Wednesday, 19 January 2011

13. Dr Ali Othman Merican (1889-1945)

Dr Ali Othman Merican (1889-1945)
MBBS 1917 University of Hong Kong

Date of birth: 29 December 1889
Place of birth: Penang
Date of death: 17 June 1945 (prior to the end of Japanese Occupation/WWII)
Place of death: Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Place of burial: Tanah Perkuburan Di-Raja, Masjid Langgar, Kota Bharu, Kelantan

Billion Shopping Centre, Kota Bharu
A lane near Billion bears his name.
This is Lorong Merican

Masjid Langgar, Kota Bharu, Kelantan

Tanah Perkuburan Di-Raja Kelantan at Masjid Langgar
Royal graves at Masjid Langgar, Kota Bharu, Kelantan


Sellene said...

Oh, incidentally, it was his father who was known as Che Teh Babi.

Faridah said...

Dr Ali Othman Merican @ Mohomed Ally Merican's father was Ahmad Othman Merican, better known as "Che Teh". The family has requested that "Babi" be dropped as it is derogatory. Che Teh had rented his land (in Penang) to the Chinese for pig-rearing, and became rich.

Sellene said...

Well, Doctor, it's all in Helen Fujimoto's book - you can't erase that now, can you?

And I asked an old timer, a very respectable lady in her 80s, who also referred to this unflattering epithet.

Of course, we'll let the matter rest. But history is history, it is for us gifted with intellect and reason, to draw lessons from.

Faridah said...

You can address me as Faridah.

When a Muslim author writes, she has to pay attention to sensitivities and ethics of writing - perkara yang mengaibkan patut diselindungkan dan tak patut didedahkan, dan kebaikan seseorang dilaporkan - this is Islam.

When a non Muslim writer writes, she/he often does not heed such cultural sensitivities - there is no respect for whom they write about.

That is why Malaysians must write for Malaysians, and not depend on others to write Malaysian history.

If Che Teh was alive, he would object to being written as "Che Teh Babi" even though that's the truth. Anyway, that was the family requested, and I have to abide by that request. It is a trust between the author and the people or family she writes about. Suka tak suka, kena patuh juga.

Sellene said...

Well, I may have differing views from those you hold.

Recounting only a person's good deeds and hiding everything negative may also lead to 'ujub, takabbur and sum'ah, not to mention riya'.

It is no wonder then that when Penang people write about their families, they sweep all the dirt under the carpet and start extolling their families - how munificent so-so was, how generous, how intelligent, how brave, as if they were all ma'sum and muhafiz.

I do not think that this is what Islam wants of its believers. What is wrong is wrong, and there are ways to communicate this to the discerning.

With regards to Che Teh, I think the use of the epithet will serve to remind Muslims that whatever means they choose to earn their wealth, they must be in conformity with shara'. The word is not there to be made fun of, but it should also be known that in those days (even now), Muslims were often not very discerning when it came to making money. This is especially true of the Jawi Pekans. There was also a Che Teh Bunga in Penang, and the association with usury is undeniable.

This practise of self-censorship, which alternatively may be known as respecting the subjet matter, will inevitably erase all historical information about the past. Descendants will then only look upon their ancestors with the highest regard. If that was so, there is no point in God revealing the Quran as much of the wickedness recounted there all happened in the past. This is the value of history in religion.

It is also a sobering reminder that the "...evil that men do lives after them."