Friday, 14 October 2011

Dr Che Lah Md Joonos

Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos (1903-1986)
Portrait from his 1963 Hajj passport
Hala Pemancar, Penang
Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos had four houses on Penang island. His first house when he returned to Penang after his retirement from the Government service in Pahang (he retired in June 1958) was in Hala Pemancar (according to Azlan Ismail, whose family home is still in Solok Pemancar). It was a small single-storey bungalow (according to Aunty Hajah Aeeshah Daud). The house is still there but I'm unsure which one it is as I only saw one such house. Dr Che Lah then moved to a second house in Solok Pemancar.

Solok Pemancar, Penang I re-visited Dr Che Lah's old double-storey bungalow at 219 Bukit Glugor (now 219 Solok Pemancar), Gelugor or Glugor in Penang. It was rundown and for sale when I visited it. The bungalow faces Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah. I recall the house from since I was 5 or 6 years old, before I went to school. I can recall it because its pastel pink walls and lattice brick walls attracted me from small. Dr Che Lah had sold this bungalow as he had another bungalow at Lengkok Pemancar (around the bend), near where Datuk Anwar Fazal's sister lives. According to Azlan Ismail, Raja Tun Uda then lived in Dr Che Lah's house at Solok Pemancar. Then S. M. Aidid bought the house and owns it till today. The house was put on sale in 2011* but was not saleable. 
*The bungalow at 219 Solok Pemancar was once managed by the real estate agent (Eddie, H/P 012-408 8390). It had looked dilapidated and uncared for in 2011. Nobody lived there when I visited the bungalow. Even the back-house was unoccupied. The gate was locked. Affandi called Eddie to enquire about the status of the bungalow. Eddie said the bungalow was up for sale for RM6.5 million (9 Oct 2011)!

Aidid repainted the house white (4 March 2013). Aidid's name is on the right gate post while the house number 219 is on the left gate post.

Driving along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and approaching Solok Pemancar (road) on the left
We went up Solok Pemancar (dead end) and came back down. This was the view when going down. His house is the last one on the left
Solok Pemancar and the characteristic lattice brick wall which I recalled from childhood and therefore was able to locate his house
Main gate to then Dr Che Lah's bungalow in 2011, now Aidid's.
View of the rear of his bungalow and back-house from the main gate in 2011
Dr Che Lah's former bungalow at 219 Solok Pemancar, Gelugor, Penang in 2011
The bungalow is now whitewashed. 219 and 'Aidid' marked the 2 gate posts in March 2013
Author (far right) with siblings and mother at 219 Solok Pemancar, 1962.  Mother is Dr Che Lah's eldest daughter (of 4 girls).
Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos having dinner at home, 219 Solok Pemancar. 1962
355-A Lengkok Pemancar, Gelugor, Penang
(old 355A Bukit Gelugor, Penang)

Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos at home, 355-A Lengkok Pemancar, Gelugor, Penang. 1962-63
From left: Kamaruddin (son), Mariah (second wife), Kamariah (adopted daughter), Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos.

Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos at home, 355-A Lengkok Pemancar, Gelugor, Penang. 1969

460-H Jalan 7, Cangkat Minden, Gelugor, Penang (Minden Heights)

Dr Che Lah's last residence, 460-H Jalan 7, Cangkat Minden, Gelugor, Penang
Dr Che Lah and wife Mariah @ Matron Chong Nyet Lin.
Celebrating his birthday at home, 460-H Jalan 7, Cangkat Minden, Gelugor, Penang. 1974
Dr Che Lah and granddaughter Aminah bt Abdul Rashid.
Celebrating birthday 1978
Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos at home. 1980s



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.

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