Sunday, 31 March 2013

Straits Arabs

Redirects and updated here:

Friday, 29 March 2013

Hijrah Calendar

Many old documents in Malay history used the Hijrah calendar.

I'm putting up the Hajj month of the Hijrah calendar in this post so it will be easy to find the link and to refer to the dates in both the Islamic and civil calendars.

Hirah calendar

International dateline

1936 AD is 1354 Hijrah: The Hajj was 2-6 March 1936.

1962 AD is 1381 Hijrah:  The Hajj was 13-17 May 1962.

Saturday, 1 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 5 May 1962
Sunday, 2 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 6 May 1962
Monday, 3 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 7 May 1962
Tuesday, 4 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 8 May 1962
Wednesday, 5 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 9 May 1962
Thursday, 6 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 10 May 1962
Friday, 7 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 11 May 1962

Saturday, 8 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 12 May 1962
Sunday, 9 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 13 May 1962 ........ Hajj begins at Arafah at noon
Monday, 10 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 14 May 1962 ..... Hajj begins
Tuesday, 11 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 15 May 1962 ---- Hajj day (Hari Tasyriq)
Wednesday, 12 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 16 May 1962 ---- Hajj day (Hari Tasyriq)
Thursday, 13 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 17 May 1962 ----- Hajj day (Hari Tasyriq)
Friday, 14 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 18 May 1962

Saturday, 15 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 19 May 1962 .... completion of Hajj (Sai'e)
Sunday, 16 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 20 May 1962
Monday, 17 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 21 May 1962
Tuesday, 18 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 22 May 1962
Wednesday, 19 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 23 May 1962
Thursday, 20 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 24 May 1962
Friday, 21 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 25 May 1962

Saturday, 22 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 26 May 1962
Sunday, 23 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 27 May 1962
Monday, 24 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 28 May 1962
Tuesday, 25 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 29 May 1962
Wednesday, 26 Zulhijjah 1381 Hijrah is 30 May 1962

Imam Masjid Semabok

Masjid Semabok is an old mosque in Malacca. The imam there once was Cikgu Yusof bin Buntal. He left Malacca for his Hajj in Makkah on 10 June 1954 (about 2 months before the Hajj). Imam Yusof was the Qadhi for several Malay marriages which he conducted at Masjid Semabok. Some of the Malay couples have migrated to Western Australia and I met some of the couples while doing my PhD at UWA in 1986-89. They still remembered Imam Pak Ji Usop which was his call name. I don't have the date when Imam Yusof passed away. Will ask my Malacca cousins.

These photos below were taken by my father after the Japanese war, after he returned to Malacca from Kirkby, England, and before he got married. They were retrieved from his collection of printed photos. Other photos of Imam Yusof's family (mainly his children) are in my Facebook.

Cikgu Yusof standing in the anjung of his small wooden Malay house in Semabok, and facing the villagers who came to see him at home before he left for Makkah.
A young Cikgu Yusof bin Buntal, Imam of Masjid Semabok in Malacca, before he went for Hajj.
My father's handwritten notes on the back of Cikgu Yusof's photo. Cikgu Yusof was my father's elder brother-in-law and mentor, after his own father had passed away.

Hijrah calendar. The Hajj was 7-11 August 1954.

Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar

Here is some update for Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar, an early Malay doctor.
29 March 2013

I have managed to trace and contacted his eldest son's family in KL. I have sent a copy of my book Biography of the Early Malay Doctors to one of his granddaughters, Idora bt Abdul Rashid. Idora will get her father, Abdul Rashid bin Abdul Aziz, to check his father's biography which I have written before I knew the family and had any family contact.

There is a younger daughter, Hjh Rashidah bt Abdul Aziz who lives in the family home at 3955 Jalan Telipot in Kelantan. I have the address as provided by Idora's mother but I haven't had the time to visit the house. I checked my photos of Telipot homes, and I have in my collection a 2011 photo of the entrance (opened gates) to the home. I will wait till I get corrections from Idora's parents and then try and make a visit to Telipot and also (in sya Allah) to KL to meet with Idora and her parents. Idora has not met her grandfather as he passed away before she was born.

A reader also wrote comments about Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar's Penang relatives somewhere in this blog. The reader knew the family members.

I hope to be able to correct and edit the biography of Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar and also insert better photos once I get them from his son and family, in sya Allah. I visited Hjh Rashidah at home on Telipot in 2018, and got a few photos of Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar.

Please write to me if you know Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar or know him.

Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar was with Rotary Club in Kota Bharu, Kelantan in 1962/63. He was the immediate past president (in 1962).

The Straits Times, 22 January 1963, Page 7
Dr Hugh Russell Tinker, Reader in Politics and Government in the University of London, said here that territories wishing to join Malaysia should not worry too much about forces trying to disrupt the move. He was speaking at a weekly Rotary Club luncheon on the common ties of South-East Asia. Good move. The immediate past president of the club, Dr Abdul Aziz bin Omar, asked what he thought of Malaysia. Dr Tinker said: "I feel it is a good move that the countries proposing to join Malaysia can stand as a solid body. Countries joining Malaysia should not worry too much on outside forces aiming to stop the formation of Malaysia. These forces will get nowhere if you unite and achieve your aims."

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Meet Dr Azni Yusliza bt Yusoff

Azni Yusliza bt Yusoff graduated with an MBBS degree from the UKM medical school. She worked as a government doctor at a rural area many years, and most of her patients were Indians. She was then offered a director's post in Putrajaya. She is married to Affandi's younger brother, Azri Hussien, a computer engineer. The couple has 5 daughters. The family resides in Nilai. They returned to Kelantan for the school holidays and visited us at home. I handed over a copy of the book Biography of the Early Malay Doctors for the Kementerian Kesihatan library in Putrajaya. I gave her a personal set of my books so she could help out at her workplace.

Dr Azni Yusliza bt Yusoff
Ketua Penolong Pengarah Kanan
Cawangan Pembangunan Profesion Perubatan
Bahagian Perkembangan Perubatan
Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia

Monday, 25 March 2013

Obituary: Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail

Abdullah Hamid has emailed to inform me that my granduncle Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid @ Coco or Koko Majid, has passed away yesterday, 24 March 2013. Tan Sri wrote the Foreword for my book. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rojiuun.

Dear Prof, assalamu 'alaikum
This is to inform you that Tan Sri Dr A Majid Ismail (Koko Majid) passed away this afternoon.Jenazah akan diuruskan dari rumah allahyarham di Taman Duta KL pagi esok dan akan dikebumikan di Royal Mausoleum Selangor. I recall reading in your blog that you're related to Allahyarham. My wife was classmate with one of the daughters, Elena.

Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail (1921-2013)

Dr Haji Abdul Majid bin Ismail (b.1921). He was born in Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur. He attended schools in Kuala Lumpur, first Sekolah Melayu Segambut, then Maxwell School, and Batu Road School before he was accepted into Victoria Institution. He won a Selangor State Scholarship to study medicine. He graduated with MBBS from the University of Malaya in Singapore in 1950. He was a Queen’s Scholar and pursued his postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and then at the University of Liverpool. He became the first Malay Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in 1958. He had served at General Hospital Kuala Lumpur and Seremban. He was the first Eisenhower Fellow in 1963. He became the Director of Planning & Research in the Ministry of Health before he became the second Director-General of Health Malaysia till his retirement in 1976.

Abdul Majid was born to Ismail bin Nae’mat on Tuesday, 15 November 1921, in his grandfather’s house in Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur. The house has ceased to exist. Today, this spot would be at the intersection of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Raja Abdullah. 

He obtained a Selangor Education Department Scholarship 1932-39; Selangor Government Scholar 1940; enrolled at King Edward VII College of Medicine Singapore 1940-42 (pre-war) and 1946-49 (post-war); Japanese occupation in Malaya and Singapore 1941-45; Japanese Army Medical Corp took charge of hospitals; laboratory assistant to a Japanese chemist; his family home in Kuala Lumpur was bombed, and he lost all his photographs; returned to Ujong Pasir within Kampong Baru in Kuala Lumpur during the Japanese occupation; earned a living by selling salted fish, kerosene, birds, chickens, and tapioca; joined the Ikka Daigaku at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and moved to Malacca General Hospital in 1943; resumed medical studies at College of Medicine Singapore 1946-49; Social Secretary Medical College Union; King Edward VII Medical College and Raffles College merged in 1949 to form University of Malaya based in Singapore 1949; MBBS UM (Singapore) 1950; Medical Officer (MO) General Hospital Kuala Lumpur (GHKL) 1950-53; Program Doktor Radio 1950s; first Malay Queen’s Scholar in Medicine from UM (Singapore) 1950; Queen’s Scholarship 1950; pursued postgraduate studies in Edinburgh and Liverpool; Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh 1953-55; FRCS Edinburgh 1955; returned to Malaya 1955; State Surgeon Negeri Sembilan 1956; University of Liverpool 1957; M.Ch.Orth. Liverpool 1957; returned to Malaysia; first orthopaedician in Malaysia 1958; first Malay Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in Malaysia 1958; Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon FoM/Malaysia GHKL 1958-69; regarded as Father of Orthopaedics and Orthopaedic Surgery in Malaysia; first Eisenhower Fellow from Malaysia 1963; Eisenhower Fellowship Pennsylvania, USA, 1963; Council Member UM 1959-87; Council Member UKM 1970-78; Chairman Council UM 1978-87; Founder Member and President College of Surgeons Malaysia; Founder Member and first President Malaysian Orthopaedic Association (MOA) 1967-82; Past-President Malaysian Council for Rehabilitation; Past-Chairman/Vice-President National Council of Social Welfare Malaysia; Past-President Persatuan Dato’—Dato’ Di Raja Selangor; Member of Board of Trustees Malaysian Medical Association (MMA); Past-President Selangor Government Servants Cooperative, Thrift and Loan Society; Ahli Dewan Di Raja Selangor (Member of the Ruler’s Advisory Council Selangor) 1996-98; Past-President Senior Government Officers Association (SGOA) Malaya; Founder Member and Past Vice-President Asean Orthopaedic Association; President Yayasan Sultan Abdul Aziz (Sultan Abdul Aziz Foundation); Past-Member of Board of Trustees National Welfare Foundation; Past-President Kelab Taman Perdana Di Raja (Royal Lake Club); Founder and Past-President Western Pacific Orthopaedic Association (WPOA); Founder and Past-President Malaysian Association of Sports Medicine (MASM); Past-Chairman National Medical Research Council (NMRC); Chairman, Campus Life Committee UM 1973; Member of the Board of Visitors GHKL; Chairman The Heart Foundation of Malaysia; Vice-President Eisenhower Fellows Association Malaysia; Foundation Fellow for Medical Science, Academy of Science Malaysia; Founder Chairman Pantai Hospital (later became Pantai Medical Centre); Founder Chairman INTI College; Chairman Director and Shareholder Syarikat Endah Sari Sdn Bhd, Tron Development Sdn Bhd, United Highlands Sdn Bhd, Selesa Health Farm Berhad, Maddusalat Berhad, Inti Universal Bhd, Syarikat Enjah Arif Sdn Bhd, and Syarikat Endah Sari Electronics Sdn Bhd; Hajj 1968; Director of Planning and Research, Ministry of Health (MoH) 1970-71; involved with the development of medical programmes and hospitals for Malaysia; appointed Malaysia’s second Director-General (DG) of Health MoH 1971-76; Hon FRACS 1972; retired as DG MoH 1976; F.A.Sc. Medical Sciences Malaysia 1995; published his book An Old Man Remembers 2006; awarded PPT by Negeri Sembilan 1965; JMN by DYMM SPBYDP Agong 1965; Dato’ Seri Maharaja DiRaja Selangor by DYMM Sultan of Selangor 1966; SPSK by Sultan of Kelantan 1972; PSM (Tan Sri) by DYMM SPBYDP Agong 1973; SSSA by Sultan of Selangor 1985; Board of Governors 1950s; Guest of Honour Victoria Institution Speech Day 1986; Chairman Yayasan Jantung Malaysia (Malaysian Heart Foundation); Board Member Yayasan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz; Committee Member Rumah Amal Cahaya Tengku Ampuan Rahmah (RACTAR); Director Yayasan Tun Abdul Hamid.

Tan Sri Abdul Majid married Puan Sri To’ Puan Khairany bt Mahyuddin (b. 1924). They have three children, a son and two daughters—Prof Aljafri Majid (retired from UM), Elisha, and Ellina.

- Faridah Abdul Rashid, 25 March 2013. Reproduced from the book, Biography of the Early Malay Doctors 1900-1957 Malaya and Singapore, 2012, pp248-261.

