Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Wednesday January 19, 2011

Red hot family business

MALACCA: The Wong family have turned making Chinese New Year red lanterns into a thriving and lucrative business.

“Practically all the red Chinese lanterns decorating the heart of the historic city are designed and manufactured by my family,” a proud Wong Liang Fatt, 62, said when met at his shop along Jalan Bunga Raya yesterday.

Lantern mania: Wong’s wife Rena Foo showing off the red crystal lantern which is a popular decorative item this coming Chinese New Year.

He said the family, which deals in and imports festive decorations, decided to set up its own factory to produce red plastic Chinese lanterns in 2004.

Decorating one’s home with red lanterns has become a must for Chinese families during Chinese New Year.

“Since almost half of our business involves sales of red lanterns, we decided to produce them ourselves,” he said.

Wong added the family has come up with 10 types of lantern designs, with the red crystal lantern a popular item this year.

“We have manufactured about 200,000 lanterns and sales have been very encouraging so far,” he said adding that orders have come from buyers from around the country as well as Indonesia.

Wong said a talking toy rabbit from China is a popular item this year in light of the coming Year of the Rabbit.

“Children love it as the toy rabbit will say Gong Xi Fa Cai each time a coin is inserted,” he said.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Inaugural Riau Air Flight Set To Give LTAM A Boost

MELAKA, Jan 7 (Bernama) -- The inaugural Boeing 737-500 Riau Air flight from Riau to Melaka International Airport (LTAM) in Batu Berendam Friday is expected to give the airport a boost, said Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.

Mohd Ali, who welcomed the delegation from Indonesia, headed by Riau governor, Datuk H.M. Rusli Zainal, said it was a historical occasion for the airport.

"This represents a new start to Malacca's relations with Riau and will bring big changes in the use of LTAM for international flights," he told a media briefing here after the ceremony to welcome Riau Air's flight.

Mohd Ali said because the country's main airlines, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Firefly, had yet to use LTAM as a hub the state had given Riau Air the opportunity.

He said Melaka-Pekan Baru relations would be strengthen economic relations, including tourism and medical tourism.

Riau Air, formerly Riau Airlines, is wholly-owned by the provincial government of Riau. It operates over 60 flights daily from Pekan baru to 10 destinations in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Rusli said Riau Air would begin its thrice-weekly Pekan Baru-Melaka flights next Monday.

He said with the introduction of the Boeing flights, the airline would reconsider its use of Fokker planes.

Rusli said other than LTAM, Riau Air was also eyeing air connections between Pekan Baru and Johor Baru via Senai airport.


Friday, January 14, 2011


Bullock carts were common in the streets of early 20th Century Malaya
Bullock carts were common in the streets of early 20th Century Malaya
There were no motor vehicles then and people used bullock carts for travel and to transport goods, writes ALAN TEH LEAM SENG

BULLOCK carts were one of the earliest forms of transportation in the country. The driver and passengers sat in the front section of the two-wheeled vehicle and goods were placed in the back. Traditionally used to transport bulk quantities of agricultural products like padi and straw, bullock carts were also used for garbage collection in major towns before World War Two.

But it was no ride in the park. The cart driver was often at the mercy of the stubborn animals. When they were overworked, no amount of persuasion could make them continue the journey. More often than not, the driver had no choice but to wait patiently until the beasts were ready to move again.

This ancient mode of transport is still in use today in places where modern vehicles are considered to be too expensive or when the terrain is too rugged. Closer to home, tourists in Malacca can still go for a ride in a gaily-decorated traditional bullock cart (kereta lembu).

Bullock carts were said to have been introduced by Indian traders during the Malacca Sultanate. Some even sported a woven attap roof to protect against the elements. It looks like the bullock cart in this photograph was transporting firewood to private residential homes in Penang.

Firewood was the main source of fuel for cooking in the early 20th Century as electric and gas stoves had yet to be introduced.

This picture postcard, however, was incorrectly captioned as a scene in Singapore. This background building shows the family temple and townhouse of Kapitan Chung Keng Quee located in Church Street Penang.

The house, said to have been built in the 1890s, contains a wondrous selection of woodcarvings, sculptures, stone work and decorative cast iron. Keng Quee, who came from China to look for his father and elder brother, subsequently became the Kapitan China of Perak and a prominent member of the Perak State Council. The term Kapitan China was originally a Portuguese title for the representative of the Chinese enclave.

