Monday, 16 July 2012

The Malay Printing Press in Penang


There were several newspapers published in the Malay States and outside the Malay States. 29 of these Malay newspapers between 1900 and 1941 were listed in 100 Akhbar Melayu ((2015) by Hamedi Mohd Adnan.

There were at least 8 Malay printing presses in early Penang in the 1900s.

1. Jelutong Press in Jelutong

2. Warta Negara Press

3. Sinaran Brothers in Kg Seronok, Bayan Lepas

4. Al-Huda Press

5. C.A. Dabab Company 1925

6. C. Dabab & Company 1926

7. The United Press 1928 in Dato' Kramat

8. Pustaka Ismail

Pustaka Ismail



Jelutong Press was mentioned in the Encyclopedia BritannicaJelutong Press was owned by Syed Sheikh.

Sayid Syeikh Al-Hadi (lists publications of 1927-1933)

I still cannot locate the actual premise of Jelutong Press. It should be in Jelutong, Penang, with banana trees in the backyard.

Dr Syed Mohamed bin Alwi Alhady’s (Dr SMA Alhady) grandfather was Syed Sheikh bin Syed Ahmad Hassan al-Hadi, originally from Kampung Hulu in Malacca. Dr SMA Alhady’s father, Syed Alwi al-Hadi, was the eldest son of Syed Sheikh al-Hadi. Dr SMA Alhady was born in his parent's house at 431 Jalan Jelutong, Penang. This house could be this one, a bit hidden behind zinc fence:

Could this be 431 Jalan Jelutong, Penang?

Jelutong Press was established in Jelutong. Syed Sheikh Al-Hady had chanelled much of his assets into setting up Jelutong Press. He even mortgaged his house at 410 Jelutong Road to finance his pet project.

The Jelutong Press was managed by three male staff. They were Encik Ismail - the machinist, Mohd Ariff bin Haji Mohd Shariff - the chief clerk as well as accountant, and Encik Arifin Ishak - the marketing and sales manager.

Arifin Ishak was involved in setting up Sahabat Pena (The Pen Friends), whose members subscribed to Saudara, and helped to keep it going. 

Wazir Jahan Karim. Straits Muslims: Diasporas of the Northern Passage of the Straits of Malacca (2009:178n11).

Jelutong Press in Jelutong, Penang was owned by Syed Sheikh al-Hadi. Photo shows the composing room where the magazine al-Ikhwan and the weekly newspaper Saudara were printed. Standing: Syed Sheikh al-Hadi (in front in dark coat and white pants) and Mohd Tamim bin Sutan Deman. The compositors are seated at the compositor machines.
Photo source: The Real Cry of Syed Shaykh al-Hady (1999: 169)

Likely places where Jelutong Press could be located:

House in Jalan Jelutong, in front of Syed Sheikh's house (across the road)

Syed Sheikh bin Syed Ahmad al-Hadi passed away on 20 February 1934 (6 Zulkaedah 1352 Hijrah), aged 67. He did not pass away of brain disease but of heart disease. He is interred at Tanah Perkuburan Masjid Jamek Jelutong in Penang.

Alijah Gordon. The Real Cry of Syed Shaykh al-Hady (1999: 69)

When he died, the Jelutong Press also dwindled and his house at 410 Jelutong Road was repossessed by his debtors. There are no details of his debtors (possibly chetty) and the repossession of the house ended up being a Chinese temple and is looked after by vegetarian nuns.

My visit to see the house.

Syed Alwi wrote that the Jelutong Press had ceased during the Second World War. This means that the Jelutong Press continued for another 10 years after its founder passed away, before it finally closed down for good before WWII.

Alija Gordon. The Real Cry of Syed Shaykh al-Hady (1999: 80n33)

Why did the Jelutong Press shut down?
The actual reasons for the foreclosure of Jelutong Press is unknown. But I have a gut feeling that the global recession that hit the USA in the 1930s also affected the spare parts, inks and newsprint supplies needed to print the magazines and newspaper. Also the debts grew as usury (riba) usually does. So maybe poor sales and supplies plagued, strangled and finally killed the Jelutong Press, bringing it to eternal stop. It could be also because the Japanese refused printed matter other than Japanese propaganda. 

Shaykh Muhammad Tahir Jalaluddin, together with Sheikh Mohamed Salim al-Kalili, Haji Abbas Mohamed Tahar and Syed Shaykh al-Hady, founded the magazine Majalah al-Imam on 23 July 1906. Later, he contributed writings to Syed Shaykh al-Hady’s magazine al-Ikhwan (1926) and the initially weekly, later biweekly newspaper Saudara (29 September 1928).



The Warta Negara Press HQ was at No 216, Penang Road, Penang.
 Warta Negara publisher was Ahmad Jelani.

WARTA (1953-1954) & WARTA NEGARA (1945-1969)
Warta Negara was written in Jawi script and was published by Warta Negara Press in Penang after WW2, beginning 3 September 1945. The newspaper measured 55 cm x 39 cm and had 4-6 printed pages, sometimes more.

Ahmad Jelani (Ami Jelani) was Bapak's uncle who lived in Gelugor by Jalan Gelugor (now Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah). Two of Ami Jelani's cousins lived in Banda Hilir, Malacca. Ami Jelani's sister was Hawa Jelani ... she linked to Ami Aziz of Jelutong Timur.



There is a more recent Malay printing press at Kampung Seronok, farther up from USM. Kampung Seronok is a tourist village. It may have the leftover parts of the printing press of the old Jelutong Press. I have to ask there some day.

Mansor Sanusi (born 1909, Kg Seronok, Bayan Lepas, Penang-died 1974) was a Malay language teacher, printer and publisher. He wrote and published more than 200 books. He owned the printing and publishing firm, Sinaran Brothers.

Many of USM's high quality books are printed by Sinaran Brothers.



Al-Huda Press owner was Syeikh Abdullah al-Maghribi Al-Ghadamshi, a Libyan.

He was born in 1892 at Ghadamis, Libya.
He died in  1974 in Libya.
He was an influential businessman and educationist in the first decade of the 20th century.
He taught Arabic, Arabic literature, Fekah and Balaghah at Madrasah al-Mashoor in Penang.
He was the Headmaster of al-Mashoor in 1919.
He owned the printing company, Al-Huda Press
He published his writings Kitab Munir al-Ifham and Kitab Ilmu Balaghah
He printed religious reading materials and newspaper, Sahabat


(2) C. DABAB & COMPANY 1926

C.A. Dabab Company was formed by Dabab Haji Muhammad Salleh and Syed Abdul Rahman bin Muhammad al-Habshi in 1925.

He formed a new company C. Dabab & Company in 1926.

He formed The United Press in Dato’ Kramaat in 1928.

His printing companies published books and magazines.

He printed Warta Malaya

He was born in the early 1900s.
He was a merchant, printer and publisher.
He wrote his first book, Kitab Taman Pengetahuan dan Perjalanan bagi Orang Ramai.
He was also a distributor of perfumery, toiletries and medicated oil.
He formed United Trading Company, a distributor of general goods



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Normas Fazly Md Arifin said...

Allahyarham Ariffin Ishak adalah ayah saya. Saya anaknya yg bongsu. Allahyarham meninggal pada 12 Januari 1987.
Allahyarham pernah cerita berkenaan penglibatannya dalam akhbar Saudara dan Persatuan Sahabat Pena PASPAM.

Prof Faridah said...

Terima kasih untuk maklumat tentang ayahanda anda. Sila hubungi saya menerusi emel ( atau WhatsApp saya di 0129632218, jika anda ingin berkongsi maklumat selanjutnya atau gambarnya (potret, tempat kerja dll).

Normas Fazly Md Arifin said...

Terima kasih. Insyaallah saya akan menghubungi Prof bila ada kesempatan. Buat masa ini, saya sedang bertugas di UKM untuk Sukipt. Prof boleh hubungi saya di atau tel/whassap 0127613680

Prof Faridah said...

TQ untuk maklumat anda.