Malaysia's two oldest cities — Georgetown and Malacca — have finally been listed as World Heritage Sites after 7 years of campaigning at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), which gave the status on the 7th July 2008
Its Paris-based World Heritage Council met in Quebec, Canada and confirmed the listings which will see historical and cultural properties in both cities to be listed on the Unesco World Heritage List.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng welcomed the announcement, telling The Malaysian Insider: "This is great news for Georgetown. We have to maintain our heritage and history and the state government intends to just that."
Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the success in the bid is a boost to multiculturalism and tourism for Malaysia.
In Georgetown, the core areas encompass the historical sites of Georgetown, including the Lebuh Acheh historical enclave and sites such as the Lebuh Acheh Malay Mosque, Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Kling Mosque, the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Sri Mariamman Temple, Khoo Kongsi, St George's Church, Assumption Church, St Xavier's Institution, Convent Light Street, Little India, the museum and court building, the commercial area of Beach Street, Fort Cornwallis, Esplanade, City Hall, the clan jetties and the port areas.
In Malacca, which was founded in the 1400s, historical sites near the St Paul's Hill, the 17th-century Dutch Stadhuys buildings, Jonker Street with its Dutch-era buildings, Jalan Tukang Besi, Kampung Morten and Malacca River have been recognised as part of the World Heritage Site.
Georgetown , Tanjung
Motto:”Leading, We serve”
George Town is the capital city of the state of Penang in Malaysia. Named after Britain's King George III, the city is located on the north-east corner of Penang Island and has about 220,000 inhabitants, or about 400,000 including the suburbs.
George Town was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for the British East India Company, as base for the company in the Malay States. He obtained the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah and built Fort Cornwallis on the north-eastern corner of the island. The fort became the nexus of a growing trading post and the island's population reached 12,000 by 1804.
George Town is informally known simply as Tanjung ("The Cape") in Malay and 喬治市 (Qiáozhì Shì) in Chinese. It was voted as one of the best cities in Asia by Asiaweek, ranked 6th in 1998 and 9th in 2000. More recently in 2007, it was ranked as the 10th most liveable city in Asia according to an international survey involving 254 cities worldwide by Employment Conditions Abroad Limited (ECA International). Back in 2002, it was placed 12th. A city is judged based on its weather, air quality, infrastructure, health services, housing, security and politics.
Due to strict rent controls, George Town retains many colonial-era shophouses to this day and is often considered an architectural gem. Most of George Town's population is of Chinese origin.
Since the repeal of the rent controls in 2000, many pre-war buildings have given way to new high rises. Heritage guidelines are still in its infancy and much needs to be done to conserve such treasures for the benefit of future generations.
George Town was built on swampy land that had to be cleared of vegetation, levelled and filled. The original commercial town was laid out between Light Street, Beach Street (then running close to the seashore), Malabar Street (subsequently called Chulia Street) and Pitt Street (now called Masjid Kapitan Keling Street).
The warehouses and godowns extended from Beach Street to the sea. By the 1880’s, there were ghauts leading from Beach Street to the wharf and jetties as Beach Street receded inland due to land reclamation. A new waterfront was created at Weld Quay, where commercial buildings sprang up.
The historic commercial centre was segmented into the banking and trading areas related to port activities which included shipping companies, the import and export trade, and the wholesalers who dominate the southern section of Beach Street until now. It has been listed as a World Heritage site since July 2008.
Beach street, Georgetown , Penang
The hub of George Town’s waterfront commercial and financial district
At the turn of the 19th century, the northern section of Beach Street and the adjacent Bishop Street were the ‘high street’ where the ‘modern’ European emporium and stores selling imported merchandise were situated.
