No One Calls no One Pendatang

“Having an occasion to speak does not warrant you the right to spew folklores that lacks historic affirmation. The Chinese has a saying, ‘If you keep quiet, no one shall accuse you of being dumb.” That said, I felt compelled to give you an insight into our local history so that you’d be enlightened.

From the years 1511 till 1957, Malaysia was a colony of different different countries. (I can feel the temperature rising already.) The colonizers manages everything whilst the local folks just went about their daily affairs. They made the rules and we execute them out. For 446 years no one calls no one ‘pendatang’. Fact is everyone of that era was a pendatang and that includes the ‘colonizers’. And all the pendatangs were busily trading with each other. The real ‘Orang Asal’ lives inside the jungles and there they thrive. They were also ‘takluk’ by pendatangs.

Before 1511 exists the kingdom of Malacca ruled by able Sultans, one in succession of the other, who believed in capitalism. That means for as long as anyone pays their dues and taxes, they get to stay or trade, never mind their origin. That edict made Malacca a robust trading port which captures the imagination of many an European seafarer looking for a sojourn along the sea route to the East.

Malacca was officially stated to be founded in 1402. by Parameswara, a pendatang Hindu prince from Palembang. Parameswara is a Sanskrit title that stood for the ‘Supreme Lord’ and is not a name. He flee Sumatra after the fall of the Srivijayan Empire in the year 1377 which succumb to the attack by the Javanese Majapahit. His able troop of Bugis bodyguards were the people who pointed him to that land filled with abundance after their brief stopover first in Muar, Johore, then Bertam. They bargained to be made aristocrats if Parameswara found favor with this new place. When they arrived, Parameswara was indeed smittened. Lush vegetation, freshest of water from streams, an abundance of flora and fauna. From where he stood, he named the place, ‘Malacca’, after the fruit tree that shaded his presence and honored his promise. He asked his entourage if anyone knew of the hill besides him. Bukit ‘Cina’ was their reply. (That simply means there were pendatangs who knew of the place way before they.)

One fine day, after making himself the Sultan amidst all the traders and having established some rule of law, he had a rude shock when he was enlightened that this place which he named Malacca, belongs to Siam. Without much hesitation, he sent his son to appeal to the King of Siam that he’d be allowed to stay on, with the condition that he will share his earnings with Siam and pay homage to them (which was how the triennial ritual of paying homage with ‘Bunga Emas’ came along). Malacca as it was, was a protectorate of Siam and Java, thus, homage was sent to these two Kingdoms. But Siam as Mahmoud had found out, oddly pays homage to China. He then thought it befitting to sidestep Siam and went direct to China instead. His actions enrages the King of Siam who sent his boats to the Malacca shore but as fate would have it, Siam succumbed. From then on, Siam relinquishes its rule over Malacca. For 130years, the Kingdom of Malacca was ruled by Sultans. Never did they regard anyone else as pendatangs.

Before that, there were many polities which were part of some larger empires straddling the Nusantara notably the Buddhist Sri Vijayan empire ruled by Rajah Chola, another Hindu from India. As a consequence, the many customary rites as observed in our local investitures and solemnization ceremonies was adapted from that era. Many Malay words were also borrowed from the Hindoo lingua. That was the time when trade was active between the Indians, Chinese and the little little polities around the archipelago, which remains submerged in our local history till today.

Then came another pendatang named Lopez De Sequeira whom after being chastised by Mahmoud’s advisers (when all they wanted was to be allowed to trade) reported back to his majesty who sent Alfonso De Albuquerque with a fleet to claim back his pride.) Mahmoud and his royal household flee. Some to Perak, some to Johore. From there, they scatter forming newer Sultanates. Then came the Dutch East India Company who drove out the Portuguese before they made a pact with the British in exchange for Java.

Pendatangs especially colonizers were also allowed perpetuity grants in the form of land titles in places such as Penang. Beneficiaries include James A Scott and David Brown, both whom were aligned to Captain Francis Light, the founder whose part of the deal is an offensive policy against the Bugis as agreed upon with the Sultan of Kedah in exchange for the possession of Penang that extends till Kuala Muda in Kedah.

