Under the British administration of the Straits Settlements, the community was separated and lived in different regions at each settlement, whether in Penang, Malacca or Singapore. While the Europeans lived in cooler areas such as hills, hillocks and foothills, the rest lived in the hot plains.
The Muslims lived in their respective areas assigned - Arabs, Bugis, Javanese, and Malay. The Chinese tended to farming, growing mainly vegetables and rearing pigs. The Indians lived alongside the Muslims, mostly near seaside villages where coconuts grow aplenty.
The Malays are dependent on the coconut trees for nira (nectar) which is used for making palm sugar, gula Melaka or gulo keret in Kelantan accent. Palm sugar is a main ingredient for making a gooey Malay delicacy, dodol. Palm sugar is a rich source of vitamin B. The Indians need coconuts for coconut milk (santan) for making curry.
The Malays and Indians use asam Jawa and asam keping to slightly sour their cuisines. Malay and Indian dominated areas are easily discernible to a passing tourist as they have mosques, tamarind trees (pokok asam Jawa) and pokok asam keping. Other trees are pokok cekur & keloh which are a rich source of iron. Keloh beans are used in curries. They are noted to stimulate forceful contractions which are advantageous in maternal delivery.
While many Penang Muslims lived near Masjid (Melayu) Jamek Lebuh Aceh in Kampung Melayu, and Kampung Dodol near Masjid Pawanchee along Perak Road, most of the Singapore Muslims live in Kampung Glam and around Masjid Sultan.
"Gelam"or "Glam" after which Kampong Glam is named could refer to pokok gelam, a mangrove tree whose woods (kayu gelam) are used for firewood and for making charcoal (kayu arang or arang). Pounded charcoal has been used by the Malays for brushing teeth to make them white; this was before the invention of toothpaste.External links:
|Istana Kampong Gelam restored to its former grandeur. It now houses the Malay Heritage Centre of Singapore.|
|85 Sultan Gate (front entrance to Istana Kg Gelam)|
|The front of the palace with the fountain working. The palm trees look like pokok pinang. Pokok gelam is the one with small leaves.|
|Affandi at the side entrance to Istana Kampong Gelam|
Kampung Gelam video from Heritage TV Season 2, Singapore