Does Penang need to divorce its colonial past?

The last thing I want is to be labelled a social commentator. This, my friends, is a bitching blog, not social commentary. But I admit I had been talking about Penang more than I should.

Can’t help it. I LOVE PENANG very, very much.

Why oh why must people keep on harping about changing road names and etc? The latest is to change this wonderful, magnificent, angmoh sounding name of Georgetown to Tanjung Penegri and another person suggested another name. Once, an ex-politician was hentam-ed because she was accused of glorifying our colonial past or something. (Did I tell you not to believe a thing I said? My info is not accurate nor reliable.)

I get all edgy when people want to change a road or town name to reflect that we are not related to any angmoh. Personally, I feel blessed that these angmohs did come to our country once. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be speaking English but Yingrish. At the very least, we must acknowledge that they built good schools for us. They sent shiploads of teachers to England to study.

I like it when I was in Singapore or Hongkong and can identify the same facade police stations, railway stations, ferries and even clock towers. I don’t think I would like it if the angmohs did not fancy Penang and gave it a pass in 1786. Then probably, we will be like our northern neighbour and I wouldn’t be here, writing in English. I maybe selling chickens by the roadside. “Ah Hniah, ai beh keh boh?’

So, please la, retain the names. We do not really remember who is George or who is Gurney but we are used to the names. There are many ways we can honour our freedom fighters and historians. One of them is not to argue in public whose name should be used. Can you imagine Gurney Drive turned into Nee Drive? Please, Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee, our first Penang Chief Minister certainly deserves more than a simple mention of a stretch of waterfront selling rojaks, stinking of sotong bakar and loaded with rats?

Moreover, road signs may become too long when we have so many tan seli latok loktor (insert name) (insert name) (insert name).

*I put many links here to promote my very nice blog, Penang Faces. Ok ok, the ‘very nice blog‘ is not my own word. I hear it all the time.*

*muahahaha, Kuala Lumpur, now and forever, nothing to argue* So, do you think we can just erase our colonial past by erasing the names? In the first place, must we even forget the past?

18 thoughts on “Does Penang need to divorce its colonial past?

  1. I live near what was Jalan Scott. About 10 years back, MPPP changed it’s name to Jalan D.S.Ramanathan. I remember coming back from school to find the road name blacked out, bent out, banged by whatever etc etc. Finally the MPPP put the D.S. Ramanathan road name thingie halfway up a light post. Clever. 😀

  2. Saintis – Betul, aku tak bohong, masuk dalam paper jugak. Tanjung Penegri macamlah lagu Melayu yang dulu-dulu kan? Reminds me of Di Tajung Katong, airnya biru… Ish, now I can’t get the song out of my mind.

    Anuar – Yeah, even high up, they still deface the thing. But finally, they ran out of spray paint I think. LOL.

  3. Just sad LIlian. I loved Penang and it had a lot of wonderful childhood memories for me. History is part of us no matter how you change the name. Does the govt . hope to hide history by just changing names??? and what does this new name mean???
    Maybe next time you have a unsavoury politician he can come back with a different name???

  4. OMG…just one day I never bukak ur blog…suddenly gila banyak post wan =P

    One of my early childhood days was spent in Penang as well..that’s why I’m going back there again end of this month =P

  5. If they want to change the name Georgetown to Tanjung,whats wrong with it. After all we go for changes…we have our face botox…our breast siliconed…our XXX elongated & so on…..

    So go ahead who cares,they can change names but
    will the place actually change?…line clear is still there….masjid kapitan kling is still there…khoo kongsi is still there…. penang road bubur kacang is still around. Macam kicap pakai botoi baru,katakan.

    So can do what U pleased… MPPP ooi!!!!!

  6. S-Kay – You have a good holiday ya! Need any tips, don’t hesitate to write to me.

    Romantic – Well, it baffled me too.

    Ali – Selamat Datang. Depa nak buat apa, biak pi hor? Peduli apa noh? Tapi, sekali-sekala kena jugak kutuk sebab kita ada suara kan? Hahaha, re-branding lah ya?

  7. weirdnye…my comment tak masuk!

    Anyway, I too hate it when they change names of roads. It’s like older generations will forever call it Scott road but the younger ones, they will learn it as Jalan D.S Ramanathan. They’re trying to get rid of foreigners from our history. That is what they’re trying to do.

