Friday, 14 October 2011



I visited a village in Jelutong, Penang but the place has been completely made-over and the houses re-arranged that I thought it useless to start searching for contacts. I could not locate some of the old houses which I could recall from 45 years ago. I will need to get more info from another key Arab contact person (Professor Syed Mohsin Sahil bin Syed Jamalullail) before returning to interview some of the surviving elderly Arabs in that village. Only 2 Arab families remained at Kampung Jelutong in Jelutong Timur (east Jelutong) - Syed Ahmad and Syed Omar's families.

1. Masjid Jamek Jelutong & graveyard

Jelutong Timur houses Masjid Jamek Jelutong, by the roadside of Jalan Jelutong (busy main street). There are some old graves on both sides of Masjid Jamek Jelutong. There are 2 brick wall enclosures which could be family plots. There is a large brick enclosure on one side and a smaller but higher enclosure by the side nearest the tiny road, nearest the parking lot (by a big empty field). 

Masjid Jamek Jelutong, Penang
Old portion of Masjid Jamek Jelutong, nearest the main road, Jalan Jelutong
Old graves enclosed by a low brick wall (with trees) near the beduk side
Beduk for sounding prayer times, is beside the old graves.
Another group of graves within a high brick enclosure, near the road and parking lot

2. Houses

There are houses from Jalan Jelutong all the way down to the "beach" (no longer since landfill and flats were built). Some houses have been demolished and temporary shacks have replaced them.

At the end of the tiny road are high rise flats. On the left is Richmont Residence (yellow) where some of the former residents of this particular area of Jelutong  moved to when they had to relocate

Jelutong flats built on reclaimed land and facing Syed Omar's house

3. People

As I recall from my childhood moments in Jelutong, there was a tiny sandy lane that led from Masjid Jamek Jelutong all the way down to the beach. The lane was shaded by tall trees. 

I can barely recall the house of Ami Aziz (Abdul Aziz Alyamani) after so long. Anyway, his was the last house and farthest from Masjid Jamek Jelutong, by the shore, where an old junk laid buried in the mud. I would approach his house from the right, from the kitchen side as the house fronted the sea. Two old ladies slept in the hind quarters of his house; they were bed-ridden. I don't know them, but one of the ladies told me to look for my uncle - Syed Mohsin bin Syed Sahil Jamalullail (now arwah). Looking towards the sea, I could see a clear view of the scary skeletal remains of an abandoned large dark brown Chinese junk stuck on its side in the smelly black mud; the deck faced his house. I was told it could be from the time of Admiral Cheng Ho (Laksamana Zeng He). 

I used to spend Hari Raya Aidilfitri at Ami Aziz's house by the sea. We entered the lower part of the house via a small door. The house itself was small. I ate the best putu kacang at his house, in the lower part of the little black double-storey wooden house. Ami Aziz spoke some Arabic and his family kissed and hugged much like the Arabs do when they welcome guests. 

I remember the shape and the cream painted brick and black oiled wood of Ami Ibrahim's house but I did not see his house this time. What I saw was a medium wooden green Malay-styled house. 

Syed Omar's house was previously the last house, and by the sea. It now faces Jelutong flats.
Syed Omar bin Syed Mohamad lived here. His son is Syed Mohamad bin Syed Omar.
Profile of Syed Omar's house.
The other Arab house belongs to Syed Ahmad and is in front of the parked lorry.

4. Contact

I enquired at the nearest car workshop and a tall young man there said Syed Omar lived in that house. He asked that I return after Maghrib to meet Syed Omar. I did not return as I was too exhausted that night. 

I will try and re-visit and enquire what happened to Dr Syed Alwi Al-Hady and family from Syed Omar.