Saturday, 29 October 2011

Doctors in the East

Ho Tak Ming. 2001. Doctors in the East. Where West meets East.  Pelanduk Publications, Selangor, Malaysia. ISBN 967-978-770-2 [USM call number WZ56 H678 2001]

My review:
The book has 12 chapters. Chapters 1-9 give the historical accounts of the Chinese doctors in China and the coming of Western Medicine. Chapters 10-12 are interesting, and quite amusing too, especially that bit that touches on the Taoist belief in ching and how to keep it within (for males only), and thus remain forever young. Opium is discussed in great detail with a mention that the Arabs had brought opium to China for medical purposes but the Chinese took to its addiction. The last chapter discusses Cheng Ho and Sa Poh Kung in Nanyang. Nanyang refers to Southeast Asia or Nusantara. Also discusses Baba (but not Nyonya) status and their anglophile behaviour and preferences, compared to their sinkehs counterparts who were very Chinese. It also discusses Chinese travel beyond Nanyang, Chinese diaspora, and the Chinese Emperor's ruling not to allow Chinese emigration. The Chinese preferred to stay in China but they were taken to Malaya by the British to work in the tin mines. Places mentioned include Kwangtung and Marco Polo's Zayton or Canton. The history of the FMS Medical School and its initial funding are discussed. Important doctors in Chinese medical history are Dr Sun Yat Sen and Dr Wu Lien-Teh. Dr Wu Lien-Teh was born in Penang but fought the plague in China - he had researched at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur.

This book provides a lot of insights into Chinese medicine in Asia and Southeast Asia. It helps explain some of the gaps in our medical history and links great nations - Malaysia, Singapore, China and Hong Kong.

A plus point of this English book is its use of French, Chinese and Malay words. It has a lot of beautiful poems.

5 early Malay doctors (1999)

Universiti Malaya. 1999. Profil Tokoh-tokoh Gemilang Universiti Malaya. Kuala Lumpur. ISSN 0126-7949 [USM call number M LG396 P964 1999]

This book contains the biographies of these early Malay doctors:
  1. Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed - page 11
  2. Abdul Majid Ismail - page 19
  3. Salma Ismail - page 87
  4. Siti Hasmah Hj. Mohd. Ali - page 91
  5. Ungku Omar Ungku Ahmad - page 106

Ismail Ballah (c1843-1928)

This story reached my ears and I will share with you the sad story of a lovely man in our history. 


There is one interesting man in our history and that is Ismail Ballah. 

History has it that in British India, somewhere in northern India, near the Himalayan region, coincidentally at a place named Ballah, lived a man whose Indian name is unknown. We don't know where he lived in India.

You can Google "Ballah" in Google Map and see where that leads you to. It leads to 2 things - Lake Ballah by River Nile in Egypt, and a place in northern India.

As a young intelligent male, Ismail had worked in India, maybe as a judge. In one case, he had presided over a case and found the offender guilty. However, the British did not agree with his verdict and wrongfully captured him (without trial). Poor Ismail, he did not commit a sin, he was just doing his job.

The British brought the young Ismail, along with a host of Indian "convicts" to Singapore via Malaya. They were brought in chains (this is sheer slavery of the worst kind - the other instance was when Black Africans were brought in chains to North America). 

Ismail worked in Singapore, doing hard labour, making roads along with the other captured persons. The time he arrived in Singapore is unknown but could have been when he was a young adult. There are photos in many hardcover books about Singapore that show pictures of these Indian labourers at work. They wear only white loin cloth and work hard under the hot scorching sun, paving our roads.

Ismail was eventually freed and became a free man. It is unknown where he went but it is most likely that he went to live in the mosque in Singapore. Which mosque? There is one small mosque which had been demolished - it could have been that mosque. I don't know the name of the mosque that was demolished. It is the Chander Road Mosque.


he German Embassy was opened in Singapore in 1892. 

Ismail Ballah was almost 49 years old when he started working for the German Embassy in Singapore when it opened in 1892. 

Ismail Ballah worked as an archivist (kept records; menyimpan rekod) at the German Embassy in Singapore.

What type of records did he look after? The records could have possibly included pre-WWI records, WWI records (1917-1918) and post-WWI records - when Germany wanted to dominate Europe under the German Kultur (equivalent to ethnic cleansing); shipping/navigation records; hospital records; and trading records.

Ismail Ballah died in service. He died while still serving as archivist at the German Embassy in Singapore. Such was his dedication to work. He passed away on 24 July 1928 at age 85. The newspaper reported his death and mentioned him as an Arab and that he was a staunch Islamist - "WELL-KNOWN ARAB'S DEATH" (The Straits Times, 25 July 1928, Page 10). His home then was at Roberts Road.

Unanswered questions about Ismail Ballah
  1. Where did Ismail Ballah go after he was freed by the British in Singapore? Did he work in Singapore or did he go home to India? Did he work overseas and then return to Singapore? 
  2. Did he ever work for the construction of the Suez Canal which was around 1850s or nearby Lake Ballah in Egypt?
  3. Where did he practise Islam when he became a staunch Islamist, and was respected by the Muslim (Arab) community in Singapore?
  4. When did he marry? Whom did he marry? Are there photos of his marriage?
  5. His first child (son, Dr Mohamed Ibrahim) was born on 8 September 1892, at the same time the German Embassy opened and Ismail Ballah started work with the Embassy.
  6. His son (Dr Mohamed Ibrahim) married Hamidah Shaik Baboo. Could Ismail Ballah come to know of Shaik Baboo's family when he worked at the Suez Canal? Could he have worked with other labourers from Turkey?
  7. At the time of his death, he had lived at Roberts Road. What is the nearest mosque to his home?
  8. How did he travel to work? How far did he travel to work? Where did he have his meals? Where did he pray while at work? Did he work 9-5?

The German Consul-General in Singapore

1. Who was the first German Consul-General in Singapore? 
2. Was Herr Otto Weber the second German Consul-General in Singapore?

Herr Otto Weber

Herr Otto Weber was the German Consul-General in Singapore from 15 February 1926 to 1929. His wife is Frau Weber. They are known to us as Mr Otto Weber and Mrs Weber. Mrs Weber was formerly Countess Stalberg of Austria. The couple have 4 children. 

Herr Otto Weber is Mr Otto Weber or Dr Otto Weber in different accounts.

Herr Otto Weber has an interesting history. He helped founded the Deutsche Gesellschaft of Berlin, a German club, and became its first Chairman. Herr Otto Weber was involved in the Great War (WWI) and was wounded. He worked in Russia and Batavia (now Jakarta in Indonesia) before coming to Singapore in 1926.

In Singapore Herr Otto Weber had a Renault car and a driver. His car was involved in road accident near a bridge at Orchard Road on 2 November 1928 (after Ismail Ballah died). His car had hit a 9-year old Chinese girl who fell in between the 2 front tyres and suffered a fractured base of the skull. She died. The case was heard in court on 14 November 1928 with the coroner's report. The verdict was a case of misadventure. 

Herr Otto Weber completed his job in as German Consul-General in Singapore in 1929 and returned to Germany. He died in Berlin at age 47 (he died as a result of the wounds he suffered from the war).

Shaik Baboo

The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 31 March 1927, Page 11

Muslim Burial-Ground, Bidadari.
Appointment of Trustee?
A couple of years ago, the Honourable Inche Mohamed Eunos bin Abdullah, at the request of the President of the local Municipality, went to the Kampong Glam Sultan Mosque on a Friday and informed the congregation and the Muslim public that the Municipality had dedicated the burial-ground at Bidadari, Upper Serangoon Road, to the Muslims for the burial of their dead. He also said that a trustee or trustees would be appointed later to manage the affairs of the burial-grounds. Two years have passed and the appointment of the trustees for some reason or other has not yet been announced.

