7 November 2005
Monday, 7 November 2005, 11.03 am - 1.02 pm.
I e-mailed Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lee Lik Meng, School of Housing, Building and Planning, USM on 24 August 2005. I was surfing his e-learning website and came across his profile. I wanted to obtain information concerning my maternal grandfather, Dato' Dr. Che Lah bin Mohd. Joonos.
I wanted to know if he knew my grandfather who used to work with Penang Town Council after his retirement. I wanted to obtain some background of his work with Penang Town Council.I also needed photographs of buildings such as health clinics and hospitals in Malaysia, including Hospital Kuala Lumpur.I needed to know more about the Leper Settlement, Sungai Buloh where my grandfather once worked during the Japanese Occupation.My grandfather had also designed the layout for Minden Heights housing area, Penang (adjacent to USM, Penang main campus) in the early 1970s where his house still stands today.He was also Penang's Health Inspector but at that time the rivers in Penang were not smelly as they are today. At the time he was Penang's Health Inspector, he made sure that the rivers in Penang were clean and none of the rivers smelled as bad as they do today.He made sure that the restaurants and all eating outlets on Penang island kept to strict cleanliness and standards fit for human consumption. He would check out every restaurant where he ate. He would call the restaurants first to make a booking for a table of three (himself, his wife and me). As I recall, he was fond of Dawood Restaurant (we dined upstairs) and another one near the Keramat police HQ, Penang. We also dined (Sunday brunch) at Palm Beach Hotel, Ferringhi, Penang.He made sure the markets, especially Jelutong market, were kept clean. As I recall, almost everyone selling in Jelutong wet market greeted both his wife and him when we went marketing with his Chinese amah, Che Che (sister).Che Che was a female refugee fleeing mainland China. Che Che was married with 2 daughters but they died due to starvation (her breastmilk dried up) during the tortuous journey to Malaya. Che Che worked for Dr. Che Lah's household most of her lifetime. Che Che adopted a girl, Ah Fah. Che Che went to live with a kongsi in Penang in her old age and later died at the kongsi. I was upset when Che Che died as I had fond memories of Che Che. At the time I came to know Che Che, I was five and she was 52 years old but was strong. She had good teeth and build. Che Che actually taught me some Chinese, Chinese ladies internal (tie string type) and outer garments (light blue top and loose black pants), and how to prepare Chinese dishes. We enjoyed listening to Chinese stories on radio and fed the dogs nasi anjing. Che Che was fun and a very loving Chinese woman.
Dr. Lee Lik Meng replied and thanked me. He did not have information concerning my grandfather. However, after we met in USM Health Campus in Kubang Kerian Kelantan, while on his return flight from Kota Bharu to Penang, he suddenly realised that there is one man who might be of help to me. This man used to work in the Penang City Council in the 1960s but is now active in NGOs. Dr. Lee Lik Meng gave me Dato' Anwar Fazal's name. Dr. Lee Lik Meng believes that Dato' Anwar Fazal is a walking library and would know about my grandfather.
Dr. Lee Lik Meng e-mailed me again on 3 September 2005 to inform me that luck was with me this time. He asked that I contact Dato' Anwar Fazal for some more insights about my grandfather.
Dato' Anwar Fazal had replied to Dr. Lee Lik Meng's e-mail on 2 September 2005 with 'Penang Town Council' as the subject. Dato' Anwar Fazal e-mail contained a line that read "he was an icon ...was with the rural district council ... my father nearly bought his home in jalan pemanchar ... more later ... anwar."
I was amazed by Dato' Anwar Fazal's instant recall of my grandfather! I do not even know when they last met. I have not met Dato' Anwar Fazal at the time of this writing.
I can still recall my grandfather's house in Jalan Pemanchar. I met an American archaeologist from the University of California, Berkeley at my grandfather's house in Jalan Pemanchar. Prof. Collin had just returned from an teaching archaeology in Indonesia and had put up in my grandfather's house before returning to Berkeley. I met and consulted Prof. Collin concerning my upcoming studies in California in 1976 and he provided me some advice. He told me to look for him in Berkeley when I arrive in California (I did but could not locate him somehow - lost the information he wrote for me).
I am not too sure about rural district council. Which district council was this?
As I recall there was a woman who knew my grandfather very well. She worked at one of the district clinics in Penang. She is Prof. Asma Ismail's mother. I don't know her mother's name but I met the mother once at the clinic where she worked in 1982-1983. I have never met the mother before but her mother instantly recognised me and asked "Ni cucu Dr. Che Lah ke?" when I first met her at the clinic where she worked. We were on our Community and Family Case Studies (CFCS) visitation to health clinics in Penang under Prof. Rusli Nordin's supervision. We chanced to stop by her workplace. I met her again when Prof. Asma Ismail got married. I met her a third time near a staircase when she came to visit USM Kubang Kerian. The last time I met her was while she was recuperating from a car accident in Hospital USM, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan. It would be good to interview Prof. Asma Ismail's mother as she would know alot about my grandfather.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lee Lik Meng (now Prof. Lee Lik Meng in 2012)
School of Housing, Building and Planning (HBP)
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)
11800 USM, Penang, Malaysia
Dato' Anwar Fazal
Worked with Penang Town Council in 1960s
Retired from UNDP
Works for World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)
Prof. Asma Ismail
Institute for Research on Molecular Medicine (INFORMM)
Universiti Sains Malaysia
16150 Kubang kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia
Prof. Rusli Nordin
School of Dental Sciences
Universiti Sains Malaysia Health Campus
16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia
Prof. Collin Edwards
University of California, Berkeley
Telehealth Research Group
School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia
School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia