Off Walls Off Pedestals

Some Notes on Going to School at Tengku Mahmud School, Besut, Terengganu: 1968 – 1980

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on June 20, 2011

Tengku Mahmud School (TMS), Besut, Terengganu.

1968 – 1980.

Determination Leads to Success: TMS’s motto.

It was where and when my formal education began. I was seven years old then. I knew no kindergarten, but  I heard there were six year-old children being sent to sit in Standard 1 as ‘temporary’ students. During the primary years, Standard 1 to Standard 6, I remembered that our classes were relocated several times to wait for new buildings and other such facilities. TMS has its own interesting history. It was established in January 1954 as Besut Government English School, the first English medium school in Besut. The name was later changed to TMS in August the same year after being officiated by the Sultan Terengganu. It became Besut’s first secondary school in 1958. The school’s administration was divided into two, primary and secondary, in 1965. Today, 2011, the school (secondary) is known as Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tengku Mahmud.

Primary years were introductions to the world – learning new things and meeting new friends. I was attracted to the school’s library. I knew that there were many exciting things, matters and people in the books. My involvement with the books resulted in an unfortunate event: the public caning for stealing library books! Harhar… that morning the school’s bell rang for a long time. Students were called to assemble. After some announcements, a long list of names was called and one by one we lined up to receive the cane_ including the head boy and some prefects too! Harhar… what a public event it was! We really learnt some painful lessons.

Official Opening Reception in 1954.

There was also what was called the Express Class, where one could skip a year of study because of good performance. But my 1968’s batch was somehow not counted under the scheme; it was only for our juniors. And, later there were ‘express’ students joining our class. There was also the Standard Five Assessment Exam. My primary years at TMS ended in 1973. Whilst many remained at TMS, continuing the secondary education, there were some who left TMS for other secondary schools outside Besut. Those with good results were given scholarships to study at places like MARA Science Junior College (Maktab Rendah Sains MARA), and Sekolah Menengah Sains.  I went to Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School in Kuala Terengganu with a few TMS friends.

I went back to study at TMS in 1975. I again saw people from my primary years, and there were also new friends – largely from Remove Class, a class designed to accommodate non-English medium primary students from the Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan and Primary Chinese. I had my Lower Certificate of Education, 1976, and Malaysian Certificate of Education, 1978, as well as the Higher School Certificate, 1980, at TMS. The Form Six class that I was in at TMS – I couldn’t really remember whether it was the first or second batch (?!!). And again, together with friends from primary TMS 1968 – 1973, as well as secondary TMS 1974 – 1978, there were new friends from other secondary schools in Besut who came to have their Form Six at TMS.

We went through many shifts and changes in our learning experiences: Ejaan Lama to Ejaan Baru Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Melayu to Bahasa Malaysia to Bahasa Melayu (?), Tulisan Jawi to Tulisan Rumi, English to Malay mediums, and many more. It was indeed an experience. My special thanks to all teachers, workers and friends of TMS 1968 – 1980. TMS is always in my heart.

* illustrations from


An Appendix to Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia 2

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on May 4, 2010

The Jerteh – Jeli – Banding – Baling route left yet another impression that there are always matters (and things) for us to rediscover, to reconsider, to relearn – to better understand the making of a much more meaningful cultured life.

Billboard of Everything

25,000 e-Books Announced

The Mosque, Again

A Roman Pillar; There

The Astaka Playground

Dried Fish

Rubber Trees

Coconut Tress

The Great Grandma's Curse

Home Sweet Home

Hard Surfaces

Roadside Green

Elephants Ahead!

Morning Refuse

Highland Ferns

Boar's Path

I Saw Rubbish

Armored Post

Inside the Armored Post

More Rubbish; I Saw

Another Heap; Yes, It Was

The Earth & The Sky

Yes. Its the Baby

The Memorial

Near the Memorial

Another Heap

Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia 2: Jerteh – Jeli – Banding – Gerik – Baling (Part 4)

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on March 30, 2010

Shar Shalom Inn

We arrived Gerik at about 830 pm. Gerik, or sometimes spelled Grik, is also known as Rest Town because of its location next to the East-West Highway. After some search around town, we landed ourselves at Shar Shalom Inn. Refreshed and went to have dinner at the town’s eating square.

Gerik on

Asal – Usul Daerah Gerik Kira-kira seratus tahun dahulu, tempat sekarang yang dikenali sebagai gerik itu masih diliputi oleh hutan belantara dan masih terletak di bawah pemerintahan Raja Reman. Dalam tahun 1870 beberapa orang telah datang dari Patani mengikut Sungai Hangai lalu membuka hutan di Kuala Sungai tersebut untuk dijadikan kampung. Mereka diketuai oleh seorang tuan bernama Tok Ad(Tok Saad).

Tiada beberapa lama selepas itu, Raja Reman yang bernama Tuan Jagong, datang berburu gajah di Gunung Tujuh berhampiran dengan Kuala Kenderong. Mereka mendengar cerita bahawa tiada jauh dari situ ada kampung orang terletak di tengah-tengah hutan.

Ketika Raja Reman menghampiri kampung tersebut, baginda mendengar suatu bunyi yang pelik terbit daripada perdu serumpun gajah. Baginda memerintahkan supaya dipagar keliling perdu buluh itu dengan sasak dan menyuruh orang-orangnya menggali disitu untuk mengetahui apakah benda yang mengeluarkan bunyi yang ganjil itu.

Setelah habis digali hingga ke pangkal perdu buluh itu, maka kelihatanlah berpuluh-puluh ekor dekan (sejenis binatang rupanya seakan-akan tikus) sedang mengerit (memakan) umbi buluh. Oleh sebab umbi buluh itu sangat keras, maka terbitlah bunyi yang berkerit-kerit apabila digerit oleh dekan-dekan itu.

Raja Reman itu telah menamakan tempat itu Kampung Gerit. Sebutan Gerit itu telah di pakai beberapa lama tetapi orang-orangnya yang kemudian telah mengubah sebutan dan ejaan daripad Gerit kepada Grik, kemudiannya menjadi Gerik seperti yang digunakan sekarang.

We were in Gerik. The town slowly slept into the night. It was quite windy that night. The ‘Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia’ is actually an immature project, so to speak. The four of us are thinking developing the travels – be however they were, like this ‘Jerteh – Jeli – Banding – Gerik – Baling’ journey, which was quite a hurried journey in someways, documenting what we met on the way, as well as on the Internet – in a yet to be named project. As mentioned elsewhere, our archive is growing and perhaps at the year’s end we will make an assessment of what we have done and will be doing (on this discovering journeys across Peninsular Malaysia). The last 24 hours, on the NAZA Ria and the stops at Jerteh, Jeli and Banding, Naim and Nizam were documenting the visuals as well as did some interviews with the people we met on the roads and places. Hanafiah and Akhyar were talking endlessly in Javanese with Akhyar, whilst Roslan was always looking at his cellphone. And I was on the Internet whenever there were connections.

Gerik Morning 1

Gerik Morning 2

Gerik Morning 3

Gerik Morning 4 (The Drain)

The Hills Becoming Bare

Man Made Slopes

After the night at the Shar Shalom Inn, we started for the road towards Baling, Kedah at about 830 am. Kampongs. Forests. Small farms.

‘Hey, look. Is it illegal logging?’

‘They won’t be logging near the highway, that everybody can see them.’

‘Stop. Let’s stop. I want to take some photographs 0f the fallen trees. The soils are eroding…’

‘Let’s find a stall somewhere to have breakfast, we can meet and talk to the people.’

‘Yeah, I’m hungry already.’

‘Let’s take that left turn. What’s that? Kupang.’

We stopped at a place called Kupang.

Warung Wall 1

Warung Wall 2

‘Bang. Macamana tu Nasi Goreng Jantan? Mee Goreng Jantan? Apa tu?’

‘Nasi Goreng Jantan, Mee Goreng Jantan ada teloq.’

‘Tu dia… Nasi Goreng Jantan satu, Kopi O satu…’

We had our Nasi Goreng Jantan. There were a few men in the warung, in their 60s I supposed, having their coffees or teas. We gave our salams and soon conversations started. Then the topic went to a portrait of a man on the wall, a photocopied image, named as Tuan Guru Haji Yahya Toha.

Tuan Guru Haji Yahya Toha

At, we found:

Hj Yahya Toha dilahirkan di Kampong Pisang, Kupang Baling, Kedah pada tahun 1906M bersamaan 1326H. Daripada kalangan komuniti Patani yang berhijrah dan mendiami daerah seperti Baling, Pendang, Sik, Padang Terap di Kedah dan Grik serta Batu Kurau di Perak[perlu rujukan]. Beliau memperolehi pendidikan agama sejak kecil dan seterusnya meneruskan pengajian di Pondok Kemelong, Sik, Kedah. Dalam usia 18 tahun beliau melanjutkan pengajian ke Makkah dan menuntut ilmu dengan beberapa orang guru berasal dari Patani. Antaranya ialah Tuan Guru Haji Wan Daud, Tuan Guru Haji Yahya al-Ramani (berasal dari Reman, Selatan Thai), Tuan Guru Haji Noor al-Ramani (berasal dari Reman) serta Syeikh Mokhtar dan Syekh al-Ihya’ (berasal dari Indonesia). Setelah berada selama 12 tahun di Makkah beliau kembali ke tanah air pada tahun 1935 dalam usia 30 tahun. Keazamannya untuk membuka sebuah pusat pengajian pondok bermula dengan beliau mengajar al-Quran dan ilmu agama menggunakan kitab-kitab Arab di rumahnya pada waktu malam dan pagi jumaat. Sambutan yang menggalakkan menyebabkan sebuah pusat pengajian pondok dibuka kemudiannya dikenali sebagai Madrasah Al-Khairiah atau lebih dikenali sebgai Madrasah al-Khairiah Kampong Pisang atau Pondok Kampong Pisang. Madrasah tersebut kini dikenali sebagai Yayasan al-Khairiah yang kini mempunyai pelajar mencecah 3,000 orang. Tuan Guru Haji Yahya dianggap oleh penduduk daerah Baling dan orang yang mengenali beliau dari daerah-daerah lain sebagai wali yang mempunyai karamah terutama selepas beliau dan sepupunya Haji Ahmad Abdul Rahman mengepalai masyarakat Baling dan penduduk utara Perak memerangi komunis melalui peperangan jihad atau perang sabil. Beliau meninggal dunia pada pada hari Khamis Jun 1959 dengan meninggalkan tiga orang isteri dan 15 orang anak.

The Tuan Guru is respected by the people until today.

‘The Chinese were afraid of him…Tuan Guru have the karamah.‘ Said the Pak Cik, slurping his coffee (karamah or keramat is a Malay word of Arabic origins, literally means some mystical powers.

‘The Communists couldn’t have him killed. He used his serban to defend himself and others from the Communist bullets…’ Added another Pak Cik.

‘Those who went into his area, his house, with bad or evil intentions would found themselves surrounded by water, like the rivers…’ Said the first Pak Cik again.

‘He opened a sekolah pondok here, a kilometer up, now his son is looking after the school, now developed into Sekolah Menengah Agama (Arab) Yayasan Khairiah. You guys might want to stop at the school, just a kilometer ahead.’ Said the Nasi Goreng Jantan stall-keeper.

After breakfast, a heavy one, we proceeded to the school. Naim and Nizam went to interview the principal, who is the son of Tuan Guru Haji Yahya Toha. Hanafiah, Akhyar and Roslan were talking, and myself went scouting around the school – looking at classrooms an many more. The school also is also a boarding school, there are hostels for boys and girls. But at the time we were there _ it’s empty. The holidays.

Sekolah Menengah Agama (Arab) Yayasan Khairiah

Behind the School 1

Behind the School 2

‘Before, the karamah of Tuan Guru Haji Yahya made the school popular. Many came to study. But now_ I do not  possess such powers…We need another kind of karamah of course… another kind of karamah… and you know what is that?’ Asked Ustaz Haji Othman Haji Yahya Toha, the school’s principal who was also the son of Tuan Guru Haji Yahya Toha, during the interview with Naim and Nizam. ‘We need to have good results in the SPM and PMR exams! Thats the karamah of today! If we have that, more people will be coming!’

On meneruskan matlamat pengasas Madrasah Al-Khariah, Kampung Pisang, Kupang, Tuan Guru Haji Yahya Toha pada tahun 1938 bukan mudah seperti yang disangkakan. Sebaliknya sekolah yang kini dikenali sebagai Sekolah Menengah Agama (Arab) Yayasan Khariah terpaksa mengharungi onak duri atau ranjau sepanjang zaman sehinggalah kini terutamanya melalui zaman getir apabila Perdana Menteri waktu itu, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad mengiystiharkan penarikan balik bantuan perkapita terhadap Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR) yang dianggap menjadi sarang ektrimis Islam.