Among the early foreign companies that located their offices on Beach Street were the Netherlands Trading Society, the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the Chartered Bank, Boustead & Co., Guthne & Co., Caldbeck & Macgregor, Behn Meyer, Sandilands & Buttery, G.H. Slot and the stores of Pritchard & Co., Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co., and others. Among the local businesses that were established here during this period were H.M. Nooradin, Tiang Lee & Co., Guan Lee Hin Steamship, Tye Sin Tat, Pinang Sales Room, Koe Guan and others. Penang’s first petroleum lamps were installed on this section of Beach Street by Huttenbach & Co..
Jewish Cemetery, Jalan Zainah Abidin
Grave of Thomas Leonowens (Anna and the King)
At Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah(formerly Northam Road)
Fort Cornwallis, the first British Settlement in Penang
On 2 August 2006, the federal government announced a plan to build a monorail urban transit system connecting George Town to Tanjung Tokong in the north and Bayan Lepas in the south. However, due to the defeat in Penang of the Barisan Nasional coalition after the 2008 General Election, the proposed development project was called-off after the mid-term review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan which was tabled in Parliament on June 26, 2008.
Malacca (Malay: Melaka, dubbed as The Historical State and also Negeri Bersejarah amongst locals) is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang. It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. It borders Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south. The state's capital is Malacca Town.
Although Malacca was once one of the oldest Malay sultanates, the state has no Sultan today. Instead, the head of state is the Yang di-Pertua Negeri or Governor.
Canals in Malacca
The state of Malacca covers an area of 1,650-sq. km. or 1.3 percent of the whole area of Malaysia. The state is divided into 3 districts, that is Central Melaka (Melaka Tengah) (314 km²), Alor Gajah (660 km²), and Jasin (676 km²). Malacca is located on the southwestern coast of Malay Peninsula opposite Sumatra, with the state of Negeri Sembilan to the north and Johor to the east. Malacca is also situated roughly two-thirds of the way down the West coast, 148 km south of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia and 245 km north of Singapore and commanding a central position on the Straits of Malacca. The state capital Malacca Town is strategically located between the two national capitals (of Malaysia and Singapore respectively) and is linked with excellent roads and highways. Malacca is yet to have its own train station, though the terminal at Tampin, Negeri Sembilan is easily accessible. It has a domestic airport terminal located in Batu Berendam.
The offshore Pulau Besar (Malacca), Pulau Upeh and Tanjung Tuan are also parts of Malacca
Sultanate of Malacca
The precise origins of Malacca are disputed. It appears that Malacca was founded by Parameswara, a Srivijayan prince of Palembang who fled Sumatra following a Majapahit attack in 1377. He found his way to Malacca c. 1400 where he found a good port accessible in all seasons and on the strategically located narrowest point of the Malacca Straits.
According to a popular legend, Parameswara was resting under a tree near a river while hunting, when one of his dogs cornered a mouse deer. In self-defence, the mouse deer pushed the dog into the river. Impressed by the courage of the deer, and taking it as a propitious omen of the weak overcoming the powerful, Parameswara decided on the spot to found an empire on the very place that he was sitting. He named it 'Melaka' after the tree under which he had taken shelter. Another version of the story says that Parameswara chose the name 'Malacca' from the Tamil word 'mallakka' which means upside down or on ones back. Old illustrations of the scene where the mousedeer kicks the dog shows the dog falling on its back into the river, hence the inspiration. Parameswara converted to Islam in 1414 and changed his name to 'Raja Iskandar Shah'.
Panorama of MalaccaIn collaboration with allies from the sea-people (orang laut) the wandering proto-Malay privateers of the Straits, he established Malacca as major international port by compelling passing ships to call there, and establishing fair and reliable facilities for warehousing and trade. Mass settlement of Chinese, mostly from the imperial and merchant fleet occurred during the reign of Parameswara, occurred in the vicinity of the Bukit China ("Chinese Hill") area, which had among the best Feng Shui (geomancy) in Malacca then. Sultan Iskandar Shah died in 1424, and was succeeded by his son, Sri Maharaja also called Sultan Muhammad Shah.
