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Kampung Compass Points Letters Arts-Ed: myBalikPulau is about oral histories, not definitive history
Arts-Ed: myBalikPulau is about oral histories, not definitive history PDF Print E-mail
Written by straits-mongrel   
Saturday, 12 February 2011 19:55

art-ed-balik-pulauTHIS community newsletter – myBalikPulau was published with just one intention: to enable children, elders and local residents to engage with their communal space by sharing memories, legends and experiences.

Arts-ED wishes to make it very clear that the newsletter myBalikPulau is NOT intended in anyway to be a definitive history. It is not to be taken on the same level as a history book and has never claimed to be one.

The MyBalikPulau newsletter only presents oral histories as accounted by residents of Balik Pulau as well as includes information on Balik Pulau from published sources, which were available to the researchers at the time of writing. Information not available at that time to the researchers was not and obviously could not be included.

The oral histories represent stories from persons who were interested and willing to share their stories. Care was taken to engage with all community and ethnic groups. There were people who wanted to share and there were also those who declined to share or had nothing to say, and thus the views of latter group of people may not be represented in this newsletter.

Oral histories are a reflection of memories, experiences, and stories passed from generation togeneration. They are an articulation of the teller’s perceptions.

Arts-ED is dedicated to social inclusiveness and believes that everyone has a right to tell their generational stories and pass on their memories.

Sources of Balik Pulau History adapted for use in the myBalikPulau newsletter:


1. At the time of the writing of the myBalikPulau paper, the research assistants from Arts-ED only had access to a collection of oral histories published by Pentadbiran Pejabat Daerah danTanah Daerah Barat Daya, in a bicentennial catalogue celebrating 100 years of the Balik Pulau District Administration 1987.

Besides other useful legends and stories in the above publication, information on early historyof Balik Pulau was adapted from one of the articles entitled “Sejarah Penghijrahan Penduduk-Penduduk Awal Balik Pulau” by Ruhana Ahmad. Here, the writer made the following conclusion about residents based on the oral histories collected:

“Hampir keseluruhan penduduk-penduduk asal yang ditemui di sekitar Balik Pulau mengakui bahawa asal-usul keturunan mereka ialah dari Pattani, Satul, Yala, Kedah dan Perlis”. (pp. 14)

2. Information relating to mass migration in the 1820s in the myBalikPulau newsletter is put together from the following written history publication:


i) Haji Buyong Adil. (1980). Sejarah Kedah. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka & Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia (pp. 53-71)

ii) Andaya, B. W. and L.Y. Andaya (1982). A History of Malaysia. London: MacmillanPress. (pp. 116-118)


3. Information relating to the events, history and biography of buildings/people/personalities are sourced specifically from Balik Pulau residents and institutional in-house publications.



A second known published ‘oral history’ was recently made known to Arts-ED in the month of February 2011 after the publication and distribution of myBalikPulau newsletter. Arts-ED is dedicated to the collection of oral histories and we welcome any new information which we believe should be publicized and incorporated in any new archives produced by us or by any other parties.

Vaughan, J.D. “Notes on the Malays of Pinang and Province Wellesley”. Journal of the Indian Archipelago & Eastern Asia, new series, 2, 1858: 115-175. (’s article is translated in a 2006 USM research report entitled “Sejarah Awal Pulau Pinang”, available on-line (

“Dengan dasar sedemikian, permintaan untuk membuka tanah terus diterima oleh orang Melayu dan bukan Melayu. Orang Melayu yang datang bersama-sama Francis Light dari Kedah diberikan tanah percuma di kawasan Datok Keramat, mungkin kerana pengaruh Datok Setia dari Kuala Muda yang memiliki tanah di kawasan tersebut sejak awal lagi. Kapten Scott diberikan kawasan di Gelugor dan membuka tanah untuk penanaman lada hitam di kawasan tersebut. Seorang saudagar Inggeris bernama Bacon membuka Ayer Itam. Beberapa orang Melayu juga disebut membuka beberapa kampong di bahagian barat daya. Pah Kechil dari Batu Bara (Indonesia) bersama-sama Jamaluddin dan nakhoda Che Salleh dari Lingga membuka Permatang Damar Laut, Nakhoda Seedin dari Deli dan Panglima Long dari Setul membuka Teluk Kumbar, dan Lebai Tampak dari Deli membuka Balik Pulau (pp.38-39)”

Original article by Vaughan, J.D: Vaughan transcribes an oral history told by one of the offsprings of an early Malay settler named ‘Haji Mahomed Salleh or Haji Brunie (a native of Brunie who had just returned from Arabia and was waiting at Quala Prye for a vessel bound for Borneo’). The original transcription of the oral history actually carries only one line related to Balik Pulau and mentions TWO persons involved in the clearing of land in Balik Pulau:


“The Malays that came over with Light got free grants of land and they cleared the jungle where Datu Cramat now stands. Seven years after the English came, a person name Danbie Chand cleared the land about Batu Lanchang. Two years after a Captain Scott cleared the land at Glughore; he was assisted by a man named Mahomed Prie of Sungora. Nacodah Intan cleared Batu Uban. A year after an European named Raboo(?) assisted by a Malay named Hakim Tudoh cleared Sunghie Nibong. A Malay named Loh Munu cleared Sunghie Kluang. Haji Mahomad Salleh three years after this, or about twelve after coming to Pinang, settled at Bayan Lepas with a man named Long Syed…(cont.) Nacodah Seedin, a native of Delhi, and Panglima Long of Sittool firstsettled at Tellok Commber. Tukong Ko of Purlis and Lebbi Tampak of Delhie, clearedBali Pulo. (pp.174 -175)”



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Last Updated on Saturday, 12 February 2011 20:30

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