Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos

Please refer to Dr Che Lah's biography in my books:
Research on TEMD, pages 198-199
Biography of TEMD, pages 408-431

I have mentioned his birth date and place on page 408 of Biography of TEMD.

None of his surviving family members knew his exact place of birth and date of birth. I obtained his date and place of birth from his work document and his application to attend the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Affandi and I visited Wisma Persekutuan today before noon. I had to renew my passport and MyKad. I obtained my new passport for RM300 (48 pages) and that should last me 5 years. My MyKad isn't ready and I have to wait 2 weeks.

While we were at Wisma Persekutuan, I asked Affandi if we could ask Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN) and the Health Department about Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos. Affandi decided to help and do all the necessary talking in Kelantanese. I merely listened and followed.

At the central JPN counter, we were given 2 forms to fill, one for Kelahiran (birth) and another for Kematian (death). The lady explained and directed us to go and meet a lady at the main office where the counters were. We did as she directed us. At the counter, the lady said she cannot proceed if I do not have Dr Che Lah's IC #. She said she cannot do a name search. I was lost! How come a JPN computer cannot be searched by name? What sort of program does it operate that fails to have a name-search function? I was not mad but I was just very surprised that the JPN system is not as powerful as I had thought it to be.

We went back to the lady at the central counter and told her a name search wasn't possible and no search was possible without an IC #. She found it strange and asked that we immediately see the deputy director of JPN. We went back and told the counter lady. Again she refused to run a search because I could not provide an IC #. We asked to see the deputy director who had some people with her at the time. It was lunch time and we had to wait. In the meantime, I went upstairs to pick up my new passport and returned downstairs. The deputy still had people. We waited. Then the people left and we were called in.

I greeted the deputy director with salam and then salam her. Then all 3 of us got seated. She had my business card from the counter lady. I gave her 2 more cards for my 2 books. Now she had 3 cards. I told her I wanted to search for Dr Che Lah for my research. I said I did not have his IC#. She said she wished to help but without his IC#, no search was possible. I asked her what an old IC# appeared like and she described that to me. She said old IC# have a K/N number. The K/N is followed by a string of numerals. I told her I have not seen such a thing and I have to re-check the documents I have of him.

After I returned from Wisma, I went straight to my bedroom and opened a box containing Dr Che Lah's photographs and the only printed document I have on him - his 1963 Hajj pass.
By the grace of Allah SWT, my sister was cleaning my mother's bedroom in her Penang home in 2004. She pulled out a lot of my old book boxes and hobby stuff from under my mother's bed (which doubled as her sewing room). She pulled everything out and of all things she found Dr Che Lah's Hajj pass of 1963. We were amazed at the find. My mother said to keep it. I asked for her permission to take it home to Kelantan for photocopying and scanning. I have not returned the Hajj pass to my mother because she died soon after that. I have kept that Hajj pass along with my mother's photos in my bedroom (which doubles as my live-in storeroom).

The Hajj pass was in a food plastic bag. Inside it was the Hajj pass and a pack of B/W photos of Dr Che Lah's 1963 Hajj, with many photos taken at (possibly) Swettenham Pier in Penang and at Jamratul Wusta in Mina. I must admit I have opened this pack of photos before but I never went through the photos one by one. Today, I studied each photo one by one, and to my surprise I was in 3 photos! There were 3 photos that had me as a kid at age 5. I don't remember being at the wharf but I remember my Malay grandmother returning to Banda Hilir, Malacca in 1963.

The 1963 Hajj pass has Dr Che Lah's IC# on the first page. I must have gone through the pass countless times but I didn't know that Kad Pengenalan Nombor is IC# today. It didn't occur to me that THAT was the IC#. We always referred to it as Nombor Kad Pengenalan and never as Kad Pengenalan Nombor. So now I have Dr Che Lah's IC#. Now I can return to JPN and request the counter lady to search for his details. I am glad I still have the Hajj pass despite the many junks in my bedroom (50% junk were burned last year when we did spring cleaning).

