Monday, 27 March 2017

Masjid Kg Hulu - first established 1670; rebuilt 1720-1728

A Chinese man escaping mainland China was found shipwrecked in the Straits of Malacca - he was near dying. He was brought to safety by Malay fishermen who were at sea in the area. Upon landing, the Chinese man heard the sound of the Islamic azan (call to prayer).

It could be either Zohor, Asar, Maghrib or Isya'. Since Malay fishermen often return to land before dark, he could have landed during azan Maghrib. The surau or masjid would therefore be by the sea or Straits of Malacca. Which surau or masjid existed by the sea in this area?

He asked what the sound was and they explained to him that it was the sound of azan. Upon hearing the explanation he converted to Islam and took the name Haron bin Abdullah (call name Arom as 'H' is often silent is Melakaspeak).

Haron was well-respected and appointed the first Dutch East India Company (VOC) Kapitan of the Chinese peoples in Malacca. He was a Chinese Muslim Kapitan. His life prospered and he became wealthy. He was a philanthropist and bequeathed a large track of land for his faith. The VOC Government in Malacca allowed for a masjid to be built and he was chosen as the builder. So he built Masjid Kg Hulu in 1670 with the help of locals. The initial masjid/surau was a wooden one and with attap roof.

Haron married and had a son named Shamsudin bin Haron. He too was a clergy and became Imam of Masjid Kg Hulu. Soon the old wooden masjid had to be replaced.

The masjid was rebuilt between 1720 and 1728 by Shamsudin bin Haron, and by which time Masjid Tengkera came into use. Since Shamsudin bin Arom was of Chinese decent, it is not surprising to find colourful Chinese tiles in Masjid Kg Hulu and other masjids of this era during the VOC rule in Malacca.

Masjid Tengkera was built by Hj Muhammad Saleh in 1728. He was a Sumatran Sufi and Imam. Someone from Masjid Tengkera married to the daughter of Bilal Jazan of Masjid Kg Hulu.

The original masjid was modified by the viser, Wazir Sheikh Omar Hussain Al-Attas and the masjid structure was strengthened with bricks in 1892.

I visited Masjid Kg Hulu for the first time on 5 June 2016. It was day before Ramadan fasting. There were many people at the masjid.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Robinson and Co., Ltd

Development in Singapore 1900-1936

Robinson and Co., Ltd.
- first store opened at North Bridge Road, Singapore
- second store to open in KL
TSFPMA 19Oct1928 p6

I remember shopping for my shoes at Robinsons in 1965. It was a pair of brown shoes with buckles (Made in England). I remember standing by the drain in my new shoes and my feet falling into the drain by a lamp post. I almost lost balance and fell into the drain, which was close to the main road. There was hardly space to walk on the pavement. The spot would be Robinsons at North Bridge Road.

External links to Robinsons:

Jelutong Timur, Mukim Jelutong (Part 1)


I visited a village in Jelutong, Penang but the place has been completely made-over and the houses re-arranged that I thought it useless to start searching for contacts. I could not locate some of the old houses which I could recall from 45 years ago. I will need to get more info from another key Arab contact person (now arwah Professor Syed Mohsin Sahil bin Syed Jamalullail) before returning to interview some of the surviving elderly Arabs in that village. Only 2 Arab families remained at Kampung Jelutong in Jelutong Timur (east Jelutong) - Syed Ahmad and Syed Omar's families.

1. Masjid Jamek Jelutong & graveyard

Jelutong Timur houses Masjid Jamek Jelutong, by the roadside of Jalan Jelutong (busy main street). There are some old graves on both sides of Masjid Jamek Jelutong. There are 2 brick wall enclosures which could be family plots. There is a large brick enclosure on one side and a smaller but higher enclosure by the side nearest the tiny road, nearest the parking lot (by a big empty field). 

Masjid Jamek Jelutong, Penang
Old portion of Masjid Jamek Jelutong, nearest the main road, Jalan Jelutong
Old graves enclosed by a low brick wall (with trees) near the beduk side
Beduk for sounding prayer times, is beside the old graves.
Another group of graves within a high brick enclosure, near the road and parking lot

2. Houses

There are houses from Jalan Jelutong all the way down to the "beach" (no longer since landfill and flats were built). Some houses have been demolished and temporary shacks have replaced them.

At the end of the tiny road are high rise flats. On the left is Richmont Residence (yellow) where some of the former residents of this particular area of Jelutong  moved to when they had to relocate

Jelutong flats built on reclaimed land and facing Syed Omar's house

3. People

As I recall from my childhood moments in Jelutong, there was a tiny sandy lane that led from Masjid Jamek Jelutong all the way down to the beach. The lane was shaded by tall trees. 

I can barely recall the house of Ami Aziz Alyamani after so long. Anyway, his was the last house and farthest from Masjid Jamek Jelutong, by the shore, where an old junk laid buried in the mud. I would approach his house from the right, from the kitchen side as the house fronted the sea. Two old ladies slept in the hind quarters of his house; they were bed-ridden. Looking towards the sea, I could see a clear view of the scary skeletal remains of an abandoned large dark brown Chinese junk stuck on its side in the smelly black mud; the deck faced his house. I was told it was from the time of Admiral Cheng Ho (Laksamana Zeng He). 

I used to spend Hari Raya Aidilfitri at Ami Aziz Alyamani's house by the sea. I ate the best putu kacang at his house, in the lower part of the little black double-storey wooden house. Ami Aziz Alyamani spoke some Arabic and his family kissed and hugged like Arabs normally do when they welcome guests. 

I remember the shape and the cream painted brick and black oiled wood of Ami Aziz Alyamani's house but I did not see his house this time. What I saw was a medium wooden green Malay-styled house. 

Syed Omar's house was previously the last house, and by the sea. It now faces Jelutong flats.
Syed Omar bin Syed Mohamad lived here. His son is Syed Mohamad bin Syed Omar.
Syed Mohamad bin Syed Omar is Ami Aziz Alyamani's grandson. I met him once at Sumaiyah Abdul Aziz Al-Khaiyath's wedding at USM. Ami Aziz Alyamani's eldest daughter is Fatma bt Abdul Aziz Alyamani, Syed Mohamad's mother. I have not met Fatma Alyamani.
Profile of Syed Omar's house.
The other Arab house belongs to Syed Ahmad and is in front of the parked lorry.

4. Contact

I enquired at the nearest car workshop and a tall young man there said Syed Omar lived in that house. He asked that I return after Maghrib to meet Syed Omar. I did not return as I was too exhausted that night. 

I will try and re-visit and enquire what happened to Dr Syed Alwi Al-Hady and family from Syed Omar.

Jelutong Timur, Mukim Jelutong (Part 2)


I visited Masjid Jamek Jelutong & its associated graveyard on 22 October 2011 to locate some graves for TEMD. Jelutong is a tree noted for its gum which is used for making chewing gum. This is my second time visiting the mosque and graves. I visited them about  2 weeks ago on 9 October 2011 but did not have time to look around and study the information here. I went back this week.

1. Masjid Jamek Jelutong, Mukim Jelutong

This is a very old mosque in Penang. It could have been built circa 1820 by the same set of Hadrami Arabs who opened Masjid Banda Hilir in Banda Hilir, Malacca. It is therefore approximately 191 years old in 2011.

2. Kubur Jelutong

a. Kubur beside the parking lot

On the right side of the mosque (standing facing qiblat) are 4 plots of graves. The frontmost plot is Kubur Syed, followed by Kubur Syed Yasin & Kwangtung China, followed by another set of (older) Kubur Syed with no names visible on the tombstones (batu nisan) and a rear plot within thick enclosed walls. All Syed are buried within Kubur Syed, especially the frontmost plot. Syed Sheikh is buried here.

Entrance to mosque and public parking
Kubur Syed (frontmost plot)
A different view of Kubur Syed (frontmost plot)
Middle plot. Kubur Syed Yasin (in foreground) and the Kwangtung man (rear grave)
Another plot of Kubur Syed (they seem more weathered and without names)
Rear plot of graves within thick brick enclosure

b. Kubur near van jenazah side

On the left side of the mosque are graves of non Syed (non Arabs). There is a big brick wall enclosure and is almost filled with graves. Within the brick wall enclosure is the grave of Hjh Fatimah bt Hamidon. There are more graves beyond the brick wall enclosure. There are many graves all around the brick wall enclosure.

Left side of mosque that opens to the public non-Syed graves
Graves between the mosque and brick wall enclosure. Entrance to enclosure (1/7).
Graves within the brick wall enclosure - left aspect of enclosure , entrance view (2/7).
 Closer to the graves at left aspect of enclosure (3/7).
Pusara Hjh Fatimah bt Hamidon (1/2). Also refer caption below.
Pusara Hjh Fatimah bt Hamidon (2/2), a descendant of Ismail @ Nakhoda Kecil.
Contact Badariah Baba Ahmad in Facebook for family tree and info in Geni.
View, panned from left to right (4/7).
View of right aspect of graves within low stone wall enclosure. View from entrance (5/7).
Another view. Same as above (6/7)
Close-up of headstones of graves inside the low stone wall enclosure (7/7).
More graves beyond the brick wall enclosure
View of the left side of the mosque from the graves within the enclosure.
Aluminium usung for keranda. They are made with wider bottom so many more people can help carry the jenazah
Roll-down aluminium doors through which the jenazah is carried to the grave after solat jenazah
View of graves at kampung or van jenazah side
Affandi performing wudhu'

Most of the graves at Kubur Jelutong do not follow any arrangement (except they all face qiblat) and some graves can be easily stepped on if one is not careful.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Kuala Lumpur Central Market 1888

Kuala Lumpur Central Market began in 1888 as a few long building by the river in Kuala Lumpur. The market was expanded in 1889, 1920 and 1928. A brick building was built in 1928 and ready in 1937. Mohd Amin (Mat Amin Pasar) passed away in 1936, before the brick Kuala Lumpur Central Market was ready. He probably worked in the renovated old market buildings, before the brick one was ready.

