Times of Malaya when Pioneers, Planters, Miners, Civil Servants, Merchants, Police and the Military - both regulars and volunteers, during British Colonisation period, lived in the Straits Settlements of Singapore, Malacca and Penang and the Federated Malay States of Perak, Selangor, Pahang, Negri Sembilan including Unfederated States of Johore, Terengganu, Kelantan & Perlis. From 1786, the arrival of Francis Light; 1819, landing of Stamford Raffles with the Honourable East India Company & the administration of the Straits Settlements by British India through to being The Crown Colony in 1867 leading to WW1 and WW2 in Malaya. The Times of Malayan Emergency to the independence of Malaya in 1957 and the Republic of Singapore in 1965.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Penang Eurasian Cuisine at Nazarani Bistro, Lebuh Melayu, Georgetown

Penang Eurasian Cuisine is now available at Nazarani Bistro - Serving Authentic Eurasian or "Serani" Food such as Devil Curry, Curry Lada, Pork Vindaloo and the ever popular Sugee Cake ( Previously located at Penang Eurasian Association House as PEA Heritage Bistro)

Georgetown, Penang ; Catholics - Eurasians
Francis Light gave the Catholics a piece of land bounded today by Pitt Street, Bishop Street, China Street and Church Street. Immediately after Francis Light hoisted the Union Jack in Penang on 11th August 1786, he sent his ship 'Speedwell' to bring the remaining Malayan/Thai Portuguese in Kuala Kedah to Penang . They landed on the 15th of August, which is known, to Catholics as the Feast of the Assumption. The Catholic community, led by now Bishop Coude and his assistant Father Garnault settled in the vicinity and with 'Light's permission', Father Garnault built the first Church, named Church of the Assumption, on Church Street. This primitive Church was built of timber and roofed with attap. It was constructed on stilts because the site was a mangrove swamp that extended from the eastern shore of the town to present Carnavon Street. In 1787, on the death of Bishop Coude, Father Garnault became Superior of the Catholic Mission in Siam with the title of 'Bishop of Siam and Queda', and the Parish House for the Bishop and Priests was built on present Bishop Street.

French Catholic Mission Eurasians
The Malayan/Thai Portuguese Catholics were now being groomed under a 'foreign' French Catholic Mission, thereby making them the 'founding parishioners' of the revived Catholic Church and Faith under the French Catholic Mission as opposed to the organization of the previous Portuguese Catholic Mission in Malaya. By 1788 the Malayan/Thai Portuguese Community numbered about 200 and lived in the then popularly known 'Kampung Serani'. The word 'Serani' is the colloquial form of the Malay word 'Nasrani' which to them meant Christian and a direct reference to the Catholic Community then. 'Kampung Serani' in Georgetown was located in present Argus lane, Love Lane and Muntri Street. The Hokkien inhabitants in the early days of Penang referred to these streets as 'Sek-lan-ni hang' and the church as 'sek-lan-ni Le-pai-tng au hang-a' which could be literally translated as 'Christian Sunday Praying-place' (cf, Reutens,G.S., undated)
British Administration Eurasians
The coming of British Administration into Penang made a significant impact on the identity of the community with a traditional Catholic Portuguese heritage and those arising out of intermarriages with the Catholic and other Christian descendents of Dutch and British colonialists. In the 1820s the British in India introduced the term 'Eurasians'. This term was used to describe people of European-Asian intermarriages and to classify the children of British compatriots who were referred to either as Anglo-Indians, Indo-Britons, descendants of Europeans, or even Christian natives.
Eurasian Contribution
Penang Eurasians who joined the British in their new efforts of colonial expansion not only became powerful but were well paid too. They invested their money in profitable businesses throughout Malaya and appeared as entrepreneurs in their dealings. These families were soon wealthy enough to send their children for higher education. As a result, there were many teachers, technicians, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and engineers. There were others who occupied positions in the colonial services. The men, for example, worked in the postal service and at the port authority or were office clerks. The women were teachers in the girl-schools, nurses in the local hospital, while some were secretaries, were recruited to be clerks in the Government and Municipal services, and business houses (c.f. Augustin, J.F., op.cit.).
Georgetown 'Kampung Serani' diminished to just about Argus Lane as many Penang Eurasians moved to the government quarters along Burmah Road, Chow Thye Road and Phuah Hin Leong Road.
Kampung Serani - Georgetown  Eurasians ; The End
'Kampung Serani Georgetown' was no longer identifiable especially with the moving out of Eurasian retirees from the government quarters to the newly developed housing projects at Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bunga and Green Lane. The Church of the Assumption which was elevated to a Cathedral when the first Penang Bishop Francis Chan was appointed in 1955, prepared the way for the Malaysianisation of the Church. The church in Georgetown gradually lost numbers in terms of parishioners. Today it combines with two other Churches in Georgetown to form what is now known as the City Parish. A new parish was established with a new Church in the vicinity of Green Lane. Those who moved to Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bunga became the parishioners of the Church in Pulau Tikus.
Penang Eurasian Food at Nazarani Bistro, 69 Lebuh Melayu ( Malay Street), George Town, Penang
Tea Time at the Nazarani  Bistro
Philip Rodriguese ( Standing), Co-Owner of Nazarani Bistro  ( previous Owner of PEA Heritage Bistro) giving a brief history of the Seranis or the Eurasians of Penang