I have emailed the deputy director at JPN @ Wisma in Kota Bharu earlier this evening. I wrote a very long email to answer her questions earlier this afternoon. Still, I forgot to give her my mother's IC# which she required because the link to my maternal grandfather must be via my mother. Only my mother and her siblings can search their father's details. Otherwise JPN will not do a search for me since I am of granddaughter status. It is JPN policy that a grandchild cannot search for the details of her grandparents.

Sometimes I feel I should speak my mind. Sometimes I wished I could pull back time and ask my mother to search for her father's details instead. It is very difficult for Affandi & me to get this far just to find where exactly Dr Che Lah was born, in Butterworth in his mother's village or on Penang island at Kg Dodol off Jalan Perak. Both places are in Penang. Penang itself is vast and not a foot wide. Sometimes I think humans make silly rules and policies, and which retard good research. I think people should think and use their discretion and be helpful in any research that comes to a government establishment, like JPN. I really need a lot of cooperation from just about anybody. This research is already hard to do and going the next mile actually drains me too. I try to bring straight facts in my books and I feel bad when I cannot get the details I need.

Wisma Persekutuan in Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Red hardcover of Dr Che Lah's 1963 Hajj passport
Dr M. J. Che Lah's 1963 Hajj passport. Kad Pengenalan No. 2518843 (Blue). Alamat yang tetap: 219 Bukit Gelugor, Penang (this is now 219 Solok Pemancar. The house still stands despite neglect by the realty concerned). Kera'ayatan: P.T.M.    [P.T.M. = Persekutuan Tanah Melayu]
Dr Che Lah's Hajj passport photo and signature of 18 January 1963
Medical Mission cancellation mark.
A majestic steamer named Kuala Lumpur was used for the 1963 Hajj
Dr Che Lah's ticket (top portion of long ticket)
Dr Che Lah's ticket (bottom portion of long ticket)

AT SWETTENHAM PIER, PENANG
1963 Hajj (18 January 1963)
Family send-off

Watching the Hajj ship Kuala Lumpur docking to pick up passengers from Penang before sailing onward to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

With my siblings at the pier in Penang, 18 January 1963. I am at extreme right.
With my mother and siblings at the pier in Penang, 18 January 1963. I am partially hidden and on my mother's left..
My mother tending to us kids at the pier, 18 January 1963

SAUDI ARABIA
1963 Hajj Medical Mission
Stamps by the Hajj Office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The stamped date of arrival is in Jawi script.
Hajj Medical Mission 1963 headed by Dr MJ Che Lah (right most)
Dr Che Lah at Jamratul Ula in Mina, 1963 Hajj, Saudi Arabia
Text at rear of the photo above (Jamratul Ula in Mina).

UPON HIS RETURN TO MALAYA

Dr Che Lah's grandchildren gathered at 262-T Banda Hilir, Malacca. These are my siblings in 1963. I am at second left.
**** This was the house of Haji Mohamed Sharif bin Ismail, my paternal great grandfather. The house was adjacent to Masjid Banda Hilir but was demolished circa 2007. A bigger and modern Masjid an-Nur stands on the former house site today. There should be 2 other houses that resemble the house at 262-T Banda Hilir somewhere in Malacca today. The search for these 2 houses continues. ****
**** The boy at second right in striped pyjamas is arwah Hamdan. He is not my brother but my paternal cousin. He was the son of Cikgu Haji Mohd Yusof bin Bulat, also then the Imam of Masjid Semabok, and my father's brother-in-law. I called him Pak Ji Usop. Pak Ji Usop owned a wooden panel-dark green Morris Minor, probably the only one in Malacca. Pak Ji Usop was also the Kadhi who married off Malacca couples who are now residing in Perth and various pats of Western Australia. These couples still remembered him when I met them at Aidilfitri in 1989. ****

0 comments: