Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Merdeka Story

Everyone aged above 55 today knows and remembers Merdeka. We sang the Merdeka songs as kids in the early 1960s and 1970s. We hardly worried about life. We had no worries. We were happy kids.

What was Merdeka about? When did it begin? Where did it happen? What actually happened? Why were we called British Malaya? Why were were called Tanah Melayu? Why were we called Persekutuan Tanah Melayu? What is the Federation of Malaya? Why did we have the Unfederated States? Why are we called Malaysia today? When did we become Malaysia?

Are we patriotic enough? I don't know. We have a national flag (Jalur Gemilang) and a national flower (Hibiscus/bunga raya). We have a national animal (tiger). Do we have a national bird? Do we have a national staple? Do we have a national menu, meal or dish? Do we have a national attire? We have a national language (Bahasa Malaysia/Bahasa Melayu). We have a national logo for our airlines (wau bulan). We have a national airlines (Malaysian Airlines System, MAS). We have our own curreny (Ringgit Malaysia and sen). We have our own banking system, judiciary and education system. We are a fortunate nation.

What does Merdeka mean? It means digging for old photos for me, and trying to understand what happened at Stadium Merdeka that 31 August morning. It means I must revise and read about what Tunku did for our country. It means I must also understand all the people and factions who helped contribute to our independence. 

What is independence? Why do we need independence?

Independence means we get to do things our way, our Malaysian way.

We have much resemblance to the others in this region. We are very similar to the Indonesians who are all around us. We are similar to the Thai Malays who are above us. We are similar to the Filipino Malays who are at 2 o'clock from where we are. We have ties to many Singaporean Malays who are below us on an island. If we combine all the Malays in this region, we are a large mass.

Back to our Merdeka story, what have I got to share in this post? I have some old photos in my harddisk. I probably downloaded them without making note of where I obtained them. I also have a set of photos my late father took at Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on 31 August 1957. I wasn't born yet at the time of Merdeka. Merdeka was first proclaimed in Bandar Hilir, Malacca. We have had good prime ministers so far. We had about 55 Malay doctors at Merdeka; my maternal grandfather was one of them. 

Independence documents in London 1953 - 1956:

The first King (Agong) and Prime Minister (Perdana Menteri) 1957:

Malaysia's Prime Ministers 1957 - 2013:

First Prime Minister: Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj
As 1st PM: 31 August 1957 - 22 September 1970.Political party: UMNO. He also created PERKIM.
Born 8 February 1903 - died 6 December 1990 (aged 87).

Second Prime Minister: Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussien
As 2nd PM: 22 September 1970 - 14 January 1976.
Political party: UMNO (1953-1976). He created Buku Hijau.

Born 11 March 1922 - died 14 January 1976 (aged 53)
(suffered from leukaemia)

Third Prime Minister: Tun Hussein Onn
As 3rd PM: 15 January 1976 - 16 July 1981.
Deputy PM: 13 August 1973 - 15 January 1976.
He created the Eye Bank.

Political parties: Independent 1987-1990; UMNO before 1951; 1968-1987; National 1963-1968.
Born 12 February 1922 - died 28 May 1990 (aged 68).

Tun Dr Ismail bin Abdul Rahman
Deputy Prime Minister 22 September 1970 - 2 August 1973.
Political party: UMNO
Born 4 November 1915 - died 2 August 1973 (aged 57).
He was one of the 55 early Malay doctors before Merdeka.
An early Malay doctor from Johor; 3rd Malay doctor from Johor.

Fourth Prime Minister: Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad
As 4th PM: 16 July 1981 - 31 October 2003.
As Deputy PM: 5 March 1976 - 16 July 1981.
Longest term as prime minister in Malaysian history (22 years).
Political party: UMNO
He created Islamic banking, Tabung Haji, the OIC and Putrajaya.
He is one of the 55 early Malay doctors before Merdeka.

Fourth Malay doctor from Kedah.
Born 10 July 1925 (registered date 20 December 1925)

Fifth Prime Minister: Tun Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi
As 5th PM: 31 October 2003 - 3 April 2009.
As Deputy PM: 29 January 1999 - 31 October 2003.
Political party: UMNO.
He portrayed an Islamic image for Malaysia.

Born 26 November 1939.

Sixth Prime Minister: Dato' Seri Mohammad Najib bin Abdul Razak
As 6th PM: 3 April 2009 - 2 April 2013; 2013-2017.
Deputy PM: 7 January 2004 - 3 April 2009.
Menteri Besar Pahang: 4 May 1982 - 14 August 1986.
Born 23 July 1953.

Proclamation of Independence Memorial in Melaka (Malacca):


Memorial Pengistiharan Kemerdekaan dinamakan sedemikian kerana pengumuman kemerdekaan Tanah Melayu dilakukan oleh Perdana Menteri Malaysia yang pertama, Al-marhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj di Padang Panglima yang terletak di seberang jalan memorial ini. Bangunan usang yang menjadi tarikan ini kini menempatkan butir-butir sejarah perjalanan negara ke arah mencapai kemerdekaan. Peminat sejarah juga boleh menyaksikan tayangan filem rencana mengenai peristiwa-peristiwa penting dalam sejarah kemerdekaan negara di pawagam kecil.


The Proclamation of Independence Memorial is so named because the attainment of Malaya's independence was announced by Malaysia's first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, at Warriors Field just across the road. This quaint old building now houses an exhibition that traces the history of the nation's convoluted journey to independence. History buffs should note that films documenting the highlights of the nation's independence are regularly shown at the theatrette.

(There is a photo of Tunku in a car, being driven around the Malacca Padang. I showed the photo in my class but my medical students did not know nor recognise Tunku at all. I have to search for the photo.)