Coco's sister Maznah, my mother Tulip, Bik Endon isteri Tok Ali Alor Star, Mak Lang isteri  Tok Alang Kg Baru, Kamariah Bujang with  baby Afiq my sister-in-law, and Muzlifah Abdul Aziz anak Mak Nya (Jami'ah Gombak). 26 June 1988. Photo from Bapak's collection.
Two of Coco's sisters, one in blue tudung and the other seated on the chair. Photo from Bapak's collection.
My father Abdul Rashid bin Mohd Yusope as Imam, and the makmum were his brothers. The one in striped shirt and kain pelikat is Baharudin bin Mohd Yusope, private secretary to Tun Hussien Onn when he was PM. Photo from Bapak's collection.
Coco's mother, Enjah bt Muhammad Ariff, a Quran teacher in Kg Baru, KL. Photo from a book in Arkib Negara Malaysia.
Coco's last book was published in 2006
Available from
External links 

Obituary: Haji Ramli Sha'ari

Badariah Baba Ahmad has informed me in Facebook that Cikgu Haji Ramli Sha'ari has passed away.

Cikgu Tuan Haji Ramli bin Sha'ari (1931-2012)

From my previous conversation with Cikgu Haji Ramli Sha'ari, he said his wife had passed away long ago and was buried on the mainland. Cikgu Haji Ramli Sha'ari suffered from diabetic complications and had to go for dialysis.

Cikgu Haji Ramli Sha'ari was my mother's classmate and in the same option (Geography) at Kirkby College in 1952-53. Cikgu Haji Ramli Sha'ari had married Zainab bt Hamid Don. Both have passed away. They leave behind a son Razif Ramli who is with SKMM.

Razif Ramli is the cousin of Badariah Baba Ahmad as Zainab was the elder sister of Baba Ahmad. This announcement is from Razif Ramli:
7 August 2012 via Mobile
Assalamualaikum, saya Razif Ramli anak Tn Hj Ramli Sha'ari ingin memaklumkan Ayahanda saya baru meninggal dunia pagi tadi di Hospital Serdang. Jenazah akan dibawa terus ke kampong halaman di Pdg Asam Pdg Rengas untuk dimandikan dan dikebumi disebelah kubur arwah Bonda Hjh Zainab HamidDon pada selepas solat Asar hari ini 7Aug 2012 insyaAllah.
Saya bagi pihak Arwah ingin memaklumkan sekiranya Arwah Bapak saya ada berhutang atau apa apa yg belum dijelaskan harap berhubung terus dengan saya melalui laman Facebook Razif Ramli atau menelepon saya terus dgn PM kepada saya untuk mendapatkan kontek henfon saya.
Saya mengambil kesempatan ini memohon maaf bagi pihak Arwah dan minta dihalalkan segala makan minumnya dan pada semua yang telah mengenali Bapak saya memohon doa dari kalian untuk arwah semoga dia dicurahkan rahmat dari Allah serta ditempatkan dikalangan para solihin dan para ambiya' insyaAllah...Aameen
Sekian, wassalam.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Tausug People

The recent conflict of the Sulu soldiers in Lahad Datu has caught the world by surprise. However, we should not be shattered by such conflict as this is common when the Malay Sultanates want to reclaim what they think was theirs before European colonialism in this region.

I will not dwell on the conflict itself but it is good to learn about who the people involved are and their origins. We are talking about the Tausug or Suluk people. The sultanate involved is the Sultanate of Sulu. The present Sultan of Sulu is Jamalil Kiram III. In history, a British queen had visited the Sultan of Sulu; Sulu may still be British? I don't have the complete story.

The Arabs were in Sulu and the other Filipino islands in the region before European colonialism. The Sulu language is thus an Arab mix. There are 3 major races in the group, including the Bajau people. I wrote a bit about the Bajau people and their language in my book, Research on the Early Malay Doctors 1900-1957 Malaya and Singapore.

Though the Sulu people are thought to be Muslims and followers of some Sufi sect, but it seems that their actions (killing) is not what Islam advocates - peaceful living with close and neighbours afar. Findings of talisman among the Sulu soldiers also point to superstitions and belief in supernaturals (i.e. other than Allah SWT) - this is a problem of akidah. This is a big area to counsel.

We have to study the problems at hand and understand the needs of the Sulu people before we can expect some peace talks. It is bad enough that this conflict has arisen with Malaysia's close neighbours. But we have to learn to keep conflict and terrorism at bay. Malaysia had one clash with the Philippines in 1967 when I lived in Sabah and another with Indonesia (Konfrontasi) - all with regard to land claims. The same with Thailand and Singapore. It is the people whom need to learn about and assist if we want to continue to keep peace in this region.


The Hajj Doctors

There were many early Malay doctors who served the Hajj pilgrims during the Hajj season as Hajj doctors (Doktor Haji). The trips before 1975 were by ocean liners/steamers. Airplanes were used beginning in Nov/Dec 1975. I have included the date/year that each early Malay doctor performed the Hajj. In this way, we can hope to obtain some background information about the past Hajj pilgrimages, and see the medical development wrt the Hajj pilgrimage itself. The Indonesian Medical Mission was already established before the Malayan one was set up. Prior to 1947, Malayan pilgrims would seek medical assistance from the Indonesian Medical Mission. Dr SM Baboo was the first Malay doctor to set up the Malayan Medical Mission in Makkah in 1947.


1927 (1345 Hijrah) Hajj was reported in the newspapers by Sir Hugh Clifford:

The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 10 June 1927, Page 5

News from Jeddah
From His Excellency Sir Hugh Clifford.
Among the prominent Muslims from Malaya who are now in the Hejaz to perform the pilgrimage, are:

  1. Inche Sawiah, widow of the late Sultan Sir Idris of Perak
  2. Dato Muda Mentri of Perak
  3. Inche Mohamed Salleh, Settlement Officer, Taiping
  4. Inche Tajul Arus, Land Officer, Bandar Bharu, Kedah
  5. Dato' Dalam of Trengganu
  6. To' Puan Chu, widow of the late Dato' Laxamana of Perak
  7. Inche Osman, late Assistant Collector of Land Revenue, Batu Pahat
  8. Inche Mohamed Rajab of the Treasury, Alor Star, Kedah
  9. Inche Mohamed bin Abdul Samad of the Ho Hong Bank, Batu Pahat
  10. Demang Abdul Ghani and his son Inche Mahmud, Sanitary Inspector, Malacca.

The number of pilgrims, according to a letter received by me on the 3rd instant from Jeddah, are:

  1. from the Netherland East Indies over 50,000
  2. from Malaya over 12,000
  3. from India, Egypt and other countries over 30,000 each
  4. from Turkey 15,000 

There were no pilgrims from Turkey since the Great War. There were no pilgrims from Persia.
Comparatively speaking, Malaya sends the biggest percentage of pilgrims every year.

1936 (1354 Hijrah) Hajj was 2-6 March 1936.

Dr Pandak Ahmad bin Alang Sidin went to Makkah via Jeddah in a steamship (kapal api), with 5 other family members, to perform the Hajj in 1936. His half-brother settled in Makkah after the 1936 Hajj.

1937 (1355 Hijrah) Hajj was 20-24 February 1937.