Fast forward to circa 1940s, Onn Jaafar mooted UMNO. It was the period of the Malayan Emergency where many insurgents joint the communists because of their displeasure towards British rule.

Onn Jaafar was toying with the idea of Independence for Malaya, thus he raises his wish to the British overlords. Henry Gurney, then governor, told Onn Jaafar that independence will not be possible unless other races, especially the Chinese are included. Henry Gurney as it was recorded, became the catalyst and backbone to the setting up of the MCA under Cheng Lock and HS Lee. His concerns are simple. The Chinese are the workhorse and the engine of growth. He also fears that if the Chinese were to be left out, they will abandon support for the British and joined the MCP just like many Malays whom the British army had a hard time flushing them out from the jungle. That to him is an even more severe backlash because he is answerable to the Empire. If ever there is a commotion, it would indeed be disastrous. At that moment in time, nearly 7 out of 10 Chinese were triad members and 7 out of 10 were males deployed in the mining, rubber and port industries. As the story unfurls, Henry Gurney was later assassinated. So was his successor Malcom Mc Donald.

Onn Jaafar understood his request and tried hard to convince and convert Umno into the United ‘Malayan’ National Organization. But his second tier and grassroot members were not taken in. Feeling enraged, they called him a betrayer of his own race. Onn left Umno and eventually set up IMP (independent Malaya Party). In 1946 as a run up to the elections, UMNO , headed by Tunku, Onn’s successor, changes their manifesto by agreeing to work with MCA, the reason was that they were losing heavily for obvious reasons, that Onn Jaafar was a powerful figure to reckon with. Tunku also issued warnings to Umno members that whoever sided IMP or Onn would be expelled. In the elections, UMNO, together with MCA which forms the Alliance Party won. MIC came later. That paved the road to independence.

This is a factual account as extracted from many many historical records and accounts and is self explanatory. Never was it ever recorded that one race is a pendatang whilst the other is not since we were all colonized if you may by Hindus from 1402-1511, by Portuguese from 1511-1641 by the Dutch from 1641-1825, by the British from 1825-1941, by the Japanese Occupation from 1941-1946, again by the British from 1946-1957. Before all these, were the Buddhist Srivijayan Empire from the 12th Century. Recent archaeological discoveries has also pushed back the history of Kedah which may precede the Sri Vijayan Empire but they were without doubt linked to Siam. As of now, it is still uncertain thus, cannot be taken into account of. And even though so, it only extends the predates, not like it will corrupt all that we already know about our early and modern history.

It is indeed ironical that some concerned individuals mentioned that we were never colonized except for two years. (Where are your citations please? Better still, are you sure you are Malaysians?) And that some are pendatangs whilst others are not? It is as if without this term enshrined into our history, someone’s special rights would degenerate into some kind of illicit entitlements or are there underlying motives behind all these fiascos?

Our country will degenerate faster if we keep looking backwards busily sweeping off our tracks, whilst running forward. As if that is possible?

That said, if ever there is an award for the country with the most complications, our country will surely reign as the most expensive wristwatch around, because wristwatch value is measured by the number of complications it has on a single face. But to a Chinese, being very practical people, we will never buy it no matter how valuable they are for only one reason. If it breaks down ,it is difficult to find someone who could repair it. Just like our country. We are already so complicated, so we should be praying that it doesn’t break down. Because if it does, no one indeed can help us repair it. Same like the wristwatch. And in a wristwatch, every single part has its own function and it needs to be synchronized correctly to keep time. As Malaysians we should all be like the parts inside these wristwatches and be as harmonious as we can possibly be. One part fails and the whole mechanism stops working! We should not listen to those who attempts to destabilize the country, make them even more complicated than it already is.

Just saying.”

Hidden Rules

“It is alarming that Chinese has many hidden rules that even I am not aware of. Until I was recently made aware that the paint color used on tombstones, if it is gold, represents dead relatives and red, signifies the living. Thus on the grave of my grandparents, upon my discovery, my beloved cousins, siblings and I, have been dead for more than half a century already . Cant get more incredible than this years Cheng Beng. Drown me please somebody !”