Pengetua sekolah berkenaan, Ustaz Haji Othman Haji Yahya Toha ketika ditemu bual Harakahdaily baru-baru ini tidak menafikan melalui zaman sukar di awal era melinium tetapi atas kesungguhan Lembaga Pengarah serta aktivis yang bersama-sama bertanggungjawab menegakkan sistem perdidikan berteraskan Islam maka ia dapat di atasi dengan sempurna. Untuk mengekang usaha memusnahkan haluan SAR, sekolah ini mampu melebarkan fungsi yang ada apabila berjaya mengorak langkah setapak lagi ekoran pembangunan sebuah bangunan yang dilengkapi masjid, dewan seminar, dewan terbuka, dewan makan, pusat Tahfiz dan 13 buah bilik untuk kemudahan musafir dengan kos RM2.5 juta.

“Insya Allah pada bulan Mei tahun depan (2009) bangunan baru yang menempatkan masjid, dewan seminar, dewan terbuka, pusat tahfiz dan bilik untuk kemudahan musafir akan siap sepenuhnya. Sekarang ini baru 60 peratus kerja-kerja dilaksanakan dengan perbelanjaan hampir RM1.2 juta, ” ujarnya yang nyata berjaya membaiki kedudukan sekolah daripada dicengkam Bantuan Kementerian Pendidikan. Sekolah yang diterokai dengan pengajian secara halaqah atau sistem pondok kini boleh dianggap berjaya menjadi satu-satunya SAR di negeri Kedah dapat membina komplek untuk pelbagai kegunaan.

Cuma pada tahun 1952 baru cara persekolahan diperkenalkan iaitu pelajar akan masuk seperti sekolah biasa cuma pengajianya dalam bahasa Arab manakala pelajar secara halaqah diteruskan selepas Zohor, Asar atau Maghrib. Pada tahun 1970 ditambah pula pelajaran akademik untuk memudahkan pelajar mengimbangkan dengan pelajar yang mengambil peperiksaan LCE ketika itu.

“Sekarang ini pelajaran akademik terus diajar di sini di samping pelajaran Arab,” katanya yang mengambil alih pengurusan dan pentadbiran sekolah pada tahun 1976 setelah beberapa tahun dikelolakan oleh menantu dan pelajar lama Tuan Guru Yahya Toha. Fokus utama sekolah ini adalah Arab cuma tambahan akademik disebabkan keperluan masa kini untuk seseorang itu mendapatkan pekerjaan.

Memandangkan kewujudan sekolah ini bukan berdasarkan keuntungan sebaliknya bagi mengembangkan syariah Islam, maka pihak lembaga tidak sekali-kali menerima pendekatan menyerahkan kepada Kementerian Pendidikan. Bila tiada penyerahan pastinya anak cucu pengasas dapat meneruskan usaha murni penubuhan demi menyelamatkan Islam daripada ditindas atau dipergunakan untuk menyekat kebangkitan gerakan Islam. “Walaupun kami tidak terlibat dengan penyerahan kepada Kementerian Pendidikan namun kami dapat bertahan dengan baik hasil sokongan orang ramai,” jelasnya lagi.

Menyentuh mengenai bekas pelajar di sini Ustaz Othman memberitahu, antaranya bekas Ahli Parlimen Padang Terap, Profesor Zawawi Haji Ahmad, bekas Pensyarah Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Dr. Marzuki Haji Mahmud, bekas penceramah Tabung Haji, Ustaz Daud Che Ngah dan sebagainya.

After about 1 1/2 hours at the school, we started for Baling town, our final destination for this Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia 2. Baling.


On is a major town in the northern state of Kedah in Malaysia. It is also the name of a district in which Baling town is situated. It is south of Betong, the southernmost town in Thailand.

Origin of name: The name Baling can be traced to a series of events detailed in the story of Raja Bersiong (The Fanged King), a popular legend of Kedah, recorded in the Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. Raja Bersiong was a ruthless vampire-like king with a taste for human blood who preyed on his subjects. His subjects finally rose against him and burned down the palace. When the fanged king fled his palace at the Old Kedah capital in Lembah Bujang, he fled to a place named Merbau and began removing his fangs by twisting them by hand. As a result of the twisting act, Merbau was renamed as Merbau Pulas where pulas in Malay means twisting.

After the king had successfully removed both his fangs, he threw them away to a faraway place. The place where he stand when he throw his fang is known as Baling which mean throw and the place believed to be the site where the fangs landed was named as Siong, which means fang in Malay, one of the village in Baling district.

History: Baling was also the site where the leaders of the Malay Races Liberation Army, the newly formed Malayan Government, and the British met in 1955 to try to end the Malayan Emergency. Tunku Abdul Rahman, a leader of the Malayan government, implored the Communists to give up their arms peacefully by promising that no retaliatory action would be taken against them. The MRLA leader Chin Peng expressed skepticism of a pardon promised by the leader of a nation that had yet to gain its independence (Malaya’s independence was gained in two years later in 1957). Chin Peng insisted that the Malayan government and the British endorse the MRLA as a legal Communist Party so that it could run in the forthcoming elections. This was denied, however, and thus no agreement was reached.

The CPM again surfaced when we looked into Baling. And on the same page, the school we just visited was mentioned;  … In Kampung Pisang, Kupang, there is a religious Islamic school, Sekolah Menengah Agama Yayasan Khairiah. Yayasan Khairiah is one of the biggest religious school in Baling. Now it has about 1 700 students coming from all over Malaysia.

Rundingan Baling 1955

Baling is historic, many events particularly those of politically related happened in Baling. There were the failed Rundingan Baling in 1955, the 1974 Baling Peasant Protest and Memali Massacre 1985.

Image of Rundingan Baling 1955, showing Rashid Maidin, Chin Peng and Chin Tien as representatives from the CPM is from

The 1974 Demonstration

The 1974 Baling Peasant Protest, was largely activated by students movements prostesting on social issues such as poverty and injustice, as well as the politics. Noted on;  Kebangkitan mahasiswa Malaysia 1971-1975 merujuk kepada aktiviti demonstrasi pelajar [[]] dan [[]] bermula dari 1971 hingga 1975. Menteri Pelajaran ketika itu ialah Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dan Perdana Menteri Malaysia ialah Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

Kerajaan Malaysia memperkenalkan pelbagai dasar bagi mengekang Peristiwa 13 Mei. Rukunegara diperkenalkan pada 1971. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia dibina di Bandar Baru Bangi. Dasar Kebudayaan Kebangsaan digubal bagi menyatukan semua kaum. Dasar Ekonomi Baru dilaksanakan pada 1970 bagi mewujudkan keseimbangan ekonomi . Parti pembangkang seperti PAS dan Gerakan setuju digabungkan dalam parti kerajaan yang dkenali sebagai Barisan Nasional. Suara rakyat marhaen tidak lagi disuarakan oleh pemimpin politik, tetapi disuarakan oleh pemimpin mahasiawa. Kebangkitan mahasiswa dipelopori oleh mahasiswa Universiti Malaya di Bangsar dan Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) di Shah Alam . Mahasiswa semakin meradang apabila Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti digubal untuk mengekang mahasiswa dengan niat agar pelajar belajar sahaja di bilik kuliah.

Sudut pidato: Ketika itu sudut pidato diadakan dan pemimpin mahasiswa boleh berucap lantang dan lancang mengkritik dasar-dasar yang dikira mengabaikan rakyat miskin seperti di Baling. Laporan media melaporkan terdapat penoreh getah di Baling yang mati akibat miskin melarat atau makan ubi kayu sahaja. Harga getah jatuh teruk dan penduduk kesempitan wang. Wartawan Utusan Melayu, Zainuddin Maidin pergi menyiasat, mendapati kematian di Baling itu tidak benar. Penduduk Baling sendiri pengadakan demonstrasi di hadapan Menteri Perusahaan Utama, Datuk Musa Hitam. Pengganas komunis turut percaya dengan berita itu dan mereka keluar pada 1974 . Pensyarah Universiti Malaya, Zainal Abidin Wahid turut mendapat berita kematian tersebut.

Ustaz Ibrahim Libya

Memali 1985

Another incident happened in Baling in 1985, at Kampong Memali Memali Massacre was a major incident that occurred in the remote village of Memali, Baling in the Malaysian state of Kedah on 19 November 1985. A team of 200 policemen under orders from the Acting Prime Minister and Home Minister Musa Hitam laid siege to kampung (village) houses in Memali, near Baling in Kedah. The houses were occupied by an Islamic sect of about 400 people led by Ibrahim Mahmud a.k.a. Ibrahim Libya.

Background The Memali Incident followed severely strained relationships between UMNO and PAS, the two major political parties in Malaysia. Some PAS leaders had concluded that UMNO members were apostate. In 1981, Hadi Awang, a senior PAS politician made claims that to resist UMNO and the UMNO led government that does not practice Islamic Hudud law is a Jihad, and that those who died in the struggle are al-shahid. Pursuant to Hadi’s claims, there was a serious rift in the Malay Muslim community. In Besut, Terengganu for example, communities were split to the extent that communal prayers were done separately for UMNO and for PAS congregations. [1] [2]

Ibrahim Mahmud Ibrahim was a local religious teacher who had received part of his education at the University of Tripoli in Libya, hence his nickname Ibrahim Libya. The police wanted to arrest Ibrahim Mahmud under the Internal Security Act, for creating discord and disharmony, but he refused to give himself up. Ibrahim was also accused of harbouring two brothers, Yusof Che Mit and Ramli Che Mit, who were fugitives. Revered by the village folks, who called him Ustaz Ibrahim, they vowed to defend him to the death.

Ibrahim attended Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Weng in Baling before furthering his studies in Islamic studies at Sekolah Agama Ittifaqiah, Kg Carok Putih, Weng and later Pondok Al-Khariah, Pokok Sena, Seberang Perai. Ibrahim Mahmud attended the University of Tripoli in Libya. He had also studied in India and at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

Upon his return, he worked as a preacher with Pusat Islam. He appeared on television to lectures on topics of Islam. Allegedly, Ibrahim was involved in the 1974 Baling Demonstrations along with Anwar Ibrahim. Ibrahim Mahmud’s politics drifted towards those of PAS. His close association with PAS worried the government of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. In 1978, Ibrahim contested the elections for the seat of Bayu-Baling as a PAS candidate. Ibrahim polled 5,081 votes as opposed to the Barisan Nasional candidate who polled 6,169 votes. In 1982, Ibrahim again contested for the same seat but lost by 100 votes.

Pusat Islam looked into his teachings and thereafter banned him from lecturing in the media or to give lectures in mosques and suraus throughout the nation. Pusat Islam also started making allegations of ‘deviationist acts’ against him. Ibrahim was called a fanatic who challenged the integrity of the Government.[1].

Death Toll The police action left 14 civilians and 4 policemen dead. The villagers were armed with a few hunting rifles and spears and other rudimentary weapons. The police used heavy vehicles. At the height of the assault, some villagers, men and women, came out in the open in a state of frenzy and hysteria. In an announcement in the media, Acting Prime Minister Musa Hitam (Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was away on a visit to China), who was also Home Affairs Minister announced that 14 ‘criminals’ had been killed in Kampung Memali in clashes with security forces.

Arrests Police detained 159 people, including women and children. Thirty-six persons involved in the incident were arrested under the Internal Security Act on January 1986 but later released in June.

Both illustrations, Ustaz Ibrahim Libya and Memali1985 were from

The sun was high.We roamed Baling town, Naim, Nizam and Basyir were with cameras and videos. Roslan took a break to visit his uncle who is living at the nearby housing area.  Akhyar was looking for toys to bring back his small children. A somewhat retarded teenager was asking me about Kuala Lumpur.

Soon as Roslan was back from his uncle’s, we took the road. Found a roadside laksa stall and helped ourselves with laksa, pisang goreng and air kelapa muda. It was hot! 35 degrees Celsius! Then, at about 2 pm we slowly found our way to Kuala Lumpur. Another discovery or rediscovery…

Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia 2: Jerteh – Jeli – Banding – Gerik – Baling (Part 3)

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on March 29, 2010

Jeli was still hot when we left. Now it’s the East-West Highway and we were climbing. Small kampongs. Forests. And more forests. Passing Batu Melintang, the ‘mystical mountain’ Gunung Reng… mystical?

Tapak Gunung Reng ini asalnya sebuah Kampung bernama Kampung Tala yang dibuka oleh Tok Tadoh keturunan Pulang Hari dari Jawa kira-kira 1,400 tahun dahulu. Kononnya, Ketua Kampung Tala telah mengadakan kenduri besar-besaran tujuh hari tujuh malam, cukup dengan berbagai jenis permainan.

Setelah sampai hari ketujuh semua jenis permainan telah dilangsungkan. Untuk upacara penutup, mereka telah bermesyuarat dan bersetuju untuk menyediakan pertandingan memperlaga anjing dan kucing di atas bumbung rumah.

Pada waktu Zohor kedua-dua binatang ini dilagakan di atas bumbung rumah, semasa binatang itu sedang berlaga, berlaku ribut dan taufan berserta hujan yang sangat lebat. Dalam keadaan ribut taufan, seorang perempuan tua bersama dengan seorang cucunya berlari ke kampung yang berhampiran bernama Kampung Gantung untuk mengangkut padi yang dijemur. Setelah selesai memunggah padi yang dijemur, ribut taufan berserta hujan pun berhenti.

Perempuan tua tersebut pergi semula ke Kampung Tala, alangkah terperanjatnya apabila perempuan itu melihat Kampung tala telah ditutup oleh sebuah gunung yang besar dengan melenyapkan Kampung Tala sama sekali.

Gunung yang menutupi Kampung Tala itu dikatakan asalnya terletak di hulu Sungai Reng, kira-kira tiga hari dua malam perjalanan iaitu di sempadan Kelantan/Perak.

Tempat asal gunung ini telah menjadi kolam. Daripada nama sungai ini maka gunung ini dinamakan Gunung Reng. Gunung Reng mempunyai gua-gua yang bercorak bilik-bilik seperti Gua Bedak, Gua Payong, Gua Kaca, Gua Rimau dan Gua Batak. Melalui pintu besar Gunung Reng ini ialah Gua Payong, boleh masuk melalui lorong dalam gua ke bilik-bilik serta ke anjung sehingga ke puncak Gunung Reng. ( (Image of Gunung Reng from

And a note on

Gunung Reng is a mountain linked to the legendary Puteri Saadong. According to the folklore, Puteri Saadong, dismayed the preoccupation the villagers’ preoccupation with cat and dog fighting, hurled a large boulder down Reng Mountain onto the village centre. Only one soul from the village survived the incident, whilst the others perished under the path of the rolling boulder.

Research in and around Reng Mountain has unearthed evidence that the mountain was once inhabited. Today, the limestone caves of Reng mountain has become a tourist attraction.

Highlands 1

Highlands 2

Highlands 3

We drove past a group of Orang Asli, four of them and one of them only wore underpants! But none of us managed to capture them! _ there were turns and climbs the NAZA Ria went. There were quite many vehicles on the highway… ah, the festive season. And soon we felt the cool and refreshing air of the highlands…

East West

The 1050M Marker

The Wikipedia at–West_Highway_(Malaysia) noted:

East–West Highway (Malaysia)

East-West Highway, Federal Route (Malay: Lebuhraya Timur-Barat) is a highway constructed by Malaysian Public Works Department (JKR) to shorten the journey from Kota Bharu, Kelantan to northwestern towns and cities of Malaysia such as Alor Star and Penang. Before East-West Highway was built, the journey from Alor Star to Kota Bharu may reach over 1,000 km (– miles), but the highway shortens the distance by about several hundred kilometers. The highway includes Lake Temenggor Bridge which crosses Temenggor Lake, a hydroelectric dam. The East-West Highway is one of the more scenic routes in Peninsular Malaysia, due to its hilly nature. There are even places where road signs are put up to warn motorists of elephants crossing the road.


The East-West Highway was built in the 1967 as a defence-related highway. In the early stages, there was military presence in every kilometre. The road was built to cut off the Communist Party of Malaya from the safe havens in Thailand. During construction, the highway was sabotaged by the Communist terrorists during the Communist insurgency from 1967 to 1980. Many of workers were killed and the buildozers was seriously damaged. The East-West Highway was put under strict security control by Malaysian army when the highway was opened. Motorists were allowed to use the highway at daytime only due to security reasons. The military control of the highway was lifted after the insurgency war was ended in 1989.

The Malaysian Public Works Department (JKR) monument was erected in Pulau Banding near the Lake Temenggor Bridge on 1982 to commemorates those who died during construction of the East-West Highway and lake bridge.

Further surfing landed us at


Stamp 1

With the opening of the East-West Highway to traffic on 1st July 1982, another milestone in the history of road communication in Peninsular Malaysia was achieved. The construction of the Highway was one of the largest projects undertaken by the Public Works Department and its completion adds to the large mileage of roads in the country providing necessary access to new areas and the infrastructure for development works. The construction of the main Highway was carried out by Public Works Department workers; while the bridges and some of the ancillary works were carried out through contractors.

Stamp 2

With the attainment of independence in 1957, the ferry services along a number of roads in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia were replaced with bridges and this reduced travel time. However, road communication between the East Coast and West Coast was through Kuantan. The distance between Kota Bharu and Penang was 1037 km. Due to poor road communication, the vast hinterland in Kelantan and Terengganu with economic potential, was not developed. Thus a road to link the East and West Coasts in the North was found necessary.

Stamp 3

In October 1969, the Public Works Department was instructed to commence work on the Highway with immediate effect. In early 1970, work started, simultaneously from Jeli and Gerik even before any detailed design or investigations were carried out. Existing earth moving machines from the various states were initially deployed until new machines for the project were purchased. It was only in early 1973 that the full complement of machines and staff were available for the project to proceed.

Two Base Camps were constructed, one at the Gerik end and the other at the Jeli end. The whole construction staff and their families were housed at these camps. A pilot track was constructed to gain access to the forward areas. This was followed by jungle clearing work by the main earthworks teams. As work progressed and travel time between the work site and Base camp increased, forward camps were set up to house the workers.

There are 5 major bridges along the Highway. Two of the bridges including the longest, the Sungei Perak Reservoir Bridge, span arms of the lake formed by the Temenggor Dam Project. The bridges were designed by ENEX (of New Zealand) under the Colombo Plan Aid. Construction of 3 of the bridges were undertaken by a foreign contractor while a joint venture between 2 local firms undertook the construction of the remaining 2 bridges. In addition to the above, there are about 280 culverts constructed mainly by departmental workers.

Constructing the Highway was never plain sailing for the Public Works Department. There were many constraints, which slowed down progress. Some 27.5 million cu meter of earth was required to be cut to construct the Highway, of this over 3.8 million cu meter was rock, which required drilling and blasting operations for its removal. Hill cuts of over 60m and valleys over 100m deep, which required filling was found at many locations. The intensity of the monsoon rains especially in the forward areas reduced time available for construction to 10 months in a year. The East-West Highway is located close to the Malaysian-Thailand border and is situated in a Security Area. As a result several measures had to be taken and procedures adopted to ensure the safety of the workers and the machines. These too contributed to some delay. The 116 km long Highway, which links the East Coast at Jeli, Kelantan with the West Coast at Gerik, Perak cost $396 million. Other details of the project are as follows:

Major Bridges Span

1. Sungei Rui Bridge 256m

2. Sungei Perak Reservoir Bridge 880m

3. Sungei Perak Causeway Bridge 640m

4. Upper Sungei Pergau Bridge 159m

5. Lower Sungei Pergau Bridge 158m

Road Design Criteria

Design speed 72 km/hr

Maximum Gradient 7%

Pavement Width 7.2m

Shoulder Width 2.3m

Traveling along the Highway is an exhilarating experience. As one enters the Highway, the Central Mountain Range through which the Highway traverses comes into view in the distant. Traveling along the gentle curves one climbs higher and sees on either side the primary jungle rich with timber. As one proceeds on, the jungle gives way to the huge man-made Temenggor Lake at Banding. Halfway along the Highway the elevation of the road is over 1,100m above sea level and the weather cool and pleasant.

With the completion of the East-West Highway the previous distance between Kota Bharu and Butterworth (through Kuantan) of 1037 km is reduced to 363 km with considerable savings in travel time. The completion of the Highway will reduce transport costs and with this the State of Kelantan can expect its tempo of development to be heightened, new towns and industrial areas will be developed. The Highway will provide the access for the extraction of timber from the jungles along the road and help boost tourism among Malaysians as well as foreigners.

The successful completion of the East-West Highway is the result of the sacrifice of workers who had to carry out their jobs under difficult and trying conditions. The public Works Department wishes to record its deep appreciation to them and to the Security Forces who have all made some personal sacrifices for the development and prosperity of the country.

It is interesting to note that the Wikipedia quoted the highway is related to the terrors of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) whilst the blog, stampsofmalaysia, though offered interesting historical facts, didn’t even mentioned CPM except the sentences which I underlined and made them bold in both references above – situated in a Security Area & the Security Forces.

… And The Communist Party of Malaya (CPM); (

Communism was first introduced into South-East Asia by Dutch radicals, and given impetus by the rise of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In 1922 the CCP opened an clandestine office in Singapore which sowed the seed for the South Seas Communist Party (or Nanyang Communist Party). This party was mainly active in the Dutch East Indies and French Indo-China [1] In Singapore its work centred on the trades unions. After their 1925 uprising failed, many Indonesian Communists took refuge in Singapore, and engaged in political work there under the auspices of the Third Communist International. [2]

In April 1930 the South Seas Communist Party was dissolved and was replaced by the Communist Party of Malaya. [3] While its primary responsibility was Malaya and Singapore, the party was also active in Thailand and the Dutch East Indies, which did not then have their own Communist parties.

Chin Peng

Abdullah C.D

Suriani Abdullah

Rashid Maidin

According to,

CPM was founded by Yuen Ai Guo (later he changed his name to Ho Chi Ming the father of modern Vietname) a North Vietnamese in Singapore in 1935. After the formation of CPM he went back to Vietnam and left his assistant called Loi Tek to be in charge of the CPM. Loi Tek became the Secretary-General of CPM… During the war Loi Tek, the Secretary-General of CPM, was a double agent. In order to consolidate his control of the CPM Loi Tek informed the Japanese on the upcoming meeting of top senior Communists in Batu Cave near Kuala Lumpur on 31 August-1 September 1942. During the meeting the Japanese surrounded the cave. Chin Peng and Loi Tek were present in the meeting. The Japanese killed almost all the senior executive officers (most of them were Hakkas) of the CPM. Chin Peng, Loi Tek and a few other communists escaped.

After the war, many senior members of the CPM suspected that Loi Tek betrayed the Batu Cave Conference to the Japanese. The Central Committee planned to meet on 6 March 1947. Loi Tek did not turn up in the meeting because he had already disappeared with the CPM’s fund. The disappearance of Loi Tek gave the CPM a great blow. Later the CPM Central Committee elected Chin Peng as the new Secretary-General of CPM…

Abu Samah

Kamaruzzaman Teh

Shamsiah Fakeh

And notes from The Communist guerrilla force, with a strength of about 500, continued to subsist on either side of the Thailand border. Meanwhile Chin Peng and other cadre in China had limited contact with the jungle bases. From 1969 they launched a radio station in Hunan called “Suara Revolusi Malaya” (Voice of the Malayan Revolution), broadcasting to supporters in Malaysia and Singapore. This was shut down in 1981 at the request of Deng Xiao Ping.[41]

Also in 1969, in response to the intensification of the Vietnam War and the Cultural Revolution in China, the party stepped armed struggle. In 1970, however, the bases in Thailand were convulsed by the trials and executions of supposed spies. Two breakaway factions formed which condemned the purge. Chin Peng subsequently denied involvement and rehabilitated his accused comrades.[42]

In 1989 the CPM finally laid down its arms On December 2 at the town of Had Yai in Southern Thailand, Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin, and Abdullah C. D. met with representatives of the Malaysian and Thailand governments. Separate peace agreements were signed between the CPM and both governments.

I noted the CPM here, as the East-West Highway and the interiors of Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, (and Southern Thailand) were all the areas where CPM had operated. Most of the CPM members illustrated here have wrote their autobiographies, except for Kamaruzzaman Teh’s, which was a biography. Photographs of Chin Peng and some of the CPM’s 10th Regiment leaders illustrated here were from, except for Shamsiah Fakeh’s, which was from

At the Jetty

It was getting dark. The time was about 715 pm. Jungles. The coolness of the highlands…We arrived Temenggor Lake. A the jetty to Pulau Banding, there were cars and people… The noted;

History: Temengor Lake is the second largest manmade reservoir in Peninsular Malaysia built along the East-West Highway. Banding Island now owned by Emkay Berhad is a mountainous island surrounded by Temengor Lake. The deepest part of the lake is about the height of a 75-storey building. Banding Island is linked to the mainland by the bridge over Temengor Lake. Banding Island is the entry point to the natural heritage Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex. The entire ensemble includes water bodies and virgin tropical rainforests dating back some 130 million years ago. Banding Island, in the wilderness of the mighty Titiwangsa Range, opened up when the East-West Highway was built between 1970 and 1982. It took 12 years to build the 214km road through the mountainous terrains crossing Perak and Kelantan. The area was infiltrated with communists during the Emergency period from 1948 to 1960. The insurgency continued to stall the project after the emergency. A memorial was erected at a spot where three of Public Works Department workers died and many more were hurt or maimed in communist attacks on Aug 27, 1974. It was at this same spot that 63 bulldozers were bombed by the communists in May 1974.