1938 (1356 Hijrah) Hajj was 9-13 February 1938.

1939 (1357 Hijrah) Hajj was 29 January-2February 1939.

WWII started in Europe.

1940 (1358 Hijrah) Hajj was 18-22 January 1940.

1941 (1359 Hijrah) Hajj was 6-10 January 1941.
1941 (1360 Hijrah) Hajj was 27-31 December 1941 (i.e., Hajj was twice in 1941).

WWII started in Malaya.

1942 (1361 Hijrah) Hajj was 17-21 December 1942.

14 February 1942 - Battle of Singapore/WWII in Singapore.

1943 (1362 Hijrah) Hajj was 6-10 December 1943.

1944 (1363 Hijrah) Hajj was 24-28 November 1944.

1945 (1364 Hijrah) Hajj was 13-17 November 1945.

End of WWII.

1946 (1365 Hijrah) Hajj was 2-6 November 1946.

1947 (1366 Hijrah) Hajj was 23-27 October 1947.

In 1947, Dr SM Baboo was sent by the Government  to Makkah and Madinah in Saudia Arabia, for a few months to help set up the Malayan Medical Mission. Based on his report (which he worked on independently), the Malayan Medical Mission to Makkah was begun shortly thereafter.

1948 (1367 Hijrah) Hajj was 11-15 October 1948.

Start of Malayan Emergency.

1949 (1368 Hijrah) Hajj was 1-5 October 1949.

Dr Megat Khas bin Megat Omar served as Hajj Doctor along with 2 assistants for 5,000 pilgrims and stayed for 6 months (5 August 1949-February 1950). He performed the Hajj 5x thereafter during his lifetime.

Dr SM Baboo retired as CMHO Penang on 4 April 1949, 2 years after he helped established the Malayan Medical Mission to Makkah.

1950 (1369 Hijrah) Hajj was 21-25 September 1950.

Dr Abdul Ghani bin Mohamad served as Hajj Doctor in 1950.

1951 (1370 Hijrah) Hajj was 10-14 September 1951.

Dr Hussien/Mohamed? bin Ibrahim served as Hajj Doctor in 1951.

Dr Abbas bin Haji Alias had completed his postgraduate studies in Liverpool in 1951 and obtained the Diploma in Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He was on his way home to Malaya but had stopped to perform his first Hajj and assisted the Hajj Doctor as many pilgrims suffered during the hot season (September 1951). Dr Haji Abbas bin Haji Alias then headed the medical team in the 1950s and 1960s for the annual Hajj pilgrimage and frequently traveled to Makkah, for which he was alluded to as Doktor Haji.

1952 (1371 Hijrah) Hajj was 29 August-2 September 1952.

Dr Haji Pandak Ahmad bin Alang Sidin served as a Hajj Doctor (Doktor Haji) in 1952 and went for his second Hajj with 4 family members.

1953 (1372 Hijrah) Hajj was 18-22 August 1953.

Dr Haji Abbas bin Haji Alias? 

1954 (1373 Hijrah) Hajj was 7-11 August 1954.

Dr Haji Abbas bin Haji Alias?

Dr SMA Alhady's father, Syed Alwi bin Sheikh Al-Hadi left for Jeddah from Penang. He had described the scene at Penang harbour (refer Wazir Jahan Karim 2009:80-81).

Cikgu (Imam) Yusof bin Buntal @ Pak Ji Usop. He left Semabok, Malacca for his Hajj in Makkah on 10 June 1954.

1955 (1374 Hijrah) Hajj was 28 July-1 August 1955.

Dr Abdul Ghani bin Mohamad was a Hajj Doctor in 1955.

Dr KM Ariff went for his Hajj in 1955.
Salam Prof.....My grandfather went for hajj in 1955 not as hajj doctor. But he was sent to look into the affairs of hajj together with Mustaffa Al- Bakri...... - From Rukiah Hanoum Omar Farok, Facebook, 26 March 2013.

1956 (1375 Hijrah) Hajj was 17-21 July 1956.

Dr Haji Abbas bin Haji Alias? 

1957 (1376 Hijrah) Hajj was 6-10 July 1957.

Dr Abbas bin Haji Alias?

Malayan Independence/Merdeka, 31 August 1957.

1958 (1377 Hijrah) Hajj was 26-30 June 1958.

Dr Abbas bin Haji Alias?

Dr MJ Che Lah retired as CMHO Pahang and his retirement was published in The Straits Times on 30 June 1958. Dr MJ Che Lah then returned to Penang and continued to work as a medical doctor in his post-retirement years.

1959 (1378 Hijrah) Hajj was 15-19 June 1959.

Dr MJ Che Lah?

1960 (1379 Hijrah) Hajj was 3-7 June 1960.

Dr MJ Che Lah?

End of Malayan Emergency.

1961 (1380 Hijrah) Hajj was 23-27 May 1961.

Dr MJ Che Lah?

1962 (1381 Hijrah) Hajj was 13-17 May 1962.

Dr MJ Che Lah?

Anuar Isa's grandmother was a pilgrim on the 1962 Hajj trip.

Dr Haji Mohamed Ibrahim bin Shaik Ismail of Singapore passed away in Madinah but was buried in Makkah during the 1962 Hajj season. He may have passed away in Madinah in late February 1962 or in early May 1962 and brought to Makkah when the pilgrims moved from Madinah to Makkah, after completion of the Hajj rites. He had performed the Hajj before 1962. The relatives who traveled with him on the Hajj have also passed away.

Dr Haji Mohamed Ibrahim bin Shaik Ismail (70) of Singapore.

1963 (1382 Hijrah) Hajj was 2-6 May 1963.

Dr MJ Che Lah served as Hajj Doctor in 1963. He had also served on 8 previous Hajj pilgrimages between 1950 and 1963. In his 1963 Hajj passport was stamped 'Pegawai Kawalan Haji, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, Pulau Pinang' (translation: Hajj Control Officer, Federated Malay States, Penang). His Hajj passport was valid for a year, from 18 January 1963 to 31 December 1963. His Hajj ticket had these details: Tiket Kapal No. SAAP 0825, Haribulan 18 January 1963. He traveled on board a Chinese-registered vessel.

Dr Haji Che Lah bin Mohd Joonos/Dr MJ Che Lah (60) as Hajj Doctor for the 1963 Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Dr Haji Megat Khas bin Megat Omar retired from government service in 1963.

1964 (1383 Hijrah) Hajj was 21-25 April 1964.