Chneh Meh Kay

(Version in Hokkien)

Chneh Meh Kay

Tok Tiok Tharng

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(Version in English)

A blind chicken

Pecks a worm!

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About this saying:~

This phrase/saying is commonly used to describe how luck could strike undeserving people the same way a chicken , though blind, could peck worms.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

Reunion table

Reunion is held on the first day of Chinese New Year. The servings on a reunion table according to Chinese tradition signifies abundance. Hence it is customary to have as wide an array of food available on this night. In contemporary society, fad and convenience has taken over tradition. Rarely does one still find whole chickens, suckling pigs, sharks fin, abalones, sea cucumbers, and all kinds of mushrooms and fishes being served except on important occasions as appeasing deities on the altar tables.

Ang Pow Giving

On the first day of Chinese New Year as Confucianist practice dictates, the entire household of an extended family would tidy themselves up, all nicely coiffured before presenting themselves to the head of the household, (generally the matriarch) to receive special blessings and ang pows (red colored packets containing money symbolizing good luck, prosperity, great health and joy). As receiving ang pows is hierarchical, so it is with the givers, each taking turns distributing whilst juniors kow tow and wish ‘Keong Hee Huat Chye’ as a mark of respect to the givers. In our family we went a step further by serving tea to the elders. It is also customary that once a child got married, they are obligated to give ang pows to their parents. The unmarried are exempted from ang pow giving because to the Chinese, they are still rated a child. Thus, any family members can receive ang pows for as long as they remained single. In our Hokkien tradition, only the womenfolk gives away ang pows. Reason is that the menfolk are supposedly the breadwinners of the family whilst the womenfolk are in charge of household affairs.

This is my extended family.

1st pic- my grandma Gek Kee, receiving blessings from my great grandma, matriarch Saw Kit, at Boon Siew Mansion. Generally as a senior in the family herself, my grandma is no longer entitled to ang pows but I guess that also depends on the generosity of individuals and the wealth of each family.. Matriarch Saw Kit’s life sized bronze statue still graces the Home of the Infirmary, Penang.

2nd pic- Aunt Guat Eng, Aunt Gim Ean (deceased), Aunt Guat Hong, Aunt Loh Ean, Uncle Kah Poh (deceased), unidentified Aunt and my mom (deceased). Aunt Guat Hong and 2nd Tniau Seng Leong kow towed.

3rd pic- Tiny tots group pic with matriarch. Kah Heng (deceased), Kah Bee, and Kah Kheng (deceased).

An extended family has added advantages except for privacy and at least three generations of one household lives and stays together. That was the in -thing of that period for well to do family’s with big houses.

Images copyrighted. Circa 50s.

Bedak Sejuk

“The making of ‘Bedak Sejuk’.

My mother’s concoction of rice powder for teenagers was quiet well known. It was supposed to give u a nice complexion and keep ugly pimples away. Her concoction was to soak rice grains for 24 hours and the decanter the smelly water every night b4 bedtime. This would go on for a couple of nights until there was no unwanted smell and the rice grains fermented completely.

To make them smoother she would have them put between the grinding stones and the substance came out smooth. Then she wld mix the paste with grounded sandal wood, maram grass roots and nutmeg seed also grounded.

When she got it to the right consistency everyone was invited to fill up their cones and drip the the drops on to a heshian cloth. Then dried out in the sun.

A cone would sell for 20 sen and a smaller one for half the price. Everybody swore to the efficacy of her ,Bedak Sejuk’. No pimples and claimed a smoother complexion.”

– Reposting an article shared by the late Tan Sri Ani Arope 5th Mar 2014.

Chiak Thor Tau, Chiak Lau Lau

“Chiak Thor tau,
Chiak Lau Lau.”
Is a Hokkien Rhyme frequently uttered during Chinese New Year. Translated to mean “Eating groundnuts, ensures longevity.”, it became customary to serve groundnuts during Chinese New Year because of this belief in the rhyme but Groundnuts, as according to old wives tales, is the primary culprit towards the dwindling of our Chinese population because it suppresses the male libido. Perhaps. Since peanut butter is very much paired to Elvis, and his underperformance as stated in Pricilla’s memoir. Anyway it’s just a tale. Nothing serious.

