Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Penang road signs - signs of ethnic division?

UMNO Tanjung persoal papan tanda pelbagai bahasa

The above was taken from Utusan Malaysia’s headlines. It says that Raja Munir Shah Raja Mustapha, the deputy head of UMNO Tanjung questioned the State’s government’s motive in having road signs bearing more than just one language – namely, in Jawi, Chinese and Tamil.

Four days ago, on 24 Oct, the State government announced that it has approved the City Council’s plan to have road signs in the three local languages for those roads identified on the heritage listing. The heritage program would only be carried out in Georgetown.

Raja Munir doubted that the purpose has been for tourism. He accused the DAP-led State government for playing on trivial but populist issues. What about something substantial for the people, he challenged Lim GE’s government!

Besides, he argued that romanised Bahasa, apart from being the official national language, can be easily read by anyone, so what’s the purpose for the current bullsh*t - okay, kaytee has spiced up the language (pun not intended) a bit.

He advised us not to be taken by DAP’s guile as its (DAP’s) primary objective is to disrupt the multiracial harmony. He demanded that the State government respects the national language.

Then his Youth Leader Jeffri Salim said that they (presumably the Youths) will protest against those multi-language signs and demand they be removed. He said basically the same stuff, that people must respect and be proud of the national language yadda yadda.
I hope he doesn't do anything silly, like vandalising the new road signs on heritage listed thoroughfares.

If I recall the purpose of the heritage names, it was more than just having road signs in, as an example, the Chinese language. The nearly 200-year old Chinese names for the roads would be put up as well.

For example, until I read the Star Online article on this recently I wasn’t aware that Gu Gan Tang (cattle’s pen) is Lebuh Muntri (Chulia Street). For years, my mum and aunties would be yakking away about this and that in Gu Gan Tang (pronounced Gu Garn Tarng) without me ever realizing it was Lebuh Muntri, a street I knew quite well.

Lebuh Muntri (Chulia Street) or Gu Gan Tang

OK, I know places like Sin Kay or Campbell Street, which has the best Hainan chicken rice in Penang as well as the best gnow charp t'ng (beef tripe soup with radish, carrots and herbs) - also knew a sweetie there ;-) - but even today I do not know which road or lane is Snua T’au Kay, but which no doubt I had travelled zillions of times along it.

Campbell Street or Sin Kay

So the heritage names would be most welcome, without endangering the prime position of Bahasa Malaysia.

I advise UMNO Tanjung to cease and desist from driving a wedge between the people of Malaysia. Let’s look for commonalities rather than differences.

Read also: Memories down Penang Road (1)

photos taken from http://penangpage.com/chuliast/ - thanks!


  1. Snua T’au Kay is Swatow Lane, which is still officially bears the name -its where the New World Park food court is situated, just off Burma Road.

    If the UMNOputras had their way, all the historical roads in Penang would be renamed after some UMNO figure or another.

  2. Thanks, I had a suspicion it might have been Swatow Lane, but the similarity in 'sound' (Chinese & English) seems too coincidental, so I thought "alamak, can't be lah", but still, thanks for helping me locate it (in my visualization). I recall a lovely curry mee (KL-ites call it laksa yeeech) stall there.

  3. UMNO has only paid lip-service the last 50 years to true multi-culturalism while bending over backwards to appease anything Islamic, Arabic amd Middle East.

    Thus a section of KL can slowly be converetd to 'make it convenient' for Arabs. But God forbid that anything be really done to foster real multi-culturalism, especially among the citizens. This is a form of intended apartheid, except that it has become a vote-losing issue for UMNO.

    So, to the new Penang Govt, I say 'Way to Go' since there is nothing illegal about it. And screw what UMNO thinks.

  4. Conserving the Heritage, conserving the names... I don't see anything wrong over Georgetown having road signs with other language...

    But seriously, I'm KL-ite and We call curry mee curry mee... =.= Cantonese "ga li min", we don't call it laksa... it's the Singaporean and southerner that call it laksa... and because KL nowadays has so many people coming from all states in Malaysia, some stalls started to use Laksa and paired it up with curry mee... :)

  5. Oh BTW, in Singapore, the chinese-hating government put up chinese roadsigns over the Chinatown area... and If i'm not wrong Tamil roadsigns in Little India area... for tourism purpose lah~

    I feel very sad that the UMNOputras had erased off most of the old and precious streets name in KL... :( Just last year, the Kepong new village's road name has been changed to some weird Jalan (Sarawak-place-name)... F*king retarded... and they talked about changing Jalan Alor to that whatever Venus... sigh...

  6. Sua tow kay is not Swatow Lane lah....it is Kimberly Street... it is name Sua tow kay bec. it is a street where the Teochew (from Sua tow) lives...as evident in the fact that there is still a old Teochew restaurant (Goh Huat Seng) serving favorite Techew dishes such braised duck and "or nee"...

  7. This is another rebranding exercise in the same vain as the recent change of Jalan Alor to Jalan Kejora.

    I am against it. It will only divide people by race. The use of the Chinese names should have ended with the older generation. Instead now it will be a situation where one child insists that the rightful name of the road is Lebuh Muntri whereas another child will insist it is Gu Gan Tang.

    For businesses, they must choose the name used by the race they are dealing with.

    These situations only divide people by their race.

    "Let’s look for commonalities rather than differences."

    You are right. And nothing is more common between all Malaysians than our national language. Newer generation should be accustomed to using the road names in the national language or at least a common language... why want to spoil such a fine common ground and introduce race into the issue.

    There is other more appropriate time to regard Malaysia's diverse cultures.

  8. Latest Anon,

    So you mean the chinese translation of Kuala Lumpur should be changed to direct translate, and Penang too?

    The names given to all these streets are of historical and cultural importance mind you... and we are talking about a world heritage site over in Georgetown...

    How does business' naming actually make it a race-oriented, when nowadays you get 3 or more languages over the business signboards?

    How actually does a Chinese or Tamil signboards which serve as a historical marker actually affect racial unity huh?

    In Sarawak, Roadsigns are in billingual... But mind you the Sarawakians are far less racists than you (I mean we) filthy western Malaysians...

  9. Wow.....Dow rocket up 889 points.

    To me the worst is not over yet, the volatility is because greedy Funds are taking this current gloomy situation to manipulating the market, pushing up and down.

    To those intend to invest now just be caution, don't fall into trap

  10. The old Chinese folk names for historical Penang streets provide a rich glimpse into a long lost past. Many of them were literal names, describing the kind of activities which occurred there.

    This was the place where cows were kept, there was the place bullock-carts came to get clean water.

    I know little about the Malay folk names, but I'm sure there's historical significance there as well.

    I just can't see how reviving the historical context of the roads can threaten racial unity or the position of the National Language.

  11. Kata nak MALAYSIAN MALAYSIA....takkan pasal chinese nama kat jalan pun nak bising kot...

  12. I really feel this street sign business is not a big deal from either side of the debate, but speaking of racial divisions... not to be a prick about this... but kt, maybe you owe khalid ibrahim a reassessment, if not an apology, given recent events?

  13. int, sure - in fact I have been observing his policies and pronouncements - in fact I support his water policy - will blog on that at some stage

  14. anon of 1:16 AM, October 29, 2008 - The question of Bahasa as the national language has never been in doubt. Keunggulan Bahasa tetap, terjamin dan terkukuh.

    But one of our principal commonalities is our rich culture where there is already a blending over the past 200 years to produce something uniquely Malaysian. The heritage naming of selected thoroughfares in Georgetown (not the entire Peanang) is an acknowledgement of our history where many people come together to form a nation.

  15. anon of 11:42 PM, October 28, 2008 - thanks for your info on Kimberly St. I am a Teochew nang so next time I am in Penang I'll be looking for Restoran Goh Huat Seng, which incidentally is a very Hokkien name lah ;-)

    Hah, 'or nee' - wonderful stuff - I believe the 3 food stuff the Teochews love most would be duck, yam and kiam ch'ai (pickled veg) ;-) and I have to add this too, sweeties of course wakakaka

  16. I am a Penangnite. When I read this anonymous comment.

    "Instead now it will be a situation where one child insists that the rightful name of the road is Lebuh Muntri whereas another child will insist it is Gu Gan Tang."

    I hate to admit it but that will be the probable outcome.

    A said that West Malaysians tend to think along racial line. I agree. And the new road signs will only play to it. I think we should stick the old road names.

  17. I thought Kimberly Street is traditionally a Hainanese/Cantonese area, like most of the Campbell St vicinity (of which Kimberly St is part of)?

  18. and by the way KT , those UMNO Tanjong chaps you mentioned are not the Original Malays , they are the Mamaks . These bunch of idiots are also the ones if I am not mistaken who said that Penang was not founded by Capt Francis Light . They are also the ones who demonstrated in Komtar just after the GE .

    Lets forget about them , let them make themselves as fools for all to see .Penangites are not stupid people , the more they shout the harder it will be for them to retake back the state govt .

    And Gu Gan Tang (pronounced Gu Garn Tarng) without me ever realizing it was Lebuh Muntri, a street I knew quite well. It is not Lebuh Muntri as you think it is , it is CHULIA Street . Lebuh Muntri is a parallel road to Chulia street and its located behind the Goddess of Mercy temple and ends at the junction of Leith Street ( just wondering whether you know where is Leith street) . In case you do not , you know where is world optical ? a very old company selling eye glasses .
    Pitt Street , where the Goddess of Mercy temple is located is called Ea Ka or coconut leg .

  19. xiean ,

    glad to see your comments again . maybe we can meet up over a cup of coffee one of these days . i frequent Gurney Plaza very often as I live nearby , if you happen to bring your family for shopping there , we can meet in one of the coffee outlets .

    on the DOW thing , when do you think is the right time to go in ?
    I am of the opinion that it is around this week as the DOW will probably stage a continued rebound after the Nov 4 elections which I hope Obama will win . The market is already rock bottom and the values of most stocks reflect prices in 1998 or 2002/3 . Like to hear your opinion as I would like to dollar cost averaging my holdings .

  20. water policy? That free water? Nay, disagreed wholeheartedly...

    Not only it makes Selangor draws more water from other states (i.e. Kelau Dam issues), the fact that rich people can have 10 houses in Selangor while poor people have 1/10 house (many people sharing one lah) shows how free water actually benifited only the richs...

    It's time for Malaysian people to realize how important water is, as an environmental resources... Penang has the cheapest water price, with highest water usage per household... solid fact~~

    As for PKNS issues? See what Haris Ibrahim got to say, agreed wholeheartedly... ;)

  21. bentoh, am not talking about the free water policy - that was earlier which I didn't bother about. I believe KI did recently mention about getting the control of State water back into public hands, namely the government. If I am correct that he did say that, then I support him, & the sooner the better.

  22. Hello ktemoc,

    chaptokam is right, Lebuh Muntri or Muntri St. is not Chulia St. It runs parallel to Muntri st. and its behind my alma mater, St Xavier's Inst. (soon to be be changed to a more Malaysianised name). Muntri St. is adjacent to Love Lane (Lorong Cinta?) and off course, Leigh St...without these nostalgic names, where would Pg be?
    Anyway, these roads had more Hokkien names but our colonial masters (British not UMNO) decided to change them as they could not pronounce it..Tiong Lor (Macalister Road), Tuah Lor (Burmah Road) etc.

  23. chaptokam and samson, thanks - all slowly coming back, cheers.

  24. send myregard to raja munir shah mustapha. HAFIZ FROM KELANTAN