Sembang-sembang with Tan Choon Hoe
Malaysians are a lucky bunch, always well known for their versatility in languages or dialects. Take for example my late father who was Chinese could converse fluently in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil, Hindustani, Mandarin, Cantonese and of course, Hokkien.
Sir Stamford Raffles and The History Of The Runnymede
Thomas Stamford Raffles was born in 1781, to Captain Benjamin Raffles and his wife Anne and in 1793 was sent as a boarder to the Mansion House Boarding school in Hammersmith, London. He joined the East India Company in London as a temporary clerk in 1795.
Silat – a Malay martial art steeped in tradition
Like other forms of Oriental martial arts, the millenia-old Malay silat is equally popular and effective in exhibitive, entertainment and sporting functions as it is for actual combat. The etymology of the word silat refers to movement of the body and the art itself originated during pre-Islamic times. Historically, silat reached its zenith during the Majapahit dynasty (1292-1478).
Heritage buildings in Penang
Acheen Street Mosque
Also known as Mesjid Melayu, the mosque was built on land donated by Syed Sheriff Tengku Syed Hussain Aidid an Arab merchant-prince who came from Acheh in Sumatra. The vernacular style mosque from 1808 remains basically unmodified except for the Moorish arcade added at the turn of the century.
Ramadhan – a time for reflection
Once again, Ramadhan, the holiest of months for Muslims, is almost upon us. The ninth month of the Muslim year is strictly observed by all Muslims as a month of fasting (and abstinence) during which they would abstain from the pleasures of eating, drinking and carnal desires and actions from sunrise to sunset. Ramadhan usually lasts from 29 to 30 days, after which Muslims celebrate Id-al-Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa in local language). Fasting is one of the five basic duties of Islam.
Hari Raya Open House
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language describes an open house as "a social event in which hospitality is extended to all." This could be taken to mean that the diplomacy of inviting one and all to your house to celebrate an event is not an unfamiliar practice. But one could conjecture that no where else in the world would you find an open house event as big and as merry as the ones held in Malaysia.
Hungry Ghosts roam the Streets of George Town
Hungry Ghost also known as the Phor Thor festival is an annual month-long celebration observed by the Chinese enclaves not only in Penang but also throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Phuket.
Merdeka – the National Day of Malaysia
In 1956, the then Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj led a delegation to London to hold talks with the British Government concerning independence for Malaya.
The Malayan delegation, comprising of four representatives of the Malay Rulers and four Alliance representatives, convinced the British Government to set a date for independence: 31st August 1957.
Of lanterns and mooncakes
"The Chinese people have never demanded a clear separation of the worlds of myth and reality – indeed, they are so closely bound up that it is hard to say where one begins and the other ends." – An Introduction to Oriental Mythology, Clio Whittaker et al
"The moon, along with fine wine and beautiful women, is a favourite topic for the Chinese poets." – Chinese proverb
Penang Dragon Boat Festival – race of the ancients
About 100 years ago, large clans of sea-faring migrants from China settled along the foreshores of Penang island, building pier houses on the fringes of George Town.
Many of these humble coastal plank settlements, like the old Bang Liaw jetty in Weld Quay, still exist till today, housing scores of fisher-folk families just as they did many decades before.
During the early period, every year on the fifth day of the fifth moon of the lunar calendar, the settlers would push out to sea lengthy specially built boats for a passionate day of racing. It was one of the great traditions they had proudly brought along from China.