‘Let’s find a place to stop for the night. Have a good rest. We have been on the road for over twenty hours…’

‘Let’s go to Gerik. It’s about some 40 km up. The chalets and rooms here are fully occupied anyway…’

‘Drive carefully.’

Naim took the wheels. Jungles. More jungles. Cars’ front=lights. The climbs_up, down, left, right, turns and turns. Dark. More jungles. A page from BERNAMA,,

Lelaki Dilapor Hilang Di Lebuh Raya Timur Barat

IPOH, 5 Nov (Bernama) — Seorang lelaki dilapor hilang di kawasan hutan Lebuh Raya Timur-Barat, berhampiran Gerik selepas dikatakan membuang air di tepi lebuh raya itu Rabu malam.

Kejadian dilapor berlaku pada kira-kira pukul 10 malam di Km82 Lebuhraya Timur-Barat, kira-kira 180 kilometer dari sini.

Ketua Polis Daerah Gerik Supt Mahad Nor Abdullah berkata lelaki yang dilapor hilang itu dikenali sebagai N.Thalagaratnam, 48, berasal dari Lahat, Ipoh.

Beliau berkata lelaki itu bersama seorang lagi rakannya dikatakan dalam perjalanan dari Ipoh ke Jeli, Kelantan apabila dia meminta rakannya memberhentikan kereta di tepi jalan kerana ingin membuang air besar.

Rakannya M. Manibalan, 47, yang menunggu dalam kereta mengesyaki sesuatu apabila Thalagaratnam tidak muncul selama sejam, katanya ketika dihubungi di sini hari ini.

Mahad berkata Manibalan menunggu rakannya itu sehingga pukul 7.30 pagi sebelum membuat laporan polis di Balai Polis Gerik.

Sehubungan itu, polis dengan bantuan Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat serta Rela melancarkan operasi mencari dan sehingga petang ini lelaki itu belum ditemui, katanya.

Beliau berkata kawasan lelaki itu dilapor hilang adalah hutan tebal yang berbukit dan curam serta mempunyai banyak binatang buas.

Sementara itu, Manibalan ketika dihubungi berkata beliau dan rakannya dalam perjalanan ke Jeli untuk membeli bekalan barangan perniagaan mereka dan semasa dalam perjalanan, Thalagaratnam memintanya memberhentikan kereta kerana dia sakit perut.

”Saya berhenti di tepi jalan lebuh raya. Saya hanya tunggu dalam kereta dan dia bergegas keluar mencari tempat untuk buang air besar…selepas itu saya tunggu agak lama tetapi dia tidak datang balik ke kereta,” katanya.

Manibalan berkata ketika itu hujan renyai dan beliau takut untuk keluar mencari rakannya itu kerana kawasan berkenaan gelap dan bimbang terdapat binatang buas.

”Saya tunggu dalam kereta hingga pukul 7.30 pagi sebelum berpatah balik ke Gerik untuk membuat laporan polis. Saya bimbang dia tergelincir jatuh ke dalam hutan kerana tepi jalan itu sangat curam,” katanya.


We arrived Gerik about 40 minutes later.

Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia 2: Jerteh – Jeli – Banding – Gerik – Baling (Part 2)

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on March 22, 2010

Google's Jerteh

Jerteh and the district of Besut: Bukit Mok Mek. Balik Bukit. Gong Kemuntong. Padang Astaka. Pantai Ait Tawar. Bukit Keluang. Kampong Raja. Kuala Besut – they were all my ‘rock and hard‘ places. Its hard for me not to be nostalgic… Once I hallucinated on seeing books, hundreds of them, being parachuted onto the beach of Pantai Air Tawar in the middle of the night. Once a friend, Mubarak, a Kemboja emigrant, played All Along the Watchtower, conjuring Jimi Hendrix to visit Pantai Air Tawar. Once, on a windy wet monsoon afternoon, I saw David Copperfield walked to a boathouse on Pantai Air Tawar – which made Charles Dickens longed to visit Pantai Air Tawar. On another windy day, I saw Robinson Crusoe paddling his barrel towards a nearby island. Once, the police asked my ID whilst playing guitar in the middle of the night on Pantai Air Tawar beach. And, one day I befriended a hippie from USA – well, I supposed he was a hippie: long hair, beard and all.

‘What’s freedom? What do you think?’

‘Hey man… far-out… What’s freedom? Everybody has their own ideas, man… you choose what you prefer, not disturbing others…’

And Hanafiah drove us to Pantai Air Tawar, 10 km away from Jerteh.

On the Portal Rasmi Majlis Daerah Besut (

Secara amnya tarikan pantai merupakan sumber aktiviti pelancongan yang utama di Daerah Besut. Antara pantai-pantai sedia ada yang menjadi tumpuan pelancong dan pelawat ialah Pantai Air Tawar, Pantai Bukit Keluang dan Pantai Dendong. Antara aktiviti yang dijalankan di pantai-pantai tersebut adalah seperti perkelahan, mandi-manda dan bersiar-siar di persisiran pantai. Kawasan peraginan ini sebenarnya sudah lama wujud dan sentiasa dikunjungi oleh penduduk tempatan pada setiap petang dan hujung minggu ataupun pada musim cuti. Di sini terdapat kemudahan seperti hotel, chalet, pondok telefon, gerai-gerai makanan, taman permainan kanak-kanak dan lain-lain.

Pada setiap tahun kawasan peraginan ini sentiasa diadakan Pesta Kebudayaan dan Kesenian bagi menyambut kedatangan para pelancong kesini. Pantai Air Tawar terkenal dengan keindahan pantainya dan tidak begitu asing lagi bagi penduduk setempat. Dengan kemudahan yang ada, ia kerap menjadi destinasi percutian keluarga selain menjadi tempat pilihan untuk menjalankan aktiviti kebudayaan dan sebagainya. Kemudahan astaka yang disediakan memudahkan pelbagai aktiviti dapat dilaksanakan.

And a little on the background and history of Besut (from the same Portal Rasmi):

Latar Belakang Daerah Besut

Daerah Besut merupakan salah satu daerah daripada 7 daerah di dalam Negeri Terengganu. Ianya merupakan pintu masuk ke Negeri Terengganu bersempadan dengan negeri Kelantan Darul Naim. Daerah ini mempunyai keluasan 123,367.8 hektar, terdiri daripada 5 buah pekan. Kawasan Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) pula dibahagikan kepada 5 kawasan mengikut sempadan pilihanraya.

Jumlah penduduknya ialah seramai 118,058 (bancian 1991) yang terdiri daripada berbagai bangsa dengan majoritinya bangsa Melayu, diikuti bangsa Cina dan lain-lain bangsa. Kegiatan ekonomi utama ialah pertanian dan nelayan.

Sejarah Daerah Besut

Bukti bertulis yang paling awal menyentuh mengenai daerah ini cuma sedikit, catatan Munsyi Abdullah dalam Pelayaran Abdullah Ke Kelantan dan dari buku Tuffatul Nafis karangan Raja Ali Haji. Oleh kerana tidak terdapat bukti-bukti bertulis mengenai sejarah awal Daerah Besut, maka terdapat berbagai-bagai cerita yang menerangkan asal usul Besut.

Salah satu cerita mengenai asal nama Besut kononnya berpunca dari zaman dahulu di mana dikatakan daerah ini merupakan salah sebuah kawasan dibawah kuasa Kerajaan Siam. Mengikut salah satu cerita nama Besut timbul dari perkataan BE yang dalam bahasa Siam bermakna DAERAH manakala SUT menggambarkan satu tempat atau kawasan yang paling jauh atau penghujung. Ini mungkin betul berdasarkan faktor betapa jauhnya Bangkok yang merupakan Pusat Pentadbiran Siam dengan daerah ini.

Satu cerita mengenai asal usul nama Besut ialah berdasarkan cerita kononnya kawasan ini dahulunya diperintah oleh seorang raja yang digelar Raja Sang Nyanya. Beliau adalah ketua lanun yang sangat zalim dan ini menyebabkan tidak ramai orang yang tinggal di kawasan ini. Selepas kematiannya barulah kawasan ini didiami orang dan salah satu kumpulan penduduk terdiri dari orang PANGAN. Kumpulan mereka diketuai oleh seorang yang bernama BESUT jadi dipercayai nama BESUT adalah berasal dari nama ketua orang pangan tersebut.

A comprehensive reading on the history of Besut can be found at, following is an excerpt form the site;

Kesemua cerita yang mengaitkan asal usul nama daerah ini memang tidak dapat dibuktikan kerana tidak ada bukti yang bertulis. Bukti yang paling awal menyentuh mengenai daerah ini cuma sedikit sebagaimana catatan MUNSYI ABDULLAH dalam PELAYARAN ABDULLAH KE KELANTAN dari buku TUHFATUL NAFIS karangan Raja Ali Haji.

Dalam catatan ini ada diceritakan mengenai sekumpulan pedagang dari PATTANI ( Selatan Siam ) telah datang ke BESUT dengan diketuai oleh seorang yang bernama CIK LATIF. Adalah dipercayai Cik Latif berasal dari SUMATERA dan telah biasa berdagang di PATTANI. Dengan menawarkan SEGANTANG MATA KAIL dikatakan Cik Latif berjaya memujuk orang-orang Pangan keluar dari daerah ini ke Hulu Besut. Beliau dan orang-orangnya telah berjaya membina sebuah perkampongan ditebing SUNGAI BESUT  yang diberi nama PALEMBANG mungkin mengambil nama sempena nama tempat asal beliau di Sumatera. Palembang merupakan PUSAT PENTADBIRAN yang pertama di BESUT sebelum KG. RAJA.

Bila Cik Latif meninggal dunia, beliau diganti oleh anaknya bernama CIK KAMAT. Semasa pemerintahan Cik Kamat Daerah Besut berada dalama keadaan huru-hara kerana ancaman dari perompak lanun yang bermaharajalela di pulau-pulau yang berada disekitar laut daerah ini. Dalam buku pelayaran PELAYARAN ABDULLAH KE KELANTAN, Abdullah Munsyi ada menceritakan kegiatan lanun-lanun di kawasan ini. Dikatakan lanun-lanun ini diketuai oleh PANGLIMA EBEH dan PANGLIMA GARANG.

Untuk menghadapi ancaman lanun-lanun ini, CIK KAMAT tidak berdaya untuk menentangnya dan beliau telah membuat keputusan meminta bantuan dari TERENGGANU. Permohonan beliau dipersetujui oleh Sultan Terengganu masa itu iaitu SULTAN MANSUR 1, yang dikenali sebagai MARHUM BERJANGGUT. Beliau memerintah Terengganu dari 1726-1793. Sultan Mansur 1 telah menghantar angkatan tentera yang diketuai oleh Putera Baginda iaitu Tengku Kadir. Tengku Kadir dan tentera dibawah pimpinannya berjaya mengalahkan lanun-lanun tersebut dan memaksa lanun-lanun tersebut berundur ke PULAU PERHENTIAN.

Sebagai penghargaan diatas kejayaan beliau mengalahkan lanun-lanun berkenaan, Tengku Kadir telah diberi kuasa oleh Sultan Terengganu untuk memerintah Besut. Cik Kamat pula dilantik sebagai ORANG BESAR BESUT serta mendapat hak di atas Pulau Rhu.

we crossed the Terengganu (Besut) – Kelantan (Pasir Puteh) border on the Jerteh – Kota Bharu trunk road at about 215 am. The afternoon was hot. Passing through kampongs, small farms, rubber trees, some tanah terbiar, some more kampongs… and we were climbing – the route is getting higher…more kampongs, passing through Machang, people, kampongs, farms, small forests… stopped at a road-side stall, about 3 pm, 35 degrees Celsius, nasi dagang Kelantan, nasi kerabu, daging bakar, ayam bakar… Kampong Ayer Asahan.

An old fashioned gateway in Kampong Ayer Asahan

Plastic water-containers for the chickens

'Pinang' trees in the hot afternoon

An unidentified wild bird in captive

The rubber trees at Kampong Ayer Asahan

A 'soft-fence' along a plantation

Most people in Kampong Ayer Asahan are rubber-tapers, apart from small-time farmers and other odd kampong jobs. A man said he earned about RM1000 a week from his own rubber plantation, whilst another said he earned from RM250 – RM350 week tapping rubber from others’ plantation. They are hardworking people.

Further stories with the people we met, brought to the Jeli tigers. Though it’s believed that the tigers were not a problem anymore, but they have to always take precautions. Following are some reports on the tigers and the Jeli rubber-tapers.

PARAH: Mek Jah di kepala dan belakang akibat diserang harimau ketika sedang menoreh di Sungai Long dekat Jeli, pagi semalam.

JELI: Seorang wanita warga emas cedera parah diserang harimau ketika menoreh di kebun getah kira-kira lima kilometer dari rumahnya di Kampung Sungai Long dekat sini, semalam.

Dalam kejadian jam 10.30 pagi, Mek Jah Ismail, 65, dikatakan bergelut hampir 15 minit dengan harimau itu sebelum dapat menyelamatkan diri. Dalam pergelutan itu, Mek Jah dikatakan sempat mencapai sebatang kayu dan memukul haiwan berkenaan.

Mangsa yang cedera di kepala, leher, tangan serta belakang badannya, mendaki bukit lebih 50 meter bagi mendapatkan bantuan rakan, Fatimah Omar, 43, yang menoreh di kebun bersebelahan.

Mangsa dihantar ke Hospital Jeli sebelum dipindahkan ke Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II (HRPZII) kira-kira jam 4 petang semalam, untuk rawatan lanjut. Mangsa menerima 20 jahitan dan keadaannya dilaporkan stabil.

Fatimah ketika ditemui berkata, mangsa dipapah sebelum dibawa ke rumah adiknya, Senah Ismail, 56, dengan membonceng motosikal seorang penoreh.

Beliau berkata, sebelum ini mereka juga beberapa kali melihat kelibat harimau dari jauh ketika menoreh.

Senah pula berkata, setiap pagi dia membonceng kakaknya ke kebun sebelum berpisah di pertengahan jalan kerana kawasan menoreh berlainan.

“Sejak menoreh di situ, saya dan kakak beberapa kali bertembung dengan kelibat harimau yang berkeliaran di kawasan itu,” katanya.

Beliau berkata, Mek Jah yang mempunyai lapan anak yang semuanya sudah berkeluarga dan tinggal berasingan, mengambil upah menoreh bagi menyara hidup bersama suaminya, Ismail Mamat, 82, yang lumpuh.

Sementara itu, Timbalan Pengarah Jabatan Perlindungan Hidupan Liar dan Taman Negara (Perhilitan) Wan Azali Wan Alwi, berkata pihaknya akan memasang perangkap mulai hari ini bagi menangkap haiwan itu.

“Kami akan bekerjasama dengan polis dan Rela. Kawasan itu dipercayai menjadi habitat harimau kerana keadaan kebun yang semak.

“Sebelum ini, Perhilitan dengan kerjasama pelbagai pihak sudah memasang papan tanda bagi mengingatkan penduduk supaya membersihkan kawasan kebun agar tidak menjadi habitat harimau,” katanya.

INFO: Kes serangan harimau

31 Julai 2000 – seorang lelaki, Mat Daud, mati dibaham harimau di Bukit Pedah, Kuala Balah dekat Jeli.

8 Julai 2001 – seorang penduduk, Mohd Zaid Abdul Manas, mati diserang harimau di Kampung Sungai Relak, Jeli.

5 Mei 2002 – seorang peneroka, Nik Mariam Ibrahim, mati dibaham harimau di Felcra Berdang B, Jeli.

7 Julai 2002 – seorang penoreh, Siti Eshah Hamat, 48, ditemui mati dalam keadaan ngeri dipercayai dibaham harimau di Kampung Jalan Malaysia, Jeli.

5 Ogos 2002 – seorang penoreh, Abdullah Mamat, 40-an, cedera parah di muka dan kepala akibat diserang harimau di Kampung Sungai Satan, Air Lanas, Jeli.

26 Ogos 2005 – seorang penoreh, Rokiah Latif, 45, mati diserang harimau di Kampung Pasir Dusun, Jeli.


… The Tigers Alive! project focuses on inter-related components within the Belum-Temengor-Gunung Basor landscape. The components include reducing human-tiger conflict and raising awareness through educational programmes in Jeli, Kelantan, addressing tiger landscape connectivity as well as monitoring of tigers and their prey. Each component forms an important part of a broader approach to addressing tiger conservation in Malaysia.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation

When tigers come in contact with humans, the fight for the same space and food occurs. This project will look into developing a replicable human-tiger conflict reduction model in Jeli to ensure that both humans and tigers mutually benefit.  (


Illustration from

We continued the journey and arrived Bukit Bunga. noted; Bukit Bunga is a border village of the Malaysia-Thailand border in Kelantan, Malaysia. It is the latest border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand with the opening of the Bukit Bunga-Ban Buketa Bridge on December 21, 2007.[1] Across the border is the Thai town of Ban Buketa in Amphoe Waeng, Narathiwat Province.

Bukit Bunga is 30 km from Tanah Merah along East-West Highway. It’s made up of several smaller kampungs, amogst them are Bukit Nangka, Cedok, Tokpe, Kampung Bukit, Renab, Jenub. Where the hub is revolved around the Bukit Bunga mosque. Bukit Bunga has in the past few decades become one of the main entry points to Thailand from Malaysia. It had its own police station in 1981, and it also has a school, a customs department and an immigration department. Lately, it has become a hub for local tourists in search of Thai goods.

And noted; Terletak di Tepi Lebuh Raya Utama Timur Barat yang menghubungkan Negeri Kelantan Dan Perak. Bukit Bunga juga bersempadan dengan Negara Thailand. Pusat Membeli Belah Bukit Bunga, Tanah Merah telah dimajukan oleh ketua jajahan Tanah Merah dengan kerjasama KESEDAR dan lain-lain jabatan kerajaan.

Terdapat banyak gerai-gerai yang menawarkan barangan tempatan dan barangan import terutama dari Negara Thailand dengan harga yang murah. Selain daripada itu, terdapat gerai makan,minuman, dan buah-buahan. Lain-lain kemudahan yang terdapat di sini ialah Tandas Awam, Masjid, Wakaf, Bank, Balai Polis, Pejabat Pos dan Tempat Letak Kereta.

It was about 345 pm and the afternoon sun was somewhat at its hottest. My small thermometer recorded 37 – 38 degrees Celsius! But then the roadside shopping centre was full with people. Parents carrying their small children, mothers and daughters, and the couples – all of them, were under the sun!

Bukit Bunga 1

Bukit Bunga 2

Bukit Bunga 3

The Wall 1

The Wall 2

The Wall 3

The Wall 4

The Wall 5

The Wall 6

Bukit Bunga was hot. I invited Roslan for a fresh cooling drink at a nearby restaurant / stall. We took a table facing the main road – the Bukit Bunga Shopping Complex. People were moving. Both walls of the restaurant were exhibited with a variety of coffee mixtures in packets. These coffees were treated as ‘energy’ or aphrodisiacs drinks popular amongst the Malays. Whilst sipping his Milo-ais, Roslan pointed to something behind me. I turned around – alas! There was a public lamp-post nestled quietly onto a makeshift wall! Apparently, the restaurant was extensively built into the public area!… And people were moving, looking at the Siamese goods – which I noticed were all similar if not the same at most stalls. And the women, in their tudungs and bright baju kurungs, were all happily shopping in that afternoon sun.

The Lamp-post in the Restaurant

Recommended women dress code

Illustration of the recommended dress code for women is from

We left the hot Bukit Bunga after almost 45 minutes looking around the stalls on both sides of the main road. The road was quite heavy with traffic – it’s the holidays. We approached Jeli. stated: Jeli is a town and territory (jajahan) in Kelantan, Malaysia. As of 2000, the district’s population is estimated to be 42,882. Jeli is administered by the Jeli District Council. Jeli is bordered by the state of Perak to the west, Thailand to the north, Tanah Merah district to the north east and Kuala Krai district to the south east.

Most people in Jeli work as rubber tappers. The rubber plantations which belong to the local people also attract people from outside to come and work. Commonly families own a small plantation of 6 acres (24,000 m2) up to 50 acres (200,000 m2) in size. The history of Jeli began when the government encouraged the people around Kelantan to start a great area of agriculture. This process began with a period of land clearing, or pembalakan.


Jeli district (jajahan) was originally a sub-district (Jajahan Kecil),which was formed on 1 July 1982 from parts of Tanah Merah and Kuala Krai district. It was elevated to a full district on 1 January 1986. Being a totally new residential area, initially Jeli had residents coming from other parts of Kelantan. Jeli became host to thousands of hopefuls from all over Kelantan during the late 70’s and early 80’s, hoping to get a fresh start in this district. While the first generations of Jeli residents mostly involved in rubber tapping and other forms of plantations for a living, the current generations have managed to find their way up to a much better profession, thanks to the proper education system and dedicated teachers available to this remote area.

The Jeli District’s web at noted;

Daerah Jeli merupakan kawasan yang terletak pintu masuk “gateway” ke negeri Kelantan dari sebelah Pantai Barat Semenanjung Malaysia. Ianya menjadi tempat persinggahan yang sesuai bagi mereka yang dalam perjalanan dari Pantai Timur ke Pantai Barat atau sebaliknya, melalui jalan raya Timur Barat. Di samping itu, Daerah Jeli juga menjadi penghubung kepada kawasan Kelantan Selatan melalui jalan raya Jeli – Dabong.

Oleh yang demikian, dari segi lokasinya Daerah Jeli bersempadan dengan Thailand di sebelah utara, Jajahan  Tanah Merah di sebelah timur, Jajahan Kuala Krai dan Gua Musang di sebelah selatan  dan Negeri  Perak di sebelah  barat, merupakan sebuah kawasan yang strategik dan mempunyai daya maju untuk pembangunan secara teratur di masa hadapan.

Pekan Jeli merupakan bandar atau pekan utama di jajahan ini. Ia terletak kira-kira 98 kilometer dari Bandar Kota Bharu melalui jalan raya Timur Barat.

Keadaan muka bumi 82% adalah berbukit-bukau, hutan-rimba dan banyak alur serta sungai. Jajahan ini terletak diantara 90 meter hingga 500 meter dari paras laut. Sungai-sungai utama ialah Sungai Pergau, Sungai Renyut, Sungai Suda dan Sungai Balah.

We arrived Jeli’s town-centre at about 445 pm. It seemed to be deserted, saved for the awaiting passengers at the bus and taxi stations. Another round of drinks to push away the heat and the travel’s tiredness.

Jeli Bus Station

Getting on the bus

Lonely connections

Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia 2: Jerteh – Jeli – Banding – Gerik – Baling (Part 1)

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on March 19, 2010

Again_ there are always roads to travel, things to discover and rediscover…

On last 13th February, on the Chinese New Year’s Eve, me, Hanafiah, Naim and Nizam again started for another journey. The journey was actually planned after our first, Kuala Pilah – Segamat – Bandar Muadzam Shah – Pekan, last January. We intended to visit, or rather journey along Jerteh – Jeli – Banding – Karak – Baling, on the second trip. Like partly mentioned in earlier entry, the trips or journeys that we took and would be taking on this ‘Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia’, are trials or perhaps segments for developing an art project that was developed some two years ago between the four of us. The art project is developing into a potpourri of stories, documentaries (videos & photographs), interviews, writings, as well as drawings. At the moment we are letting this library of audio, videos, visuals and texts grow within an archiving system we have designed. Now, the Rediscovering Our Malaysia 2: Jerteh – Jeli – Banding – Gerik – Baling…

The journey was accompanied by Akhyar and Roslan, friends of Hanafiah who wished to share our interests in getting the whole idea of the project executed. Akhyar carried us in his NAZA Ria mpv and there were plenty of spaces for everybody and everything. We left Kuala Lumpur sometime around 11 pm  (Saturday 13th February 2010), cutting through the night, following the Karak Highway and Lebuhraya Pantai Timur. There were many vehicles on the highway – everybody was for the holidays, the balik kampong season, and it’s the time for the OPS SIKAP (a road or traffic safety operation by the Royal Malaysian Police during festive seasons). Ops Sikap is from the Bahasa Melayu, Operasi Sikap or literally in English, Operation Attitude. Operation Attitude! Just imagine… how we need to have an ATTITUDE to drive around our own country (especially come festive seasons!).

Below quoted news report on Ops Sikap during the Chinese New Year 2010, from;

14 die on Day 9 of Ops Sikap, raising death toll to 136

News 2010-02-16 11:44

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 (Bernama) Fourteen people, 11 of them motorcyclists and pillion riders, were killed in road accidents on the ninth day yesterday of the 21st “Ops Sikap” police operation to reduce road accidents in the country, police said today. Bukit Aman public relations superintendent Supt Rasdi Ramli said in a statement that the death toll for the nine days had risen to 136. Three of the 14 who died yesterday were motorists. Five fatal accidents occurred on federal roads, four on state roads, three on municipal roads and one on a highway, he said. He also said that 302 accidents, the highest number, were reported to have occurred on municipal roads, 294 on federal roads, 170 on state roads, 71 on highways and 48 on other roads, taking the total to 885. Rasdi said 13,014 summonses were issued to traffic offenders yesterday. The 21st “Ops Sikap” operation, being held in conjunction with the Chinese New Year, began on Feb 7 and will end on Feb 21.