Popular Sugee Cakes served during Tea Time at Nazarani Bistro

Excerpts from “The History of Penang Eurasians, by Dr. Anthony E. Sibert PJK”
Augustin, J.F. Bygone Eurasia, Rajiv Printers, K.L. (undated)
Clood, H.P. Malay's First British Pioneer - The Life of Francis Light, Luzac & Company Ltd., 1948.
Church Records (undated)
DAUS, Ronald- Portuguese Eurasian Communities in Southeast Asia - Institute of South east Asian Studies - Free University of Berlin, 1989.
Lee, Felix George, The Catholic Church in Malaya, Eastern University Press Ltd. 1963.
Pasqual, J.C. A Trip Through Siam , Penang Gazette Press, (undated).
Penang State Government, Historical Personalities of Penang, 1987
Santa Maria, Bernard. My People My Country, The Malacca Portuguese Development Centre
Sibert, A.E. 'Pulo Ticus 1810 - 1994 , Mission Accomplished' unpublished manuscripts.
Souvenir of the Golden Jubilee of Bro. James, Christian Brothers' Schools 1887-1937
Publication, 1982.
The Eurasian Associations, The Eurasian Review, July 1934 and March 1937 .

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Johor Military Force ( JMF ) and Johor Volunteer Force ( JVF) in Johor Bahru, Unfederated State of Malaya

Colonel Dato Yahya bin Abu Talib ( Second in Command) Johor Military Force cir 1940

Johor Military Force  ( JMF ) and Johor Volunteer Force ( JVF)  in Johor Bahru, Unfederated State of Malaya

Johor Bahru, 1942 – the place where the Battle of Malaya ended and the Battle of Singapore begin…

1886, State Militia “Timbalan Setia Negri” was formed under the command of commissioner of police, Dato Abdullah bin Tahir, the Dato Sri Raja Setia. Since then, Johor is unique as the only state in Malaya with its own independent defence force. The militia comprised of 60 Malays and 20 Punjabs with Syed Mahmud bin Nong Yahya as officer.

1887, reorganised into regular military unit with Malay as infantry and the Punjabis as an artillery battery. The first commander was Capt. CNC Newland from the 2nd Battalion South Irish Division of the Royal Artillery. He was the commandant and Instructor and the first Malay officer commissioned was Major Daud bin Suleiman.

1905, Sultan Ibrahim commanded the militia with the assistance of Sgt Major Cullimore. A firing range was constructed and training exercises with British troops were conducted. The militia was named the Johor Military Force (JMF), a regular force.

In the same year, the Johor Volunteer Force (JVF) was formed from the Malay Civil Servants to instill discipline and pride in the Civil Service. There were weekly parade and annual camps for the volunteers.
The HQ of the JMF and JVF was at the Bukit Timbalan ( The Fort).

By 1913, the JMF grew in numbers and competence, with 271 enlisted men and officers – 171 in Johor Bahru and 100 in Muar.

With the outbreak of WW1 in 1914, Sultan Ibrahim offered the services of the JMF to the colonial government of Singapore which they accepted as the garrison of Singapore numbers fell with British forces committed to war in Europe.

The JMF had 190 officers and men posted to guard duty at strategic locations in Singapore to help the garrison. During the 5th Indian Light mutiny in Feb 1915, Capt Cullimore and 2 others from the JMF was killed. The mutineers who fled to Kota Tinggi in Johor later surrendered to General Tan Sri Ibrahim. When the mutiny was eventually put down, the Governor Sir Auther Young wrote to thank the JMF for their loyalty and bravery. The JMF continued to provide security to Singapore with a detachment of JMF stationed at Pulau Blakang Mati until the war ended.

1915, the JMF Enactment was passed to require the JMF to serve outside of Johor and in any part of Malaya.

