Off Walls Off Pedestals

Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia 1: Kuala Pilah – Segamat – Bandar Muadzam Shah – Pekan (Part 2)

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on February 28, 2010

The Journey continued:

Sunday, 17th January 2010

About 0800 a.m

Sunday morning in this part of Segamat was empty. We packed our bags and equipments, checked out the Villa Hotel and searched for a local Malay breakfast_ and we found the usual nasi lemak, meehun goreng, mee goreng, lontong and the kuehs, at a roadside eating stall at the junction towards our next destination; Bandar Muadzam Shah in the district of Rompin, Pahang – some 80 km or so from Segamat.

The road was near empty with a few lorries transporting machineries and palms produce. The landscape was of oil palm plantations and secondary jungles. A quick look on the Internet:

Bandar Muadzam Shah telah dibuka pada 1979 oleh Lembaga Kemajuan Pahang Tenggara (DARA). Lembaga Kemajuan Pahang Tenggara (DARA) telah ditutup setelah lebih 25 tahun mentadbir Bandar Muadzam Shah. Penutupan DARA telah menutup ruang dan cita-cita Tun Abdul Razak untuk menjadikan Bandar Muadzam Shah sebagai sebuah bandar pendidikan yang memiliki pentadbiran sendiri seperti terciptanya Putrajaya. Kini Bandar Muadzam Shah diletakkan di bawah pentadbiran Daerah Rompin. Sebelum itu, bandar Muadzam Shah telah diletakkan di bawah daerah pentadbiran Pekan. Jika diambil kira status pembangunan dan kemajuan bandar, Bandar Muadzam Shah adalah lebih maju berbanding Rompin. Jadi kenapa Bandar Muadzam Shah tidak diletakkan di bawah pentadbiran Pekan.

Antara kemajuan Bandar Muadzam Shah yang melebihi kemajuan Rompin ialah kewujudan Hospital Besar Muadzam Shah. Muadzam Shah memiliki kesemua kemudahan awam termasuklah mahkamah, JPJ, Jabatan Polis dan Bomba, sekolah-sekolah, malah memiliki universiti bertaraf antarabangsa. Bandar Muadzam Shah memiliki wilayah pentadbiran yang besar seperti Bukit Ibam, Keratong, dan sekitarnya.

Kemajuan Bandar Muadzam Shah terus disekat dengan pembatalan projek pembinaan kilang Proton dan akhirnya telah dibina di Pekan. Pembinaan sebuah UiTM di Bandar Muadzam Shah juga telah dibatalkan walaupun tapak hutan telah diratakan dan akhirnya tapak tersebut digantikan dengan pembinaan Politeknik Muadzam Shah. Banyak usaha yang diutarakan Tun Abdul Razak semasa hayatnya tidak dapat tercapai sepenuhnya. Dalam erti kata lain, Bandar Muadzam Shah diwujudkan untuk bumiputera dan disebabkan itu juga UiTM ingin dibina oleh Tun Abdul Razak.

Semasa hayat DARA sebagai badan yang bertanggungjawab membangunkan Bandar Muadzam Shah suatu ketika dahulu, 100% penduduk Bandar Muadzam Shah adalah Melayu. Tetapi kini kemajuan tanah dan banyak syarikat di Bandar Muadzam Shah telah didominasi oleh kaum Cina.

The article from above quoted displayed perhaps some uncertainties and dissatisfactions might have had occurred on the establishment and development of Bandar Muadzam Shah, which might lead to political issues rather than socio-economics concerns.

Following on Bandar Muadzam Shah is quoted from the UNITEN’s Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Campus, :

Bandar Muadzam Shah is a town in Rompin, southeast Pahang, Malaysia. Located at Latitude = 3°03′ and Longitude = 103°05′, it is about 80km from the Segamat, about 140km from Kuantan and about 214km from Kuala Lumpur. It is a major stopover for travelers from northern Johore, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan who are going to East Coast.

Area Width: 316 996.5 hectares

Population: 70,000 ( 2006 )

Population Overview : Felda 59.6% / Town area 33.6% / Orang Asli village 5.5% / Malay traditional village 1.3%

Main Activities: Felda settlers, government worker, private worker, farmers

Majority: 99.9% Malay, 1% lain-lain.

Driving Distances: 3 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, 1 hour drive from Segamat, 1 1/2 hours drive from Kuantan, 1 hour drive to Tg Gemok – to Tioman Island

And we entered Bandar Muadzam Shah at about 1030am. The town is almost empty.

Naim came across a teenager somewhere down the Dataran DARA.

‘Maseh sekolah? Tingkatan berapa?’

‘Tingkatan Lima.’

‘Ini buat apa dekat sini?’

‘Tunggu kawan.’

On his trail back to the car, Raid encountered the teenager again – this time with a girlfriend and they holding hands.

“Ni kenapa pegang-pegang ni? Tak baik.’

‘Alah, biasalah bang.’


Empty Street

The Station Without Buses

Empty Street & The Station Without Buses on a Bandar Muadzam Shah’s Sunday

We went around the bus and taxi station. There were waiting passengers, mostly students in uniforms and a few elders. An eatery adjacent to the bus and taxi station were also filled with people, though not many and they were talking their Sunday morning away over tea and roti canai.

We approached a man in early fifties for some information about the town and its folk. He was very cooperative and very happy for an interview. He even paid Hanafiah and Naim’s tea and roti canai.

We then started towards Pekan, the Royal Town of Pahang, at about 1145 a.m. The sun was high and it was sweaty hot. The landscape was beginning more into tanah terbiar with grownup lalang and other foliages. An Internet reference followed:

Located on the banks of the Pahang River 50 km south of Kuantan, Pekan is the royal town of the Malaysian state of Pahang Darul Makmur. Its name comes from a flower, the Bunga Pekan. Pekan is also the name of the district the town is situated in, and a parliamentary constituency in its own right. It is the home of the state’s royal family headed by Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Abu Bakar Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mu’adzam Shah [1]. It is also the hometown of the second Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdul Razak Hussein [2]and the current Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Najib is also Pekan’s current Member of Parliament.

Further reference on the Majlis Daerah Pekan page, read:

Gelaran tua bagi negeri Pahang itu ialah Inderapura, disebut Pahang Inderapura. Bandar Dirajanya yang terkenal sampai sekarang dan ibu negeri Pahang pada zaman dahulu bernama PEKAN. Sebelum negeri Pahang ditakluk oleh Kerajaan Melayu Melaka, orang Hindu-Asli (berbahasa Sanskrit) memanggil ibu negeri Pahang itu Pura. Orang-orang Melayu ada juga menyebutnya Pura (ada tersebut dalam hikayat Sejarah Melayu 1977 : hal 73). Manakala orang melayu yang diam berhampiran dengan Sungai Endau, Sungai Rompin dan Sungai Bebar memanggilnya Pekan Pahang pula. Pada masa ini Bandar Diraja Pahang yang dinamakan Pekan itu ialah daerah-daerah yang di kiri dan kanan Sungai Pahang dan Sungai Pahang Tua hingga ke hulu had Tanjung Langgar. Bandar Pekan itu terbahagi kepada dua bahagian : Pekan Baharu dan Pekan Lama. Di Pekan Lama itulah tempat kediaman raja-raja dan orang-orang besar Pahang.

Pekan Baharu itu pada zaman dahulu kampung Cina namanya, kemudian baru disebut Pekan Baharu. (Buyung Adil, 1972 : hal 2) Bandar Pekan dikatakan wujud semenjak abad ke 17 lagi. Namun demikian, tidak ada tarikh yang pasti tentang penemuan Pekan tetapi ramai penulis samada penulis Barat, Arab atau penulis Cina menyebut dan menceritakan tentang Pekan.

Mengikut pendapat orang-orang tua, Pekan mendapat namanya dari sejenis bunga yang dipanggil Bunga Pekan yang banyak tumbuh menjalar di tebing-tebing Sungai Pahang. Bunganya berwarna putih seperti bunga Melor, namun bakanya kini sudah tiada lagi untuk dikenalkan kepada generasi sekarang dan akan datang. Di Bandar Pekan juga terdapat sebatang sungai yang digelar Sungai Pekan (berhampiran Kampung Mengkasar) tetapi tiada bukti yang menyatakan Pekan mendapat nama dari sungai ini.

About 30 kilometers towards Pekan, we stopped at a roadside stall for some refreshments, at a place called Kampong Pulau Rumput. Tall grasses and bushes seemed to be the familiars in the surrounding landscape. Men in kampong working clothes were drinking, smoking and talking. A conversation soon took place and Naim managed to get them talking about their kampong and what most of them do for a living.

Soon, familiar excuses and explanations surfaced:

  • Most young people didn’t want to do the lands. They prefer to work in towns and most have migrated to live there.
  • Inadequate monetary resources and technical assistance from responsible parties (government?) to execute projects and programs.
  • Failures of contractors and responsible parties (government?) to execute and develop projects based on local needs and resources.

And, a bitter complaint:

  • Some of the kampong folks (Malay) have been working for the Orang Asli / Asal. Orang Asal has become rich landowners and entrepreneurs because the responsible parties (government?) helped and subsidized them with many things.
  • We have tried many projects but most failed. We are willing to share, or we can agree on some kind of collaboration, perhaps we all need some kind of leadership that can bring prosperity to the kampong folks.

