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



External links:

The Sultanate of Sulu

Where and what is Sulu? Have you ever heard of Sulu?

Sulu is an autonomous island province of the Philippines located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Its capital is Jolo and occupies the middle group of islands of the Sulu Archipelago, between Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. It is home to the historical Sultanate of Sulu. 
The peaceful advent of Islam around 1138 through merchants and traders had a distinct influence on Southeast Asia. The coming of Arabs, Persians and other Muslims paved the way for the arrival of religious missionaries, traders, scholars and travelers to Sulu and Mindanao in the 12th century. 
A landmark born of the social process was the founding of the principality of Buansa Sumatra, who settled there and married the daughter. A decade earlier (1380), Karim-ul-Mahkdum, an Arab religious missionary and learned judge, reinforced the Islamic foundation of Rajah Baguinda’s polity (1390–1460) and that of the Sultanate of Sayid Abubakar, princely scholar from Arabia who married Paramisuli, the daughter of Rajah Baguinda. Sayid Abubakar eventually inherited the rule of Rajah Baguinda, established the Sultanate and became the first Sultan of Sulu. To consolidate his rule, Sayid Abubakar united the local political units under the umbrella of the Sultanate. He brought Sulu, Zamboanga Peninsula, Palawan and Basilan under its aegis. 
The navigational error that landed Ferdinand Magellan to Limasawa brought the Philippines to the awareness of Europe and opened the door to Spanish colonial incursion. The Spaniards introduced Christianity and a political system of church-state dichotomy encountering fierce resistance in the devastating Moro wars from 1578 to 1899. 
After Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States, American forces came to Jolo and ended the 23 years of Spanish military occupation (1876  to 1899). On August 20, Sultan Jamalul Kiram II and Brig. Gen John C. Bates signed the Bates Agreement that continued the gradual emasculation of the Sultanate started by Spain (Treaty of 1878) until its final inertia on March 1915 when the Sultan abdicated his temporal powers in the Carpenter Agreement. The Agreement totally vanished opposition against the civilian government of Gov. Clinton Solidum.
The Department of Mindanao and Sulu under Gov. Carpenter was created by Philippine Commission Act 2309 (1914) and ended on February 5, 1920 by Act of Philippine Legislature No. 2878. The Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes was organized and briefly headed by Teofisto Guingona, Sr. With the enactment by the US Congress of the Jones Law (Philippine Autonomy Law) in 1916, ultimate Philippine independence was guaranteed and the Filipinization of public administration began. Sulu, however, had an appointed American governor until 1935 and the Governor General in Manila had a say in Sulu affairs. At any rate, the essence of local governance forged by Rajah Baguinda continued to permeate the ethos of Sulu politics despite centuries of colonial presence. History points to a local government in Sulu that antedates other similar systems in the country. 
Today, Sulu has a locally constituted government under the new leadership of Governor Benjamin T. Loong and is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The Tausug dominate the Sulu Archipelago. The Tausug were among the first inhabitants of the Philippines to embrace Islam as a religion and a way of life. Their traditional religio-political structure is the sultanate. The sultan is the head of all ranks. Succession is by election by his staff although patrilineal succession is the ideal. 
The Tausug are referred to as ‘people of the current’, reflective of their close ties to the sea. The handicrafts of Sulu mirror Islamic and Malay influences. Skilled artisans make boats, bladed weapons, bronze and brassware, pis cloth, embroidered textiles, shellcraft, traditional house carvings, and carved wooden grave markers. 
Fishing is the most important industry since the Sulu Sea is one of the richest fishing grounds in the country. The province also has an extensive pearl industry. Pearls are extensively gathered and a pearl farm is established at Marungas Island. The backs of sea turtles are made into beautiful trays and combs. During breaks from fishing, the people build boats and weave mats. Other industries include coffee processing and fruit preservation. - Wikipedia.

Sultanate of Sulu
Photo 2

Sultanate of Sulu 
The Sultanate of Sulu was granted the north-eastern part of the territory as a prize for helping the Sultan of Brunei against his enemies and from then on that part of Borneo was recognised as part of the Sultan of Sulu's sovereignty. In 1878, Baron Von Overbeck, an Austrian partner representing The British North Borneo Company and his British partner Alfred Dent, leased the territory of Sabah. In return, the company was to provide arms to the Sultan to resist the Spaniards and 5,000 Malayan dollars annual rental based on the Mexican dollar's value at that time or its equivalent in gold. This lease was continued until the independence and formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963 together with Singapore, Sarawak and the states of Malaya. As of 2004, the Malaysian Embassy to the Philippines had been paying cession/rental money amounting to US$1,500 per year (about 6,300 Malaysian Ringgits) to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu despite Spain and indirectly Sulu renounced all sovereignty according to Article III of Madrid Protocol of 1885. 
On 12 September 1962, during President Diosdado Macapagal's administration, the territory of North Borneo, and the full sovereignty, title and dominion over the territory were ceded by the then reigning Sultan of Sulu, HM Sultan Muhammad Esmail E. Kiram I, to the Republic of the Philippines. The cession effectively gave the Philippine government the full authority to pursue their claim in international courts. The Philippines broke diplomatic relations with Malaysia after the federation had included Sabah in 1963 but probably resumed it unofficially through the Manila Accord. 
In 1968, Ferdinand Marcos was training a team of saboteurs on Corregidor for infiltration into Sabah but instead Marcos double-crossed the saboteurs. This event is known as the Jabidah massacre. Diplomatic ties resumed in 1989 because succeeding Philippine administrations have placed the claim on the backburner in the interest of pursuing cordial economic and security relations with Kuala Lumpur.- Wikipedia.