I understand that Shaik Baboo, the veteran caretaker of the Muslim Burial-grounds, Bidadari, has been unwell for some time and that he is shortly retiring. Rumour is persistent that Dr. H. S. Moonshi, our Municipal Commissioner, is leaving for Mecca with his family shortly as soon as the question of his "ganti" to manage his dispensary has been settled. Dr. Moonshi is already an "Haji."

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Dr Mustapa bin Osman


(Dr) Mustapha bin Osman was born in Kedah in 1900.

He studied at Penang Free School in Georgetown, Penang.[1][2] This was the initial site before the school moved to a new site in Green Lane (now Jalan Masjid Negeri). The old school was renamed Hutchings School which became Penang Museum today. A new Hutchings School was built nearby to the Penang Museum.

Penang Free School was first opened in Georgetown in 1816

The new Hutchings School near the Penang Museum in Georgetown.

Penang Free School in Green Lane was opened in 1925

He wanted to study Law in England but World War I (WWI) made it impractical and dangerous. The State Government of Kedah sent him to further his education in Hong Kong instead.

It is not known at the time of this writing, how he travelled to Hong Kong, but a few routes are possible:

(i) By ship which plied the South China Sea between Tanah Melayu and the Chinese lands. He probably left from either Penang/Kedah port, Port Swettenham/Port Kelang (now Port Klang) or Keppel Harbour in Singapore.

(ii) He probably took the overland route from Penang to Kedah and onward into Thailand, across to Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and finally to Hong Kong.

(iii) He could have taken the train from Penang/Kedah to Thailand, then gone further down to Kelantan, and left for Hong Kong from Kota Bharu since there were steamers plying Sungai Kelantan.

It is not known how long each journey/route took, be it by ship or overland route.

Mustapha entered the University of Hong Kong [3] in 1917 to study medicine. Dr Mustapha Osman graduated seven years later in 1924, prior to the Canton-Hong Kong strike of 1925-26.


[1] The idea of a school in Penang for local residents was borne by Reverend Sparke Hutchings of the St George's Anglican Church. The proposal for Penang Free School (PFS) was submitted to the Governor of the Prince of Wales Island (now Penang) in 1815. There are two premises for PFS – a previous one in Georgetown and another which is still in use in Green Lane. The PFS was first set up at a premise in Georgetown on 21 October 1816, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the demise of Captain Sir Francis Light. When the initial PFS became overcrowded, a new PFS was needed. A 30-acre site in Green Lane (now Jalan Masjid Negeri) was made the new premise for the second PFS. Construction of the new PFS began in 1924 and was completed in 1925. The second PFS in Green Lane was opened on 9 January 1925 by Ralph Scott, Resident Councillor of Penang. When the second PFS was built, the initial PFS was renamed to Hutchings School after its founder. A part of the Hutchings School building was bombed during the Second World War. The remaining Hutchings School building houses the Penang State Museum today.

[2] The term free does not mean without school fees. The term free here means it is open to all locals.

[3] Established in 1911 from the former Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, founded by the London Missionary Society in 1887, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong was the only faculty that was open. In December 1916, the University of Hong Kong held its first congregation, with 23 graduates and 5 honorary graduates. – Wikipedia, University of Hong Kong. Accessed on 13 October 2010.


He became the first Malay Pathologist when he obtained his postgraduate diploma in 1925. He became the first Malay Professor of Pathology when he obtained his MD degree in 1930.

He was already working in Kedah when the Japanese attacked Penang island and Kedah. The Japanese attacked Kedah at Singgora on 8 December 1941.

Associate Professor Dr Mohd Isa Othman’s publication (translation by Haji Hashim bin Samin), The Second World War and the Japanese Invasion of Kedah had mentioned Dr Mustapha Osman along with his brother, Sheriff Osman, as they became part of the Japanese Administration in Kedah.

Of the administrative bureaus during the Japanese Occupation, Tunku Badlishah headed the Shumuin (Religion) Bureau while Syed Alwi was Assistant and Syed Shariff Osman was Secretary.

Professor Dr Mustapha bin Osman (Pathologist & Head of Shumuin Bureau
[Need a portrait of Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheikh] (Assistant of Shumuin Bureau)

Haji Mohammad Sheriff bin Awang Osman/En Shariff Osman (Secretary of Shumuin Bureau)

Another bureau, Somu-bu (Public Administration) had six subdivisions - Kanbo (Judicial Secretariat), Shomuka (Public Affairs), Kanri-ka (Administration), Bunkyo-ka (Education), Shiho-ka (Judiciary) and Konsei-ka (Welfare). These bureau was headed by Nakagawa Yamakami and seven Japanese officials along with En Shariff Osman, Momose, Ismail Marican, and Dr Mustapha Osman.” - Associate Professor Dr Mohd Isa Othman (translation by Haji Hashim bin Samin), The Second World War and the Japanese Invasion of Kedah, page 3. Accessed at Perbadanan Perpustakaan Awam Kedah website Retrieved 4 April 2011

The Japanese Military Administration appointed him as the Surgeon General[4] during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya (1941-5).


[4] The Surgeon General is an old term for the Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO).

He was bestowed the Honorary Doctorate of Laws (HonLLD) by the University of Hong Kong in 1961. At the award ceremony in 1961, his background and achievements were mentioned as follows:

“Dr. Osman is one of our distinguished Malayan graduates. Born at the turn of the century in Penang, he entered the University in 1917, and obtained his medical degree seven years later. For one, whose forebears, a generation removed, engaged in piracy in the Strait of Malacca, it was inevitable, perhaps, that he should prove to be a bold and fearless undergraduate whose passage was marked by a certain degree of turbulence. […] Of this honorary graduand, Your Excellency, one of our professors years ago once exclaimed in despair, "Osman, why don't you go back to Malaya and plant paddy?" He went back to do far more than that, and it is with pride and affection that we have invited him here today to receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.” – Honorary Degrees Congregation, University of Hong Kong, 1961. Accessed on 4 April 2011.

The University of Hong Kong had published a book, Growing with Hong Kong (2002) which mentioned him as follows:

“Many medical graduates returned to Malaya. Chinese doctors found it difficult to secure government appointments and most went into private practice in Penang, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. They enjoyed certain advantages over locally trained doctors who held licentiates rather than degrees, but positive discrimination in favour of Malays kept most Chinese doctors out of senior positions. Mustapha bin Osman (MBBS 1924, MD 1930, HonLLD 1961) was one of the few non-Chinese medical graduates from Malaya. After graduation he worked as assistant to the professor of pathology before taking up the post of Government Pathologist in Kedah state in 1930. He became Chief Medical Officer of Kedah in 1949, a member of the Federal Legislative Council of Malaya, and a member of the Council of State and Executive Council of Kedah state.”(Growing with Hong Kong 2002:50).

Dr Mustapha was the sibling of Mohd Shariff bin Osman (former Chief Minister of Kedah), Datuk Shuib Awang bin Osman (former Secretary of Kedah State Government [5]) and Tan Sri Khalid Awang bin Osman (Malaysian Ambassador to Egypt).

Dr Mustapha passed away in Penang in 1975.


[5] Mantan SUK Kedah. SUK = Setiausaha Kerajaan.


I visited Prof Syed Mohsin at home on Sunday, 23 October 2011. We were talking about Boon Siew and Honda when our conversation suddenly moved to "Dr Mustapha bin Osman". I informed Prof Syed Mohsin that I was looking for someone who would know what happened to Dr Mustapha as I needed his biography/story for TEMD. Prof Syed Mohsin had this to say (refer to my post on Arabs in Penang:

Syed Omar 
Syed Omar is retired, receives pension and lives in Kuala Lumpur. He was the former Accountant-General. He married the younger sister of Syed Razak, former Menteri Besar Kedah (ex-MB Kedah).

Syed Razak 
Syed Razak is related to Dr Mustapha bin Osman, an early Malay doctor (TEMD). His younger sister married to Syed Omar.

Another discussion, another lead ...
I talked to my husband to ask where else I should look for information on Dr Mustapha bin Osman. My husband said to try and ask USM doctors who are from Kedah. They may have heard of him or know about him. He gave me 2 names - Professor Zulkifli Ahmad (Community Medicine/DY Dean Dental R&D) and Dr Zainol Harun (former hospital director, General Hospital Alor Setar).

I calculated our USM doctors to be roughly my age, and born circa 1955. In 1955, Dr Mustapha would be 55, i.e., retirement age. When he retired he worked as a pathologist in Penang. So I need to know which of our USM doctors worked in Alor Setar (General Hospital Alor Setar) or Penang (General Hospital Penang) prior to 1955. Dr Che Lah (born 1904) would still be working in Pahang (his last place of work and only retired to Penang in 1959). My colleagues would be just be about to enter early school - they wouldn't know him. My colleagues completed their medical studies locally/overseas circa 1980 before they did housemanship locally; Dr Mustapha had died in 1975. So my colleagues too would not know about Dr Mustapha.

Next search ...
I have to ask someone a lot older than myself and my colleagues. I will need to ask someone who was born in the 1940s and who had met him or knew him, either in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Kedah or Penang. Someone born in the early 1940s would be in their early 70s in 2011. Where do I find them to ask them about Dr Mustapha bin Osman?

Link to Keluarga Awang Osman blog:

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sir KM Ariff

(Dr Kamil Mohamed Ariff bin Kadir Mastan)


George Town was the city centre in Penang. Only one early Malay doctor operated a clinic in the city centre. He was Dr Kamil Ariff who practised privately at his own clinic, The Dispensary, in Hutton Lane.

Sir KM Ariff
Dr Kamil Mohamed Ariff commenced private practice in Penang in 1918 (Fisher 1925: 32). His clinic was The New Dispensary, located in No. 1a, Hutton Lane, Penang, Straits Settlement. Dr Kamil Mohamed Ariff retired from the government medical service in 1948, 3 years after the Japanese war ended. Sir Dr KM Ariff’s residence was in 180 Burmah Road, Penang. The place is now a high-density housing area (high-rise flats, apartments or condominium).

Hutton Lane (now Jalan Hatin)
Hutton Lane (now Jalan Hatin) is a historical lane with a restaurant, clinic, mosque and school, each structure has its own unique history. It once had a restaurant where USM staff celebrated farewell lunch. It also once housed the private clinic of Sir KM Ariff (Dr Kamil Mohamed Ariff bin Kadir Mastan). It has a mosque - Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin. It has a school - Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta, now renamed to Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Tanjong, Jalan Hutton. The school building is still the old pre-war building.

PHOTO 1. KOMTAR (tower) is a more recent addition to Georgetown's landscape. It was opened in 1981. It did not exist during the time of Sir KM Ariff's private practice in Penang. If KOMTAR had existed way back then, it would have looked similar as in this photo. This photo was taken while standing close to Sir KM Ariff's old clinic in Hutton Lane, Georgetown, Penang; 10 Feb 2011.
PHOTO 2. Corner of Hutton Lane and Penang Road. Was The New Dispensary located in this shophouse?
PHOTO 3. Facade of the left row of shophouses in Hutton Lane. This is the beginning of Hutton Lane (Penang Road end)

PHOTO 4. Hutton Lane viewed from Penang Road. Was The New Dispensary located in the shophouse at right?

Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin
Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin is in Jalan Hutton (Hutton Lane), across the road from Sekolah Sri Tanjung, Jalan Hatin, Penang.

PHOTO 5. Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin in Jalan Hatin (old Hutton Lane), Georgetown, Penang

Map of Georgetown
KOMTAR is marked 'A'.
Sir Dr KM Ariff’s residence was in 180 Burmah Road, Penang (B)
The New Dispensary was located in No. 1a, Hutton Lane (C).

View Larger Map

Driving directions from USM side gate @ Minden Heights Jalan 7:
USM - Jalan Hutton is approx. 9 km.
[Key: S = straight; R = right; L = left]

S@ Minden Heights Jalan 7
R@ Minden Height Jalan 1
L@ Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah
S@ Jalan Gelugor

2 choices:
a. via Jalan Jelutong & Jalan Perak:
S@ Jalan Jelutong
L@ Jalan Perak

2 choices:
>> Jalan Dato' Keramat:
     S@ Jalan Dato' Keramat
     L@ Jalan Penang
     L@ Jalan Burma
     R@ Jalan Anson
     R@ Jalan Hutton
     Go right to the end of Jalan Hutton where it meets Jalan Penang
     No 1a is at the corner of Jalan Hutton and Jalan Penang (end of Jalan Hutton)

>> Jalan Anson:
     Jalan Anson
     Jalan Hutton

b. via Jalan Masjid Negeri
From Jalan Gelugor
L@ Jalan Masjid Negeri
Go past Penang Free School
R@ Jalan Air Hitam / Air Itam / Ayer Hitam
Go past Methodist Boys School (MBS)
S@ Jalan Dato' Keramat
Go S past Jalan Perak junction
Go past old Police Station
L@ Jalan Penang
L@ Jalan Burma
Go past Masjid Titi Papan
Jalan Anson
Jalan Hutton

Monday, 24 October 2011

Pre-Merdeka Malay Schools in Penang


There were 2 Malay and one religious (Islamic) schools in Penang in Malaya before Independence. I returned to Penang (19-23 October 2011) to try and locate where the schools were and to find out if they still exist today, 54 years post-Merdeka.

Malay schools in Penang 

The 2 Malay schools in Penang are Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta in downtown George Town, and Sekolah Melayu Pulau Pinang in Ayer Itam. Three early Malay doctors attended the Malay schools in Penang. They were Datuk Dr Haji Abdul Aziz bin Omar, Datuk Paduka Dr Abdul Wahab bin Mohd Ariff and Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos. All three graduated as medical doctors from the King Edward VII Medical College in Singapore.

Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta / Chowrasta Malay School, George Town (established 1878) 

The full story of this school is told in the present day school website:

Sekolah Kebangsaan Melayu Chowrasta adalah nama asal bagi Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Tanjong. Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta ini ditubuhkan pada tahun 1878 dengan Bahasa Melayu sebagai Bahasa Pengantar pada ketika itu. Ia adalah di antara sekolah Melayu tertua di Pulau Pinang. Tapak asal Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta ini adalah terletak di persimpangan Jalan Transfer dan Jalan Phee Choon (kini tapak Ibupejabat Polis Kontinjen Pulau Pinang – Headquarters).

Di bawah pentadbiran Guru Besar yang dikenali dengan nama Pak Hitam, Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta mula mengorak langkah dalam meneruskan pendidikan pada masa tersebut. Pelajaran yang diajar hanya melibatkan kemahiran membaca, menulis, mengira dan juga sedikit pelajaran mengenai hal ehwal tempatan yang digabungkan dengan pelajaran Ilmu Alam.

Pada tahun 1928, Cikgu Mustafa Arshad (Guru Besar pada ketika itu) telah mula mengharumkan nama Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta dan memperkenalkannya ke seluruh pelusuk negara. Di antara tokoh yang dilahirkan di Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta ini ialah Allahyarham Doktor Aziz Omar (doktor Melayu yang menempah nama di negeri Kelantan), […] – Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Tanjung: SEJARAH (2009). Retrieved 19 October 2011 from

The original school, Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta, was at the corner of Transfer Road and Phee Choon Road (now Jalan Phee Choon). The present day school is Sekolah Sri Tanjong in Jalan Hatin (former Hutton Lane). The school is across the road from Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin. This is the only mosque in this road.

Chowrasta is Tamil for a junction or crossroad from 4 roads.

Pasar Chowrasta (Chowrasta market) is in Jalan Penang (former Penang Road).

Pasar Chowrasta, Jalan Penang, Georgetown, Penang

Two early Malay doctors attended Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta in Penang. They were (Datuk Dr Haji) Abdul Aziz bin Omar and (Datuk Paduka Dr) Abdul Wahab bin Mohd Ariff.

Both doctors were born in 1919 and attended the Chowrasta Malay School from 1925 to 1929.
Both Abdul Aziz and Abdul Wahab attended Penang Free School from 1930 to 1937.
Both enrolled into the Medical College in Singapore in 1939.

Their medical studies were disrupted for four years when the Japanese Occupation of Singapore occurred and the Medical College ceased operation on 15 February 1942 till 19 June 1946.

When the war was over, Abdul Wahab and Abdul Aziz resumed medical studies at KE VII in Singapore on 20 June 1946.

Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar, Dr Abdul Wahab bin Mohd Ariff and Dr Omar bin Din, graduated from the King Edward VII College of Medicine, Singapore with a Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery (L.M.S.) in the Class of December 1949 (Lee 2005: 114). There were 28 graduates in 1949.

Dr Abdul Aziz had previously worked at the Merican Dispensary in Kota Bharu, Kelantan (possibly circa 1949-1953) before setting up his own private practice in the early 1950s, after the war ended. His clinic was the Aziz Dispensary (Morais 1963: 30) in 1856-58 Jalan Pendek, Kota Bharu, Kelantan (Morais 1965: 44). His clinic was beside the Kota Bharu bus station. [More in TEMD]

Dr Abdul Wahab bin Mohd Ariff joined the government service in 1950. He held several posts under the British Malayan, Malaysian and Brunei governments. In 1950-5, Dr Abdul Wahab was Medical Officer (MO) in Penang, Butterworth, Perlis and Kuala Pilah. He brought a lot of changes at Kangar Hospital whilst in Perlis. His efforts were appreciated by the British High Commissioner in Malaya, General Sir Gerald Templer. In 1954, Dr Abdul Wahab was responsible for the eradication of gastroenteritis epidemic in Perlis. [More in TEMD]

Hutton Lane is famous as it once housed the private clinic of Sir Dr Kamil Mohamed Ariff.

Jalan Hatin (Hutton Lane) - Jalan Penang (Penang Road) end
Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin (Hutton Lane)
Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Tanjong, Jalan Hatin (Hutton Lane)

Sekolah Melayu Pulau Pinang / Penang Malay School, Kampong Melayu, Ayer Hitam, Penang

I have not managed to follow up what became of this school.

Directions to Air Hitam (formerly Ayer Itam), Penang

(Dr) Che Lah attended the Penang Malay School located in Jalan Kampong Melayu in Ayer Itam where he completed Standard IV. He then attended the Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) in Penang where he completed Standard VII Senior Cambridge at the Annual Government Examination in December 1919.

(Dr) Che Lah entered the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore as a Federated Malay States (FMS) Government Medical Student in June 1923. Dr Che Lah passed the Final Medical Professional Examination in March 1930 and was awarded the Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery college diploma (L.M.S. Singapore, Class of March 1930). The Principal of the College of Medicine at the time was Dr DWG Faris. His name is also present on the board as Pioneer Student at the National University of Singapore Medical Faculty. His rolled paper transcripts still exist but are faded and very brittle but his clothed documents are still safely kept. His medical books can still be found within his house in Cangkat Minden, Penang and some have been donated to the Penang General Hospital.

Religious schools in Penang

The only religious school that I have on record is Madrasah Al-Mashoor, which is now the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama (L) Al Mashoor and the Sekolah Menengah Agama (P) Al Mashoor.

Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama (L) Al Mashoor 

This school was started by Syed Sheikh (1867-1934) who became its first headmaster. It moved a few places before this location. The history of Madrasah Al Mashoor & the progress of the modern school today can be read at its present day website.

Malayan Saturday Post, 23 May 1931, Page 25
THE VISIT OF HIS HIGHNESS TENGKU IBRAHIM, THE RAJA OF KELANTAN TO THE ALMASHOOR ISLAMIC SCHOOL, PENANG ON MAY IST, 1931. Tengku Ibrahim who was the Sultan of Kelantan visited the school  on 1 May 1931. Among those present were: Messrs. S. Md. Almihthar, SA Mashur, S Ali Bawazir, SM Elidrus, Dr KM Arif, Mr Nik Abdullah, Dato Bentara Dalam, Tengku Indrapetra, HH Tengku Ibrahim, Tengku Abdullah, Messrs. SM Md Hanif, Nik Mahmood, S Hashim Alsagoff, Shekarai Rawther, Shaik Mahamed, Sini Rawther, Messrs. S Mahmood Rafie, S Hussain and Shaik Abbas Rafie (Principal). Newspaper article link

The boys' hostel is in front of the school and closest to Jalan Air Hitam. The Chung Ling High School is across the road from the boys' hostel. Further up the street from the boys' hostel is another boys' school, the Methodist Boys' School (MBS).

SMKA (L) Al Mashoor, Jalan Air Hitam, Penang
SMKA (L) Al Mashoor boys' hostel, Jalan Air Itam, Penang

Sekolah Menengah Agama (P) Al Mashoor

We drove past this school but I did not have time to take photos of it or visit the school.

External link

The Arabs in Penang (1)

The Honda Story of Penang


This is the fourth time someone related the story about Boon Siew and Honda to me - my dad, my mum, a research officer then with USM and Prof Syed Mohsin. After many years of being told about how Honda became a success story in Penang, I have decided to pen down my story of the Honda success story in Penang to share with you. Little did I understand the humble beginnings and the opportunistic franchise that came to Penang. That opportunity was overlooked (blinded to the Penang Arabs) but the Chinese saw the $ behind it and made it big. It led to the Chinese success in taking over the economy of Penang island. This is my version after listening to many people. Of course there is still the Honda Penang Chinese story to listen to and the Japanese Honda story to follow up before my story too can be complete. Here's my story ...

Post WWII 

The Japanese lost the war in Malaya in September 1945. The Japanese army surrendered. From a TV documentary, I learned about the Japanese difficulties faced whilst still in Malaya. Before they left for Japan, the soldiers had to scrounge for food and survived by subsisting on tapioca (manioc; Malay ubi kayu) which they had to grow since their supply of rice ran out. This was in Rompin before the Japanese soldiers were finally taken home to Japan. It was a sad documentary that I watched. Watching the Japanese General beri hormat a tapioca on his prayer shelf can be heart-breaking. War is war. Survival is for the fittest. 

A Japanese lady in post-war Penang 

The Japanese war did not end without any trace. The war left a lot of things behind. They are traceable as the things they left behind are not Malay but Japanese. What things are Japanese? A lot of things. When I was a young child, there was one Japanese lady who frightened me and that memory has lasted a lifetime. I had heard of Japanese atrocities from my mother but not from my father. My mother's father (my grandfather) was tortured by the Japanese army but survived the ordeal. However, his voice changed considerably - he had a gruffy voice; maybe because he was old. He had a human voice but a different human voice. That memory of his voice has lasted in me till today. It feels sad when humans are tortured but that is reality. On the other hand, my dad's people enjoyed the Japanese presence in Malaya. Anyway, this Japanese lady whom I met at my dad's Ami Aziz's shophouse, she looked to me like she had a lot of untold secrets locked in a cupboard. Who was she? Was she a spy? Why did she appear in Penang when she is Japanese? Did the Japanese bring her to Penang for a reason? For what reason? Who is she really? What is the meaning of her existence in Penang? These were the questions that played in my mind throughout my growing up years and whenever I passed by Jalan Anson (Anson Road) in Penang. Even if I forget the roadname, the characteristic whitewashed building will always remind me of my dad's Ami Aziz and this Japanese lady (who is Nenek Jepun to me, for lack of a better name).

Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Sheikh Muhammad 

Sheikh Abdul Aziz is Ami Aziz to my dad. Sheikh Abdul Aziz is Arab but not a Syed. Prof Syed Mohsin tells me that the Arabic word "Ami" is brother (abdooss said it means 'uncle' or 'my uncle'). As I recall Ami Aziz, he was a short tan man. We sat at a table with generous helpings of Hari Raya Aidilfitri cookies - Japanese style! Hahaha ..... yes! Hari Raya cookies, Japanese style! They were prepared by his wife, Nenek Jepun! Goodness. This Nenek Jepun prepared the Raya cookies and even the drinks. And guess what? I tasted the colorful sugar crystals on the sugar-coated cookies but I refused to drink the green-coloured drink, poured and served by ..... Nenek Jepun! Such was my unreasonable childhood fear of this lady! I was frightened that she would "poison" me with the "green juice" that Raya. In the mean time, my dad enjoyed the conversation with Ami Aziz. Who was Ami Aziz? Everybody tells me he was a great man in Penang, but who is he really? After many years of trying to make sense of stories I've heard and trying to fix the jig-saw puzzle, yesterday, Prof Syed Mohsin told me who this Ami Aziz was and the real story behind the Honda motorcycles and cars we see today in Malaysia. It all started in Penang.

[My dad's blood link to Ami Aziz is in my other blog. Try search for 262 Banda Hilir.]

The Honda story 

After the Japanese war, Japan's Honda offered a franchise to Penang to sell its motorcycles. They practically "gave" the franchise to the Penang Arabs, and Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Sheikh Muhammad @ Ami Aziz reluctantly took up the offer, as there was no market for motorcycles in the post-war. He did not know whether the motorcycles would sell. I can't recall what Prof Syed Mohsin said. 

Loh Boon Siew

The young Boon Siew was a Chinese night soil collector (kutip tong tahi). When he heard of the Honda franchise and the Penang Arabs had no faith in it, he offered his interest in the franchise. He took over from the Penang Arabs. To promote sales of the Honda motorcycles, he organised a 50-man motorcade to ride the length of the west coast of peninsular Malaya. The motorcyclists took off from Penang, to KL and on to Singapore and returned the same route. This ability of the motorcycles to withstand the long journey took the Malayan people by surprise and attracted them to buy Boon Siew's Honda motorcycles. Sales of the motorcycles rocketed and instantly Boon Siew's fate changed, from a poor night soil collector to a millionaire. To motorcycles were added Honda cars, a symbol of prestige. Sales rose even further and Boon Siew became super wealthy. So wealthy was he that he alone could "buy" the entire strip of Malaya! Such was his unusual twist of fate. Prof Syed Mohsin tells me that Honda still pays its surviving motorcycle riders a stipend as a symbol of gratitude for making that motorcade a great success which then snow-balled Honda's success in Penang and Malaysia. I don't have the list of names of the 50 motorcyclists, maybe Honda does. You can try and ask Honda Penang and maybe interview the riders too.

Boon Siew Ltd in The Who's Who in  Malaysia 1963

External links for Loh Boon Siew and Boon Siew Honda: - Tan Sri Dato' Loh Boon Siew (1915–1995) also known as “Mr Honda”.

Penang Chinese and the Penang Arabs 

Now that Boon Siew is rich and the Penang Arabs remained status quo, Penang's economy laid in the hands of the rich and influential Chinese. Penang grew and the economy of the Chinese rose higher from the demand of Honda products - motorcycles and cars. Both were much sought after in the Malayan/Malaysian market. Had the Penang Arabs jumped on the band wagon and gone on like what Boon Siew did, Penang's economy today would be in the hands of the Penang Arabs and Penang would remain largely an Islamic island. What lessons have we learned from the Penang Honda story? Yes, never to let an opportunity go by untouched. Opportunities come only once - either take it or lose it. I hope this story of a missed opportunity will never happen again to anyone, be it a Chinese, Indian, Malay or Arab. In historical lessons of this nature, we cannot blame anyone nor is there a need to point fingers. A missed opportunity has reasons and we must take the lessons and move on. Life is such. 

Ami Aziz's family 

From Prof Syed Mohsin's story, Ami Aziz married Nenek Jepun and they have a son. Prof Syed Mohsin tells me the son was a police inspector. They also have an adopted Chinese daughter, Muzlifah. Both are my dad's cousins. I have not met the son nor the daughter. I can't recall where Ami Aziz's shophouse is anymore or whether it is still there or demolished. I have vivid memory of his shophouse alone but not its location. 

Update 22 August 2013: Nenek Jepun had married another man (I don't have his name) and was widowed before marrying Ami Aziz. It was Nenek Jepun's second marriage and also the second marriage for Ami Aziz. Ami Aziz's first wife lived in Jelutong Timur - Nenek Rahmah who kissed me so much when I visited her house by the beach for Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Nenek Rahmah made very tasty putu kacang - sand-dry biscuits - the only putu kacang I would ever eat as a child. The Chinese daughter Muzlifah had married and was widowed before she married a policeman. The mother and child (Nenek Jepun and Muzlifah) were close. According to Tok Chu, the house is behind Masjid Jalan Hatin. See post on Tok Chu.
Ami Aziz's elder sister (kakak) is Patma @ Fatimah bt Sheikh Muhammad. Patma married to Haji Mohd Sharif bin Ismail, and their only son is Mohd Yusope. Mohd Yusope is my father's father, my paternal grandfather. See 262 Banda Hilir for more stories. 
Haji Mohd Sharif is my great-grandfather. Patma is my great-grandmother. So Ami Aziz is my great-granduncle.

Ami Aziz's car shop 

Ami Aziz ran a foreign car trade business at the corner of Jalan Dato' Keramat and Jalan Anson in Penang. The car shop & showroom is a big whitewashed building with the showroom facade on Jalan Anson. The business is varied today. I don't know who owns or manages the place today. 

Ami Aziz's car showroom - facade on Jalan Anson in Penang
Car showroom - facade on Jalan Dato' Keramat


I re-visited the village in Jelutong, Penang on 10 October 2011. The village is behind Masjid Jamek Mukim Jelutong. There were 2 Arab families left, both of the Yamani clan. Some of the old houses that once occupied the shoreline have been demolished and new high rises have been constructed on the reclaimed lands beyond where the giant Chinese junks (tongkang Cina) went aground. Will update at another blog of mine - 262 Banda Hilir.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Arabs in Penang (2)



I visited Masjid Jamek Jelutong & its associated graveyard on 22 October 2011 to locate some graves for TEMD. Jelutong is a tree noted for its gum which is used for making chewing gum. This is my second time visiting the mosque and graves. I visited them about  2 weeks ago on 9 October 2011 but did not have time to look around and study the information here. I went back this week.

1. Masjid Jamek Jelutong, Mukim Jelutong

This is a very old mosque in Penang. It could have been built circa 1820 by the same set of Hadrami Arabs who opened Masjid Banda Hilir in Banda Hilir, Malacca. It is therefore approximately 191 years old in 2011.

2. Kubur Jelutong

a. Kubur beside the parking lot 

On the right side of the mosque (standing facing qiblat) are 4 plots of graves. The frontmost plot is Kubur Syed, followed by Kubur Syed Yasin & Kwangtung China, followed by another set of (older) Kubur Syed with no names visible on the tombstones (batu nisan) and a rear plot within thick enclosed walls. All Syed are buried within Kubur Syed, especially the frontmost plot. Syed Sheikh is buried here.

Entrance to mosque and public parking
Kubur Syed (frontmost plot)
A different view of Kubur Syed (frontmost plot)
Middle plot. Kubur Syed Yasin (in foreground) and the Kwangtung man (rear grave)
Another plot of Kubur Syed (they seem more weathered and without names)
Rear plot of graves within thick brick enclosure

b. Kubur near van jenazah side

On the left side of the mosque are graves of non Syed (non Arabs). There is a big brick wall enclosure and is almost filled with graves. Within the brick wall enclosure is the grave of Hjh Fatimah bt Hamidon. There are more graves beyond the brick wall enclosure. There are many graves all around the brick wall enclosure.

Left side of mosque that opens to the public non-Syed graves
Graves between the mosque and brick wall enclosure. Entrance to enclosure (1/7).
Graves within the brick wall enclosure - left aspect of enclosure , entrance view (2/7).
 Closer to the graves at left aspect of enclosure (3/7).
Pusara Hjh Fatimah bt Hamidon (1/2). Also refer caption below.
Pusara Hjh Fatimah bt Hamidon (2/2), a descendant of Ismail @ Nakhoda Kecil.
Contact Badariah Baba Ahmad in Facebook for family tree and info in Geni.
View, panned from left to right (4/7).
View of right aspect of graves within low stone wall enclosure. View from entrance (5/7).
Another view. Same as above (6/7)
Close-up of headstones of graves inside the low stone wall enclosure (7/7).
More graves beyond the brick wall enclosure
View of the left side of the mosque from the graves within the enclosure.
Aluminium usung for keranda. They are made with wider bottom so many more people can help carry the jenazah
Roll-down aluminium doors through which the jenazah is carried to the grave after solat jenazah
View of graves at kampung or van jenazah side
Affandi performing wudhu'

Most of the graves at Kubur Jelutong do not follow any arrangement (except they all face qiblat) and some graves can be easily stepped on if one is not careful.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Arabs in Penang (3)

The Alhady Clan


The Al-Hady clan is much cited in many texts and blogs. They comprise 5 generations of Arab-Malays with the father of Syed Sheikh as the founder Yemeni Arab who arrived at the shores of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. Syed Sheik is the 2nd generation. Syed Sheik's children (Syed Alwi Alhady is the eldest son) is the 3rd generation. Syed Alwi Alhady's children (Dr SMA Alhady is the eldest son) is the 4th generation. Dr SMA Alhady's children (Prof Sharifah Fareeda Alhady) is the 5th generation.

 Syed Syeikh al-Hadi (1867-1934)

Siri Kefahaman Budaya (1) Cendekia Melayu di Pulau Pinang. Syed Syeikh al-Hadi. Cendekia dan Sasterawan Ulung. Sohaimi Abdul Aziz (Ed). Published by Universiti Sains Malaysia. 2003. ISBN 983-861-250-2 [Citation for the book above is (Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003).]

I visited Penang on 21-22 October 2011. I read the book above and visited Syed Sheikh's residence and grave at Masjid Jelutong (as mentioned in the book above) on 22 October 2011, in the morning.

Below is compiled information on Syed Sheikh and his family. It is incomplete but this is all that I have on him at this moment.

Syed Sheik Al-Hadi (from Wikipedia)


Name (Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003): Syed Syeikh bin Syed Ahmad Hassan al-Hadi

Gravestone (nama pada batu nisan): Syed Sheikh b. Ahmad b. Hassan Alhady 

Popular name: Syed Syeikh al-Hadi

Name as author of his book, Faridah Hanoum (Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003): Al-Syed Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hadi

Referred name after his demise (Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003): Almarhum Syed Syeikh al-Hadi

Date of birth (Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003): He was born in the evening, on Tuesday, 25 December 1867 (25 Rejab 1281 Hijrah)

Gravestone (tarikh lahir pada batu nisan):  Lahir 25 Rejab 1281 <1867>

Place of birth (Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003): Kampung Hulu, Melaka

Date of death (Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003): 20 February 1934 (6 Zulkaedah 1352 Hijrah), aged 67

Gravestone (tarikh meninggal pada batu nisan):  Meninggal 6 Zulkaedah 1352 <1934>

Place of burial 
(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
Buried at Masjid Jelutong

(My visit to Jelutong, 22 Oct 2011):
Syed Sheikh was interred at Tanah Perkuburan Masjid Jamek Jelutong. At the right side of the mosque (standing facing qiblat) in a set of graves known as "Kubur Syed". There are 2 sets of Kubur Syed, one nearer the rear toilets, and the other nearer the front of the masjid. Both the Kubur Syed burial plots are separated by a small burial plot belonging to Syed Yasin (an Indian Muslim) and a Kwangtung (Chinese Muslim from Yunan). Syed Sheikh is buried in the front Kubur Syed. The exact spot is the frangipani tree (pokok kemboja) nearest the mosque entrance (there is another entrance from the roadside). His grave is among a cluster of 8 graves under the frangipani tree. Standing in front of the cluster of graves at the headside, Syed Sheik's grave in the 4th grave from the left. It bears his name.

Syed Sheikh's resting place, inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rojiuun

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
Arab-Malay (Melayu-Arab); father was an Arab descendent (berketurunan Arab); mother was Malay

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
Early education in Melaka. Went to Terengganu but did not like the pondok system. He returned to Pulau Penyengat before going to Middle-East. He was a student of Syeikh Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905).

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
Penasihat Sultan Riau (Advisor to Sultan Riau), Raja Ali Haji Kelana bin Yang di-Pertuan Besar Riau-Lingga. He accompanied royal princes to study at Al-Azhar University in Egypt. He also had close ties with Yang di-Pertuan Besar Riau.

He was Syariah lawyer to Johor Sultanate but he was sacked after he gave a fatwa which did not favour the marriage of Sultan Johor to Lady Marsila (Syed Syeikh said the nikah did not follow Islam:  ... tak sah dari lunas Islam). He left Johor and went to Malacca.

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
He worked for 25 years for the Riau Sultanate. He went to Makkah and Egypt to study Arabic and Islam. He returned but to Singapore to set up a religious school.

What he pushed for
(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
Dakwah Islamiah (Islamic teaching)
Kesusasteraan (literature)
Persuratkhabaran (journalism)

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
He was known as "Bapa Novel Melayu" (Father of Malay Novels)

Contributions to Society
(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
He built 3 religious schools at 3 locations:-
1. Madrasah al-Iqbal, Seligi Road, Singapore (established 1907 but closed down after 2 years as his form of teaching was considered controversial)
2. Madrasah al-Hadi, Banda Kaba, Malacca (established 1917, also closed down for the same reason)
3. Madrasah al-Mashoor (established 1919) on a land donated by Al-Mashoor.

(Siti Mariam bt Yusof, Pers. Comm. 20-21 October 2011):
There are 2 Madrasah al-Mashoor, one for boys and another for girls. The boys' school is in Jalan Ayer Itam, across from Chung Ling High School. The girls' school is in Burma Road.

(Siti Mariam bt Yusof, Pers. Comm. 20-21 October 2011):
Jalan Kelawei is an Arab settlement or "Kampung Syed". A lot of Syed & Sharifah live here. There is a big arch (pintu gerbang) that says Selamat Datang ke Kg Syed.

