and they wanted a mosque in that area for themselves. They could be Indonesians from Acheh and Riau.

The real reason for having two beautiful mosques within close range of each other is unknown.

Author's photos of Masjid Acheh viewed from Masjid Kapitan Keling's minaret, 19 Nov 2008.
 Masjid Acheh Internet pics.
Masjid Acheh from Izaham Musa's Facebook (used with permission, 25 January 2010).

(4) Masjid Kapitan Keling 1801

Wasiat Kapitan Keling & Tanah Wakaf

Kapitan Keling's wasiat lies with Qariyah Masjid Kapitan Keling. I was fortunate to obtain a copy. I have since passed on the wasiat to Haji Tamin Merican for sharing with the Merican clan members. Hopefully, the Merican clan can use it to reclaim their lost lands especially tanah wakaf in the vicinity of Masjid Kapitan Keling.

I was informed that tanah wakaf Masjid Kapitan Keling has a red marking on the pavement of buildings that belong to Masjid Kapitan Keling. The land office is nearby. Somebody should look into reclamation of tanah wakaf because illegal and unlawful use of tanah wakaf is haram in Islam and this matter must not be overlooked.

I do not have other legal documents pertaining to land use and land rights of Masjid Kapitan Keling and whatever Cauder Merican had in mind. I have not searched the documents of Dr AO Merican nor Penang Museum.

I am not in the legal business but I'm sharing my concern with readers so you can assist Masjid Kapitan Keling.

(3) Masjid Kapitan Keling 1801

Culture, worship and graves
18-19 November 2008

There are ancient graves in the grounds of Masjid Kapitan Keling and at Kampung Kolam. The grave of the first Imam of Masjid Kapitan Keling lies at a corner of Masjid Kapitan Keling, between the mosque and the minaret. His name is unknown.

The graves of the builders are in the front yard of Bangunan Nordin. There are graves inside the roofless mausoleum adjoining Bangunan Nordin.

Another mausoleun lies at Kampung Kolam. Kampung Kolam was an early village which had a well, providing water for the vicinity. It was built by Cauder Merican and his clan.

The photographs included here were taken by me on my visit to the mosque, graves and mausoleum on 18-19 November 2008. I had obtained permission from Qariyah Masjid to do photoshoot. They are provided here so you know history.

Grave at Masjid Kapitan Keling:

Grave of the first Imam of Masjid Kapitan Keling.

Graves at Bangunan Nordin:

Graves of the mosque builders in 1800s. Nobody has done carbon-dating on these ancient remains.

Enclosure of the roofless mausoleum adjoining Bangunan Nordin.

 Kampung Kolam

Graves at Kampung Kolam:

Graves of Cauder Merican clan at Kampung Kolam. Some of the tombstones are similar to the ones found in Acheh?

Delapidated mausoleum at Kampung Kolam. It contains the graves of the pioneer Merican family.

Solat space adjoing the burial space inside the mausoleum.

Uneven floor and steps inside the mausoleum at Kampung Kolam.

A number of long unidentified graves inside the mausoleum.

Affandi reading the almost blur inscriptions on the tombstones. We could identify some of the graves but not all of them.

A reason I was informed that these graves were unmarked is to avoid identification and also people from performing wrongdoing (bida'ah memuja di makam). The real reasons I don't know. Whatever the reasons are, I still think we must re-develop this mausoleum and label the graves properly. Clear the inside and outside and open it to public viewing so people know that these were pioneers.