Keng Quee was once the leader of the Penang-based Hai San secret society which fought the Ghee Hin in the protracted Larut Wars. The three Larut Wars (1861-1872) were fought to gain control of the rich tin fields in Taiping. His fourth son, Chung Thye Pin, was said to be the last Chinese Kapitan in Malaya when he was conferred the title by the Sultan of Perak in 1921.

Read more: TRAVELLER’S TALE: Going places in a bullock cart


Tears and joys in restoring pre-war shophouses

  • At No.112, Lorong Hang Jebat, an old brick wall is found in the yard. Its upper part is cylindrical while its bottom part is square. Does anyone know where this well comes from? Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

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MALACCA: Many shophouses along the old street of Malacca Town are pre-war buildings and all of them are situated in the core area of the world’s culture heritage. Due to this reason, all renovation plans have to be approved by a special legacy unit of the government and no arbitrary reconstruction or maintenance is allowed. Therefore, owners who intend to “restore” the original appearances of their old houses are advised not to over-reconstruct them.

High costs

One of the owners of the old houses, Lai Hung Qian has inherited several old houses that belonged to his father in the past and all of them are situated in the core area of the Malacca World Heritage Site. He is renovating two of the broken old houses and suffering from the construction process. However, he is also gaining some happiness and satisfaction while looking at the old houses that are gradually showing their unique beauties.

He is headache with the problems of searching for materials, carpenters and historical data. Moreover, it is very costly and the most thorny problem is the original materials are hardly be found nowadays.

He is trying to renovate the old houses according to their original appearances even if it costs him a higher cost. He admitted that there is no economic benefit from doing so. However, he does not care about it.

the old look of Malacca has been destroyed

He calls on the public to take actual action in protecting the ancient city instead of just shouting slogans.

He found that at least 30% of the original appearances of Malacca have been washed away rapidly since the past few years. If the people of Malacca still do not know how to protect and cherish it, Malacca would soon disappear.

According to his experience as well as the reconstruction situations of some old houses, he found that the lack of governmental funding in renovating the old houses is the main reason of losing the original appearance of Malacca.

He said that renovating an old house is unbelievably costly and without the governmental funding, people have to adopt a modern and more economical way to complete the renovations. Therefore, it is hard to meet the requirements of restoring the original appearances.

Damages caused by foreign investors

In addition, many of these old houses have been reconstructed by foreign investors through the most economical and rapid way. They then sell or rent the houses at high prices and this type of price speculation has again damaged the original appearance of Malacca.

He believes that the situation might be different if monetary and technical assistance as well as encouragement are provided by the state government.

RM30 million to restore old buildings

The Malacca state government has received a restoration fee of RM30 million ringgit from the federal government. The fee is mainly used in restoring the Malay houses, mosques and the property owned by the Islamic Council.

Lai is currently renovating two old houses, he could hardly estimate the cost needed and the time of completion. He is not in a hurry to complete the projects as he does not want the monuments to be damaged out of carelessness.

One of the old houses is located at No.7 Jalan Kampung Kuli and he admitted that it was his second time stepping into the house after a few decades. He found that the owner of the old house in the 1920’s was a Chetti. It was later sold to the Xu family and it had also been a property of a bank before.

Comparing to the old house in the 1930’s which is located opposite to it, the house at No.7 Jalan Kampung Kuli is obviously older than it.

Lai is surprised to find a traditional Chinese clay sculpture on a wall in the yard. He intends to recruit a master to build a Chinese Pavilion there but the master still has not come yet after a year.

He spent RM270,000 to buy the house at No.112, Lorong Hang Jebat many years ago and he might need to spend RM400,000 to renovate it. The back of the house is just next to the Malacca River.

The St. Francis Xavier Church with a beautiful Gothic steeple on it can be seen through the back windows.

Lai found that this house is unique as it looks like traditional houses in Netherlands and it also contains the British colonial style. The previous owner of it was an Indian and the windows were made by Indian carpenters while elements of Chinese architecture can also be found outside the door.