Mai Khiam Kuay Ni

“Mai Khiam Kuay Ni” is a Hokkien saying uttered before Chinese New Year. Translated, it means “don’t defer your debts till the next year”. Though this has no real life connotation as most big companies does owe, it grew into a widespread belief somehow rooted into the community. But no doubt it has its goodness. It’s good practice not to be a lousy paymaster because everyone during the festive season needs cash to prepare for the yearly ritual and celebration hence the practice of giving bonuses a week before Chinese New Year. Just like problems that doesn’t get solved, it will slowly pile up into one big unsolvable package. Below is the image of God of Wealth a deity if placed in your home will ensure prosperity in your household.

Correcting Peranakan Popular Believes

“The Peranakans weren’t Chinese immigrants who adopted the culture of the Malay archipelago. The word “adopted” as opposed to “adapt” is similar but not the same. It was more of an intercultural amalgamation at a time which saw different communities living together happily which resulted in the assimilation of local lingua into their colloquial and vice versa but of course there are amongst them, intermarriages, which saw Malay maidens being welcomed into the Chinese household. The Peranakans were and is truly Chinese whom at that time are pseudo-Buddhist hence their Confucian and Taoist values, rites, beliefs and practices. Cuisine is purely Chinese but a little experimentation with local spices and adaptation of cooking styles of other inhabitants led to newer recipes considered distinctive to the Peranakans. The comparison of taste from different curries will tell you. However, the many claims by die hard peranakans with regards to recipes such as Jew hu char, bali juak, kiam chye ark and curry kapitan has no basis simply because they were truly Hokkien and Hainanese dishes and not as claimed by these pseudo Peranakans. Most of these recipes were and is still found on the altar and offering tables of the Hokkien community during cultural and divine festivities which were by and large the single largest grouping ever to span the Straits Settlements thence comprising Penang, Malacca, Singapore, Cocos Keeling Islands and Dindings in Perak. Marital, birth and funerary rites were strictly pseudo-Buddhism celebrated in compliance to the Chinese calendar. The Peranakan’s ostentatious taste of finery, garnitures, crockery, embroidery, clothing and furniture are mostly commissioned from countries within and beyond the Malay archipelago, the most obvious being namwood furnitures from China and Czechoslovakian designed coffee shop chairs and enameled tiffin carriers. However it must be noted that highly skilled local craftsmen of Shanghainese origin were also producing pseudo-Victorian era furnitures and architectural motifs to cater to the taste of their English-speaking ponytailed clienteles. These often comprises sideboards, roofing gables and umbrella stands and they usually spot marble tops, claw feet and barley twist balustrades. The habit of chewing tobacco and betel nut is not Malay but archipelagic as observed from the designs of the sireh cutter which were folkloric to the Hindus. Peranakans has their own perkakas. The habit of wearing Baju panjangs and kebayas were a fashion statement of that time. However it should be noted that the keronsang that adorns the blouse differ in taste and make and so are the appliqués .

Corporate Commissioning

“Corporate commissioning, patronage and sponsorships must not be seen as an intrusion or incursion to commissioned works or its meaning related to it. In its purest form, sponsorships should be viewed as a necessary facility in which without it, art in the public domain can never materialize. There are always limitations in commissioned works. Funding, space availability, objective, approval from authorities, the go-ahead still depends very much on the versatility of that entrusted artist to deliver a convincing proposal. And as long as it fulfills it expectations and works well within the timeframe and budget, it is set to materialize, the interpretation of its existence from then on will evolve through generations of debate, depending on the quality of its viewer, the social mood of that period be it tumultuous or serene done with mutual respect. That said, when viewing commissioned works, one should not be cynical or cling on to a miniscule viewpoint questioning the existence and it’s purpose or the influence the sponsors has infused onto the artwork itself thus demeaning the work of the artist. There always exist mutual understanding, agreement and a liking before works can be executed.”

Peranakans versus Straits Chinese

“Most Peranakans are Straits Chinese but not all Straits Chinese are Peranakans.
For one to be a Chinese Peranakan (also known as Baba Nyonya), one needs to be born of Chinese/Malay parentage as a result of intermarriages between Chinese towkays of that era with local ladies without so much of religious restrictions and as a result, these local ladies adapted themselves to the Chinese way of living learning the husbands customary culture from the matriarch (her mom or grandmom in law) whilst raising her own family thus cross pollinating her own cultures in whenever the need suits them whilst her husband works or took care of matters outside the home. As a result, a new lifestyle bloom alongside a strangely mixed lingo of Hokkien and Malay (Hokkien was a widely accepted dialect amongst the Chinese then)- a culture identified with its unique food recipes, and a preference for ostentatious taste in fashion and lifestyle; most certainly an adaptation borrowed from friends and neighbors of different cultures also rooted in the Straits (Burmese, Thai, Laotian, Indian, Ceylonese whatever) which found acceptability with these Straits Chinese and thus became fashionable. The Straits Settlements is a British colony comprising mainly of Penang, Malacca and Singapore and to a lesser extent the Cocos Keeling islands, Christmas Island, Dindings, Pulau Pangkor and some smaller islands in Perak and that of Labuan. That is the entire British trading influence and how the Chinese within the S.S frequently addressed themselves as. The Straits Chinese community. To be a true blue Straits Chinese, one needs to be a local Chinese born during the British administration of the Straits Settlements from 1826-1946.
This explains why some Chinese families who claims to be Straits Chinese often wonder why they do not have Malay dna in their ancestry lineage. And of how everyday recipes very commonly found in the Straits Chinese household have Malay sounding names especially the ones imbued with local spices though some of these recipes are in today’s context non halal.
One can identify a Chinese Peranakan with their spoken patois very unlike the Hokkien or Malay as how it is spoken today. And generally these Chinese Peranakans are darker skinned and possesses sharper features. I had the opportunity to interact and acquaint myself with genuine Peranakan friends whose ascendants were distinguished personalities from the government fraternity living in then Emerald Hill. They are Western educated which explains how many of them after years abroad have adopted the Western religion unlike the many local Straits Born Chinese whom were and still is mostly Buddhist or Taoist.
I remembered those days as a lad we were taught to address Chinese damsels and lads in strict colloquial standards. We call them ‘Ah Nya’ and ‘Ah Bah’. Though I do not have Malay lineage, I often wonder why my grandparents and great grandparents were all heavily bedecked in straits jewelry from kerongsangs to silver belts down to the kebayas, baju panjangs and those heavily embroidered slippers. But I understand them now. They were fashionable in those days.
Btw that’s how antique I myself is. And no, I’m no Baba even though that was the form of address given not only to me but to other lads as well.”

Excess

If we care to look around, there is too much excess of everything. Especially those ostentatious hip cafes crowding the streets with chalkboard menus, coffee makers, cemented flooring, fungied walls, latte art, good words being chosen as names for these so called hip restaurants and motels that don’t do justice to the name, ill mannered waiters that do not speak English, standing there looking suave but does not know what’s inside the menu nor the art of waiting. If I maybe allowed to, I wish for more localized food instead of spaghetti, salads, watery soups and hot buns. As if that is our culture. Lol my list is long…

Khaw Sia

I grew up with 3 Khaw Sia’s orchid paintings hanging in my home. I remembered

sticking my nose as close to the painting as  any  kid  would  just  to  explore  the

magnification with my eyes leaving the tip of my nose  imprinted  on  the  glaze.  I

was having fun. It wasn’t the colors he uses, or how  he  paints  the  leaves  and

dewdrops that I was interested in. I was like any child would at  that  tender  age,

merely exploring. But because I was living with it, it  was  like  second  nature  to

my skin. Because of that, I remembered very well the paper he uses because  it

has a peculiar texture on it. Nowadays one could hardly stumble upon  this  type

of paper he uses anymore but in my younger years, most kids  have  fun  with  it.

And it is quite blotty.

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doyen of photography

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prof. Ismail Hashim is the doyen of Malaysian photography. Passed away recently, this is a rare shot of him nestled in between subjects that matters to him most and quite often depicted in his works. Unknown to many, Ismail is camera shy and I was most privileged to immortalize him over a cup of coffee. Pictures taken at Kedai Kopi Chuan Foong, Jln Chan Siew Teong, Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

~~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the juggler

~the juggler~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Perfecting a skill demands total concentration and sacrifice. I caught this guy infrequently flipping beer bottles against the revetment of Fort Cornwallis on sunny days and thought it would be interesting to watch how these bottles fly on stills.. Pictures taken at Fort Cornwallis, Esplanade, Penang.

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the juggler series~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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alleys of old

~alley of old~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~alleys of old~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love these long forgotten alleys of old

Unplastered walls

Roots that grew to be heard

Incidentally, they were all planted by birds

Huge giants they are

But neglected

I love these long forgotten alleys of old..

~roots 1~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots 1~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots III~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots III~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~roots II~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~roots II~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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(Pictures taken at Penang Pier opposite the Jetty, Weld Quay, Penang)

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extended family

~extended family~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~extended family~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Overseas Chinese left their motherland at a tender age and through sheer hard work and good foresight, many astute businessmen found fortune and eventually became well-known philanthropists. Apart from contributing to society, these visionaries pamper themselves with homes large enough to fit a few generations of “extended family” leaving their wealth to be managed by trust funds. As a result, younger generations today still continue to enjoy the fruits of their efforts with children and grandchildren being sent overseas to further their studies and eventually migrate~ leaving these homes to the care of their faithful caretakers. Many of these homes were today rented out, leased or sold to commercial concerns as well as educational institutions because it is no longer cheap to maintain houses like this. One such house (as shown in pic) is currently leased to Kentucky Fried Chicken, an American fast food corporation who had tapped into the Penang market since the seventies. Picture taken at Larut Rd, Penang.

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palms palms palms

~palms palms palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~palms palms palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name ‘Penang’ comes from the modern Malay name Pulau Pinang, which means Isle of the Areca Nut Palm (Areca catechu, family Palmae) and this palm tree appears on both the State Flag and its coat of arms. There are thousands of species of palm in this world and if one cruises down the streets of Penang, chances are one would stumble upon stunningly beautiful mature species such as these with captivating inflorescence. (At the time of posting, the palm pictured above has been felled to make way for development). Pictures taken at Jln Dr Lim Chwee Leong, Penang.

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~other palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~other palms~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

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an uncommon chapel

~an uncommon chapel~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~an uncommon chapel~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built on top of a hill in the 1800′s, St Anne’s chapel amasses a yearly pilgrimage of more than a 100,000 on its feast day though it has but a seating capacity of only 300 at any given time. Part of the reason for this phenomenon is the legendary sighting of her apparition above the hill behind this chapel and the widespread accounts of her healing power and blessings she freely give to all who revere and believe in her. In short, she answers prayers. Many transformations has occurred on church grounds eversince and today it is a sprawling sanctuary that boasts a new church with a seating capacity of 1500- possibly the largest in this region. But this grand old lady has been kept unperturbed. This is an uncommon side view of the old chapel with its steeple as seen from the new church. The statue of the resurrection of Jesus is but a new addition. Pictures taken at St Anne’s Sanctuary, Bukit Mertajam, Province Wellesley, Penang.

~the old bell~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the old bell~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~archangel michael~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~archangel michael~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~the new church~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~new church~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~new church reliquary~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~attap house reliquary~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~guardian angel~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~guardian angel~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~holy water font~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~holy water font~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Studio of Hitori

~Hitori outside his Studio~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Hitori outside his Studio~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the age of twenty, Hitori left Japan to pursue his interest in Art. He traveled across the art capital for the next twenty learning all the ropes to find himself settling curiously down with his lovely wife in Penang and last year happens to be their twenty-fifth year of residence. A little odd but very humble, Hitori is not an atypical Japanese that we know of. Blending in well with the local folks, he stays in a pre-war house filled with discards which he masterly assembles them into works of art- an interesting sort of collage between conceptual, assemblages and sculpture and finally outdid himself after being commissioned to create a gigantic ten storey high sculpture facing our easterly coast called the “One Blue Sky”. Hitori also initiated the “Penang Island Sculpture Trail” where all his well-known sculptor friends he invited from all over the world were encouraged to stamp their mark in Penang with their sculpture contributions hence leaving a trail of Art he gifted Penang. Picture taken at Stewart Lane, Penang.