Ikan Patin Masak Tempoyak

We stopped at Temerloh R&R for coffee and snacks. It was around 2 am or so. There were many travelers like us stopping for coffee breaks. The many stalls of Ikan Patin (that’s what Temerloh is nowadays – Bandar Ikan Patin) were closed. Only stalls selling fried noodles, nasi lemak, nasi minyak, and drinks were opened. There were tents selling mandarin oranges… (Illustration of Ikan Patin Masak Tempoyak is from

The roads were becoming less busy as we went deeper into the east coast, passing Cherating into Kemaman. Stars were glimmering above the South China Sea. It was about 430 am when we reached Paka. There was the Restoran Nasi Kukus Paka.

‘Can we stop? I’m hungry. I want to have nasi kukus. Nasi kukus ayam goreng berempah here is delicious.’ Said Hanafiah. Akhyar stopped the mpv, ‘You go ahead. I’m… I will try to get some sleep.’ Everybody was sleeping. I joined Hanafiah for a coffee, but not the nasi kukus ayam goreng berempah. Its somewhat exciting to watch Hanafiah ate his nasi kukus ayam goreng berempah in Paka at 445 am in the morning! There were a few people patronizing the 24 hours restaurant that morning. Illustrations of nasi kukus ayam goreng berempah shown here were from

Nasi Kukus

Ayam Goreng Berempah

The Plate

We reached Kuala Trengganu around 6 am, Akhyar drove to the Tanjung Waterfront, parked and started to sleep again. Naim and Nizam took their cameras and videos and tried to capture the morning hours. The wind from South China Sea blew our sleepiness away. There were already some workers cleaning and preparing things for the morning.

‘Lets have Subuh prayers at the Crystal Mosque.’

‘Yes, the Crystal Mosque…’

Crystals in the Dark 1

Crystals in the Dark 2

The Crystal Mosque was hidden by the early morning darkness when we arrived. Both illustrations were my captures: trying to seek for the glitters and glimmers of crystals in the early morning darkness.

‘I thought the mosque will be shining… glimmering in the dark… Are not crystals shine?’

‘It needs electricity!’

There were a few cars parked in front of the mosque. We bathed, prayed and rested ourselves whilst waiting for the morning sun. ‘I saw some cracks… there. Small ones though… they painted the cracks over…’  ‘Thats ordinary cracks…’ ‘Ordinary cracks?’ We suddenly remembered the collapsed Terengganu State Stadium…

Collapsed 1

Collapsed 2

Collapsed 3

Images shown here: Collapsed 1 from, Collapsed 2 from, Collapsed 3 from

We started for Jerteh, some 100 km from Kuala Terengganu, at about 7 am. Kampongs, small forests, perhaps tanah terbiar, rubber plantation, passing Belara, palm oil plantation, passing Sungai Tong, forests, more kampongs, small towns – Permaisuri, Tok Dor, Jabi, padi fields, people … and finally, Jerteh, the commercial town of Besut district. My hometown!

We took a round the town drive and headed to my brother’s house in Kampong Gong Kemuntong, on the Jalan Jerteh – Kampong Raja, about a kilometer away. But alas! Nobody’s home! I should have called earlier – my brother who is living and taking care of the family’s property, was away visiting his in-laws in Kuantan! I say_ it’s the holidays! I saw only my teenage-pasts around the rambutan trees – and the studio-workshop where I sculpted the Teleng Series and many other things were no more a workplace. It is a store for all sorts of things. And bushes and dead trees… Poor me – must find time to be here often and look at things again.

I must mention here that I didn’t use much of my camera during the journey except at certain places in Kelantan and Kedah (Baling). I used instead here, images picked from online resources to illustrate some of my concerns that was experienced. Perhaps someday I will get relevant images from Nizam and Hanafiah who captured the stills, to be published here as an addendum of photographic references. I chose not to take photographs (during most parts of the journey) as I wanted to be free from capturing scenes or objects whatsoever; I wanted to drift along with memories of my youth – traveling from Jerteh, through the federal trunk road, passing through Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Temerloh, Karak, and the swirling Bukit Bentong to reach Kuala Lumpur on the night express. Changes of directions – roads, highways, cross-overs, landscapes: but the smells and breezes of the South China Sea were always there , so did the glimmering stars in the eastern sky! (what a romantic!). The weatherman said: tomorrow would be hot; some 35 to 38 degrees centigrade!

We then drove back to Jerteh. I managed to see myself rocking around with my teenage friends in the park – a playground to be exact, playing pieces like Temple of the King, Child in Time, When the Blind Man Cries and Stairway to Heaven. Good old days. We landed ourselves at my old friend’s (Badrul Shah) eating stall, filling ourselves with nasi dagang, nasi berlauk, nasi lemak, laksam, or the kuehs. Hanafiah, who some hours ago already had his nasi kukus ayam goreng berempah, helped himself again with a bungkus of nasi dagang!

Jerteh was not that busy as usual (usual? when was the last I was here?) that mid morning. It was Chinese New Year. We stopped at now what it is Masjid Hadhari Jerteh, then Masjid Bandar Jerteh – where as I boy, I frequented for Friday and Hari Raya prayers, and the cemetery some scores of meters behind it.

Masjid Hadhari Jerteh

Image of Masjid Hadhari Jerteh from

‘Here. There are cracks. Like we saw at the Masjid Kristal.’ Said Akhyar. He is a builder, a contractor of sorts.

‘But I supposed these are considered as minors – minor cracks? See, they painted over with coats of paint.’

‘Yes. These are minors.’

The Masjid Hadhari Jerteh, I knew it as Masjid Jerteh. Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, a native of Jerteh, who became the Terengganu’s Menteri Besar (2004 – 2008) during Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s premiership, initiated the building of the Masjid Hadhari Jerteh or rather the transformation from the Masjid Bandar Jerteh, through designs ‘based on the middle- eastern and Turkish architecture with its prominent domes and minarets‘ ( ‘Islam Hadhari’ is yet another interesting topic to rediscover… on how it affected the Malays (muslims) as well as Malaysians socially and culturally. defined Islam Hadhari: Islam Hadhari (Arabic الإسلام الحضاري) or “Civilizational Islam” is a theory of government based on the principles of Islam as derived from the Qur’an. It was originally founded by Tunku Abdul Rahman (the first Malaysian Prime Minister) in 1957 (but under a different name) and has been promoted by the former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

I spent my teenage years in Jerteh. Together with friends we explored the nearby small forest, made ourselves a sort of a hut for lepak, playing guitar and talking and singing and all those sorts: and the town’s detective – he one day burned down our hut – accusing us of using the place for taking ganja and all the stuffs. I used to lepak under Gertak Jerteh (the Jerteh’s Bridge) when it was just completed by some South Korean workers, and went through my General Science, History and Geography short-notes – preparing for my LCE exams in 1976… And the western pictures, with occasional Hindi movies at the Rex Cinema (now gone).

‘Lets take a break. Lets go to Pantai Air Tawar. Have some rests before we started for Jeli.’ Said Hanafiah and took over the NAZA Ria wheels. The day was getting hotter.

An Appendix to Rediscovering Our Own Malaysia 1

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on March 1, 2010

The January journey made us realized that there are many things  to discover (or rediscover) on our own lands. These discoveries (or rediscoveries) are simply important for us, artists, to further ideate interesting images as well as thoughts into works of art.

Tanah Terbiar 1

Tanah Terbiar 2

On the Road

Beside the Road

Near a Monument 1

Near a Monument 2

Near a Monument 3

Near a Monument 4

Near a Monument 4


Into the Morning

Red Flowers

Deserted Ostrich Farm

Plants for Sale

The Wall

Notices in Tasik Chini

New Chalet

The Notice Board

Water Meters

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.

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

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on February 28, 2010

‘Let’s go for a weekend drive and see Peninsular Malaysia.’

‘A good idea, I say. Let’s get to know our lands better. There will be interesting things to discover… or rediscover.’

There were Hanafiah, Naim, Nizam and myself. Hanafiah studied with me in ITM and is also a working colleague of mine at MMU in Cyberjaya. Hanafiah practices painting and is currently into photography. Naim and Nizam are two younger friends who are interested in video and photography. The four of us share similar interests in investigating the multicultural life of the Malaysians. We held discussions on various cultural aspects and eventually started plotting several small projects like visiting towns, talking with people and documenting places, hoping to develop all of these into much more matured and meaningful projects.

Following is a journal of a journey starting from Kuala Pilah, through Segamat, through Bandar Muadzam, to Pekan, that we did on 16th & 17th January 2010.

Saturday, 16th January 2010

About 1130a.m

Started from Puchong, through Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi, Nilai, the North-South Plus Highway, Senawang and Jalan Kuala Pilah. We arrived the Kuala Pilah district, stopping at the Ulu Bendul recreation spot at about 0100p.m.

Waterfalls. The paths. Rocks. Trees. And the man-made pool for children – how badly designed everything were! And surprisingly the pool’s area is a WI-FI free area! Then the Majlis Daerah Kuala Pilah’s page said:

Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul Hutan Lipur ini dibangunkan pada tahun 1971* oleh Tuan Tulis dan dijadikan sebagai tempat ibadat. Pada tahun 1920an, tempat ini dijadikan kawasan riadah iaitu rumah rehat dan ladang kuda. Hutan lipur ini terletak di KM 20 jalan Seremban – Kuala Pilah di dalam Hutan Simpan Angsi. Ia mengambil masa kira-kira 20 minit dari bandar Seremban. Terdapat Gunung Angsi setinggi lebih kurang 825 meter dari aras laut dan ia boleh didaki dengan menyusuri Sungai Batang Terachi. Landskap semulajadi di sini menjadikannya unik untuk mandi-manda dan sesuai bagi aktiviti lasak, berkelah, berkhemah dan bersiar-siar.

The date published was confusing as it was stated on the same website that Tuan Tulis was a name given to a known Negeri Sembilan’s ulama that lived from the 1840s until 1923! Tuan Tulis was described on the Majlis Daerah Kuala Pilah’s page as follows:

Tun Tulis atau Tuan Tulis adalah gelaran kepada seorang ulama Negeri Sembilan yang bernama Haji Ismail Bin Hussein. Beliau berasal dari Kampung Kuala Talang, Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan. Beliau dilahirkan pada 1840an dan meninggal dunia pada tahun 1923. Tun Tulis adalah seorang anak muda yang miskin tetapi penuh semangat untuk menuntut ilmu agama. Kerana kemiskinannya, beliau tidak mampu untuk membeli buku. Oleh itu, beliau meminjam buku dari rakan-rakannya dan menyalin buku itu dengan tulisannya sendiri. Dari situ rakan-rakannya mengelarkannya dengan gelaran Ismail Tulis. Selepas perguruannya, beliau tidak henti-henti menulis kitab sehinggalah orang kampung menggelarkannya Tuan Tulis. Selepas beliau meninggal dunia, Yang Dipertuan besar Negeri Sembilan mentitahkan agar dibina bangunan di makam Tun Tulis dan bangunan tersebut kekal hingga ke hari ini.

The place was crowded with weekend picnickers; families with their children splashing in the man-made pools, teenage couples sitting on the rocks, people having lunch at the small food court, and a row of stalls selling deep fried sausages, kerepok lekor, banana fritters, burgers and other fritters, and assorted souvenirs which we may find at almost every tourists’ spots in Malaysia – key chains, batik, t-shirts, shorts, hats, caps and etc.

Most of the crowds were Malays (we saw only two Chinese families). The place was crowded only on weekends and almost deserted on weekdays, said one stall keeper. After lunch of nasi campur we left Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul.

Some findings at Hutan Simpan Ulu Bendul:

Rocks and Trees in Ulu Bendul

Making Fun to Nature?

Rocks and Trees in Ulu Bendul. Perhaps it was somewhere near here or around this area that Tuan Tulis established a ‘tempat ibadat’. Now it is a ‘tourist spot’ popular to locals for recreational activities.

Making Fun to Nature: A Lesson to the Children? An image captured to denote perhaps the failure of good education amongst the society: was it mere playfulness of the picnickers, or was it a conceptual art work?

Approaching Kuala Pilah town: tanah terbiar with bushes and forgotten rubber tress are the landscapes of both sides of our view. Nizam, a native of Kuala Pilah, remarked:

No young people are around to do the lands. To tanam padi not anymore. They prefer to work in factories in Senawang or Seremban.

Megalithic Sites of Kuala Pilah.

