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Posts Tagged ‘Abdullah Al-Yunani’


On the evening of 14th of June, my mother received a call from her cousin telling that my great grandfather, Mohd. Yaacob bin Abdullah (or his Chinese name, Tung Foo Piew), son of Abdullah Al-Yunani was admitted to the Kuala Terengganu Specialist Hospital. My father decided to leave for Terengganu early the next morning. However, we received another phone call half an hour later and my mom’s cousin told my mother that Appa had passed away. The news was a real shock to us because although Appa was over 95 years old, he was healthy and active.

Appa, scouting through the ages…

We left for Terengganu that night after Maghrib and arrived at his house at around 1:30 am. He was buried later in the morning at about 10 am at the Perkuburan Tok Pelam.

My great grandfather was a really fun and jolly man. Everytime we visited him, he would tease my little brother calling him Muhammad Ali, the boxer. He loved ice-cream and chocolate. My father would always bring him ice-cream and Appa would eat his with relish.

And he would welcome us to his little library and sometimes pulled out the books he had recently bought that he knew we would love. He had an amazing memory despite his age.

Appa’s books

The last time we visited him, he took out a book on martial arts for my brother and a book on Astronomy for me. He could remember all of the books I had borrowed, sometimes with their complete titles. And he had given me a few books too, with lovely long notes on the first pages, written in ‘old Malay’. I was always thrilled everytime he gave me a book, particularly because I knew that the special note would be waiting for me.

Appa was really an active man. He was an active member of the ‘Ahli Persaudaraan Pengakap B.P Terengganu’ and two years ago, he joined the scout’s jamboree to Thailand. He was a committee member of the Terengganu Civil Service Pensioners Association.

Appa was a wonderful man and we would all miss him a lot. May Allah bless his soul.

My great grandfather, Mohd. Ya’acob bin Abdullah with his wife, Raja Kalsom

Amin.

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Pak_Loh_in his bookshopOver a hundred years ago, my great, great grandfather, Abdullah Al-Yunani came to Kuala Terengganu from China and decided to stay there. He opened a bookstore named Abdullah Al-Yunani or better known to the locals as ‘Keda Buku Pok Loh Yunang’. Ask a person who was brought up in Kuala Terengganu, most of them would know the bookstore and they might even tell you that the shop was where they bought their schoolbooks long, long time ago. [Read what Awang Goneng wrote about it here]

Over a century, the business grew from a simple bookstore selling newspapers, a few kitabs (religious books) and some other books to a fully air-conditioned modern bookstore offering WiFi service. In the 1970s the bookstore was renamed Kedai Buku Ahmad Omar and later to Alam Akademik Sdn Bhd.

AA-tingkat bawah pelanggan-sMy grandfather, Ahmad Omar bought the shophouse more than 30 years ago but was forced to surrender the  land to the state government for only RM200, 000 (because of land acquisition)! Did we agree to such a low price for the freehold prime land right by the very main street of the town? Of course we did not; in fact my grandfather had never ever wanted to sell the shophouse for what ever price for the shophouse means so much to him. But what choice did he has when it came to land acquisition by the state government?

My grandparents complained the matter to the Terengganu Chief Minister (at the time), Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad and he promised that the shophouses’ owners will be offered to buy new shophouses at a very special price (as part of the deal) to compensate our lost, as the RM200,000 paid to us was far below the market price at the time. He also promised us that the government will let us stay in the building until they provide us a new place in the area. Trusting that Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar’s words as official promises by the Terengganu state government, my grandfather did not make any further official complain. Furthermore as a strong UMNO supporter, my grandfather trusted the Barisan Nasional state government fully and never ever imagine that UMNO will disown their promises even though it was not made on paper!

AhmadOmar-SetPolMBMy grandfather used to work overseas for the first Malaysian Prime Minister YM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj as a diplomat with minister’s status and later joined the politics as a state assemblyman and also as the political secretary to the (then) Chief Minister, Tan Sri Ibrahim Fikri. And for the sake of UMNO my grandfather had no choice but to accept the offer without making a legal complain.

On the 19th July, 2009, 34 shopkeepers in Jalan Bandar and Jalan Banggol, Kuala Terengganu (including Alam Akademik) received a notice from the Lembaga Tabung Amanah Warisan Negari Terengganu to vacate the shophouses before 13th August, 2009. [Read about it in my previous posting here] When we questioned the notice and the promises made by the state government years ago at the time we were forced to surrender our land to the state government for a mere RM200,000; they said that they are not responsible of providing us a place to move to and have the right to force us out since the land is now theirs. What happened to all of the sweet promises they made before?

going next and goneThe sad news was that the LTAWNT or the ‘supposedly’  heritage board of the state of Terengganu  is planning to demolish the heritage row to widen the road and to build new building in the name of modernisation. Isn’t it odd that the heritage board do not seems to understand the value of heritage? When the other states of Malaysia such as Melaka, Pulau Pinang (Penang) and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur are proud to restore their heritage buildings, the Terengganu heritage board looked at the heritage building as an eye sore. How sad…..Who can we trust to protect our heritage then? The heritage row is still standing strong and beautiful; and still fit for business. And what about the historical value of the building?

As Uncle Awang Goneng wrote in his blog ‘Kecek Kecek‘, ‘Now they are planning to pull down a row of shophouses in Kedai Payang, buildings that are more than a hundred years old that are still fit for purpose and need, at most, a tender loving touch and a coat of colour. Thus our history can be saved.’

stadium-bernama4The Terengganu state government had already destroyed lots of heritage  historical buildings to make way for new buildings. They claimed that they are building a modern ‘city’ and they do not want ‘old and shabby’ buildings in the city of Terengganu. If they are trying to say that the shophouses looked old and shabby, think again. It does NOT look shabby at all, in fact its quality is even better than the new ‘modern’ buildings which are facing problems (including those that collapsed) as we can see day after day. The state government should instead use the fund to restore and beautify the heritage row and protect the heritage historical building for its invaluable historical value to the people of Terengganu.

The reason why the government cannot see all these is because they are all money-driven. They are greedy and materialistic, all they think of is money, money, money. [see various comments on Kecek-kecek’s Mabuk Kepayang]  And not even one assemblyman nor their representatives (except one from the opposition party) came to visit us. It was reported in the newspaper that the Chief Minister Y.A.B. Dato’ Ahmad bin Said visited some villages and helped them to fix roofs and did all kinds of other things. But why can’t he meet us even once? asked CikguFauzi of MAMPAT (view here on Youtube as reported by http://buletinonline.net/ or as reported by NTV7)

HM bantah notis“He is a coward” said one of the shopowners during the many protests held. “Is he afraid of what people may think of him? He knew it was wrong of him to do what he is doing but who cares? He’ll get the money and it’s not him who will suffer… it’s us“. To all those out there who care enough for the heritage and history, please help us to preserve the place. You could ask help from organisations, NGOs or perhaps inform this to a person you know. The least you can do is perhaps to write about it and spread the message. You’ll never know how powerful words can be.

Read news and articles on “Selamatkan Warisan Sejarah Trengganu – Save Our Historical Heritage

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Both of my parents are from Kuala Terengganu and studied in Sultan Sulaiman Primary and Secondary School (refer to The Sulaimanians). And I’m proud to say that my father was once the head boy of Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School.

Anyway, I was born and grew up in Kuala Lumpur; hence I am not that familiar with Terengganu or Trengganuspeak (refer to ‘Solo Bolo’, Trengganuspeak and ‘Trengganuspeak 2‘). Nevertheless I do love Terengganu very much. Among my favourite places in Kuala Terengganu is my grandparents’ house. I’ll always remember the big smile on Atuk’s(my grandfather) face the moment we reached there. I love them very much. There are so many things to do over there- huge area to play and run around plus the endless dishes and kuih (sweet cakes) that can’t be found in Kuala Lumpur. My sisters and I would sleep in their room and spent our time talking and sharing stories.

The next place in my list would be my grandmother’s bookshop- Alam Akademik or Keda Pok Loh Yunang (as Uncle Awang Goneng remembered it! – Growing Up in Trengganu page 73). My siblings and I love books and we would be spending long hours at the bookshop. The best part is nenek (grandma) would give us lots and lots of books to take home to Kuala Lumpur!

Great Grandpa with Uncle Awang Goneng during GUiT launch Dec 2007 at Alam Akademik

Another favourite place of mine is my great grandfather’s house [a son of Abdullah Al-Yunani]. I always called his house ‘library’ for he has a huge collections of Reader Digest’s books. He always remember the type of books that I like and would excitedly picked the ones that I have not read (especially the new tittles). Great grand dad even gave me some books from his collections (which I know he loves so much) – knowing that I really would love to have them.

Sunrise at Batu Buruk beach, Kuala Terengganu - Dec 2006

And of course I love going to the beach. Dad would wake us up very early in the morning to watch the sun rise at Pantai Batu Buruk (the nearest beach). We would build sand castles, gather lots and lots of seashells, fly our kites or play with frees be. In the afternoon we can buy khepok leko, ikang celuk ttepong and a lot more.

At Batu Buruk beach Dec 2006

Dad like to take us around Kuala Terengganu . We visited his schools, Pulau Duyong, places where they make kerepok leko etc. Once dad took us on a boat ride along the scenic Terengganu River and on our last trip we drove around places mentioned in GUiT including Uncle Awang Goneng’s house in Tanjung (close to Atuk’s kitab shop-Jendela Ilmu).

My other fond memories of Terengganu is of course the food. Buah Khadeh (so far I still can’t pronounce it right), khepok leko, akok, rojok betik and a lot more that I don’t even know what their names are. Unfortunately mum says that rare fruits like buoh ppisang (not pisang or banana) are not easily found. I really wish that I can taste those fruits one day. Thank you Uncle Awang Goneng for telling the stories of rare fruits and old kuih of old Trengganu, the history and my roots, and thank you for teaching me Trengganuspeak. But so far I still cant speak ‘in Trengganuspeak’ and having a hard time trying to understand them!

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Today I knocked down a jar of peanuts! I wish that am not so careless. I hate to be called ‘solo bolo’- that is a Terengganu word for being extremely careless. Even though my parents are from Terengganu, I neither can speak nor truly understand the Terengganu dialect- what a shame. Growing Up In Terengganu (GUIT) by Uncle Awang Goneng introduced me to Terengganuspeak and my roots.

My mother is Abdullah Al Yunani’s great granddaughter (GUIT page 73) while Sri Amar Diraja ( Man of oob, GUIT page 285) is her ‘granduncle’ . We are from the Sheikh Duyung’s family. Now the ‘Pok Loh Yunang’ bookshop is still there but is now known as Alam Akademik Sdn Bhd (where GUiT was launched) managed by nenek (my grandmother).

GUiT Launching Program Book - cover

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