By 1938, the JMF grew to 950 men against an authorised strength of 971. They were stationed in JB, Muar, Batu Pahat and Mersing. British officers continued to be seconded for service in JMF and they were armed with machine-guns equipped for jungle use.

In 1939, the JMF was a battalion of infantry with signals squadron, an artillery battery and a military band. The JVF consisted of a battalion of 2 companies and a signals unit. There were also the Johor Volunteer Engineers ( JVE) which was made up of mainly European civilians – managers and staff of rubber estates and commercial firms, with British officers in command.

Junior officers were attached to British and Indian regiments in Singapore for training and two batches of Cadet Officers were sent to the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun for Officer Training in 1940-41.
Sultan Ibrahim again offered services of the JMF to Malaya Command when war broke out in 1941. Johor Units were placed under the command of Major General Gordon Bennett.

The JMF then consisted of 2 battalions of 4 companies each. The commanders were Major General Sultan Ibrahim – the second in command was Colonel Dato Yahya bin Abu Talib and Lt Col Musa bin Yusof led detachments of JMF and JVF to relieve the 2/6th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force at Kota Tinggi.

JMF and JVF were alsodeployed as Lone of Communication troops from Mersing to Kota Tinggi, through Kluang and Batu Pahat and to guard airfields at Kahang and Kluang. JMF Signals was deployed in islands off Mersing as early warning posts for sea activites.

Extracted from “Johor : Local History, Local Landscapes 1855-1957” by Lim Pui Huen

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Medical Auxiliary Services MAS Singapore Malaya

Lee Kip Lee, extreme left. Picture probably taken in front of his house at 19 Amber Road where a pillbox was located at the sea front ( manned by SVC "A" Company in Dec 1941, later, by the Manchester Regiment)

Medical Auxiliary Services, Singapore Malaya

Lee Kip Lee probably joined the Medical Auxiliary Services (MAS) during his days in Raffles College when he enrolled in March 1939 at the age of 17.

December 9, Lee was informed to report for duty at the MAS Post at Raffles College. His cousin, Victor has been mobilized for active duty as member of the “E” Chinese Company of the Singapore Volunteer Force. He did not survive the war. Lee’s uncle Chua was also an Auxiliary Driver for the Passive Defence Service.

In fact, Lee’s father, Lee Chim Huk, was with the Singapore Volunteer Corps. At the age of 26, he was involved in the February 1915 Indian Mutiny of the 5th Light Infantry in Singapore. He was mobilized for active service but was only in static guard duty. He has a passion for ships and soldiers, being an ex volunteer, and would take Lee Kip Lee on the first Monday of each month to the Padang to watch the “Beating The Retreat” performed in the late afternoon by the band of the British Regiments garrison in Singapore. The ceremony had the band marching and counter-marching and ended with the lowering of the Union Jack and the bugles sounding the “Last Post”.

Lee Senior was fond of the Malay Regiment band – the members were fitted in songkok, white Malay baju and trousers, over which they wore a short sarong. He admired their precision marching and smart responses to commands.

Back to Lee’s encounter in the MAS, he was to be mobilized in December 1941 and to work 6- hour shifts providing transportation in an ambulance and first aid services. The daily scale of pay was: $1 for stretcher bearers, $1.50 for first-aiders, $1.65 for corporals and $2 for sergeants. The ambulance was a converted Singapore Traction Company (STC) omnibus. Lee’s sister, Alice, was a volunteer for the MAS post at the Kandang Kerbau Hospital.

The MAS post at Raffles College was split into groups – called combines, with a corporal in charge of a combine. The Raffles College was converted into a Military Hospital to take in convalescent cases from the Alexander Military Hospital.

By Feb 9 1942, Lee in his ambulance responding to a call at Bukit Panjang, noticed long lines of British and Australian stragglers making their way to the city, just hours after the Japanese army landed in Singapore from Kranji to Pasir Laba.

Feb 10, 1942, orders were given to nurses stationed at the Raffles College post to be evacuated to Kadang Kerbau Hospital. Raffles College will be taken over by the Indian Army as a casualty station and the MAS post would report for duty at the General Hospital in Sepoy Lines, Outram Road.

Instead of reporting to the MAS post, Lee decided to go home and his family decided to move back to No. 19 Amber Road from Cairnhill.

There, Lee met with men of the Manchester Regiment occupying a pillbox in front of the house, guarding the southern beaches of Singapore. They shared with Lee some tin food and informed him that the Japanese were not far away.

On 15 Feb 1942, Chinese New year’s Day, the British surrendered.