We started towards Pekan after about 45 minutes or so at the Kampong Pulau Rumput’s roadside stall. We saw the Sungai Pahang on the left, and the landscape started to change from deserted tanah terbiar to clusters of houses, well-made houses, on the riverbanks. An intuition of wanting to learn more about the well-made houses, after hearing the complaints and grouses of Kampong Pulau Rumput, made us to follow a kampong road going to this cluster of well-made houses, after a signboard of Kampong Pulau Rumbia.

We saw houses painted in light purple and orange, and most houses were decorated with tiles and balustrade of bright shiny colors. Asking permission for photographs was welcomed with an unfamiliar Malay dialect, and the woman of the house – she was wearing a little-finger sized golden necklace that might be near 10 thousand ringgit in value! We learned that they are the Melayu Kemboja that came from Kampuchea during the country’s political crises in the 1980s.

A Google search brought us to this blog,

Lebih 30 tahun yang lalu, Tanjung Agas dan kawasan pinggirnya iaitu Sekukuh didiami oleh orang Melayu tempatan. Waktu Rejim Pol Pot mengganas dan menjarah Republik Kampuchea, ramai Melayu Kemboja menjadi orang hanyut atau pelarian dan ada yang ‘terdampar’ di Tanjung Agas. Mereka berkumpul dan menetap khususnya di kawasan Sekukuh. Kala itu cukup sukar buat mereka, merempat di tanah orang dan dipandang hina oleh orang setempat.

Kesusahan adalah sekolah survival masyarakat Melayu Kemboja di kampung ini. Mereka lakukan apa sahaja yang halal untuk terus hidup, jadi nelayan, jual kain, buat ikan kering dan lain-lain. Lebih 30 tahun telah berlalu sejak mereka mula-mula ‘terdampar’ di Tanjung Agas. Percaya atau tidak, orang Melayu tempatan yang dahulunya memandang hina pada orang-orang pelarian ini masih duduk di rumah-rumah yang kian mereput dan usang, tetapi Melayu Kemboja yang berstatus penduduk tetap ini telah mampu tinggal di banglo dan ada yang memandu Toyota Estima! (kalau teman-teman tak percaya, mari ke Pekan dan PZ akan tunjukkan). Berkat usaha anak dagang, akhirnya lebih mewah daripada anak tempatan yang telah berada turun-temurun di tanah sendiri dan akhirnya ada yang makan gaji dengan anak dagang! Cukup menjengkelkan buat PZ.

Jangan ditunding pula jari menyalahkan Melayu Kemboja tersebut mengaut kekayaan di tanah orang! Itulah rezeki bagi mereka yang tidak culas dan segan berusaha. Sedang anak tempatan hanyut dibuai mimpi, rasa complacent dalam zon selesa. Jangan pula diapi-apikan pula dengki dan hasad kesumat kepada Melayu Kemboja itu! Anak tempatan juga berupaya mewah seperti mereka jika sanggup berjerih payah. Tapi berapa ramai di kalangan anak tempatan yang punya kesedaran seperti itu. Mereka datang tanpa sebarang harta dan kini berbangga dengan Estima menjalar di jalan raya, sedang anak tempatan terus berlagak Mat Rempit dalam bodoh sombongnya dengan Honda C70 tua, itu pun bukan sendiri punya, tapi dipinjam dari si bapa!

We were in a Melayu Kemboja kampong. A local Malay working with them assisted us in knowing more about them:

They were 10 siblings here, saved their earnings and managed to buy this land, 5 acres. They worked hard – breeding Ikan Patin, Udang Galah and all in cages. Some of the harvest were exported to Temerloh, supporting the Bandar Ikan Patin. Every sale, transaction, here are all I cash. See here, RM300. I just sold 5 fish. I work part-time with them.

Farms on Sungai Pahang

Fish Cage besides a Volleyball Court

Farms on Sungai Pahang. Results of the Melayu Kemboja’s entrepreneurship skills.

Fish Cage besides a Volleyball Court. The Melayu Kemboja works and plays on the Pahang riverbank.

We left the kampong wondering what’s happening with the local Malays and their tanah terbiar. Hanafiah pointed out that the Melayu Kemboja are really hardworking and support each other as proven with the establishment of a Pasar Kemboja in many parts of Peninsular Malaysia.

An example of determination and hard-work,

Asalnya, anak kelahiran Praek Pra, kawasan berdekatan Phnom Penh, Kemboja ini hanya bersekolah sehingga darjah empat dan terpaksa menghabiskan usia remaja dengan menjadi buruh paksa sebelum nekad melarikan diri ke Thailand pada tahun 1980.

“Ibu selalu menangis apabila melihat saya terpaksa membanting tulang bekerja pada usia muda. Untuk mendapat wang, ia adalah sesuatu yang mustahil.