Dr MJ Che Lah served as Hajj Doctor and led the 20-man medical mission for the 1964 Hajj. The Straits Times of 8 July 1964 published Dr MJ Che Lah's Hajj trip lasted 5 months (Feb 1964-July 1964). Some 1,800 Malaysian pilgrims returned from Jeddah by the liner Kuala Lumpur in July 1964. The Malaysian medical mission who left for Makkah in February 1964 also returned with the pilgrims. About 700 pilgrims disembarked at Penang on 19 July 1964, another 300 at Port Swettenham (now Port Klang), and 800 at Singapore.

Dr Ismail Mohamad Ghows passed away in Taiping on 30 June 1964.

1965 (1384 Hijrah) Hajj was 11-15 April 1965.

The Straits Times of 16 July 1965 carried Dr Haji MJ Che Lah's report of his suggestions for improvements of conditions for the Hajj pilgrims. In his report on the 1964 Hajj, Dr Haji Che Lah mentioned that too many Malaysian pilgrims put off their Hajj trip to Makkah until they were too old or too weak. He further disclosed that most of the pilgrims were over 60 and suffered from debility and other ailments; 92 pilgrims died in Makkah (less than 5%) from an initial count of 1,892 pilgrims. He further advised that pilgrims should not be allowed to proceed to Madinah immediately on arrival at Jeddah. He suggested that they should wait in Makkah and allow a month to get acclimatised first (as January was winter in Saudi Arabia and with freezing temperatures). He also mentioned that in 1964, Malaysian food was provided for patients in the sickbay and was prepared by a Malaysian cook. The Malaysian travelling dispensary was very busy as it had to treat 1,877 cases. 13 pilgrims had died from an initial count of 1,892 pilgrims; another 79 pilgrims died later on. Dr Haji MJ Che Lah recommended that the sickbay for 1965 be made fly-proof and that better air conditioning be provided for the comfort of Malaysian Hajj patients in Makkah. Syed Kabeer bin Syed Ahmad, the acting Pilgrimage Control Officer, said the recommendations would be considered.

Dr Haji HS Moonshi passed away in 1965.

1966 (1385 Hijrah) Hajj was 31 March-4 April 1966.

1967 (1386 Hijrah) Hajj was 20-24 March 1967.

From Facebook, Mohd Sazali remembered watching the hajj ship carrying his grandfather from the Padang Kota seawall in Penang in 1967. He does not know the name of the ship.

1968 (1387 Hijrah) Hajj was 8-12 March 1968.

The Straits Times of 4 January 1968  reported that the first batch of 2,100 pilgrims from Malaysia and Singapore would sail for Makkah on the liner Kuala Lumpur. The liner would pick up 500 pilgrims from Singapore, 300 pilgrims from Port Swettenham, and 1,000 pilgrims from Penang (300 from Kelantan and the remainder from Penang, Perak, Kedah, and Perlis). The chairman of the Malaysian Pilgrimage Advisory Committee was Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad bin Mohamed Hashim, the Menteri Besar of Perlis. The general manager of the Pilgrims Savings Corporation was Syed Nahar bin Syed Sheh Shahbuddin. Dato' Haji Ali Rouse was the Controller of Pilgrimage. Haji Abdul Kader bin Haji Mohamed Tamin was the Malaysian Pilgrim Commissioner. Dr Haji MJ Che Lah headed the Malaysian 34-man medical mission of January 1968 Hajj which comprised 3 doctors, 10 hospital assistants, 6 nurses, 12 attendants, 2 welfare officers, and a religious teacher. Dr Haji MJ Che Lah and Haji Abdul Kader would fly to Makkah to make arrangements before the arrival of the pilgrims.

Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail and 5 other men (Dato' Harun Idris, Abang Abas, Dato' Haji Osman, Tan Sri Dato' Ahmad Razali and one more person) went to perform the Hajj in 1968. It was not specified who 'Abang Abas' was; he could be Dr Haji Abbas bin Haji Alias (another early Malay doctor) or Abas bin Abdul Rahman, his relative from Umbai in Malacca. A group photo would help to ID this person called Abang Abas.

Thus, the 3 Hajj Doctors for the 1968 Hajj could be Dr Haji MJ Che Lah (65), Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail (47) and Dr Haji Abbas bin Haji Alias (54).

1969 (1388 Hijrah) Hajj was 25 February-1 March 1969.

13 May Incidences occurred in Kg Baru, Kuala Lumpur on 13 May 1969.

Dr Haji Abbas bin Haji Alias retired from the Government medical service as Director of Health on 15 July 1969, aged 55.

1970 (1389 Hijrah) Hajj was 15-19 February 1970.

Haji Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheik Alhady passed away on 6 January 1970.

1971 (1390 Hijrah) Hajj was 4-8 February 1971.

Dato' Dr Haji Abdul Aziz bin Omar was the MP for Tumpat in Kelantan as written in the Malaysian Official Parliamentary Reports of 8 July 1971.

1972 (1391 Hijrah) Hajj was 25-29 January 1972.

1973 (1392 Hijrah) Hajj was 13-17 January 1973.

Tun Dr Ismail passed away on 2 August 1973.

1974 (1393 Hijrah) Hajj was 2-6 January 1974.
1974 (1394 Hijrah) Hajj was 22-26 December 1974 (i.e., Hajj was twice in 1974).

My father, Abdul Rashid bin Mohd Yusope performed his first Hajj during winter, between the end of 1974 and early 1975. He had taken the first Hajj flight from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia.

1975 (1395 Hijrah) Hajj was 12-16 December 1975.

1976 (1396 Hijrah) Hajj was 30 November-4 December 1976.

1977 (1397 Hijrah) Hajj was 20-24 November 1977.

1978 (1398 Hijrah) Hajj was 9-13 November 1978.

1979 (1399 Hijrah) Hajj was 30 October-3 November 1979.

Haji Dr Megat Khas bin Megat Omar passed away on 21 June 1979.

Dr Mohamed bin Mohamed Taib and wife went on his last Hajj (2 Oct-26 Nov 1979).

1980 (1400 Hijrah) Hajj was 18-22 October 1980.

Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin bin Raja Shahbuddin had performed his Hajj prior to his retirement as the third DG of Health in 1980.

1989 (1409 Hijrah) Hajj was 12-16 July 1989.

Dato' Dr Haji Carleel Merican passed away on 24 March 2003, aged 81.

1998 (1418 Hijrah) Hajj was 6-10 April 1998.

Tun Dr Awang Hassan passed away on 12 September 1998.

1999 (1419 Hijrah) Hajj was 26-30 March 1999.

