Sunday, 27 May 2012

Tok Chu

I spent the entire day today outside the house. I met with Tok Chu (husband & wife), the parents of Prof. Ahmad Murad Merican. This was the first time we met.  We met at his residence in Ayer Itam, and I interviewed both of them. Tok Chu knows a lot about Penang history. He can remember street names, people and events.


25 May 2012 - I left a note in the Facebook account of Datuk Jenaton group. 

26 May 2012 - I received a hp# of a lady (Kak Yang Kalsom).

26 May 2012 - My husband Affandi called Kak Yang Kalsom as I had the pictures to edit and upload. She SMS and informed of Tok Chu, who would have the key to Datuk Jenaton's graveyard in Minden Heights. Since it was about 1 am, I didn't call the # provided. It was a good thing I did not call.

27 May 2012 - Affandi called Tok Chu and asked about the key to the graveyard. Tok Chu said to come and see him. We went over to Tok Chu's house in Ayer Itam. Earlier after breakfast I checked Google Map for directions to his residence. The landmarks he gave were Kuil India and Kg Melayu. 



Tok Chu lives in Ayer Itam in Penang.

We decided to go down Jalan Masjid Negeri (old street name, Green Lane). We passed by Jalan Thean Teik - a narrow congested road, and the BHP petrol station on the left. We passed by Jalan Satu on the left. We passed by the Indian temple  on the right (Affandi recognised the temple first) - I took some photos of the temple. Then we reached the turn-off for Jalan Dua and finally Jalan Kg Melayu on the left. 


We followed Jalan Kg Melayu to Jalan Ayer Itam and got lost. We U-turned at the school and went back on Jalan Ayer Itam till we reached Jalan Pisang Embun. All the roads here were named after bananas. We turned right into Jalan Pisang Embun and went right till the end. Tok Chu's house is on the right, at the end of the row.

When we arrived, Tok Chu was outside sweeping his porch. We parked in the street (turn right) after his house. Tok Chu met us at his front gate and was happy to see us. He's 83 and still strong. He called out to his wife (also called Tok Chu) and she came to greet us at the door. Tok Chu invited us in and we went inside. 

We started with introducing ourselves. I said I am looking for the key to Datuk Jenaton's graveyard and that we had been there yesterday. I introduced myself as the 10th generation of Muhammad Saleh of West Sumatra (who was well-known as Nakhoda). I also introduced myself as a granddaughter of Dr Che Lah. Once Tok Chu knew where I stand, it was easier to talk as relatives, rather than interviewer-interviewee.


Tok Chu is Mohd Noor Merican  bin Ahmad Merican bin Osman Merican. He was born on 13 June 1929 in Penang and grew up in a big bungalow, now lies empty beside the Chinese girls' school in Jalan Dato Keramat. His mother was Zaleha bt Haji Yasin.

Tok Chu worked as an apprentice surveyor in Sungai Petani. He resigned after working less than a year, for some reason he explained but which I couldn't understand. He then returned to Penang and was with the City Council of Georgetown for 25 years, then with LLN and later TNB. He's retired 25 years ago in 1984.


Tok Chu's father-in-law was Haji Yasin, who was in charge of Masjid Titi Papan in Georgetown. Masjid Titi Papan is named as such because long ago the parit (drain) was large enough for sampan and tongkang to enter right up to the mosque. A wooden plank was used, and thus the mosque was named after the plank.

Haji Yasin was a goldsmith from Medan in Sumatra. His workplace was at Kinta Lane and later in Burma Road. According to Tok Chu's wife, last time there was no lock and key to keep the gold and gold ornaments safe at home. Haji Yasin had to hide his gold ornaments, stuffing them in between anything - books, clothes, etc. That worked fine.

Tok Chu showed us the Silsilah sheet for Datuk Jenaton and other ascendants. From what I understand Haji Muhammad Saleh (Nakhoda) had 4 siblings - an elder brother, himself, a younger brother and a youngest and only sister. Datuk Jenaton married the youngest and only sister of Muhammad Saleh. Thus, they became related by way of marriage. They were also blood relatives even before marriage as their ancestor cousins married in Sumatra. Datuk Jenaton was the younger brother-in-law of Nakhoda.



Tok Chu said long ago, Burma Road was a Malay place with many Malay families. Sir KM Ariff's house was opposite the Telekoms (I have not seen this location).



The Chowrasta School moved at least 2 places - Transfer Road and Jalan Hatin.

JALAN HATIN (old street name was Hutton Road)

The present Chowrasta School is at Jalan Hatin.


Tok Chu knew Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos.


Tok Chu's wife said a lot of Arabs reside in Batu Uban and their graves are at the cemetery attached to Masjid Batu Uban. There are also a large number of them in Jalan Kelawei (Kampung Syed).

Tok Chu also knew Aziz Yamani (my paternal granduncle) who was popularly known as Abdul Aziz Al-Yamani. Aziz was an anglophile. He was of short stature and wore shorts and shirt with short sleeves. He did not come from Yemen (Yaman) but from Malacca. Aziz Yamani had a garage at the corner of Anson Road and Dato' Keramat Road. The British gave him the European car business. (I remember being at his garage in the early 1960s.) They also gave him a double-storey bungalow behind Masjid Jalan Hatin - the bungalow still stands today - it is a bright yellow building (photographed 9 Oct 2011 and 27 May 2012). According to Tok Chu, the house is before '7 hotel'. Aziz Yamani married Nenek Jepun. The mother and child (Mazalifah) often returned to Tokyo.

Front gate of Ami Aziz's residence. His house is the yellow bungalow behind the mosque
(at far left, and partly hidden by the mosque in this pic).


Eastern Smelting was initially at ______________? It is now just flats.

See updates on 22 August 2013.


Tok Chu's wife is Hendon bt Ahmad bin Abdullah. She was born on 2 August 1932. She has 5 elder brothers - Zainol Abidin, Zainudin, Mohamad Tahir, Ibrahim and Abdul Halim. Hendon is descended from Datuk Jenaton.