Extracted from "Amber Sands - A boyhood memoir" by Lee Kip Lee

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Queen Street, Heart of Singapore War time

Rudy Mosbergen, 1956 Melborne

Rudy would have been 11 yrs or older during 1941. In 1935, he was sent to CHIJ Kindergarten at age 5, and enrolled in St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) through St Joseph Primary. By mid of 1941, the impending war was looming and Rudy’s parents had an air raid shelter erected in their house at Queen Street.

The Singapore Volunteer Corps were also mobilized in 1941. Various units of European, Eurasian and Chinese reported first at the Drill Hall along Beach Road and then were assigned garrison duties across the island. Rudy’s neighbor, Private Joe Grosse, a volunteer was called up but did not survive the war. Corporal Benet Nerva and Corporal Kenny Eber, whom were in the Cathedral choir with Rudy, was also mobilized but survived the war. The Singapore Volunteers did not engage the Japanese in Malaya but only saw action in Singapore.

Even during this period, every Sunday there was the Regimental Military Brass Band or the Singapore Police Force Brass Band playing at the Waterloo Bandstand which was located near the Raffles Museum. The Britannia Club behind Capitol Theatre was for OR in the British Army. Indian Officers and sepoys were not allowed in. British Army officers mess was located in Tanglin Barracks and in Fort Canning. There were also more restaurants serving western style food to cater for the newly arriving military forces. Names such as Mooi Chin along North Bridge Rd, Tiong Wah and Hock Loke Kee ( renamed Rendezvous Restaurant) along Bras Basah Rd were run mainly by Hainanese Chefs; serving steaks, salads, fried rice, sweet sour pork and sago puddings.

Shortly before December 1941, the public had undergone emergency drills for enemy air-raids. The population would have accustomed to the sound of wailing sirens including the “take cover” and “all clear” signals. Rudy was taught simple first aid exercise. Even the cadets at SJI and RI (Raffles Institutions) were taught weapons training without ammunitions. The ARP and MAS which was the air raid precaution units and medical auxiliary services were engaging the people in fire-fighting exercises and red cross activities.

At the time of the surrender of Singapore, Sunday 15th February 1942, Rudy, with his Dad and his Grandfather continued to attend the 8am High Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. The Church was practically empty with only two families in attendance with the celebrant, Fr Michael Bonamy. Just as the mass ended, they have to rush home as the air raid sounded. Bombs landed in SJI but missed the chapel and the Brothers’ quarters, one landed in front of the Cathedral and one landed on the town convent, killing Mrs Paulo and Mrs Nora De Souza who have taken refuge there. They must have been the last civilians killed in the Battle of Singapore.

Extracted from “In the grip of a crisis – The experiences of a teenager during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore 1942-45”, by Rudy Mosbergen.

Convent of Holy Infant Jesus, Singapore Seremban Penang

Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, Seremban

January 1942, Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ), Seremban

Sister Pauline, Brother Joseph ( Principal of St Paul’s, Seremban), and the Parish priest set out across the padang to King George V School where the Japanese Military Governor had taken up residence. Sister Pauline made a case that it would be shameful if it was known that the Japanese Army had defiled a convent, a sacred place full of nuns and innocent children. She won the case and returned to the convent with a scroll to be hung on the convent main gate:

“Entry forbidden unless authorized by the governor. Soldiers found disobeying this order will be beheaded”

The Infant Jesus convents had a longstanding and distinguished role in Japan from the 1870’s, where the first students were Japanese ladies from the Imperial Court .In fact, all Infant Jesus Convents in Japan bore the prestigious name of Futaba (two leaves). As such, the governor would have heard of the convent or Futaba schools in Malaya and would help an institution with imperial links.

Extracted from : “A Cloistered war- behind the convent walls during the Japanese occupation” – by Maisie Duncan

Convent of Holy Infant Jesus, Singapore, Seremban, Penang

Mrs Maisie Duncan ( Mdm Maisie Prout )

August 1941 : Katong Convent Beach, Singapore

Wash of warm wavelets on the gritty sand

Bath-capped nin’s head bobbing up and down on the shallows

Muffled drumbeats rising to a crescendo

As khaki-clad, sinewy ‘drumsticks’ pound their way past the front

Fence and round the corners towards the boarders dormitory.

Its heavy-shuttered windows crash open

As if on cue to reveal a cloud of disembodied balloon faces

Shadowy against the interior gloom, straining towards the exterior

Sunlight and the jetstream of turbulence raised by the wild marching

Feet on the gravelled laneway below.

Hoots and laughter, wolf whistles and snatches of song

Greet the dramatic window-stage appearances of faces.

A current of excitement builds up between

The pale cloistered, curiousity-filled girls above

And the sunburnt, devil-may-care, slouch-hatted warriors below.

“Nice young ladies”, we were informed, “do not wave and call out to strange young men, especially not to soldiers” - Girl Boarders at The order of the Holy Infant Jesus (Les Dames de St Maur), Katong Beach Convent.

Extracted from : “A Cloistered war- behind the convent walls during the Japanese occupation” – by Maisie Duncan

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Malay States Volunteer Rifles (MSVR)

Ernest Kenneison, Bandmaster, Federetaed Malay States Volunteer Force (FMSVF)

Violet, Wife of Ernest (left) and Ernest Kenneison (right) cir. 1930s

Ernest Kenneison joined the army on 10 August 1895 and was enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment, to become a Sergeant Drummer. The battalion was sent to the Boer War and was involved in the siege of Ladysmith.

Ernest left the army when the regiment was in India – Fort St. George, Madras in 1905 where he joined the Indian Police and then to the Railways. He also served with the Kolar Goldfield Rifles and the Mahratta Railway Rifles.

1911, he went to Malaya and promptly joined the Malay States Volunteer Rifles( MSVR).He was mentioned in dispatches for actions in Singapore during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1915.

From 1917, he began to develop the Band and Drums of the MSVR. By end Dec 1920, the MSVR became the MSVF ( Malay States Volunteer Force) and the band was disbanded in 1925 due to fall in number of European drummers, not before being inspected by the Prince of Wales.

In 1924, Ernest got to work in the band of the Malay Volunteer Infantry ( MVI, a non European force which became part of the FMSVF). The MVI was given 11 drums in 1936 which were painted by Hugh Le Fleming. Besides building up the volunteer’s band and replacing drum skins at home, Ernest worked in the cement works and progressed to running his own cement business in 1921 – the Kenneison Brothers.

On 3 June 1933, Ernest was awarded the MBE. When the Malay Regiment was formed in 1933, Ernest gave them a gift of 6 silver bugles and every year, he would judge a regimental music contest at Port Dickson.

During the Malayan Campaign, Ernest and his wife evacuated Singapore by HMS Giang Bee on 12 February 1942. They were to leave by Devonshire on 5 Feb 1942, but owing to chaos at the waterfront and the streets, they missed the departure.

Ernest had left his business at Batu Caves since December 1941on the wake of the invasion, to Singapore. However, he believed that Singapore would hold and that he has to ensure his family were safely evacuated before he left.

HMS Giang Bee was blocked by a Japanese Destroyer 160m south of Singapore near Banka Island and was shelled after the occupants was lifted away by limited lifeboats.

Ernest was in the waters, hanging on to his granddaughter, Betty who was on a lifeboat. Unfortunately, his strength eventually sapped and he slipped away into the waters.

Extracted from “Playing for Malaya - A Eurasian Family in the Pacific War” by Rebecca Kenneison

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Sir Richard Winstedt, FMS Civil Service

Sir Richard Winstedt, KBE, CMG, FBA, D. Litt (Oxford), MA, Hon LLD (Malaya)

Sir Richard arrived in Malaya as a “griffin” in the Federal Malay States Civil Service. About late 1902, he was posted to Taiping as a junior administrator. His impression of the Colonel Walker, Commander of the Malay State Guides (MSG) based in Taiping, was pretty hilarious – “old hooky, as he was then known (his nose was broken by one of Kipling’s Lang men of Laut) was recalled through one of the many incidents:
The guides (MSG) fighting a few of the Malay rebels, after many empty days of pursuit, the Indian Sepoys fired wildly and shot one of the Colonel’s greatest friends, the Civil Commissioner, through the back. “My God” shouted the Colonel, “he’s killed. Open a bottle of beer.”
Colonel Walker was also figured in Miss Bird’s travel book, the Golden Chersonese.
“ Because a man wears khaki and a solar topi and has traveled 1,000 miles in a British Ship to a British Colony to live among British settlers, the world is disposed to fancy that his life bas been more venturesome than life in London. Are not Conrad and Somerset Maugham witnesses that the Malay Archipelago pullulates with romance?”
“Much as I enjoyed the free local life of outstations, my temperament hardly fitted me to find romances there was in types a born novelist would have loved; the Scottish planter, the Australian miner, the New Zealand surveyor, the Irish doctor, the Cockney Inspector.”
Sir Richard’s personal motto following a Malay saying:
“If you really want (to do) something, there are 1,000 ways achieving it”
Another favourite saying and quote:
“When you tread the soil of a country and live beneath the skies, follow the customs of that country”

Extracted from Sir Richard Winstedt’s “Start from Alif, Count from One”