~assemblage~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~assemblage~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~experiments~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~experiments~
image copyright Kris lee 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Riders, Three Pillions

~two riders, three pillions~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~two riders, three pillions~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

Motorcycles made its presence felt on the streets of Penang more than half a century ago and it brought smiles on the faces of many who were looking for a convenient and cheaper mode of transport to ease their daily activities. To the younger generation, it is this vehicle that paces their first step towards independence. Picture taken at Jln Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang.

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Acheen Minaret

~acheen street minaret~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~acheen minaret~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six years after the founding of Penang in 1786, a well known tycoon Syed Hussain Mohd Aidid shifted his base from Acheh, a popular spice route in North Sumatera to Penang. Of Arabian stock as well as a member of the royal house of Acheh, Syed Hussain was wooed by Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang to establish his base here. His bait, reasonable autonomy to trade and self govern his household, his slaves and his clansmen as in accordance to his custom and his Moslem belief. He settled himself where Armenian Street and Acheen Street is and from there, works his ways into the hearts and minds of its inhabitants thereafter establishes an enclave between these few adjoining roads for his clansmen together with other Moslems from the same area to trade, rapport and cohabit like one close knitted family. Francis Light was not wrong. His efforts paid off when Penang became a favored spice route and the choice embarkation point for Moslems on a sojourn to Mecca, their holy land. Twenty two years on, Syed Hussain embarked to built a proper mosque to serve the community and that was how Acheen Street Mosque came to being, a sturdy structure snugged in between inferior houses of timber and attap. Syed Hussain passed away in 1840 and as is customary, his mausoleum is built inside the mosque compound. This minaret stood as a legacy of his duty towards his own race and belief that made it all possible for him.

This minaret built in Mughal style has a conspicuous pothole. Tradition says it was the result of cannon fire although some octogenarians claim loud booms once came from it. Despite the dispute, record shows that this mosque possesses a cannon of its own and the firing once led to a serious clash between two factions of the town Moslems over the actual date of the end of the month of the ramadan period. Whilst one faction who attends the Acheen Street Mosque was celebrating Hari Raya, the other faction who venerates at the Kapitan Kling mosque a short distance away was still fasting. After that incident, the town community compromised and handed down a decree that town Moslems must alternate between both mosque for their Friday prayers and those caught venerating at the wrong venue would be penalized. Peculiar as it is, the rule still stands today. Picture taken at Armenian Street, Penang.

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Hainanese Bombe Alaska

~Bombe Alaska Hainan Style~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~Hainanese Bombe Alaska~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considered the mother of all desserts, ‘Bombe Alaska’, an ice-cream cake covered with an igloo of meringue emerging from an oven found its way into the hearts of Penangites through Hainan Cookboys. Hainanese were seamen from China but locally, they became favored cooks of our colonial masters because of their skill in conjuring up many western recipes with a peculiar twist and taste of its own, the result of having to imagine the descriptions of their bosses who speaks in a language they could hardly understand. When the British ceded control of then Malaya, many of these Hainan Cook Boys as they were called became chefs of their own restaurants serving delectable delicacies they use to serve their masters with like Choon Pneah, Asam Heh, Roti Babi, Barsteaks and Macaroni Pie to name but a few but as all popular recipes would, their own style of Bombe Alaska became one of the first that faded into oblivion until a revival of interest came right after Georgetown was accorded a UNESCO Heritage status. Today, some restaurants are competing for customers serving their own concoction of Bombe Alaska as a recipe proud of its origin. The fact is, it is a real show stopper to see it being served flambed and every time it emerges from the kitchen, it never fail to garner curious onlookers. Little did anyone know that this recipe was first whipped up to commemorate the United States purchase of Alaska in 1867. Picture taken at Yeng Keng Hotel, Chulia Street, Penang.

