Monday, 7 January 2013

Batu Ferringhi, Penang

Batu Ferringhi is a beach area on Penang island. As a kid, I knew the place as Batu Ferringhi and as a family picnic area. Batu Ferringhi was a lush green area and with beautiful fine soft white sand.
There weren't many hotels back then in 1965. I remember having brunch with my grandparents at Palm Beach Resort on a Sunday in 1976. I also remember the Palm Beach Resort when USM held its in-house induction course/training for new lecturers in 1982. The other hotels are considered "new" hotels. Rasa Sayang Hotel was a grand hotel when it opened in 1982. USM also held its annual dinner at Rasa Sayang Hotel in Penang.

Happenings in Batu Ferringhi

Batu Ferringhi is now a tourist spot and also a congested area. Some parts are more developed and some are abandoned. However, I discovered a beautiful garden restaurant. Affandi said it is surely a nice restaurant with a beautiful garden concept. We both liked this garden restaurant in Batu Ferringhi.

A beautiful garden restaurant
P Ramlee on a bus panel in Batu Ferringhi. This elderly man's wife was still on the bus while he had gotten off the bus. He was frantically trying to stop the bus driver. The bus eventually stopped a few yards away and let down his wife. Imagine being separated from your wife in this way!
Affandi buying rojak buah from a hawker in Batu Ferringhi. The laksa man wasn't around.

What is the history of Batu Ferringi?

I'm not sure what the actual history is and how Batu Ferringhi got its name. Orang Ferringhi was a historical term used to refer to the Portuguese. But I have not heard the Portuguese landed in Penang. They were probably Portuguese descent from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), maybe from the Portuguese East India Company, Dutch East India Company and British East India Company. Batu Ferringhi sounds Arabic and in Arabic there is the letter f and no letter p. Otherwise this place could have been named Batu Paringgi or after Orang Paringgi if it was named by the Malays.

As with most "Batu" names of places in Malaya and including Penang, this indicates an early arrival in Penang by sea route, ie by ships. Batu Ferringhi is either a small bay or cove, and with a lot of granite boulders (batu) in the sea, and an unlikely place for landing of then an inhospitable island.

Batu Ferringhi beach, Penang 2011

However, it should be noted that Masjid Kg Batu Uban (1700s) predates Francis Light's landing on Penang island (1800s). I would therefore say Batu Ferringhi is more recent than Kg Batu Uban. If the Portuguese are implied as "pioneers" to this island, and the Portuguese came to Malacca in 1511, then Batu Ferringhi would probably be in that time frame. However, because only the Malays would name a place with a Batu name, it is possible that there were Arab-speaking Malay villages on Penang island by 1511, when the Portuguese first arrived before they sailed into the Strait of Malacca, and onward to Malacca and to the Chinese islands off mainland China. This is just a thought and a possibility.

Kg Melayu in Ayer Itam, Penang

I wrote a bit about Kg Melayu in Ayer Itam in a post on Tok Chu of Ayer Itam, Penang
TOK CHU. Tok Chu is the father of Prof Ahmad Murad Merican. Prof Ahmad Murad is an activist who is trying to protect his & mine ancestors' village, Kg Batu Uban in Penang. Kg Batu Uban is across the road from USM side gate near Sg Dua. Kg Batu Uban is approximately 278 years old in January 2013. 
HOW TO GET TO TOK CHU'S HOUSE: AYER ITAM. Tok Chu lives in Ayer Itam in Penang. We decided to go down Jalan Masjid Negeri (old street name, Green Lane). We passed by Jalan Thean Teik - a narrow congested road, and the BHP petrol station on the left. We passed by Jalan Satu on the left. We passed by the Indian temple on the right (Affandi recognised the temple first) - I took some photos of the temple. Then we reached the turn-off for Jalan Dua and finally Jalan Kg Melayu on the left. 
JALAN KAMPUNG MELAYU. We followed Jalan Kg Melayu to Jalan Ayer Itam and got lost. We made a U-turn at the school and went back on Jalan Ayer Itam till we reached Jalan Pisang Embun. All the roads here were named after bananas. We turned right into Jalan Pisang Embun and went right till the end of the road. Tok Chu's house is on the right, at the end of the row.
I cited Abdur-Razzaq Lubis's article about Kg Melayu Ayer Itam:
Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang / Dr Kamil Mohamed Arif / Captain Mohamad Nor bin Mohamad The constitutional provision of what constitutes Malay also applied to Penang. In 1933, the Penang Malay Association (Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang) submitted a memorandum to the Colonial Office in London, for the creation of a Malay reservation in Air Itam. The memorandum was drafted by Dr. Kamil Mohamed Arif, Captain Mohamad Nor bin Mohamad and Captain Syed Salleh Alsagoff. A piece of land in Air Hitam costing $40,000 was purchased for the purpose and the settlement became known as Kampung Melayu, Air Itam, the one and only Malay reservation in the Straits Settlement [Page 42]. Source: 42. 
** Captain Mohamad Noor bin Shaik Ahmad is in Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos' family tree **

I didn't know the significance of Kg Melayu in Ayer Itam in our history when I visited the village and when I wrote that Tok Chu post for this blog. Kg Melayu at Ayer Itam is possibly the only British-created Malay reservation on Penang island, and which had survived till today. I still don't have the full story of this historical Malay reservation and where the British had picked or imported the original Malay families from (possibly from the vicinity in north Kedah, Jitra onward and from Butterworth). I will write what I know from my reading.

This Malay village is right after a row of shops on both sides of the road and quite far in, off from the busy main road, off from Green Lane/Jalan Masjid Negeri. The beginning of the in-road was very busy and the area was congested with vehicles, people and just about anything that could make it on the road. We could not reverse our car when we thought we were in the wrong locality. We just drove straight on to search for a place to make a U-turn. However, while searching for a place to make a U-turn, I saw 2 signboards and a school plaque that indicated we were in a Malay village. I found it strange that there is a Malay village in Ayer Itam when I know that Ayer Itam is mainly a Chinese area. I was confused because I never knew a Malay village would even exist in a predominantly Chinese area.