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
He owned Percetakan Jelutong (Jelutong Press) which published a lot of books in Jawi script, including novels.

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
He was a prolific writer and published a lot of stuff including books/novels, magazines and newspapers.

1. Adapted novels (5 novel saduran)
Hikayat Faridah Hanoum (Penggal 1, 1925; Penggal II, 1926)
Hikayat Setia ____
Hikayat Taman Chinta Berahi / Mahir Afandi dengan Iqbal Hanoum
Hikayat Anak Dara Ghassan / Hendon dengan Hammad
Hikayat Chermin Kehidupan
Hikayat Puteri Nurul Ain
Hikayat Pembelaan dalam Rahsia / Kasih Saudara kapada Saudaranya
2. Siri Cherita-Cherita Rokambul (7 buah)
3. Islamic books (7 buah)
Al-Tarikh al-Islami (previously published as a serial in Al-Ikhwan)
Tafsir Juz 'Amma (1927)
Tafsir al-Fatihah (1928)
Alam Perempuan (1930)
Ugama Islam dan 'Akal (1931)
Hadiah Kebangsaan (1933)
4. Magazines
Al-Imam (1906)
Al-Ikhwan (1926)
5. Newspaper
Saudara (first published 29 September 1928; he was involved for a few months between 1933-February 1934, before he died.)

Saudara was mentioned in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 25 November 1931, Page 12. MATTERS OF MUSLIM INTEREST. Retrieved 28 October 2011, from
Link 1

Residence in Penang
(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
His home address was 410, Jalan Jelutong, Penang

(Siti Mariam bt Yusof, Pers. Comm. 21 October 2011):
His house is just beyond Masjid Jamek Jelutong, by the roadside near the traffic lights, beside Shell. It has been sold to the Chinese. The house is now a Chinese temple (to'kong Cina).

(My visit to Jelutong, 22 Oct 2011):
Syed Sheikh's former house is located next to Esso petrol pump, at the traffic light junction of 3 roads - Jalan Jelutong, Solok Perak, and Jalan Tengku. The house is located at the corner of Jalan Jelutong (housefront) and Solok Perak (left side of house). The house address is 410 Jalan Jelutong, Penang. It is a single single-storey bungalow, after the end of a row of modern double-storey terraced shophouses; the last shophouse bears the address 410A. It occupies a separate compound from the row of shophouses, and has chain-linked fence with 2 entrances in different streets. The house is painted in soft yellow and has light green windows. The house has been taken over by vegetarian Chinese nuns, and now functions as a house of faith (Malay, to'kong Cina).

410 Jalan Jelutong, Penang opposite Esso
Syed Sheikh's house in Jelutong, Penang
Vegetarian Chinese nuns
(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
First wife: Syarifah Syeikhun
Second wife: Singaporean

(The Real Cry of Syed Shaikh Al-Hadi):
First wife: Syarifah Syeikhun
Second wife: Singaporean
Third wife: Sharifah Zainah Al-Mashhur

My query:
Is Syarifah Syeikhun actually her call name or how she was addressed or alluded to in her family circle? Is her real name Sharifah Azizah bt Ahmad Almashoor? Is Ahmad Almashoor, Syed Sheikh's father in-law? Is that why the madrasah in Penang was named Madrasah Al-Mashoor because it was his land which he donated for the madrasah which began at Masjid Melayu Aceh? Need to re-study the Masjid Melayu Aceh history as Madrasah Al-Mashoor actually began at Masjid Melayu Aceh before it shifted many places. Are the 2 + 1 old houses in the grounds of Masjid Melayu Aceh, those of Ahmad Almashoor? Need to ask people at Masjid Melayu Aceh.

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
4 children by first wife (2 boys and 2 girls).
One daughter by Singaporean wife.

Children from first wife
(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
1. Syed Alwi al-Hadi (born 8 August 1892, 15 Muharam 1310 Hijrah at Pulau Penyengat Indera Sakti; died 6 January 1970)
2. Syed Ahmad
3. Aisyah
4. Umhani (My query: is it Umi Hani?)

Daughter from second wife
(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
5. Mariam (Teluk Belanga)
Teluk Belanga (Talok Blangah) is a southern coastal seaport in Singapore.

Syed Sheikh with family in Jelutong, Penang


Syed Alwi al-Hadi's family? / Haji Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheikh al-Hadi
Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheikh al-Hadi was born on 8 August 1892 (15 Muharam 1310 Hijrah) at Pulau Penyengat Indera Sakti in Indonesia and died on 6 January 1970 in Penang.

Haji Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheikh al-Hadi  was involved with the founding of UMNO in Johor along with Onn Jaafar, Haji Anwar bin Abdul Malik, and Mohamad Noah Omar.

Malay nationalism and politics
Early Malay nationalism took root in Johor during the 1920s as Onn Jaafar, whom Sultan Ibrahim had treated as an adopted son, became a journalist and wrote articles on the welfare of the Malays. Some of Onn's articles were critical of Sultan Ibrahim's policies, which led to a strained personal relations with the Sultan. In particular, Sultan Ibrahim expelled Onn from Johor after he published an article in the Sunday Mirror, a Singapore-based English tabloid, which criticised the Sultan's poor treatment of the Johor Military Forces personnel and the welfare of the Orang Asli. Onn became very popular after he continued to cover issues on Malay grievances, and Sultan Ibrahim invited Onn to return to Johor in 1936. Along with his companions, Haji Anwar bin Abdul Malik, Haji Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheikh al-Hadi and Mohamad Noah Omar, they founded the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) as a means to rally the Malays against the Malayan Union, which was perceived as threatening Malay privileges and the position of the Malay rulers. Onn took up the role of UMNO's president on May 1, 1946. (Wikipedia: Accessed 23 Oct 2011)

My thesis
Syed Alwi al-Hadi is the eldest son of Syed Sheikh. Syed Alwi al-Hadi was born on 8 August 1892, 15 Muharam 1310 Hijrah at Pulau Penyengat Indera Sakti and died 6 January 1970.

Did Syed Alwi al-Hadi marry Sharifah Rahmah bt Syed Ahmad al-Mashoor? She is buried next to him.

Was she called Sharifah Sheikhun? Is it her call name? What does Sharifah Sheikhun mean? Does it mean Sharifah the wife of Sheikh (Syed Alwi) or daughter-in-law of Syed Sheikh? Sharifah Sheikhun means a Sharifah but no longer has Syed and Sharifah parents.

If they are couple, how many children did they have?
Who are their children?

Their children are (possibly):
1. Dr A.M. al-Hadi (circa 1921-2003)
2. Syed Fuad bin Alwi Alhady (died 2001)
3. Syed Ahmad bin Syed Alwi Alhadi (died 2001)
4. Sharifah Mahani bt Syed Alwi Alhady (1937-2011)

Syed Alwi al-Hadi is buried in a cluster of 3 graves; his is the middle grave (born 8 August 1892, 1303 Hijrah; died 6 January 1970). On the left is that of Sharifah Rahmah bt Syed Ahmad Al-Mashoor (born 1906; died 22 December 1984, 29 Rabiul Awal 1405 Hijrah) (probably Syed Alwi al-Hadi's wife). On the right is that of Syed Fuad b. Alwi Alhady (died 1 October 2001, 13 Rejab 1422 Hijrah) (probably his son).
Graves from left: Sharifah Rahmah bt Syed Ahmad Al-Mashoor (wife), Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheikh Al-Hadi (husband; eldest son of Syed Sheikh) and Syed Fuad bin Syed Alwi Alhady (son)

His son Syed Ahmad (died 14 June 2001, 22 Rabiul Awal 1422 Hijrah) is buried beside the cluster of 3 graves of Syed Alwi.
Syed Ahmad bin Syed Alwi Alhadi (son)
(Syed Alwi al-Hadi's daughter,) Sharifah Mahani bt Syed Alwi Alhady (died 21 June 2011, 16 Safar 1432 @ 74 years) is buried in front of the carpark roadside entrance.
Sharifah Mahani bt Syed Alwi Alhady (daughter)

Syed Ahmad's family?
Nil is known


Aisyah's family?
Nil is known


Umhani's family?
Nil is known

Mariam's family?
Nil is known


Dr SMA Alhady (photo from AMM)
AMM = Academy of Medicine Malaysia


(TEMD research):
Dr SMA Alhady is Syed Sheikh's grandson, and the son of Syed Alwi Alhady (Al-Hadi).

According to a publication by USIM in 2011 (refer article on Child Dev), Dr SMA Alhady was adopted and looked after by his grandfather, Syed Sheikh.

At one family gathering in 2011 (tahlil for the demise of Prof Syed Mohsin Syed Sahil Jamalullail), Prof Syed Mohsin's mother (Sharifah Mariam Syed Alwi) mentioned that Syed Alwi Alhady married many wives.

Dr SMA Alhady resumed studies at the KE VII in June 1946 and graduated in the Class of 1950 along with Coco, five years after the Japanese occupation ended.

(TEMD research):
If they were classmates, Coco and SMA Alhady could have been born in the same year. Abdul Majid bin Ismail bin Nae’mat (Coco) was born on 15 November 1921 in his grandfather's house in Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Dr SMA Alhady was probably born in 1921 too. How do I verify his DOB?

(Dr Abdul Wahab's book 1987):
Dr SMA Alhady performed his Housemanship at the General Hospital in Penang. He was known as Mr SMA Alhady in his circle. Mr SMA Alhady was a gastric surgeon in Gastroenterology at the General Hospital Penang where he headed a Surgical Unit in 1955. He had introduced and performed gastrectomy.

Street in front of Dr SMA Alhady's house in Gelugor, Penang. 1960s

(From MAPACS 2008): 

Plastic and reconstructive training residency programme offered by Dr BL Morgan, Jacksonville, Florida.

(TEMD research):
Masjid Jamek Jelutong (date of establishment is unknown but could have been circa 1820, i.e., at the same time as Masjid Banda Hilir, now renamed Masjid An-Nur). The Kubur Syed points to these early Arabs who came to Tanah Melayu. Their role was to bring Islam to Jelutong and Penang. Whether this group of Hadrami Arabs practised any form of tariqat is unknown for now. The other strand of this Hadrami Arab is the Alattas, the group that opened Masjid Ba'alawi in Singapore.

(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
Dr A.M. al-Hadi - an early Malay doctor; a Senior Surgeon at General Hospital Kuala Lumpur. He entered into stock investment as Director SEACORP in Kuala Lumpur in 1994.

(TEMD research):
Dr SMA Alhady married Datin Ruby. Their daughter is Prof. Dr Sharifah Fareeda Alhady (SF Alhady), previously with UM. She is in Facebook

Dr SMA Alhady's son is Anwar Alhady (from Datuk Dr Zulkifli bin Ismail, 14 May 2012).

I checked UM Orthopedic pages on 24 June 2012 - Dr Anwar Alhady is not there anymore.


Prof Dr Sharifah Fareeda Alhady (from her Facebook )


She is the daughter of Dr SMA Alhady.

She attended the SMK Convent Bukit Nanas and the Victoria Institution.

She earned her MBBS and Master of Pathology from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.

She eventually became a Professor in the Dept of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine in Kuala Lumpur. She had specialised in Histology (normal cell structure), Cytopathology (cell in diseased state), Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC).

Jayaram, Gita, and Abdul Razak, and Gan, S.K., and Sharifah Fareeda Alhady, (1999) Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology of the Thyroid - A Review of Experience in 1853 Cases. Malaysian Journal of Pathology, 1999 (1). pp. 17-27. ISSN 0126-8635

She was seconded to the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia where she became the Director, for Quality Assurance, Standards, Medical Accreditation

Her websites:


(TEMD Research):
I mentioned earlier that Coco is related to his classmate Dr SMA Alhady. I have no evidence of this except if Dr SMA Alhady is related to the Arab-Malays in East Jelutong, Penang. If he was related, then the Al-Hady and Coco's people are related, by marriage of their ascendants and descendants.

I had met with Dr SMA Alhady in Penang when I was a small girl. 

I had heard of Dr Abdul Majid from my aunts and paternal grandmother when I was a teenager. 

I had interviewed Tan Sri Abdul Majid for TEMD Research on 11 May 2007, not knowing that he is the same Dr Abdul Majid my aunts and grandmother had alluded to in their conversations.

Please refer to my other website on family links at 262 Banda Hilir.


(Sohaimi Abdul Aziz 2003):
Sohaimi Abdul Aziz interviewed Syed Ahmad al-Yahya at Jelutong on 27 January 1994 and USM published his book in 2003.

Who is Syed Isa?
Who is Sharifah Nabilla Alhady bt Syed Isa? (born 5 November 1987; died 1 May 2009, 6 Jamadil Awal 1430)?
Where & when did Dr SMA Alhady die?
What is the name of Dr SMA Alhady's son?
Who is Syed Ahmad al-Yahya in East Jelutong?
Who is Syed Omar in East Jelutong?


External links

Sejarah: Drama Tradisional Dan Drama Modern by Mana Sikana.

Doctor's orders: 'principled eccentric' prescribes a pep pill for commodities exchange
Read more:


Child Development from the Perspective of Syed Shakh Ahmad Alhady
Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research 7 (Special Issue of Diversity of Knowledge on Middle East): 01-06, 2011. ISSN 1990-9233. © IDOSI Publications, 2011

Siti Nazurana bt Konaen (Matrik 150648). 2009/2010. Syed Syeikh Al-Hadi. Sejarah Dan Rumpun Bahasa Melayu. Fakulti Bahasa Moden dan Komunikasi. Semester 2 2009/2010. bbm3101. BA Pengkhususan Bahasa dan Linguistik Melayu. UPM

Adibah Sulaiman, Ezad Azraai Jamsari, Kamaruzaman Jusoff, Noor Inayah Yaakub, Wan Kamal Mujani, Wan Mohd Hirwani Wan Hussain and Zinatul Ashiqin Zainol. Syed Shaykh Ahmad Alhady: A Religious Education Reformist in the Late 19th  and Early 20th  Century. Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research 7 (Special Issue of Diversity of Knowledge on Middle East): 14-21, 2011
ISSN 1990-9233. © IDOSI Publications, 2011.

Syed Sheikh in Encyclopedia Britannica

The real cry of Syed Shaykh al-Hady : with selections of his writings by his son Syed Alwi Al-Hady

Author:Alijah GordonAlwi bin Alhady
Publisher:Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : Malaysian Sociological Research Institute, 1999.
Edition/Format:  Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats

Riau, the milieu of Syed Shaykh's formative years & the aspirations of the subjugated umma / Alijah Gordon --
The life of my father / Syed Alwi Al-Hady --
Syed Shaykh, through the prism of a child's eyes & the Al-Hady clan / Datuk Syed Mohamed Alwi Al-Hady --
Syed Shaykh, his life & times / Linda Tan --
To turn the current of the age / Alijah Gordon --
Syed Shaykh, selections of his writings --
A reformist 'Ulama' in the Malay states / Mahayudin Hj. Yahaya --
Teacher and Kaum Muda activist / Mohd. Sarim Hj. Mustajab --
Syed Alwi Al-Hady, biographical outline and family tree --
Addendum: Riau and the restoration movement / Alijah Gordon.