“Sebagai galakan, ibu akan membuatkan sosej daging lembu yang sedap untuk saya. Itulah ganjaran istimewa yang saya terima selepas berbulan-bulan makan kangkung rebus,” imbasnya. Tidak hairanlah pada tahun 1985, setahun selepas Hassan tiba di Malaysia di bawah program Suruhanjaya Tinggi Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu untuk Pelarian (UNHCR), nostalgia itu memberikannya satu azam untuk menjadikan sosej warisan itu sebagai punca rezekinya.

About five kilometers approaching Pekan at Kampong Pulau Keladi, we again stopped and ventured into another Melayu Kemboja kampong. The kampong is much bigger than at the Kampong Padang Rumbia, but it seems to be much earlier established. The surrounding was alive with activities. Most houses have some kind of stalls selling sundry goods and small eating stall. We stopped and have a nice Kemboja nasi goreng and somtam. And, yes – there were an Estima and other new Protons and Toyotas.

Approaching the Royal Town, we encountered the Kompleks Budaya Pulau Keladi. Thinking to see the famous weavings of Pahang we ventured to the complex. And, we found the complex was almost locked, nobody was seen around and the surrounding kampong is almost quiet – perhaps everybody went for their afternoon nap, it is a Sunday after all.

An article on a page from ,

In fact, the village of Pulau Keladi in Bandar Diraja Pekan, located about 20 km (or 25 minutes drive from Kuantan) is the main source of Tenun Pahang Diraja, and the majority of the Pulau Keladi village folks are skilled in the manual weaving of silk threads into highly desirable quality designed silk cloth, famed all over Malaysia. It is a small cottage industry, and just like the woven silk clothes in the east coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu, they are mostly done by the womenfolk of the village.

Nestled amongst the quaint wooden houses of the village, you will find the Kompleks Budaya Pulau Keladi, (or Pulau Keladi Cultural Complex), a modern wooden-styled building opened officially in 1996 by the then Chief Minister of Pahang. This complex is not only a place showcasing Tenun Pahang Diraja fabrics and related products, it also acts as a center for training young men and women who are interested in learning the art of silk weaving that is unique to the place. This is to ensure that the art and skill of silk weaving of fabrics in the Pahang-style would be preserved and continued by the future generations.

Inside this building, there are written explanations on the various stages and processes involved in silk weaving and making. You can also find a pictorial history of silk weaving in Pahang and of the prominent personalities involved in Pahang silk weaving in the past, namely, Tuk Tuan Keraing Aji (see below) and also Puan (Mrs.) Selama binti Sulaiman. The latter, who died in 1958, was a renowned Pahang silk weaver who exhibited her beautiful products in London in the early 1950s and had won recognition and acclaim as “Tokoh Tenun Pahang” from the English government for her skills.

Besides the pictorial history and display of the beautiful and fine silk clothes made at the Complex, this is also a place where visitors can see first-hand the actual equipment used for silk weaving and closely observe the actual spinning of the silk threads and weaving of silk into the actual completed cloth by the skilled craftsmen and women.

We drove into Pekan around 0230 p.m. It was a hot afternoon. We wanted to see the Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar.

The museum displays many artifacts which are important in the state’s history and the local Malay culture. The museum was officially opened by Sultan Ahmad Shah in October 1976. It is located in the former residence of the British Resident, which was built in 1929. It was acquired by the Sultan of Pahang in 1948 and was renamed Kota Beram Palace. In 1965, the Sultan moved his residence to a new palace (the Abu Bakar Palace), where the current Royal Palace is situated.

The museum was officially opened to the public in October 1976, in conjunction with the birthday celebrations of the Sultan of Pahang. The first Chairman of the museum was the late YBhg. Dato’ Haji Mohd Mokhtar bin Haji Daud and the first Director/Curator was YBhg. Dato’ Mohamed Mokhtar bin Haji Abu Bakar. The museum expanded its collections of artefacts very actively during this era up to 1997. The locals eagerly surrendered and provided as gifts certain unique artefacts to the museum. One example of these is a keris (a type of Malay dagger) which was found by a young man in a river about 20 km from the town of Pekan. This particular keris drew a lot of attention, coupled with strange stories of its mystical prowess. The keris is still on display at the museum.

The museum has dedicated galleries focusing on water transportation, personal belongings of the late Sultan Abu Bakar and the late Tengku Ampuan Pahang Tengku Afzan.

The museum is currently undergoing renovations (as at Oct 2008). Visitors are advised to call the museum first (contact details available from the Malaysian Yellow Pages)

( )

Indeed, the museum was still under renovation when we arrived at the gate. We made a few rounds and headed Kuala Lumpur via the Pantai Timur Highway.


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