He has also found an ancient well with special design beneath the courtyard. It is made of bricks and is nearly 10 feet deep. Its upper part is cylindrical while its bottom part is square. He is desperate to know the origins of the well and he is still leaving the well there as he is doing a research about it.

According to him, there is no economic benefit to renovate the old houses and the government should provide fund and encouragement to the public to restore old houses. Otherwise, it is difficult for them to conduct the renovation projects.

He has no idea of what to do with the old houses after they are completed. Finally, he said that he might rent them to the art galleries, artists, cafes and boutique hotels that concern about hygiene. (Translated by LIM LIY EE/Sin Chew Daily)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Fancy footwork

SPLURGE: Melaka is famous for its beautiful handmade nyonya beaded slippers or kasut manik. These slip-on heels are decorated with tiny beads, individually sewn on to create colourful and intricate designs of flowers, birds, butterflies and such. The fine workmanship and painstaking effort that go into each shoe are the hallmarks of the highly accomplished skills of its maker.

Vintage beaded slippers can cost a few hundred Ringgits, and into the thousands, because the Peranakan glass beads used are no longer available. The authentic versions use tiny seed beads that are sewn on bead by bead, whereas the modern ones use larger and shinier bead versions.

DEAL: It may not be authentic nyonya heritage, but Melaka wooden clogs, or terompah, are typically Malaysian. The authentic ones are simple in design – with a slight heel and a base made of sturdy wood with a piece of red plastic strapped across the top. The clogs used to be worn around the house, especially the kitchen area. These days, souvenir shops sell clogs with hand painted designs. It’s possible to get smaller, fridge-magnet versions of this footwear.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Monday January 10, 2011
Malacca axes SFI relocation proposal


MALACCA: The state government has shelved a proposal to relocate the 131-year-old St Francis Institution, currently sitting within the Unesco World Heritage site, to Pulau Melaka.

This follows a deluge of requests on Facebook to allow the school to stay put at its current site.
Former Franciscans had campaigned against the idea of relocation on a Facebook page, We Dont Want St Francis Institution To Be Relocated, which garnered 1,000 responses in five days.

Status quo: The 131-year-old St Francis Institution will remain at its present location.
“I was surprised at the swift and overwhelming response from the school’s former students and the public,” said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who has agreed to overturn the earlier decision.

“I thank them for voicing their thoughts,” he told The Star, when contacted while on transit in Dubai on his way to attend the 39th World Boy Scouts Conference in Brazil.
“I understand that over 90% of them disagree with plans to relocate the school. So, the school can stay put,” he said.

On Wednesday, Mohd Ali said the state government would consider offering land to SFI and another school, SK Banda Hilir, on Pulau Melaka, touted as Malaysia’s first Twin Island City Centre.

The waterfront development project involves the reclamation of two islands, approximately 0.5km off the coast of Malacca new town centre.

The reclamation of the first island and construction of a 30m bridge linking it to the mainland has been completed.

The chief minister’s statement caused a furore among former SFI students, who launched their Facebook campaign to get feedback on the issue.

The issue of relocating the school, which has over 1,200 students, was first mooted in the early 1990s, following plans to convert the area and nearby St Paul’s Hill to a tourist hub. It was deferred following protests by former students.

Mohd Ali said the suggestion was meant to preserve the school building as an education museum, which will now be set up on Pulau Melaka instead.

Responding to the change of heart by the state government, SFI director Rev Bro Ambrose Loke said he was happy with the decision.

“I am glad the state has accepted the views of the former students and the public,” he said.
SFI Old Boys’ Association president Ong Eng Khiam said he was also happy.

“There is no need to turn SFI into a museum as it is already a living museum, with a rich legacy and is a tourist landmark,” he said.

Webmaster: I hope this decision covers SK Bandar Hilir (better known as BHES) as well. BHES is about 103 years old and we want a living school, not a museum devoid of the pupils. History is not about buildings and artifacts but buildings with people. The schools are where different generations of pupils have passed through their gates and nurtured by dedicated teachers.

We do not want these schools to be re-located in Melaka. In KL, famous schools such as Bukit Bintang Girls' School and St. Mary's were re-located because they sit on invaluable land in KL. These schools were there before development and they were part of the landscape of the city.