A quick reference on the Majlis Daerah Kuala Pilah page:

Perkataan ‘megalitik’ yang berasal dari perkataan Greek ‘mega’ yang membawa maksud besar dan ‘lithos’ iaitu batu, boleh didefinasikan sebagai batu besar yang didirikan di atas tanah secara bersendiri dan berpasangan. Penemuan batu megalitik di sekitar negeri ini merupakan tanda perkembangan penempatan masyarakat awal yang menjadikannya sebagai tempat pemujaan, selain menaruh pelbagai kepercayaan yang diyakini mampu mempengaruhi ekonomi (pertanian) serta kebudayaan masyarakat ketika itu. Pada ketika itu juga, masyarakat yang bergantung terhadap pertanian sebagai sumber ekonomi utama mempercayai bahawa penyembahan serta pemujaan batu megalitik mampu membantu mereka untuk memperoleh tanaman yang subur,” katanya ketika ditemui di sini hari ini. Katanya, batu-batu megalitik yang merupakan monumen bersejarah itu turut digunakan sebagai tempat masyarakat dahulu berkumpul dan mengadakan persembahan tradisi untuk tujuan riadah. Antara tapak megalitik yang dikenal pasti di sekitar negeri ini ialah Pengkalan Kempas, Kuala Pilah, Kampung Ipoh dan Pulau Sebang di Tampin, Lembah Terachi, Kuala Pilah, Kampung Gedang, Kampung Padang Lebar, Kampung Kundangan Kiri, Kampung Masjid, Kampung Parit Tengah dan Kampung Talang – kesemuanya dalam mukim Terachi (Tampin-Kuala Pilah).

We stopped at a small site by the roadside. It was right in front of a compound of a house, but at the time nobody was seen around. We were alarmed to discover that the site was in somewhat a sorry state, though it seemed there were some kind of a restoration work going on but no traces of anything official from some museum or any establishment and the stones were left unguarded. We almost could lift some of the small megaliths into the car’s boot!

Then we wondered whether if they were originals or just replicas, or even make-believe structures merely to attract curious tourists on the road?

Approaching Seri Menanti, the Royal Town of the Negeri Sembilan’s royalties: patches of green fields with young padi plants. Nizam commented:

This area is always with padi; perhaps to make the landscape looks beautiful and green. This is the Royal Town.

We stopped at a place called Perkampungan Budaya Terachi, which was situated by the roadside junction adjacent to an uphill road to the Royal Town. The greening padi field also surrounded it. The big place was almost deserted safe for the restaurant, the Restoran Warisan, and one or two craft stalls selling batik wares and other usual products for tourists.

The uphill road towards Seri Menanti was decorated with buntings congratulating the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan for his recent 62nd birthday, 14th January 2010. And so did the Seri Menanti town, flags of various colors were in the air and parts of the padang was crowded with people. Music was in the air. People were still celebrating the Yang di-Pertuan Besar birthday. It was about 0400 in the hot afternoon. It reminded us of the kenduri and temasya 40 hari 40 malam whenever the Malay rajas were celebrating whatever celebrations in the Malay hikayats and folklores.

The Seri Menanti Royal Museum. A page from read:

The Seri Menanti Royal Museum was built in 1902 – 1905. It was originally a palace for the Negeri Sembilan Royal family. It is situated in the Royal town of Seri Menanti, about 50 km from the capital, Seremban. This five storey wooden palace was built using no nails or screws. The carpenters at the time used wooden pegs so that the palace would be able to withstand the times. It also uses 99 solid timber pillars, soaring 65 feet. Black in color, the palace also has intricate flower motifs beautifying the regal palace. Visitors can find costumes, weaponry, bedchambers as well as documents on the royal lineage on display in the museum.

There were visitors. But I supposed there were security problems  – visitors could easily put away the cutleries on display into their bags.

Towards Kuala Pilah town. A page from read:

Kuala Pilah is one of the main towns in Negri (as the locals call Negri Sembilan). It is a nice old valley town with many of the pre-war Chinese shop-houses still fronting the main streets. This is one of the better places to savor Minangkabau food and there are a few Nasi Padang food-stalls that serve piping hot rice with a variety of savory, spicy dishes you can choose from.

Kuala Pilah town itself is a main stopover for transport routes. It is made up of a sizeable Chinese community that has been around since the mining days during the early British rule. The Sim Tong Chinese Temple is the oldest temple in town and is worth a visit if you have not been to one before. Behind the temple is a large hexagonal shaped market place with lots of food outlets selling local food from chicken rice to fresh water turtle soup. Turtle soup is a delicacy here. The slaughtering of these turtles is most horrid. This was once witnessed at a market some years ago where the vendor used a turtle, usually of the same sex to entice the chosen turtle to stick its head out of the shell. The sight of a rival aggravates the chosen turtle; it sticks its head out and locks its jaw on the other in a battle. The cook then chops off their heads with one fatal blow of the cleaver!

On the main road is a Chinese-styled arch dedicated to Martin Lister who was the first Resident of Negri Sembilan. If you have a chance to stay over, you have a choice to stay at the old Kuala Pilah rest-house. Although there have been some changes to the old government built rest-house, many English folk who had lived here during the British occupation return to these rest-houses to rekindle fond memories of their days in Malaya. In the early years, rest-houses were the only available motels and where everyone from businessmen to travelers stayed. The Kuala Pilah Rest-house whips up some pretty good seafood dishes and is a popular place with locals and out-of-towners.

Compare this quote from

… On the main road is a Chinese-styled arch dedicated to Martin Lister who was the first British Resident of Negeri Sembilan, commemorating his effort in ending the intermittent violent conflict between Chinese secret societies then rampant amongst the migrant Chinese populace. Lister was killed by his enemies in the nearby hills at Ulu Bendul.* The old Kuala Pilah Rest-house was a government built rest-house during the British occupation. In the early years, rest-houses were the only available hotels and where everyone from businessmen to travelers stayed.

* Apparently the two pages were almost the same. It was interesting to note that the underlined sentences were absent in

We made a few around the town drives before landed at the Kuala Pilah bus and taxi station. Nizam showed us the cendol stall that he frequented as a school boy waiting for the bus home. Not many people were around.

Waiting Bus

Chinese-styled Architecture

Waiting Bus. A bus waiting for passengers and the departure time at the Kuala Pilah bus and taxi station.

Chinese-styled Architecture. A building with colorful pasts opposite the bus and taxi station.

Next stop was the Kuala Pilah Market. We agreed that the marketplace is an important place to visit, as it’s where the town’s food should mainly came. Nizam was excited. It’s where he followed his father as a boy to buy vegetables and other foods. And how delighted one old Chinese vegetable-seller was, when he recognized that the photographer who was photographing his wares was this little boy who used to come to his stall.

Looking at the Photographer's Pasts

Foul Smelling Debris

Looking at the Photographer’s Pasts. Capturing the Kuala Pilah marketplace’s interior. It’s where Nizam met his childhood’s vegetable-seller.

Foul Smelling Debris. Like most traditional marketplace in Malaysia, Kuala Pilah Market was also dirty. It made us to wonder what sort of food that came from such place as the Kuala Pilah Market. Poor boy, Nizam. Rubbish was everywhere. Hanafiah parked the car in front of a sleeping stray dog, which later we found out that it was not sleeping but dead!

We chose to have coffee and roti bakar at a kopitiam called Sinaran before making our way to the next destination, Segamat in Johor. A quick check on the Internet proved an interesting found.

Acknowledged for their culinary skills and specialty dishes, the Goh family, like their peers from Hainan Island, started the Foh Heong Kopitiam in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan. Popular in colonial times, the restaurant was favored and patronized by the British and also catered for the parties and official functions of the Negeri Royal Family. Together with Tunku Kudin, they set up the Sinaran Restaurant Cafe in 1944. (From

While waiting for coffee, and with the towkay’s permission, Nizam and Naim went photographing the patrons and the kopitiam’s kitchen. There were many patrons of various race-groups: the Chinese, Malays and Indians – together sipping coffee and munching roti bakar amid teatime conversations. One Chinese-man from a group of middle-age patrons asked Nizam where we were from and why we were taking pictures. After some explanations, he asked Nizam not to show the photographs of the group to the police! It reminded us of the underlined quotation aforementioned.

The road to Segamat was smooth – not many traffics. Landscapes of palm plantations, a few rubber estates and bushes of tanah terbiar. The Wikipedia page read:

Segamat is a town and district located in the north of the state of Johor in Malaysia, bordering two other states of Malaysia (Negeri Sembilan on the west and Pahang on the north). It is located roughly 172 kilometers from Johor Bahru, the capital city of Johor State. It is 95 km travel distance via North-South Expressway from Johor Bahru to Yong Peng. It is another 77 km via Federal Route 1.

Strategically situated between Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Singapore, Segamat is a fast growing agricultural oil palm and rubber district, famous for its delicious durians, and the recent slogan used to attract tourists to Segamat is Selamat Datang ke Segamat – Tanah Raja Buah-buahan (Welcome to Segamat – The Land of King of Fruits). Segamat town is a typical medium size town with a blend of old and new cultures. A mere 45 minute drive from town offers a variety of hiking and swimming sites namely the famous Gunung Ledang, Air Panas Waterfall and Bekok Waterfall which make an enjoyable weekend getaway.

Some reflections from the past found on the same site:

According to a local historian, Hassan bin Muhammad, the area used to be known as Rantau Panjang. In around 1511, a Bendahara (Prime Minister) of Melaka (Malacca), Bendahara Tepok and his troops were retreating to Johor after the fall of Melaka to the invading Portuguese forces led by Alfonso de Albuquerque. The Bendahara and his troops stopped and rested by a river in the area and drank water from the river. After the drink, the Bendahara exclaimed, “Segar amat! or “Very refreshing!” in Malay, and named the river Segar Amat, which over time evolved into Segamat. However, initially the name Segamat only applied to the river. The settlement, which later became Segamat, was originally called Rantau Panjang. The town assumed the river’s name only at the turn of the 20th century.

By the end of 19th century, the four original districts have several minor districts, for example the previous Muar District has 4 minor districts – Parit Jawa, Chohong, Lenga and Segamat. The first District Officer of Segamat Minor District was Encik Menthol bin Haji Ahmad. In 1933, the district of Segamat was formed after a major district boundary realignment was made by the government of Johor to split the original 4 districts (Muar, Batu Pahat, Johor Bahru and Sedili) into 8 districts (before the 2008 realignment which added the Kulaijaya and Ledang districts to form 10 districts in Johor).

After the formation of Segamat District, the government began to develop Segamat, mainly with agricultural activities to boost the economy of Segamat. This included the construction of the national railroad system passing the town of Segamat and also the construction of the main road known today as Federal Route 1.

In 1970s, Tun Razak Highway was constructed to boost the economy of Segamat as an agricultural hub, to shorten the traveling time to Kuantan and to speed up the development progress of the poorly developed areas in southern Pahang.

The Johor branch campus of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) was constructed at Jementah in the end of 1980’s and started its operation in 1991. The construction of UiTM campus in Segamat district turned Segamat into another important educational hub in Johor besides Skudai, which houses Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

In 1996, Segamat Land Port was constructed to make Segamat an important transportation hub, like Nilai in Negeri Sembilan. By constructing the land port, manufacturers may just transport their goods to Segamat Land Port and then the goods can be transported to the nearest seaports such as Pasir Gudang by train and this will increase the transportation efficiency.

In 1999, the second bridge of Segamat, funded mainly by private developers was constructed to reduce congestion at the main bridge. The second bridge was included as a part of Segamat Inner Ring Road package consisting the road upgrade to 4-lane road at Jalan Pemuda, Jalan Hassan, Jalan Pee Kang Hai and Jalan Chia Chin Koon, which was completed in August 2005. The inner ring road package is useful to divert the traffic flow when the main roads at the town center are closed for special occasions and events such as National Day.

Further surfing landed us at the Laman Web Rasmi Pejabat Daerah Segamat ( that noted:

Segamat merupakan sebuah daerah paling tua di negeri Johor yang kaya dengan sejarah silamnya lalu ianya digelar “Daerah Lagenda“. Sejarah silam daerah Segamat sering dikaitkan dengan kehebatan kerajaan Malim Dewa yang kononnya pada suatu masa dahulu pernah wujud di satu kawasan luas merintangi Kuala Muar hinggalah ke hulu daerah Segamat. Menurut cerita orang tua-tua Putera kepada Raja Malim Dewa iaitu Raja Malim Deman pernah mencintai seorang Puteri yang bernama Puteri Santan Bertapis. Malangnya, Puteri yang digilakan oleh Malim Deman itu telah dibawa lari oleh seorang Putera dari kayangan. Kegagalan untuk mencari Puteri tersebut telah menyebabkan baginda membuat satu sumpahan iaitu selagi Puteri yang dicintainya itu tidak ditemuinya maka daerah Segamat akan dilanda banjir. Dengan demikian, daerah ini telah dikenali sebagai “Daerah Sumpahan Malim Deman“.