    Imagine one day Gurney Drive becomes Medan Ghani

    I’m going to Penang end of this month…whoop whoop. Can’t wait! I spent my early childhood there and I really miss going back there. Penang…here I come!

  8. ohhhhhhh……bodohnya akuuuuuuuu……I was looking at the bottom of the page checking to see whether my comment went thru onot…rupa rupanya latest post is on top..LOL

    Sorry Lilian for flooding your box…ahahhaha

  9. Ugh. Some years back, they changed the name of my street back in Taiping from Harrison Street to Jalan Lim Swee Aun. 10 years on, they’ve decided to change back. So now our signboard reads “JALAN HARRISON (Jalan Lim Swee Aun)”.

    For some reason, some of our policymakers think they can make life better by “erasing” our colonial past. Feh! It’s all kiasu crap, of course.

    I say, if you want a Tanjung Penegri then go and develop a new township and call it just that. At least someday into the future when our children’s children look back, they can see their roots in Georgetown and they can see the contrast our generation made in Tanjung Penegri or whatever.

  10. Haahha, S-Kay, it is ok. The more the merrier.

    James – Yeah, Taiping is another nice town with the majestics buildings. If not for the angmoh and those lovely trees they brought into our country….I agree with you, we should strive to build more new structures, like KOMTAR for e.g. LOL and start naming them all the names they fancy.

  11. I think revisionism is stupid and crazy. Remaning things doesn’t change a thing and will not alter the past. Instead think of it as our heritage, the colonial past may not be all fair to the locals but if the East India Company never opened Penang and developed it we wouldn’t have the best char kuey tiao in Malaysia will we? ;D Putting obscure politician and local names smack of what the Red Guards did to chinese streets by renaming streets with revolutionary names. Leave things be as it is, there are plenty of new roads elsewhere that can be named with new names of local flavour, keep what is already there as it is and live with it I say.

  12. Somehow LineClear’s nasi kandar don’t have the same kick already. I used to be able to feel the “heat” in the stomach for up to a day.

    Northam Road, Pitt Street, Western Road, Brick Kiln Road.. and many more.. all gone, not to say the new name is any better. Longer, harder to remember. Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Jalan Utama (what?) aah heck, add stress only..

    They change name probably because they cannot pronounce english names.. try saying northam road really fast.

  13. I can never forgive those people who took away the names of beaches at PD. I kinda forgot what the old names but they replaced it with some ‘pantai renung bulan’ or some shit.

    Two Malaccan islands had the wonderful catchy names of Pulau Babi Besar and Pulau Babi Kecil. Now? Pualu Besar and Pulau Kecil. WTF? I mean, babi is just an animal. Just as a bitch is a female dog. These people ah, i tell you, are sooooooo cooped up in their own heads that they fail to see the bigger scope of culture that is our language.

    bleargh, I hate politics and politicians alike. they all want to make a ‘big change’ just to push themselves up the ladder. Next thing we know, they might want to rename ‘kain satin’ into ‘kain lap ketiak’ or something.

  14. Neeshen, Kervin and Silencer – I so agree with you guys. I wonder do they consult the rakyat about this? Or they just do what they fancy? It is such a pity that some of the majestic names, not necessary some person’s name, were changed.

    Silencer – Renung Bulan? How creative. Pantai Cinta Berahi to Pantai Cahaya Bulan is acceptable la. Are you referring to Morib?

  15. Now new news under the bright sun.

    Some pathethic politikus just want to make an issue out of it. After all, this is the wakil rakyat Penang people choose. Looking at the wakil rakyat quality then you know Penang voters quality, ROFL. (gasp…..)

    There is no good reason of changing the road name, a latuk is nothing compare to the people everyday live . In economy point of view, changing road name will cost millions. All map must be reprint, preprinted letter must throw away, your billboard must change, etc.

    Unless the people support it, Politikus has not rights to change ANY road name, wasting people money.

  16. I too dont agree changing of road names in Penang. The Council can name new constructed roads with any name they like, but LEAVE THE OLD ROAD NAMES ALONE. But recently when I was in George Town, what I saw was the roadsigns in both Malay & English languages. For example;

    Beach St Burmah Rd Moulmein Close

    I think this is good progress.

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