Friday, January 07, 2011

Be innovative and protective in tourist products
Posted by: NK Khoo

Melaka and Penang's historical past and multiracial cultures are hidden gem for attracting the eye balls of local and foreign tourists. Revolving tower, duck boat and ferris wheel are commodities anyone can buy with the money and install in their city like in Singapore. As an expatriate working in Kandy, Sri Lanka in late 90s during the climate of civil war. I wish to share how Kandy revived their traditional dance, religious rituals and arts through an annual Esala Perahera or Esala Procession. Today this religious ceremony has grown into one of the most splendid sights in Sri Lanka and Southern Asia. This carnival attracting a lot of devotees and foreign tourists each year, the Kandy city is jam-packed during the 5-day festival.

Penang and Melaka with their rich and diversified cultures and festivals should be repackaged and promoted to international tourists. For instance, Thaipusam and Nine Emperor Gods processions can be promoted actively and aggressively to India and the Great China markets, a combined of 2.5 billion population.

The bullock cart, a common transport in 60s and earlier in Malaysia should be capitalized and re-introduced as a tourist product especially in the Melaka Heritage City. Melaka traditional bullock cart is unique and beautifully decorated, imprinted a lasting impression on me when I first saw Melaka bullock cart in 70s as a little school boy.

We can learn from the Vigan City, another world heritage city in Philippines where horse cart or horse drawn carriage is one of the top tourist attractions. There is a bag hanging on the back of the horse to collect its droppings for maintaining street cleanliness at all times. I believe more tourists will prefer to ride the unique bullock cart city heritage tour than trishaw and thus it can also create more jobs for the local people.

Another suggestion to Penang and Melaka state governments is erecting shielded corridor to link up all major heritage sites to protect tourists from the tropical vicious heat and rain.

Chingay was first printed on the papers in 1921 in Penang was "hijacked" by Singapore as their annual cultural parade held in Orchard Road. Malaysian government is far lagging behind our neighboring nations to keep and register our cultural intangible assets in our shores with the UNESCO. Indonesia had registered batik and kris as their cultural heritage, and I afraid Singapore will register Chingay as their cultural asset very soon. We may shouting Malaysia is truly Asia, but at the end nothing is left for us by the present trend.


Melaka bullock cart rides are still available in Ayer Keroh. Used to be at Padang at Bandar Hilir which has now been developed into a shopping mall.

Melaka also used to have a cultural event called "Mandi Safar" in the 1960's and 1970's which was a cultural event. It was held at Pantai Kundur (Pantai Puteri) and there were decorated bullock carts, pantun, dondang sayang etc. Very popular until some said the cultural event was not in line with Malaysia's religious values. :(

Now, Mandi Safar is not being promoted.

If we can revive Mandi Safar, it can be another tourism product which can feature our diverse cultures, re-energise the pantun, dondang sayang heritage together with the decorated bullock carts. Pantai Kundur (Pantai Puteri) is a perfect place for this event. It can be an annual affair for visitors and locals to enjoy the sea breeze and heritage aspects of Melaka.

If Rio de Janeiro in Brazil can have their annual Madi Gra, New Orleans their annual Jazz festival or Venice their January Festival, Melaka can have our own "Mandi Safar" and Penang, their year end "Chingay" festival.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Thursday January 6, 2011

Projects choking Malacca

MALACCA is a fast developing state with its own historic attractions.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam has taken Malacca to greater heights.

Over the years, new museums have been opened and many projects to attract more visitors and foreign investment have either been completed or are in the midst of completion.

However, excessive land reclamation, including the man-made island of Pulau Melaka, is of concern.

One can see how far away the sea now with land reclamation from Padang Pahlawan right up to Mahkota Parade and Melaka Raya.

It will not be a surprise if reclamation proceeds further in the name of development.

Is inspection conducted on a regular basis by the state government on buildings built on reclaimed land to ensure their safety and the safety of the public?

Whether there will be underground soil movement or erosion, or water movement that may cause harm in future has yet to be established.

Malacca’s proximity to Sumatra and possible impact from earthquakes is also cause for concern.

The Pulau Melaka project is ongoing, and the state government has decided to erect a 85m tall ferris wheel from China on it.

Again, the issue that needs to be addressed is the safety of the public.