Datuk Haji Dr Ariffin bin Ngah Marzuki and his wife Hajjah Datin Mariam returned from the Hajj in 1999 via KLIA.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


HIV/AIDS is a relatively 'new' category of diseases. As a fourth-year undergraduate student in microbiology, and while learning immunology and cancer, I came to know about immune deficiency in 1980. While microbiology was already advanced at the time, immunology and cancer were new areas and Carl Landsteiner's book was what we used. There was barely anything known of cancer - not much to discuss in class. I had studied about the TMV (tobacco mosaic virus) under Mina Hector but nothing was known of the HIV/AIDS viruses then.

I then went to UCR (University of California, Riverside campus) to study biochemistry under Prof Frances Anne Jurnak. Prof Jurnak was the only female expert on protein crystal structures and we studied bacterial protein structures. I also studied the structure of fullerenes and other stable structures, including that of viruses. The actual study of the structure of viruses would come under virology but virology was still a small field back then in 1980-82.

Back in Malaysia in 1982, nothing was known of HIV/AIDS and I never heard it being mentioned at our medical school nor in the newspapers or TV news. I had thought immune deficiency wasn't a problem in Malaysia then. Then I forgot about immune deficiency altogether.

In February 1985, when I was in transit at the Sydney University International House for two weeks orientation for new students under IDB/AIDAB, I overheard a lady trainee lecturer mentioned her fears of a 'new disease' - HIV/AIDS, to two male lecturers. I listened and tried to understand her fears. I flashed back on what I had studied in fourth-year microbiology. Even though I had studied about immune deficiency but it was only very much later that it became known as HIV/AIDS, probably after 1982.

In 2013, Malaysia-wide, we have a large group of HIV/AIDS sufferers among apparently healthy couples and working adults. It pays to research about what we can do to try and help out this rather alarming and disgusting disease that knows no end. How do we stop it? Stop what? Stop free sex! I know it is impossible to halt free sex altogether. Prof Peter Piot said in the LSHTM video that he didn't expect an immune deficiency disease to be connected to sexual preference.

I feel we have a big health problem today - HIV/AIDS, that won't go away that easily without human intervention in the way we live, and especially on our sexual preference. How in the world do we address sexual preference at the world stage? What do we have to tell the world? Where do we begin? What do we have to say?

I feel the people who are alive today are not overly concerned about free unlimited sex and its worst consequences and expected outcome - HIV/AIDS. Because HIV/AIDS is a chronic disease, it takes a rather long time to manifest; people don't get to see the consequences of free unlimited sex, so they don't connect free unlimited sex to HIV/AIDS at all. Moreover, HIV/AIDS sufferers shun the news and media, so we don't see them when they are sufferers or in the 'ugly state'. When these sufferers die, there is just a mere mention of so-and-so have died of HIV/AIDS and that's that, full-stop. Nothing else matters. If only we can make the public stop and think, and look at the course of this terrible disease and appreciate having abstained from free unlimited sex, that should help raise some awareness. Having no awareness at all about HIV/AIDS is the worst and terrible thing to happen to humans today. We have to begin at some point.

Meet Prof Peter Piot

Prof Baron Peter Piot was whom I wrote to, to request help with finding and confirming which of the early Malay doctors had studied at the LSHTM (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) in UK.

The information obtained from the LSHTM is included in Appendix 4: Malay Doctors who Attended the LSHTM, on page 274, in Research on the Early Malay Doctors 1900-1957 Malaya and Singapore. There were probably many more doctors who attended the LSHTM but I only gave six names to Prof Peter Piot to help search for me. In Appendix 4, I listed only these six names of early Malay doctors and the time they were at the LSHTM:

  1. Dr Shaik Mohamad Baboo bin Ahmad Albakish, 1929
  2. Dr Megat Khas bin Megat Omar, 1950
  3. Dr Mohamed Said bin Mohamed, 1947-48
  4. Dr Abbas bin Haji Alias, 1949-51
  5. Dr Mohamed Din bin Ahmad, 1951
  6. Dr Sulaiman bin Mohd Attas, 1950*
* from family account

Prof Peter Piot is the Director of the LSHTM. He is a distinguished medical professor and researcher who looked into gay health and HIV/AIDS at the global level. At that time, HIV/AIDS was unknown to the world and it was just beginning, in Zaire, Africa. Prof Peter Piot's work received worldwide acknowledgement and the world then came to know about HIV/AIDS. You can watch his video about how HIV/AIDS became known as we know it today.

Peter Piot reflects on his career (LSHTM video)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (MBRAS)

Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
4B (2nd floor) Jalan Kemuja, off Jalan Bangsar,
59000 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 603-2283-5345
Fax: 603-2282-2458

Contact Us


House of Jamalullail

The clan name Jamalullail should strike us as a regal name in the Malay world. So far, I have managed to trace a few of the Jamalullail clan members in Malaysia. They are related directly to Prophet Muhammad SAW via his daughter, and via her sons.

They are domiciled in a few places in Malaysia:
  1. Jelutong, Penang
  2. Batu Uban, Penang
  3. Kubang Kerian, Kelantan
  4. Jitra, Kedah
  5. Kuala Lumpur
  6. Arau, Perlis

The Jamalullail doctors are Dr Syed Mahmood bin Syed Hussain Jamalullail (an early Malay doctor, deceased), Dr Syed Mohamed Noori Syed Hussain Jamalullail (youngest brother of Dr Syed Mahmood), and Prof Syed Mohsin bin Syed Sahil Jamalullail (deceased).

Genealogy of the Jamalullail clan

Dr Syed Mahmood bin Syed Hussain Jamalullail,
Dr Syed Mohamed Noori Syed Hussain Jamalullail,
Prof Syed Mohsin bin Syed Sahil Jamalullail,

Siak Sri Indrapura

From: Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India, 1805-1830.
By: Marcus Langdon

I have just finished reading Marcus Langdon's latest book, Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India, 1805-1830. A few things in the book attracted me and I began to read the book, from Suffolk House near the back cover, and completed reading the other pages near the front cover. Now my longtime unanswered questions are answered in many pages of this book. One of them is about the existence of the Siak Sri Indrapura empire of Indonesia.

Siak Sri Indrapura is mentioned on page 113 in this book and it gives details of what happened in Siak history. There is mention of Malay names such as:
  1. Tooun Pangaran @ Tunku Pangeran @ Tunku Pangeran Kusuma di-Laga @ Pangeran Perca @ Sayid Zain, 
  2. Tunku Long Puteh, 
  3. Sultan Siak, 
  4. Sultan Ali Abdu'l Jalil Saif-ud-din, and
  5. Paduka Suree Sultan Syed Shereff Abdul Gulel Safdeen of Siac @ Paduka Sri Sultan as-Sayyid as-Sharif Abdu'l Jalil Saif ud-din.