The prosperity of Malacca attracted the invasion of the Siamese. Attempts in 1446 and 1456, however, were warded off by Tun Perak, the then Bendahara (a position similar to Prime Minister). The development of relations between Malacca and China was at that time a strategic decision to ward off further Siamese attacks.
Because of its strategic location, Malacca was an important outpost for Zheng He's spectacular exploration fleet. To enhance relations, Hang Li Po, allegedly a princess of the Ming Emperor of China, arrived in Malacca, accompanied by 500 attendants, to marry Sultan Manshur Shah who reigned from 1456 until 1477. Her attendants married the locals and settled mostly in Bukit China (Bukit Cina).(See Zheng He in Malacca).
A cultural result of the vibrant trade was the expansion of the Peranakan people, who spread to other major settlements in the region.
During its prime Malacca was a powerful Sultanate which extended its rule over the southern Malay Peninsula and much of Sumatra. Its rise helped to hold off the Thai's southwards encroachment and arguably hasten the decline of the rival Majapahit Empire of Java which was in decline as Malacca was rising. Malacca was also central in the spread of Islam in the Malay Archipelago.
1854 Map of British Territory of Malacca
In April 1511, Afonso de Albuquerque set sail from Goa to Malacca with a force of some 1200 men and seventeen or eighteen ships. It became a strategic base for Portuguese expansion in the East Indies. Sultan Mahmud Shah, the last Sultan of Malacca took refuge in the hinterland, and made intermittent raids both by land and sea, causing considerable hardship for the Portuguese. In the meantime the Portuguese built the fort named A Famosa to defend Malacca (its gate is all that remains of the ruins at present). Finally in 1526, a large force of Portuguese ships, under the command of Pedro Mascarenhas, was sent to destroy Bintan, where Sultan Mahmud was based. Sultan Mahmud fled with his family across the Straits to Kampar in Sumatra, where he died two years later.
It soon became clear that Portuguese control of Malacca did not mean they now controlled Asian trade that centred around it. Their Malaccan rule was severely hampered by administrative and economic difficulties. Rather than achieving their ambition of dominating Asian trade, the Portuguese had fundamentally disrupted the organisation of the network. The centralised port of exchange of Asian wealth exchange had now gone, as was a Malay state to police the Straits of Malacca that made it safe for commercial traffic. Trade was now scattered over a number of ports amongst bitter warfare in the Straits.
The Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier spent several months in Malacca in 1545, 1546 and 1549. In 1641 the Dutch defeated the Portuguese to capture Malacca with the help of the Sultan of Johore. The Dutch ruled Malacca from 1641 to 1795 but they were not interested in developing it as a trading centre, placing greater importance to Batavia (Jakarta) in Indonesia as their administrative centre. However they still built their landmark better known as Red Building or Stadhuys.
Malacca was ceded to the British in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen on Sumatra. From 1826 to 1946 Malacca was governed, first by the British East India Company and then as a Crown Colony. It formed part of the Straits Settlements, together with Singapore and Penang. After the dissolution of this crown colony, Malacca and Penang became part of the Malayan Union, which later became Malaysia.
The Malays who are the original settlers of Malacca since 1400, form the largest community. The Malaccan Malays are rich in culture from their daily life to the building arts. The famous Malacca Steps or Tangga Melaka are common in front of many Malay houses in Malacca.
Every year Malays here celebrate the Muslim festival Eid ul-Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan the city will every year in full mood of celebration during the Ramadan and Shawwal months. They will serve ketupat and lemang as the main dish. Ketupat is a type of dumpling from Malaysia is made from rice that has been wrapped in a woven coconut leaf pouch which is then boiled.
Two of the most important museums in Malacca are the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum and the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum.
Malacca is well-known for its food. Most notable of all is the traditional Malay dishes like ikan asam pedas, sambal belacan and cencaluk.