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Motor Mechanics

~motor mechanics~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~motor mechanics~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most motor mechanics like Ah Lung left school at a very young age to take up apprenticeship in blue collar trades. Like the rest, they leave their hometown and survive on mearger earnings living in shared apartments, only going home once or twice in a month or during festive seasons. Most of them never if ever left their trade but some lucky ones became bosses of their own repair shop.

~apprentice mechanics~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~apprentice mechanics~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

Over the years, as Ah Lung became a more formidable repairman, he was also given the task to head younger apprentices that was allowed into the stable. Currently, there are no guidelines compelling skilled work force to attain competency certificates thus, this cycle of how skills were handed down naturally repeats itself. Picture taken at Jln Nanning, Penang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The White Mens Grave

`the white mans' grave~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

`the white man’s grave~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaded under a canopy of cascading plumerias in Northam Road is an old graveyard that houses Penang’s early settlers, missionaries and administrators. Most of them succumbed to malaria at a very tender age including Captain Francis Light, the founder himself thus earning early Penang the epithet “the white man’s grave”. Thomas Leonowen, husband of the noted Anna Leonowen whose stint at the Siamese court tutoring the wives and children of the king which was later made into a hit musical called ‘The King and I’ himself is himself an early settler.

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~other views~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

This graveyard once stood at the edged of the town next to paddy fields and vegetable plots but as the city grew, it is today smacked right in the heart of the inner city attracting history buffs more than their descendants. Pictures taken at the Protestant Cemetery, Jln Sultan Ahmad Shah, Penang.

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Medicated Masseurs

~medicated masseurs~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~medicated masseurs~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the long wait, locals has a quaint attachment to traditional Chinese masseurs rather than those physiotherapists found in hospitals whenever they experience discomforts and pains in their joints. From whence thee treatment came about is anybody’s guess but their endeavor in providing comfort and relief to those in agony is a testimony to their immense popularity. Here, a sitting customer patiently anticipates his turn outside the treatment room where the ‘sinseh’ stations himself while a young disciple gets his relief playing games on a handheld gadget. Picture taken at Jln Samak, Off Federal Cinema, Penang.

~feel good wait~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~feel good wait~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

~kitchenette of oils~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~kitchenette of oils~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~agony and attestations~ image copyright Kris lee 2012

~agony and attestations~
image copyright Kris lee 2012

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Egret Below Fronds

~egret below fronds~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~egret below fronds~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migratory birds are many and depending on the species and flyway these birds are accustomed to, Penang is one of the habitual pit stops of these winged ones found scattered along the coastal beaches and mudflats of Tanjung Bungah all the way to Northbeach. Perched under the shades of coconut frond, an Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx Intermedia) or locally known as ‘Bangau Kerbau’ is spotted in full upright posture looking out towards the unending sea.

~legs of an egret~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~legs of an egret~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

As compared to the Great Egret and the Little Egret, they are chiefly identified by their smooth ‘S’ shape neck without kink, a slightly domed head and a gape that ends below the eye. Their legs are generally dark. Picture taken at the coast of Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

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Victoria’s Clocktower

~Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Memorial Clocktower~ image copyright Kris Lee 2013

~Victoria’s Clocktower~
image copyright Kris Lee 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To commemorate Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee, a Jubilee Clock Tower was erected at King Edward’s Place, at the junction of Light Street and Beach Street, Georgetown, Penang courtesy of  Cheah Chean Eok, a distinguish local Chinese tycoon in the same year. Built in the Moorish style, the tower stands sixty feet tall, one foot for each year of Victoria’s reign. Unfortunately, Queen Victoria never stepped foot on Penang soil which was once a British settlement neither did she live long enough to see the memorial clocktower dedicated to her completed. By the time it was completed in 1902, the queen had died. Picture taken at King Edwards Place, Light Street/Beach Street junction, Penang.

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quaint looking postbox

~quaint looking postbox~ image copyright Kris Lee 2012

~quaint looking postbox~
image copyright Kris Lee 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curiosities never fail to garner audiences and this quaint looking postbox dating back to the Victorian era now joins many others in the list of historical objects once found in abundance on the island. Painted in fire engine red and mounted on a base made of concrete, this 200 year old cast iron ’grand old lady’ still serves the residents up in Penang Hill. Picture taken in Penang Hill, Penang.

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