It so happens that the Siak people were efficient and had good knowledge of the timbers in the forest of Sumatra where they were domiciled. Mr Garling of Penang, had dealt with the Siak sultan for supply of timber for shipbuilding. Timber was also procured from Kuala Muda in Kedah, Pulau Jerejak off Penang island, and from Malacca. But the timber provided by Siak from Sumatera were prized for some reason. Somehow, on one occasion, smallpox had affected the people of Siak, including the queen of Siak, and the sultan could not supply timber on time to Mr Garling as agreed, as his men were afflicted by smallpox - there were not enough of the Siak men to go and search for the correct timber size (length and diameter) and shape as desired by Mr Garling. The sultan apologised in a long letter (translated into English) to Mr Garling. The word 'Friend' was used to address Mr Garling. Quite offended by the non delivery of the timber, Mr Garling then went to Malacca to find some timber for shipbuilding in Penang. The story goes on but this much information should suffice for readers.

(٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎) 


I have posted about the Siak Sultanate earlier. Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin bin Raja Shahbuddin was the only early Malay doctor who was descended from the Siak Sultanate. His family tree was supplied by his nephew, Raja Adley Paris Ishkandar Shah bin Raja Baharuddin bin Raja Lope Zainuddin bin Raja Shahbuddin. 

(٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎) 

Sir George E. Maxwell

The history of the Siak Sultanate is also detailed in Jawi script as the Maxwell Manuscript 24 (D) Hikayat Negeri Johor, collected by Sir George E Maxwell and stored in the British Library.

This reference was brought to my attention by Raja Adley Paris Ishkandar Shah bin Raja Baharuddin bin Raja Lope Zainuddin bin Raja Shahbuddin, a descendant of the Siak Sultanate.

It seems that the Siak Sri Indrapura is a large Malay empire, from Sumatera down to Riau.

(٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎) 


The Sultanate of Siak Sri Indrapura or often called Sultanate of Siak (Indonesian: Kesultanan Siak Sri Inderapura) was a kingdom that was located at Siak Regency, Riau from 1723-1946. It was founded by Raja Kecik from the Pagaruyung Kingdom (Sultan Abdul Jalil Rahmad Syah I), after he failed to seize the throne from the Sultanate of Johor. 
After the Proclamation of Independence on 17 August 1945, the last sultan of Siak, Sultan Syarif Kasim II declared his kingdom to join the Republic of Indonesia.

Wikipedia gives the names of 12 Sultans of the Siak Sultanate between 1725-1949.

  1. Sultan Abdul Jalil Rahmad Syah I (1725–1746)
  2. Sultan Abdul Jalil Rahmad Syah II (1746–1765)
  3. Sultan Abdul Jalil Jalaluddin Syah (1765–1766)
  4. Sultan Abdul Jalil Alamuddin Syah (1766–1780)
  5. Sultan Muhammad Ali Abdul Jalil Muazzam Syah (1780–1782)
  6. Sultan Yahya Abdul Jalil Muzaffar Syah (17821784)
  7. Sultan Assaidis Asyarif Ali Abdul Jalil Syaifuddin Baalawi (1784–1810)
  8. Sultan Asyaidis Syarif Ibrahim Abdul Jalil Khaliluddin (1810–1815)
  9. Sultan Assyaidis Syarif Ismail Abdul Jalil Jalaluddin (1815–1854)
  10. Sultan Assyaidis Syarif Kasyim Abdul Jalil Syaifuddin I (Syarif Kasyim I, 1864–1889)
  11. Sultan Assyaidis Syarif Hasyim Abdul Jalil Syaifuddin (1889–1908)
  12. Sultan Assyaidis Syarif Kasyim Abdul Jalif Syaifudin I (Syarif Kasyim II), (1915–1949)
There are Arab names or adjectives in the sultans' names: 
Muazzam = the best of aspirations
Assaidis = As Syed = Arabic title for a Syed male
Asyarif = As Syarif = the noble
Baalawai = Ba'Alawi from Hadramaut in Yemen; also Masjid Ba'Alawie in Singapore
Kaliluddin = Khalil-ud-Din = the friend of the light (the enlightened friend)

(٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎) 

References for Siak Sri Indrapura

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Ancient and Old Currencies

Gold ingots and slabs have been used for trade.

A golden necklace made with coins is displayed at Penang Museum.

Countries have use their own currencies - as paper notes and coins. Among the ancient and early currencies were Chinese, Spanish, Dutch, Kelantanese, British Malayan and British Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The Japanese used paper money during WWII in Malaya and Singapore.


A golden necklace made with coins. Photo from Penang Museum.

I bought two replica Rijks Daalder Dutch coins for AUD$3.00 each from the Western Australian Museum Shop at the Shipwreck Museum in Fremantle on 11 February 2013 @11.19 am, from its operator named Michael (Rec# 3-01-043250).

Front surface shows a man with a sword and shield-soldier?
Text at periphery: CON FOE . FHL . GEL  +  MO . AKG . PRO.
Rear text: Pewter replica Rijks Daalder 1611. From the wreck of 'Batavia' 1629. W.A. Maritime Museum.

Spanish coins were preferred over other coinages as they contained higher silver content. Thus, Spanish coins dominated trade at the ports of call of the European merchant ships. Spanish dollars were mentioned in the Will (Wasiat) of the Indian Muslim headman, Cauder Mohideen of Masjid Kapitan Keling. The Spanish coins below were photographed at the Shipwreck Museum in Fremantle on 11 February 2013. They were used between 1754 and 1809. I bought a Spanish 8 real Segovia 1618 pewter coin replica from the wreck of the Gilt Dragon 1656 for AUD$3.00.

On museum display, Spanish silver dollars 1754-1809
Front view of the Spanish 8 real from Segovia 1618.
Text at periphery: HISPANIA . RVM . REX . 1618.
Rear view of the Spanish 8 real pewter coin. Rear text: Pewter replica, Spanish piece of eight, Segovia 1618. From the wreck of the Gilt Dragon 1656, W.A. Maritime Museum.
Left: Spanish 8 real coin of Segovia 1618 from the wreck of Gilt Dragon 1656.
Right: Dutch Rijks Daalder coin of 1611 from the wreck of Batavia 1629.

Pitis Kelantan was used in the 1800s before the British ruled Kelantan and before the Indian Mercantile Bank was established in Kelantan.

I bought several pitis Kelantan (coins) long ago from a Malay lady at Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. They are replica coins and were made in Terengganu. They were brought to the main market in Kelantan to be sold as collectors' items. The pitis Kelantan costs RM5 each.

