Thursday, 9 August 2012

Search 5

January 2005

The fifth search is to re-study all the information I had gathered and accumulated concerning Dato' Dr. Haji Che Lah b. Mohd. Joonos (Class of 1930; Born 10 December 1903; Deceased 26 January 1986).

I believe that some people might still remember him or that something must have been recorded somewhere about him.

His village stretches from the periphery of Minden Heights to the shores of Penang bridge. His village is still there but some houses have been demolished to make way for Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah in front of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and the periphery road leading to Penang bridge.

His last residence still stands at 460-H, Cangkat Minden, Jalan 7, 11700 Gelugor, Pulau Pinang (near USM side gate facing towards Georgetown).

My mother was the eldest from Dato' Dr. Haji Che Lah's first marriage to a non-Malay woman. They had 4 daughters and an adopted son. Dato' Dr. Haji Che Lah had a second marriage to a non-Malay woman. They had a son and adopted a daughter. My mother had managed to get some information from her father at his bedside just before he passed away in Hospital Pulau Pinang in 1986. Dato' Dr. Haji Che Lah b. Mohd. Joonos was buried in the graveyard adjoining Masjid Gelugor in Penang.

I have known my grandfather since small. He also attended my wedding in 1983 in Penang. As I recall, he was very big, tall, kind, very humble, very energetic, and highly talented. His knowledge seemed to cover vast areas. His interest was people. His highly prized skill was his communication skills. He spoke quite a few languages - Malay, English, Tamil, Cantonese, some German, some Arabic, and a few others. He spoke mainly English at home for the women he married did not speak much Malay. He spoke Malay to the Malay visitors who frequented his home. He had so many visitors especially in the evening. He spoke Tamil to the JKR workers who came to clean the grounds of his mansion (now demolished). He enjoyed his work as a doctor. He was 5 years retired when I was a child aged 5. He did quite a lot of work following retirement.  He designed and helped build the township of Minden Heights (adjacent to USM main campus in Penang) in 1971 (I was in Form 1, Sekolah Menengah Zainab, Kelantan). We went through the blueprint for Minden Heights; I was asked to calculate the land sizes and areas, and  studied a few things about the intended layout plan for Minden Heights. I often visited his house which was next door to my mother's house. I was there mainly to study mathematics for which he had set aside a table for me by a big window upstairs. He was supportive of my interest in mathematics and sciences. I was also there to read some of his journals on Tropical Medicine, from which I came to learn about malnutrition in Africa, and most importantly, we discussed a lot of things about biochemistry. He told me to be a doctor. We talked about everything from blood gases, coma, right up to van den Bergh test for bilirubin. He had genuine interest in astronomy (he said Allah structured everything including the universe). His greatest love was for Allah. He served as a doctor on 9 Haj pilgrimages by sea liners. He brought back quite a lot of stuff from the Arab land, a good one was Asma al-Husna which he adored. He was particularly good with chemistry, especially at making plain and perfumed soap. He was also good at the water filter. He worked on the water problem for a long time because he said there is no way to kill a virus 100%. He had bought a few water filters to try them out at home. He was interested in why babies shrieked in the middle of the night - for which I was asked to investigate the pH of baby milk formulas! I also had to report back to him! He practically enjoyed everything, every bit of his life. He was never so angry. I have never seen him being angry nor can I recall him being angry. If he got angry, he would roll up a newspaper and used that to tap lightly on the head, nothing like the kid bashing we hear about nowadays. He liked people, just about anyone. He was very gentle and spoke in a very gentle voice despite his big size! He loved music, mostly evergreen such as Ray Conniff. He listened to music mainly at night. He read papers while listening to music. He always turned up for anything and appeared as the happiest person at any occasion - birthday parties, beach parties, any kenduri, anything for that matter. He loved to dress up to go to masjid for Friday prayers and Hari Raya - he looked very clean and very handsome. He wore a hat and carried a walking stick. He drove once in a while for he had a very good driver. He grew durianrambutan, bamboo, palms, cloves, nona (custard apple), bleeding hearts, orchids and roses, mostly roses. He had a few other plants including those from his overseas travels. One was a big woody tree with soft red furry fruits (Kesumba or Inai KelingBixa orellana), probably from Indonesia. He had a beautiful lawn with quite an impressive landscape. He usually sat on the swing with me in the evening to have tea and pisang goreng (banana fritters) in the garden (after I had finished work at USM) and we watched passers-by until almost maghrib. He is best remembered as a loving grandfather. He would always smile around people, and smiling was his greatest gift. He was the kindest grandfather a granddaughter could ever have. He was simply a wonderful person.

Dato' Dr. Haji Che Lah b. Mohd. Joonos
March 1930
Graduated with a Licentiate in Medical Surgery (LMS) from King Edward VII College of Medicine, Class of 1930. Served as a royal doctor to the late Sultan Sir Abu Bakar of Pahang. Chief doctor in charge of the Sungai Buloh leper camp during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya (1942-1949). Badly tortured with salt water to his throat by the Japanese soldiers but survived. Made soap for his villagers during WW2. Responsible for the set up of public toilets on Pulau Besar in Melaka. He was Penang Health Inspector. Retired from General Hospital in Penang in December 1957, after Merdeka. Following retirement, he became an Honorary Town Planner and a member of the Penang Town Council. He also served as a doctor for the Haj pilgrimage in 1963 (his ninth and last Haj pilgrimage).
Last residence: 460-H, Cangkat Minden, Jalan 7, 11700 Gelugor, Pulau Pinang.
Born: 10 December 1903
Deceased: 26 January 1986
NUS - 
Son -
Grandsons - M. Sharif bin Abdul Rashid, M. Farid bin Abdul Rashid, and M. Amin bin Abdul Rashid (all residing in Kuala Lumpur)
Granddaughters - Sharifah bt Abdul Rashid (Minden Heights, Penang), Faridah bt Abdul Rashid 
 (USM, Kelantan), Rabi'ah bt Abdul Rashid (Jengka Pusat, Pahang), and Aminah bt Abdul Rashid (Kuala Lumpur)
Great grandsons - M. Hafiz bin M. Sharif, M. Daniel bin M. Sharif, M. Azhar Hakim bin Affandi and M. Ibrahim Adzim bin Affandi (both residing in Kelantan)
Great granddaughters - Aishah bt M. Sharif, Nur Husna bt M. Sharif, Nuraishah Bazilah bt Affandi, Nurfarahiyah Nasuha bt Affandi, Nuramira Suraiya bt Affandi, and Yusrina Faqihah bt Affandi (all residing in Kelantan)


Assoc. Prof. Faridah Abdul Rashid
Granddaughter of Dato' Dr. Haji Che Lah b. Mohd. Joonos (Class of 1930).
Work address:
Department of Chemical Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia. Tel: +6-09-766-4755. Fax: +6-09-765-3370.

Hajj Pilgrimage
In her book "Malaysia, A Pictorial History 1400-2004" (2004), Wendy Khadijah Moore wrote on page 255 that Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra bid farewell to the first batch of pilgrims to Mecca to depart from Port Swettenham, 20 February 1960. And the adjacent page 254 had a photograph of the ocean liner with Tunku in the foreground - photograph was from Arkib Negara Malaysia (ANM).

The Haj is an annual event performed only in Mekah. I was told by my grandparents that the sea trip took 3 months each way and many who died on board were buried at sea. If the Haj services by sea liner only started in 1960, how could my grandfather perform 9 Haj trips since 1963 was his nineth and last trip? How did he reach Mekah before 1960?

Telehealth Research Group
School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia