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.

(2) Masjid Kapitan Keling 1801

Views from the minaret
18-19 November 2008

The following photographs were captured with permission from Qariyah Masjid Kapitan Keling on my second visit on 19 November 2008. They are reproduced here with the hope that people might get interested in the history of Masjid Kapitan Keling, support its activities in educating children, become interested in issues pertaining to tanah wakaf and write important things about how this mosque has & will serve us.

When Cauder Merican arrived in Malaya, he was not alone but came with his mother and younger brother, Nordin. An adjacent building to the mosque has been named after his brother.

Bangunan Nordin
Bangunan Nordin was previously a cluster of houses for builders of the mosque. It was renovated and eventually became Bangunan Nordin we see today.

Ancient graves
The graves of the pioneer mosque builders are in the front yard of Bangunan Nordin. A roofless mausoleum can be seen at the frontage adjoining Bangunan Nordin. Another covered mausoleum can be found at Jalan Kolam nearby, behind the buildings at Lebuh Buckingham.

Masjid Acheh
Masjid Acheh lies farther down the street and can be viewed from the Masjid Kapitan Keling minaret. The reason the two mosques are nearby is unknown. One explanation was the sermons (khutbah) at Masjid Kapitan Keling were delivered in the Indian language (Tamil or Urdu?) as the majority of the believers were Indians. The Achenese builders could not understand the Indian language and therefore constructed their own mosque. There may be other reasons.

Minaret tourguide (left) and Affandi.
Plaq of the minaret's construction. 
This minaret was erected by the Endowments Board from the funds of the Capt. Kling Mosque.

W Peel, President
HC Sells, Secretary

The Foundation Stone was laid by Haji Abdullah Imam

Committee of Management
Mas Abdul Aziz
Shaik Ishak
Haji Yahya Khatib

HA Neubronner F.R.I.B.A.

13th Rabi-al-Akhir A.H. 1334
18th February 1916
Views of the minaret built in 1916 before WWI.
Megaphone for call to prayer.
Tourguide and Affandi in the minaret.
First photo from the minaret. The 4-storey pink building nearest the reader was rebuilt after it was shelled during WWII. The sea (Atlantic Ocean) is in the far background.
Nearby Chinese temple viewed from the minaret. The pink building was shelled during WWII.
The pink building has a WWII history. It was initially a dhobi or laundry shop. The day's washing would be hung out to dry. There were carts carrying dirty and clean bundles of sheets/linen. During WWII, the Japanese bombers had mistaken the carts as carring canons under cover and shelled the carts and adjacent building. That area suffered the worst shelling for it had many carts lined up on the street!!
Masjid Acheh minaret is in far centre background.
Close-up of Masjid Acheh from Masjid Kapitan Keling minaret.
Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling viewed from the minaret. Rooftops & buildings which line Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling.
Bangunan Nordin (renovated), a centre for Islamic learning (inside the grounds, on your right as you enter through the main gate). An ancient well lies near its main entrance.
Bangunan Nordin, well and graves of the builders of Masjid Kapitan Keling in 1800s. A roofless mausoleum is partially hidden from view. A low lying periphery wall separates the graves from the mosque.
Masjid Kapitan Keling viewed from its only minaret.
Views from the minaret beyond Masjid Kapitan Keling, towards the hills.

Buckingham Street viewed from the minaret. The tower is KOMTAR (Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak).