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[Vol. 33, Supp. 2, 2015]



Published by
Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia

Print ISSN: 0127-4082
Online ISSN: 2180-4273
Frequency: Biannually
Current Issue: Volume 33, Supp. 2, 2015
Abstracting/Indexing: EBSCO, Genamics JournalSeek, Google Scholar, MyCite, Bibliography of Asian Studies (BAS), Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ), JURN

Kajian Malaysia is listed in Scopus and ERA Ranked Journal List.

USM has extended content delivery format for its journals’ publication in print and PDF to include ePub, to address the growing need for more mobile accessibility.

News: Kajian Malaysia bags inaugural Ministry of Education CREAM Award
:: Aims & Scope

Kajian Malaysia is a refereed journal committed to the advancement of scholarly knowledge of Malaysia by encouraging discussion among the several branches of social sciences and humanities. The journal publishes articles, reviews and notes which by their content or approach, is of interest to a wide range of scholars. Although the journal would focus mainly on works in the field of Malaysian studies, articles with a theoretical content may also be published.

Kajian Malaysia is published by Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia by an autonomous Editorial Board drawn from staff members of the University. The Board is assisted by a panel of distinguished scholars from local and foreign universities.

The journal pursues a bilingual publishing policy (Bahasa Malaysia and English). The Editorial Board reserves the right to decide which language an article will appear in, and will undertake to provide professionally acceptable translations.


:: Publication Ethics

Kajian Malaysia adheres to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) standards on publications ethics. For further details please visit:


:: Current Issue

Volume 33, Supp. 2, 2015 (Special Issue)


Guest Editor: Abu Talib Ahmad

Title: The Northern Region of Peninsular Malaysia: Historical Heritage and National Identity
Author: Abdul Rahman Haji Ismail
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 1–25, 2015
- Abstract  

The essay discusses the history and formation of cultural and political identities in the northern region which are of great significance since the early days. It examines the region's historical background and population composition, subsequent changes that had taken place through migrations from within and outside the region. It also looks at inter-ethnic cooperation between Malay and Chinese secret societies in Penang in the second half of the 19th century, publications and newspapers published in Penang and Taiping which were pioneered by the Peranakans (Jawi, Arab and Chinese) and how these contributed to political awareness among the Malays and other communities, educational development in the northern region covering English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil schools and the state of Perak as the centre of political activism including the Malay left and an Islamic party based in Gunung Semanggol. The essay is based on a careful reading of the myriad secondary sources on Malaysian history, politics, economy and culture.

Keywords: northern region, historical background, cultural and political identities, education, publishing

Title: Disparate Identities: Penang from a Historical Perspective, 1780–1941
Author: Ooi Keat Gin
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 27–52, 2015
- Abstract  

Penang, one of the component states of Malaysia, represents a microcosm of the multiethnic, multicultural and multi-religious characteristics of the country's celebrated diversity. The state of Penang comprised the island and an adjacent rectangular strip of land on the mainland known as Province Wellesley (Seberang Perai). Contemporary Penang's racial diversity is undoubtedly one of its strengths offering a rich and colourful admixture of sociocultural traits and traditions. But more significantly is the peaceful, harmonious co-existence of the various ethnic groups living in close quarters to one another. Penang's sociocultural traits and diverse traditions traced their genesis to the establishment in 1786 of George Town as a port-of-call of the East India Company (EIC). As a British administered trading outpost, Penang drew merchants and traders from as far as northern Europe, North America, as well as from South, Southeast and East Asia. It was from such beginnings that George Town subsequently evolved into a cosmopolitan port-city. This article seeks to trace Penang's historical development from the social and economic aspects specifically of the contributing factors to its socio-cultural characteristics and identity of George Town and Penang in general. It will be argued that Penang since its formative days as a port-city had embraced and nurtured multiculturalism in all its facets that subsequently contributed to the development of disparate identities along ethnic lines. The years 1780–1941 covered the period from its establishment as a trading outpost to the eve of the Asia Pacific War (1941–1945).

Keywords: Penang, George Town, history, multiculturalism, disparate identities

Title: The Memory of the World Register: The Sultan Abdul Hamid Correspondence and Kedah History
Author: Mahani Musa
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 53–74, 2015
- Abstract  

From the historiographical point of view, the collection relating to the Sultan Abdul Hamid Correspondence has opened a new chapter in the written history of Kedah, particularly between 1882 and 1920. Filled with a variety of information be it politics, economy and social, this collection allows the researcher to revisit Kedah history from another angle. More importantly, the collection indicates how the palace and the elites combined their efforts and ideas to ensure the smooth operation of the state administration and at the same time to secure the sustained loyalty of the people, even when it was later placed under a British Financial Adviser appointed by Bangkok in 1905 or under Britain from 1909 onwards. The correspondence, reports, minutes and agreements compiled in this collection show the earnestness of the palace and Kedah elites in developing the economic, political, and social aspects of the state, besides keeping the good relations with the Siamese and the British in Penang. This collection reveals the wisdom of the local ruler in managing a state despite having to face many challenges. To the ruler and the elites it was paramount that Kedah's Malay identity should be upheld despite the challenge posed by western (and Thai) imperialism and colonialism.

Keywords: the correspondence of Sultan Abdul Hamid, Kedah history, historiography

Title: Pondok Education in Seberang Perai: Its Evolution and Uniqueness
Author: Jasni Sulong
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 75–90, 2015
- Abstract  

This essay focuses on the historical development and uniqueness of the pondok educational system in the northern region of peninsula Malaysia especially Seberang Perai. Unlike the more modern secular education, the pondok system does not guarantee employment for its graduates. Yet in the past it managed to gain much support from the local community and it became the preferred choice of the locals to educate their children. Despite its inaccessibility into the location, problems of transportation and the provision of very basic amenities, the pondok still managed to attract many students from the northern region, other parts of Malaya (later Malaysia) and outside the country. Some of the contributory factors identified for these phenomena were the strong local interest in religious knowledge, nationalism and the social standing of pondok teachers or Tok Guru within the local community as manifested in the writing of religious treatises which were either printed in Penang or Seberang Perai. This essay discusses the evolution of the pondok amidst a difficult environment and to explain how they managed to hold on until the present day. Attention is also directed towards the publication of religious treatises and their marketing in the Seberang Perai area and the connection of the publishing houses with local pondoks.

Keywords: pondok, Islamic education, religious treatise, publishing houses

Title: Bahasa Tanjong: The Heritage Language of the Jawi Peranakans of Penang
Author: Hajar Abdul Rahim
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 91–111, 2015
- Abstract  

Bahasa Tanjong (Tanjong language) in the present discussion refers to a Malay dialect which has been labelled as "Penang Malay" and "George Town Malay" by past researchers. It is a variation of the Northern Malay dialect of Peninsular Malaysia which emerged over two centuries ago in the George Town area of Penang, also known locally as Tanjong. It is a hybridised form of Malay that grew out of the language contact situation between two cultures, Malay and South Indian Muslims. The intermarriage between the two groups produced an Indo-Malay community known as Jawi Peranakans who are the native speakers of the dialect. Bahasa Tanjong, as with other languages is a product of culture and is inextricably bound to its speech community. Thus, while considered a Northern Malay dialect, its emergence amidst a locale that was considered a colonial cosmopolitan caused it to possess features that are distinct from other Malay dialects. Early descriptions of bahasa Tanjong, such as Hamilton's discussion of "Penang Malay" published almost a century ago, considers the distinguishing characteristics of the dialect as a deviation of the Northern Malay Dialect. This is the point of departure for this article that argues that the features are in fact cultural markers that contribute to the construction of the bahasa Tanjong identity. Its Indian linguistic heritage, particularly Tamil, as well as its inclination to allow influences from other languages, sets it apart from other Northern Malay dialects. The uniqueness of bahasa Tanjong mirrors the equally distinctive community of speakers to which it belongs, namely the Jawi Peranakans of Penang. As the heritage language and living language of a minority Malay community, bahasa Tanjong cannot help but be affected by various socio-political factors within the wider Malaysian context. This is addressed in the present article in analysing bahasa Tanjong as the heritage language of the Jawi Peranakans using archival information, early 20th century data on Penang Malay, and contemporary bahasa Tanjong data.