Belacan, a Malay variety of shrimp paste, is prepared from fresh tiny shrimp of a species known as geragau in Malay. These are mashed into a paste and buried for several months. The fermented shrimp are then dug up, fried and hard-pressed into cakes.Belacan is used as an ingredient in many dishes, or eaten on its own with rice. A common preparation is sambal belacan, made by mixing belacan with chilli peppers, minced garlic, shallot paste and sugar and then fried. The aroma from the frying mixture can be unapalatable to Westerners who have not become accustomed to it, but is an absolute delight to the Asian connoisseur.
There is also Nyonya-Baba cuisine which is a mixture of Chinese (mostly southern Hokkien or Fujian influence), Portuguese, Dutch, Indian, British and Malay cooking with most dishes being spicy in nature. Interesting dishes of the Peranakan include Itek Tim (a soup containing duck and salted vegetables), Ayam Pong Teh (chicken casserole with salted brown-bean sauce which is usually served with potatoes) as well as the famous Nyonya Laksa. Chicken Rice Ball is another dish popular with domestic Chinese tourists.
Malacca's ethnic Portuguese population are the descendants of Portuguese colonists from the 16th and 17th centuries. Even to this day, many of the ancient traditions passed down since the Portuguese occupation are still practised, i.e. "Intrudu" from portuguese word "Entrudo" (a water festival that marks the beginning of Lent, the Catholic fasting period), "branyu" (traditional dance), "Santa Cruz" (a yearly Festival of street celebrations).
Ruins of A Formosa
The Portuguese colonists contributed dishes like Devil's Curry and Portuguese egg tarts to the town's already rich cuisine. Ikan Bakar (roasted fish) restaurants in Umbai, Serkam and Alai are also popular.
Fort A Famosa: Constructed by the Portuguese in 1511, it suffered severe structural damage during the Dutch invasion. The plan by the British to destroy it was aborted as a result of the intervention of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1808.
St. John's Fort: Reconstructed by the Dutch in the third quarter of the 18th century, the cannons in this fort point inwards towards the mainland because at that time, the threat to Malacca was mainly from inland rather than the sea.
St. Peter's Church: Constructed in 1710 under the Dutch administration, the church is the oldest Catholic church in Malaysia. Its facade and decorative embellishment is a mix of both eastern and western architecture. Its bell was delivered from Goa in 1608.
St. Paul's Church: Constructed by the Portuguese captain, Duarte Coelho, this church was named "Our Lady of The Hill", but was later turned into a burial ground by the Dutch for their noble dead, and renamed "St. Paul's Church". Currently the church is part of the Malaccan Museums Complex. The body of St. Francis Xavier was interred here temporarily before it was taken to Goa, India.
Christ Church: Constructed in 1753, the structure reflects original Dutch architecture. The building houses hand-crafted church benches, jointless ceiling skylights, a copper replica of the Bible, a headstone written in the Armenian language, and a replica of "The Last Supper".
Francis Xavier Church: This Gothic church was built by a French priest, Rev. Fabre, in 1849, to commemorate St. Francis Xavier who is also known as the "Apostle of the East". St. Francis Xavier is credited for his Catholic missionary work in Southeast Asia during the 16th century.
Stadhuys Building: Constructed in 1650 as the residence of the Dutch Governor and his deputy, the structure reflects Dutch architecture. It is today the "Museum of History and Ethnography". The museum exhibits traditional wedding clothes and artifacts of Melaka, dating back to its days of glory.
Jonker Street (Jalan Hang Jebat): This street is famous for its antique goods. It is also famous for its carnival-like atmosphere during weekend nights.
Portuguese Square Perhaps the right phrase to infer strong affinity to Portugal would be 'Mini Lisbon'. Located within the Portuguese Settlement, the square is the culmination of Portuguese culture in its full splendour and colours.
Cheng Hoon Teng: Oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia.
In order to attract more tourists to Malacca, the State government has built a number of museums to house its rich cultural heritage.