During weekends, public holidays and school holidays, traffic is very heavy especially on the roads leading to Padang Pahlawan, Mahkota Parade, Jalan Bendahara, Jonker Walk and Jalan Bunga Raya.

To make it worse, Majlis Perbandaran Melaka inposes charges for parking during the weekends, too.

This does not help Malaccans who wish to spend quality time with their families and children.

Malacca also needs to improve its transportation system to complement the current town buses, taxis etc.

Malacca needs a light rail train (LRT) system to reduce the number of cars on the road during weekends.

I hope the state government takes into consideration our concerns before embarking on projects centred at one common area such as Mahkota Parade and Melaka Raya which may benefit the state but bring hardship to Malaccans.


Kuala Lumpur.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Wednesday January 5, 2011

CM: Pulau Melaka to house 85m-tall substitute giant wheel from China soon


MALACCA: A new ferris wheel to replace the Eye On Malaysia will be erected on Pulau Melaka by a local private company this year.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam confirmed that Melaka Wonderland Sdn Bhd has agreed to source for a 85m-tall ferris wheel from China and are currently negotiating its purchase.

“The state has also decided to make Pulau Melaka the location for the new ferris wheel.

“This is because the former location in Kota Laksamana is near the heritage buffer zone,” he told reporters after visiting SJK(C) Bukit Beruang yesterday.

He noted that attempts to erect a new ferris wheel at the former site would delay the project as approval from the Paris-based Unesco World Heritage Committee is needed.

“There is a height restriction for development in the area and it would take at least one to two years for approval from the World Heritage Committee,” Mohd Ali said.

He said the state would either rent or lease a site on Pulau Melaka for the company to set up the new ferris wheel.

“We will not be involved in the project as it is a private initiative,” he said.

The 62m-tall Eye On Malaysia, a joint venture between MST Ad Suria Sdn Bhd and state-owned Eye On Malaysia Sdn Bhd, ceased when its Belgian owners Fitraco MV took possession of the wheel last Jan 7 over an RM18mil debt owed by MST Ad Suria.

The wheel was removed by Fitraco in October last year. Meanwhile, Mohd Ali said the state is also in negotiations with the Royal Malaysian Police to convert the present Melaka Tengah District Police station along Jalan Quayside and the Melaka Tengah Narcotics Department near Jalan Gereja into tourist attractions.

He said both police stations are located within the state’s core heritage zone and there are plans to make them into museums and tourist attractions.

He added that the state is ready to offer land on Pulau Melaka for schools such as SK Banda Hilir and St Francis Institution, both located within the state’s core heritage zone, and the police if they wish to relocate.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Monday January 3, 2011

RM1.46b island project revived

MALACCA: It was a good start to the New Year for the state when the RM1.46bil Pulau Melaka twin reclaimed island project was revived after a decade of financial and legal woes.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the state would start work on the abandoned project, off the coast of Bandar Hilir by September.

Among the works included are resolving issues faced by some 1,009 buyers who were left in a lurch when the project was abandoned several times since its launch in the mid-1996.

Beauty nearly wasted: A bird’s-eye view of the abandoned Pulau Melaka, off the straits of Malacca. The multi-billion ringgit project will finally resume by September this year.

The state took possession of the island project from the developers and won the case at the Court of Appeal on Dec 28.

“The state can finally proceed with reviving the project as those involved in the case will not appeal to the Federal Court,” he told reporters after a ceremony marking the state’s possession on the island here yesterday.

He said the project involved the construction of some 400 commercial shop lots comprising a total of 1,534 units.

Most of the development work on the island have been completed with 521 units completed out of the 612 under Phase I.

Another 598 units have been completed out of 726 units under Phase II, Mohd Ali said, adding that there were 160 units yet to be developed under Phase III.

He said the island would be managed by the State Economic Development Corporation and Chief Minister Incorporated with main contractors Kejuruteraan Asas Sdn Bhd completing work for the sewage treatment system.

The state would meet the affected buyers next month over the issue, Mohd Ali said.

“They can opt to continue with the purchase of their units or alternatively offer them to the state,” he added.

Covering some 40ha, the project was launched in mid-1996 by Pulau Berkembar Sdn Bhd Talam Bhd, a subsidiary of Talam Corporation Sdn Bhd but was abandoned in the late 1990s following the global economic down turn.