Keywords: bahasa Tanjong, heritage language, Jawi Peranakan, hybridised Malay, Penang

Title: Traditional Malay Pottery of Kuala Kangsar: Its History and Development
Author: Azmi Ariffin
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 113–133, 2015
- Abstract  

This essay discusses the pottery-production heritage of Kuala Kangsar, in particular the labu sayong (earthen ware or gourd pitchers from the Sayong area). This particular handicraft of the Perak Malays has a unique history of its own. From the historical aspect, the practice of pottery-production is believed to have started by the Malays thousands of years ago. Over the years the heritage has been kept alive and is still being practiced traditionally by Malays in Kuala Kangsar and produced for commercial purposes. Confronted with the emergence of new and modern pottery-production techniques, which is a challenge to the popularity of traditional pottery, the traditional technique of pressing and pinching has been sustained until the present day. Based on historical and archaeological sources and field study, this essay explains the origins, history and development of pottery-production in Kuala Kangsar. The essay also identifies the problems and challenges which traditional labu sayong practitioners have to face and steps taken by the government to ensure this traditional Malay handicraft is safeguarded and sustained so that it is not wiped out by changes over time.

Keywords: pottery production, Kuala Kangsar, traditional technique, labu sayong, commercial purposes

Title: Penang Chinese Customs and Traditions
Author: Goh Sang Seong
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 135–152, 2015
- Abstract  

The Chinese first settled in Penang about two centuries ago bringing along with them their cultural practices from China. However, with the passing of time their cultural practices had undergone significant changes especially among the Hokkien Chinese who comprise the majority of the Chinese community in Penang. This essay examines the customs and traditions of the Penang Chinese from the aspects of beliefs and prayer ceremonies, festive celebrations, artefacts and daily activities in a more comprehensive manner. The influences of modern education and geographical environments have resulted in the evolution of their own unique and distinctive variation of Chinese customs. Their festive celebrations, beliefs, practices and daily activities reveal the inheritance from their ancestors from China besides the incorporation of Malay sociocultural elements. In fact, some customs are peculiar only to the Penang Hokkien who had to survive in an environment that was different from China although these customs are still based on traditional Chinese concepts and philosophy. The difference is the way in which these customs and traditions are celebrated. Present day Penang Chinese remain loyal to traditional customs brought by their ancestors from China although there is evidence of assimilation with Malay elements.

Keywords: Penang Chinese, customs, heritage, Malay elements

Title: Penang Museums, Culture and History
Author: Abu Talib Ahmad
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 153–174, 2015
- Abstract  

The essay studies museums in Penang, their culture displays and cultural contestation in a variety of museums. Penang is selected as case study due to the fine balance in population numbers between the Malays and the Chinese which is reflected in their cultural foregrounding in the Penang State Museum. This ethnic balance is also reflected by the multiethnic composition of the state museum board. Yet behind this façade one could detect the existence of culture contests. Such contests are also found within the different ethnic groups like the Peranakan and non-Peranakan Chinese or the Malays and the Indian-Muslims. This essay also examines visitor numbers and the attractiveness of the Penang Story. The essay is based on the scrutiny of museum exhibits, museum annual reports and conversations with former and present members of the State Museum Board.

Keywords: Penang museums, State Museum Board, Penang Story, museum visitors, culture and history competition

Title: Farmers' Almanac and Traditional Wisdom: Rice Cultivation in the Northern Region of Peninsular Malaysia
Author: Rahimah Abdul Hamid
Source: Kajian Malaysia 33(Supp. 2) 175–190, 2015
- Abstract  

Paddy is an important plant as it is the daily staple for large segments of the global population. As such, in some cultures it is revered as a sacred object. To ensure abundant crops, farmers learn from nature thereby creating new knowledge on paddy cultivation. Ancient Malay farmers were sensitive to natural phenomena, observing and taking note of the effects of certain repeated phenomena. From this, they developed methods of segmenting the cycle of rice cultivation (farmer's almanac) and invaluable tips on paddy planting from traditional knowledge. They held steadfast to these practices in the hope of obtaining abundant yield on their crops. This essay shows the extent to which rice farmers still observe traditional knowledge in planting paddy. Nevertheless, modernisation and technological advancement has gradually eroded such practices while those that contravene the Islamic faith have been gradually phased out.

Keywords: paddy, kuku kambing, farmer's almanac, traditional wisdom