From Pak Saleh (8 June 2011):
Mohd Amin @ Mat Amin Pasar worked at Pasar Kuala Lumpur, now known as Pasar Chow Kit. He would only eat fish of a certain size - eg ikan parang not less than 8 inches wide.

What did the market look like during Mohd Amin's time?

Pasar Chow Kit today is a big brick building and overflows outside into makeshift tents and fruit stalls. The stalls inside sell beef, mutton and vegetables. The fruits stalls are managed by Indonesian migrants.

When did Mohd Amin work? For whom did he work? What post did he hold?
How much did he earn? He had 4 wives and 21-25 kids, how were they supported?

The post of Inspector of Markets and Abbatoirs, Sanitary Board, Kuala Lumpur, was held by a whiteman, a colonial officer. There is no record of a Malay man holding this job.

- Did Mat Amin work as Inspector of Markets and Abbatoirs, Sanitary Board, Kuala Lumpur?
- When Mohd Amin was in office is unknown
- Mr. C. A. Newman served in 1903
- Salary for KL Municipal Health Dept was $1,992, ie lower than for Singapore and Penang
- KL market was cheaper to inspect, @ $768, compared to Singapore
- When was the Markets and Abbatoirs section set up in KL?

Salaries allowed for the Municipal Health Departments in Singapore, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur:
- Singapore          $26,682
- Penang              $8,532
- Kuala Lumpur  $1,992
Inspection of markets cost:
- Singapore         $3,852
- Penang ?
- Kuala Lumpur  $768
TST 1July1901 p3


Mr. C. A. Newman
 - to be inspector of markets and abbatoirs,
   Sanitary Board, Kuala Lumpur
   on 6 months probation
- Mr R. W. Bowring Darke
  district surveyor
  granted 3 months vacation leave + 12 mo on half pay
  from 4 Feb 1903
- Mr A. M. Pountney
  protector of Chinese Selangor and Negri Sembilan
  returned from leave, resumed 6 Feb 1903
TST 13Feb1903 p5


Mr. C. A. Newman,
Inspector of Markets and Abattoirs, Sanitary Board, Kuala Lumpur,
on six months' probation
TST 14Feb1903 p4


An Inspector of Markets has been appointed in Kuala Lumpur
on a salary of £150 rising to £210 by triennial increments of £30.
TST 18Oct1904 p4

State of the Kuala Lumpur Bazaar and Markets 1900-1936

(1) During WW1

Kuala Lumpur Bazaar
- mainly German and Austrian goods
- British goods were just about to break into the dominant German-Austrian market
TST 31March1915 p10

A Hylam Fish Ring
- long-time monopoly of fish brought in from the seaports by a Chinese group
- another group at the market helped to stabilize the price of fish
TSFPMA 29July1922 p3

Food Control
- food profiteering
- raised price of milk
- cost of local products also went up
- native seller: Sekarang mahal - fasal prang tuan!
- fish and eggs became expensive - fasal prang
- sekarang ada banyak Ekan German lowan sama lain Ekan
- itu Eyam banyak laku sekarang, dan dengan itu semua pong besar boom! boom!
  dia takut bikin telur!
- need a special committee
- need one committee member, a hotel keeper or caterer
  to go to market daily, or nearly daily, and report to this committee
- prices should be fixed and "rings" broken up and any trouble arising
- foodstuff vary in prices by 50% in the country
TST 8Oct1918 p8

(2) After WW1

Fresh eggs for the market, by-pass middlemen
TST 3Oct1932 p5

Terrible state of Kuala Lumpur markets
TST 3Oct1934 p10

KL markets
- KL Sanitary Board
  Chairman: Mr. J. V. Cowgill
  1. Messrs. H. B. Talalla
  2. J. R. Vethavanam
  3. John Hands
  4. D. Sear
  5. L. Y. Swee
  6. H. S. Lee
  7. Dr. H. M. Soo
  8. Che Ahmad (unofficial, Malay rep) ............. also written as Che Ahmat in another 1935 account
  9. Che Abdul Rahman (unofficial, Malay rep)
 10. Dr. R. D. Gross (Health Officer)
 11. Mr. L. A. Thomas (Chief Police Officer)
 12. Mr. E. M. Sykes (Protector of Chinese)
 13. Che Samah (District Officer)
 14. Mr. T. G. Husband (Town Engineer)
 15. Mr. R. N. Thambythurai (secretary)
- present market was generally condemned in its present condition
- whether to construct a big central market, or a series of
  markets serving different districts
TST 15Feb1935 p12

Proposal for new markets
TST 16Feb1935 p13

Central Market for Kuala Lumpur
Discussion on question of site
- the Markets Committee favoured the proposal
  to transfer the market to the site of the old
  Victoria Institution in High Street
- Chairman: Mr. J. V. Cowgill
- the Board is of opinion that the present Central Market is
  unsatisfactory in many ways, and recommends that it be replaced
- this Board requests Government to provide the necessary funds
  in next year's estimates
- the present Central Market is unsatisfactory for the needs of the town,
  and it requires immediate replacement
- plea for the Malays
- Che Ahmat said: "As a Malay member of this Board, and a Muslim, I would
  like to be assured that this market will not have a pork-stall
  under the same roof. If it does, I must ask that a note be made to the
  resolution that the pork-stall should be housed in a separate building.
  Pork as a food is forbidden to the Muslim. In order that the religious
  feelings of the Islamic people of this country may not be wounded,
  I humby suggest to this meeting that the matter be given serious
  consideration and an entirely separate building for a pork-market
  be designed and estimated for.
  Such an action would be in consonance with the policy of the
  Government wherein the Islamic religion should not be interfered with,
  a policy which has existed since British protection of this country.
  It does not concern me where the site of the pork-market should be,
  but such building should be a separate one and some distance away
  from the general market."
TSFPMA 8March1935 p9
TST 8March1935 p12

Bicycles left at KL market at owners' risk. Bicycle shed will be removed and owners are free to park anywhere without charge.
- Mr. John Hands, M.C.H., Kuala Lumpur Sanitary Board
- Markets and Street Stalls Committee
- Major G.M. Kidd, chairman.
TST 9Jan1936 p13

Still Dissension About KL's Market
TST 2April1936 p5

KL markets controversy
TSFPMA 3April1936 p3

Picture-postcards (ppc) belonged to Bapak and his father, Walid.

It is said that Mat Amin Pasar served at the marketplace in Chow Kit. Chow Kit then and today have different buildings and features. He could have covered a wide area that was early Chow Kit, including the Market Square in KL, the narrow alleys in between colonial buildings and makeshift stalls.

Bapak and his father (Walid, Tok Walid) shared many photographs and picture-postcards (ppc's). Among them were photos and ppc's of markets in Kuala Lumpur. Most of Tok Walid's photos are dated to 1937.

These images below are from the combined collection of picture-postcards (ppc) and photos belonging to Tok Walid (Mohd Yusope bin Haji Mohd Sharif) and Bapak (Haji Abdul Rashid bin Mohd Yusope).

Market Square, Kuala Lumpur (ppc) before cars came to KL, before 1930s. There are only rickshaws parked under the tall trees. There are no street lamps in view.
Market Square, Kuala Lumpur (ppc) when cars came to KL, after 1930s. The tall trees have been removed and only a narrow strip of plants remain. The initially rickshaw parking space has become a parking space for cars. What car models are these? What year were they manufactured?
Market at Kuala Selangor (ppc), where fresh fish from the sea were landed by fishermen and were brought to Pasar KL
Photograph of sellers selling fresh produce in narrow alleys between huge colonial buildings, 1937. Which part of Chow Kit was photographed? There is a left front part of a vehicle at the left corner of this photograph. What vehicle is that?
Photograph of sellers selling fresh produce in makeshift stalls in Kuala Lumpur, 1937
The old atap roof KL Market buildings were constructed in 1888.

The brick Central Market in Kuala Lumpur was built in 1928 and ready in 1937.
It is a solid boxy building and looks like a building in Manhattan or New York - ie, out of place.
It is extant (still satnds), but is painted light blue - not a nice colour. It was a wet marker before, but became a dry market selling handicrafts and paintings when I visited it last. It was dark inside and felt more like being inside Fremantle Markets in Fremantle, Western Australia.

These photos of the early KL Market and KL Central Market were obtained from Facebook (FB).

Central Market 1888 - 1927

Market by the river

Medan Pasar (Old Market Square)

External links to Central Market:,_Kuala_Lumpur

A blogger's reflection of Central Market or Medan Pasar (edited 6 July 2016):
I remember my father will always drive pass Central Market, which at the time was a wet and dirty market, to park his Peugeot 305 in nearby Bank Pertanian Malaysia as it was closest to my mom's and his office in Medan Pasar and Leboh Ampang before continuing our journey to the colonial-looking Sin Seng Nam coffee shop for some serious breakfast- Chee Cheong Fun, soup noodles and steamed bread with kaya and butter.