Dari perspektif Sejarahnya pula, kira-kira 500 tahun yang lalu, peristiwa Bendahara Tepuk iaitu Bendahara Melaka yang terakhir berserta rombongannya telah melarikan diri ke Segamat apabila Melaka ditawan oleh Portugis. Tempat yang mula-mula didatangi oleh Bendahara Tepuk dan orang-orangnya ialah di satu kawasan berhampiran sungai Segamat. Kawasan tersebut berbukit-bukau dan terdapat sebatang anak sungai yang penuh dengan lubuk dan tebingnya pula batu-batu kecil putih berserakan. Justeru Bendahara Tepuk pun menamakan penempatan ini sebagai “Kampung Lubuk Batu“.

Dan di pengkalan Lubuk Batu, kononnya terdapat 2 peristiwa penting telah berlaku. Pada hari Bendahara sampai ke Lubuk Batu itu cuaca sangat panas. Justeru, Bendahara Tepuk yang telah uzor dan tidak bergigi serta kakinya yang lumpuh terpaksa diusung ke pengkalan untuk mandi. Airnya yang jernih lagi sejuk betul-betul menyegarkan tubuh Bendahara lalu beliau pun berkata “Segar amat badanku ini”. Kononnya perkataan “Segar Amat” yang dilafazkan oleh Bendahara Tepuk itu lahirlah nama “Segamat”.

Segamat juga disebut sebagai “Rantau Panjang” dalam abad ke-18. Ini ada kaitannya dengan keadaan muka bumi sekitar kawasan sungai Segamat pada masa itu. Menurut orang tua-tua, pada masa dahulu kawasan tebing sungai Segamat begitu lurus dengan pasir di tebingnya halus. Apabila terkena sinaran matahari, sepanjang tebing sungai kelihatan seperti hamparan permaidani putih. Air sungainya yang jernih dan berkilau-kilauan menambahkan lagi keindahan kawasan sekitar itu.

Orang-orang Segamat suka berkunjung ke sebuah kawasan bernama Pasir Jenaling untuk berkelah. Ia merupakan sebuah kawasan yang airnya jernih and pasirnya putih berhampiran dengan Pengkalan Esah (sekarang terletak di belakang Pawagam Cathay). Orang-orang luar yang datang ke Segamat melalui sungai akan berhenti di Pengkalan Esah di mana terdapat pokok-pokok Jambu and Leban ditebing sungai. Keadaannya yang condong telah menamakan Segamat sabagai “Jambu Condong” dan “Leban Condong” .

We arrived Segamat, the Tanah Raja Buah-buahan or Daerah Lagenda or Daerah Sumpahan Malim Deman or Rantau Panjang or Jambu Condong or Leban Condong at about 0700 pm. After a few turns, we parked near the Dataran Segamat on Jalan Awang, near Jalan Aji, where Jakel Trading was situated. Jakel Trading is famous all over Malaysia for textile-related products and as such. A note from on Jakel Trading said:

Merupakan bangunan tekstil yang terbesar di Johor. Mempunyai pelbagai jenis kain dari sutera Korea dan lain-lain. Juga menjual langsir, tudung wanita dan karpet.

After strolled the Dataran Segamat and Jalan Aji, we found a pasar malam on Jalan Tengku Ahmad, mostly selling local delicacies and the usual pasar malam wares. Malay and Chinese traders seemed to work side by side.

We drove to the side of the river through Jalan Pee Kang Hai looking for a lodging place. Finally we found ourselves at the Villa Hotel Segamat in Jalan Ros. Dined at a nearby Mamak restaurant, roti nan with mutton curry. The Segamat Billion Supermarket was crowded with evening shoppers.

A Drawing Marathon in USM, Penang, 2009

Posted in With Friends by tsabri on February 26, 2010

…the artist group from KL. Friends, we are

We four artist are friends. We first met as fine art students at the then School of Art & Design, MARA Institute of Technology (ITM), Shah Alam, in the 1980s. Shukri, Suhaimi and myself were of the same batch. Zainal was a senior of ours. When we enrolled ITM in 1982, Zainal was already in his final year. In ITM, Shukri and myself took sculpture as our majors, though Shukri was more into painting since graduated. Suhaimi was a painting major, whilst Zainal was a printmaking major. Zainal is painting these days.

The artist group from KL? Yes, that’s how the 1st Malaysian International Drawing Marathon’s master of ceremony introduced us to the other participants…

What is a Marathon? A Drawing Marathon?

Suhaimi brought the news. Then we were talking about marathon, the USM Drawing Marathon, Pulau Pinang, nasi kandar, pasembor, roti canai, murtabak, ikan bakar, the colonial architecture, the charcoals, pencils, drawing boards, Associate Professor Fauzan Omar (Fauzan), and many other things including the Marathon’s entrance fee! Then we were laughing at the English Pheidippides (Pheidippides was the Greek soldier-messenger who ran the Marathon), the Japanese Pheidippides, the Javanese Pheidippides and many others including our own Malaysian stars, running around Georgetown with drawing boards hung to their necks, drawing the city, the Pearl of Orient – Sir Francis Light re-lands today!

The poster sat on the table. The Marathon is about drawing Pulau Pinang, in particular, Georgetown – remnants of the treacherous colonialism that were hastily made into some kind of a world’s heritage. What else to refer to when one looks into Pulau Pinang’s pasts? The poster. It brought the event as ‘the 1st Malaysian International Drawing Marathon’_

Fauzan Omar, Associate Professor

He was our best teacher, I would say. Suhaimi, Shukri and Zainal agreed. Suhaimi, Shukri and myself knew Fauzan sometime in 1985. Zainal knew him earlier. Yes, Fauzan was (and still is, of course!) the ‘cowboy’ who knew his herds and his guns well! He didn’t teach us to draw. He taught us to see instead. He didn’t teach us to become ‘drawers’. He taught us to become ‘cowboys’ – to rid off the fears, to confront whatever obstacles with wisdom, to become artists.

Fauzan would be overseeing the Marathon. Zainal mentioned that Fauzan was excited knowing that the four of us would be joining the Marathon.

The Drawing Marathon: An Academic Exercise? (1)

The Dean’s officiating speech gave aspirations on art and academic research, and the university’s (USM) roles in developing studies on the arts and culture in general. It’s just appropriate for the fine art practices to be assessed or reviewed through and within academic approaches. I heard Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris in Tanjong Malim is offering art studio courses for graduate students. I am also currently participating in developing a ‘research-creation’ culture in FCM, MMU. The idea was simply to cultivate research attitudes in the creation of art and other media forms.

I read the Marathon’s program simply as: the participating artists would go around Georgetown (… or elsewhere on the island, hmmm…), looking for things and/or matters of his or her interests, to be later worked out into drawings; the organizer, USM, would be documenting the whole process to be later made into a publication.

The Drawing Marathon: An Academic Exercise? (2)

Starting the Marathon in the closed studio (Dewan Perhiban) reminded us of our own ITM’s Drawing Studio back in the 1980s. Shukri would be drawing in the corner. His motorbike was even one of the props! Suhaimi would came sneaking around from his painting class. Bob Marley would be singing in someone’s cassette player. Indeed! Fauzan even put up the drawings of this ITM’s Drawing Studio for his presentation that Marathon’s morning.

From My Position 1

From My Position 2

From My Position 3

The setting or environment set up was a big distraction if I were to consider my first reading of the Marathon – that was to draw Pulau Pinang. (Though the Secretariat allowed participating artists to draw their own ‘subject-matters’, ‘themes’ or in one’s own style.)

Fauzan talked about approaches to drawing; interpreting space thus making up compositions; the use of drawing elements such as lines to justify positions of objects through illusions onto flat drawing surfaces; etceteras – all the while showing examples produced from that 1980’s ITM Drawing Studio.

Live models, wearing traditional Malaysian costumes were posed wherever possible in the setting. There were a few participants interested in figure and portrait drawings. The Drawing Pheidippideses were drawing the setting from where they were – standing upon big plywood boxes onto where the drawing papers were stuck. The setting was a bit ‘centered’ – creating some kind of an island in the middle of the studio. I found no views of ‘deep space’ to start drawing ‘academically’ from my position. There were plenty of ‘shallow space’ views. And a model wearing a Chinese cheongsam was staring at me.

Am I to draw Pulau Pinang, Georgetown? Or the setting with the model wondering how she would look like? A wayang kulit suddenly popped out from one of the potted-plant in the setting (What a wayang kulit is doing in this isle of boria?). But Shukri was happily drawing images of ‘as his pleases’.

… Georgetown. A Wet Afternoon

Yes. On the first afternoon, the participating artists were brought to the heritage area of Georgetown. But the weather was not permitting us to roam around, sketching or taking photographs. It was raining. Many ended sipping coffee in one Wah Bin Coffee Shop in Lebuh Armenian, and drawing portraits amongst themselves.

Georgetown 1

Georgetown 2

Georgetown 3

Georgetown 4

Sir Francis Light

Georgetown 4

When the rain turned into a drizzle, I walked the Lebuh Acheh. There he was, Sir Francis Light himself! Puffing away some aromatic tobacco from Sumatra, What’s he’s doing here on this wet afternoon? Two jewelers, Haji Othman Pillai and S. Abdul Kassim, were seen hurriedly walking towards Lebuh Armenian. Sir Francis Light then get on the awaiting black Jaguar. I traced the way back to Wah Bin Coffee Shop. Two homeless Indians suddenly stirred in their afternoon nap on the pavement near the coffee shop. Some were sketching, and I joined Suhaimi for a plate of mee goreng at the Lebuh Armenian’s junction.

The Drawing Marathon: An Academic Exercise? (3)

Drawing the setting was tiring _ what more to draw it all day, all night. I thought the organizers would be very cruel if they wanted us to draw the setting all the twenty-four hours. It would completely drain the adrenaline away. Observation drawings demand attention – concentration on whatever we chose to draw and whatever to ignore. I turned my attention to the wet afternoon when I saw Sir Francis Light at Lebuh Acheh.

I surfed Google Maps for the map of Lebuh Armenian from the MacBook that I brought to the Marathon. I looked at my photographs of Lebuh Chulia and the surroundings, the jewel stores, the homeless, lorries and go-downs along the Fish Lane, etceteras. I brought Lebuh Armenian to the Marathon studio. Zainal finally drew the Cathay Hotel of Leith Street in the Marathon Studio. Suhaimi drew the wayang kulit whilst Shukri sketched away his surrealistic figures.

The Drawing Marathon: Where is the Ball (or Majlis Tari Menari)?

Fauzan introduced us as naughty boys to the participating artists when we were his students _ but we were also his best students (at least that what’s he said). We were always the latecomers to the class. He, once, woke us up one morning to start class! (We were sleeping in the studio…) He caught us smoking behind the studio. And he praised our drawings!

The Marathon promised no fun. Somebody played classical in the audio system. The participants were drawing seriously _ trying to capture the setting. Soon as the audio system went dead, I plugged on the iTunes – playing music of our youth! What else – let’s rock the Marathon!

I walked the Dewan Perhiban_ the Marathon’s studio, circling the ‘island’ – looking at the fresh new lines, new tonal values and new stories happened on the participants’ drawing surfaces. What a concentration the participants had! I remembered Fauzan’s asking us to rest a while; walk around and see your friends’ drawings – the ghosts of the 1980’s ITM Drawing Studio came to the Marathon! They were joining the Majlis Tari Menari in the Dewan Perhiban…

Off the Drawing Marathon…

Mr. Jalil is one of Suhaimi’s friends in Penang, residing on the Penang’s Twin Towers apartment, overlooking the Penang Bridge and Butterworth on the mainland. He started to like appreciating art and is beginning to collect art. He even took up ‘learning to paint’ during his leisure. He was the one who took us around the foods in Georgetown. One night, with another friend, Haji Masri, they took us to have nasi kandar sometime after midnight.

Cikgu Saidon Ahmad is a friend of ours since the ITM days. On his way back home in Sungai Petani from a meeting in K Lumpur, he found us at the Cathay Hotel and brought us some duku and rambutan. Cikgu Saidon teaches art and loves music. He played us the nostalgic sixties and seventies on his new Honda.

Mr. Budin, Suhaimi’s cousin and a long-time friend of Shukri, also came to find us at the hotel, with a Chinese friend who looks like Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, a social activist who was before a known politician. We talked the night away at the Jalan Penang and Lebuh Chulia junction.

… the Marathon’s Finishing Line. You Are, I Am

Dot to dot. Another dot to another dot. The line goes on and on.


  1. Zainal wrote about this event in his blog
  2. Shukri wrote about this event in his blog as well as his collection of sketches

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