At Stadium Merdeka, Bukit Petaling in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 1 August 1957 (it was drizzling). These photos are from my late father's collection. The original photos were small, dark and vague. I edited the photos using Zoner Photo Studio 15:

That's what my father wrote on the back of each photo below.

There was a post-Merdeka Parade in Bandar Hilir, about a month or so after Merdeka. I have to search for the photos and create another post. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Aerial Views of Kota Bharu, Kelantan

Some of you may want to visit Kelantan. Kelantan is very quiet during school days and very hectic (worse than KL) during school holidays. Don't come to Kelantan during school holidays because the roads are congested and the shops are filled with holiday shoppers. Come during non school holidays and you will be 'King of the Road', and getting around is rapid and shopping is easier. You waste less time on the road and get more things done. You get less headache and normal heartbeat. We have 2 flyovers now to help curb traffic jams. Parking is a problem in Kota Bharu and here the town officers clamp tyres and you have to pay a fine to get your car back. Despite all the unpleasant episodes, Kota Bharu still remains a tourist town. There is a continuous flow of tourists to this unique characteristic old Malay city. It still remains the 'Cradle for Malay Learning' and will always be. Many students come here from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines. The teachers comes from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc. The students mainly study the Quran here at the many Islamic schools and pondoks. Life is very quiet in Kelantan. I have lived here as a little girl, as a teenager, most of my adult teaching life, and now in my middle-age. I have lived in Kelantan for about 33 years. I am not a Kelantanese but I like it here in Kelantan. It is very quiet - I don't hear dogs bark at all. I see only cats, goats and cows. We get soft Australian beef and mutton in Kelantan. We get fresh vegetables and fruits from Thailand and Cameron Highlands. We have a lot of fruit juices, just about every type, including apple juice, soursop juice, mangosteen juice, etc. Internet speed is also faster than in Klang Valley (I think the fastest in Malaysia). That's why I can upload a lot of photos (even though some readers have complained). I will move most of the photos from my blog to my Facebook later.

My husband and I went up to the 11th floor of the Tabung Haji building in Kota Bharu. I took some snapshots of whatever I could see from a tall narrow window that was shut and had an iron grill. My camera is small enough to slip through the grill. But I had difficulty focusing as when the lens tube expanded, there was no room to fit the camera, and it was awkward holding the camera in such a small space and yet try to focus or turn the camera properly. I managed to get some photos. Some shots are not so good. 

We then went to talk to Encik Amri bin Husain in the Tabung Haji office on 9th floor (he will be shifting office soon). He is in charge of the Hajj pilgrimage for Kelantan sector. I informed him that I am only doing Hajj history and I don't belong to the USM Hajj Research Cluster which only does clinical research. He loaned us 2 Tabung Haji reports for my research on the Hajj pilgrimage. He said to make copies and to return them as they are the only originals his office has.

We then headed down to have capati at the nasi biryani shop, our usual hangout when we go to Kota Bharu. The nasi biryani shop is in front of the parking lot in one of the photographs. Nasi biryani is RM7.90 per serve or package. Capati is 80 sen a piece - we shared 3 pieces and each had a tall glass of sweet fresh orange (RM2 per glass). We bought 5 packs nasi biryani for the house and for Affandi's mother at the pondok in Terusan, Pasir Tumboh.

This is the hockey field where I played for my school, Zainab Secondary School. This one is covered with artificial turf; we played on natural grass on hard ground in 1971.

There are 2 bridges on Sg Kelantan, and they lie side by side. The older bridge is nearer the camera. The newer bridge is on the other side (TESCO side).
Kg Gajah Mati is Affandi's village. He was born there. It was a royal Malay village in history. It is just a slum today.
The building with the 3 domes is a shopping arcade. They sell a lot of textiles here.
The few high rises in Kota Bharu. From left: Billion Shopping Centre and Renaissance Hotel, Kelantan Trade Centre, and new Perdana Hotel. I don't know the last high rise but it is in front of the State Secretariat. Looking southwest.
Nasi biryani shop is the one with the red roof and near the trees (parking lot).
Looking northwest.
Looking west
Looking southwest
Looking south-southwest

Penang by Day

Penang is terribly hot during the daytime. I sat in the backseat of my car while my husband drove down the various streets, roads and lanes of George Town, and I took photos of buildings. Sometimes the car swerved and I would fall and roll in the backseat and the photos didn't turn out good. But this is my best effort to obtain some photos and learn what the buildings are about.

Naina Mohamed & Sons (Pg) Sdn Bhd

Naina Mohamed & Sons (Pg) Sdn Bhd shifted from its former location at the Logan Heritage building to Bishop Street. Dr KM Ariff had worked at Naina Mohamed & Sons when it was at Logan Heritage building. I do not know whether Dr KM Ariff also moved when Naina Mohamed & Sons moved to Bishop Street.

Farmasi Naina Mohamed & Sons (Pg) Sdn Bhd
Tel: 04-2610027 / 04-2610082

Bishop Street
Farmasi Naina Mohamed & Sons (Pg) Sdn Bhd
Tel: 04-2610027 / 04-2610082

Cast iron balconies and the original building (as seen in early postcards)
Cast iron balconies from across the road
Close-up of the cast iron balconies.

India House

Whiteways and Laidlaw building

D' Dapor Malay restaurant
D' Dapor
Dewan Perniagaan Melayu PP, JHEI PP, RBS, Tourism Malaysia and AmBank (partial).

Standard and Chartered

Wisma MTT on Weld Quay, near Pengkalan Raja Tun Uda at Penang Port and Rapid bus station