5 coins of the pitis Kelantan collection. One side of the coins has an old man (Prophet Noah/Nabi Nuh), a ship (bahtera Nabi Nuh/Noah's ark) or the Quranic text Yaasin repeated seven times.
The crow (front, top coin) and 7 Yaasin (back, lower coin) designs from the pitis Kelantan collection. This could be from Aesop's fables where the crow filled up the bottle with pebbles so the water level rose and it drank the water.
3 coins from the pitis Kelantan collection. Top row shows the front side of each coin. From left: a boy with 2 spears, an old man with a cane and Kaabah. Bottom row shows the opposite side of each coin above. From left: A big coin with 7 Yaasin, a smaller coin with 7 Yaasin, and a tin coin with a stack of 7 Yaasin.
3 coins from the pitis Kelantan collection. Top row shows the back side of each coin. From left: a sword, 7 Yaasin and a tin coin with stacked Yaasin. Bottom row shows the opposite side of each coin above. From left: a boy with 2 spears, an old man with a cane, and Kaabah.
Top: Two coins showing similar designs on the front - a boy holding 2 spears. Bottom: The rear shows one coin with a 7 Yaasin and the other shows a sword with Yaasin text beneath it.
3 coins of the pitis Kelantan collection. From left: Noah's ark and Prophet Noah on the last two coins.
5 coins of the pitis Kelantan collection. It is unknown why all the figures are either holding spears or a cane/walking stick.

When the British introduced their currency in Malaya, the Kelantan pitis was put out of use in Kelantan.

$1 note; front (top) and back (bottom)
$5 note
$10 note


A Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation $25 note in Penang.
Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in Penang in the old days. Photo from Penang Museum.
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in Penang today.

The Japanese money had no value after WWII in Malaya. As such it was called 'banana money'.

Banana money. Photo from Penang Museum.

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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Suffolk House

I first saw a painting of Suffolk House at Penang Museum. In the painting, Suffolk House stood alone on a hillock and overlooked the sea. I had thought Suffolk House was in England and didn't have the urge to find out. In reality there is no sea, just a creek.

This was our first visit to Suffolk House in Penang. It is behind my old school, Methodist Boys' School (MBS) on Jalan Air Hitam (Ayer Itam), and I never knew. There are two routes to Suffolk House. We took the long route there since we didn't know there is also a shorter route. I think we must have gone so far and then came back along Jalan Masjid Negeri and the overhead pass, then we turned left at the Al-Mashoor School and then took another left at the signage for Suffolk House. We followed the narrow in-road passed the bright yellow brick bungalow on the right, passed some double-storeys on the left, swerved right and followed the road till we came to a large empty parking lot. Nobody was there. There was a bridge and we didn't see Suffolk House at all. We saw just a bridge to go to a set of high-rise flats.

I thought we were possibly lost and turned round to see where we were in this jungle green, and to my surprise, Suffolk House was in the opposite direction! It just stood there and we were amazed that such a beautiful structure exists in the midst of such peaceful green surroundings. It seemed so serene! We couldn't believe our eyes that we have at last arrived at the most beautiful piece of architecture on Penang island, apart from the picturesque Masjid Kapitan Keling.

You have to come to Suffolk House and see for yourself to believe that this amazing piece does exist in Penang. This mansion is so huge and so majestic, like the Parthenon. It has a granite gravel road (batu tiga-suku or batu 3/4) leading from the gate to the mansion. They probably used horse-drawn carriages here in the old days.

There's no porch at the mansion, just some ruins on the right side of the mansion. There's a long slender unplastered pillar on the ground, totally out of place - weird! There's a wooden boardwalk leading to the main entrance at right.

I didn't understand what the Indonesian guard at the gate told Affandi so I didn't enter the mansion but just explored only the exterior. Affandi probably understood the guard and he went inside and came back out, calling me to enter the mansion and see for myself. Notwithstanding curiosity, I entered the luxurious mansion!

Suffolk House may look big on the exterior but inside it was a bit small I think, much like a cowboy inn. There was a big hall and a dining area beyond the arches. The dining tables were set and some people were having late tea or early dinner.

We didn't know anyone there and I didn't know what we were allowed to do/not allowed to do. So I only took some photos of the interior for this post and for keepsake. Most of the photos were dark since I didn't use a flash.

There was some music playing, I think it was Nora Jones the Indian-White lady's CD playing. I have the CD - Affandi bought it in Australia for me.

I am still surprised that this venue is hardly used-there was no function when we visited it. I don't know if there are stories attached to the mansion but I feel it is alright and one should not expect any banshees. I keep looking upstairs to see what it would be like when Captain Francis Light lived here and how his lady Martinha Rozells would go upstairs to meet him. Did Captain Francis Light really live here at Suffolk House? Which staircase did she take? Which room is Light's room? Where is the main bedroom? Where is the toilet? Where is the kitchen? There must be a secret passage from the mansion to the harbour, as usually mansions this big have one, like in the Black Tulip.

Since there wasn't much to explore inside and we didn't go to see the museum upstairs as it was closed, we left Suffolk House at dusk, and the lights were always left on at Suffolk House (as history has it). We hope to return and visit the museum next.

Painting of Suffolk House in Penang Museum
Painting of Suffolk House in Penang Museum.
First view of Suffolk House from the parking lot. This image makes a lovely wallpaper.
Viewed from the front cast iron fence. The vast green front lawn is captivating. The MBS is the red roof in the right bkgr.
Viewed from the gravel road to the mansion. The box hedge is mentioned in the history of Suffolk House. It is missing a porch on the right - only an unplastered pillar remains standing.
Suffolk House viewed from the creek side. The ground was steep and uneven here and it was difficult trying to get a proper footage to get this shot without falling backwards (into the creek below). This shot was taken as I fell backwards!
Entrance to the grounds of Suffolk House, viewed from the boardwalk. Loose gravel fills the area where the old porch used to be - the remain is the unplastered pillar is the slender structure at left.  The entrance to the mansion is at right (not shown in this pic). The guardhouse is at the end of the gravel road, at left.
Foyer with terracotta floor tiles. A marble table with four black lacquered legs greets the visitor. 
Marble Hall with a soft pink glow and flowers to enliven the place. Bare painted wooden rafters for the ceiling can be seen. Checked black-and-white floor tiles (some were broken) fill the dancing hall. The government held several functions which ended with a ball (dancing) and dinner here. The best dinners on Penang island were also served here at Suffolk House. 
The MBS shares a common back wall with Suffolk House. A part of the land belonging to Suffolk House was given to build the ACS or now MBS. The MBS was formerly the ACS (Anglo-Chinese School). When Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos attended school here it was called the ACS. When I attended school here, it was the MBS. A scouts photo of the ACS then is in Dr Che Lah's biography but I can't make out which big tree was in his photo of 1919. The tree is probably gone now.
Another view of the adjacent MBS classrooms viewed from Suffolk House.