Find of the Day: Rewriting Penang History With Ahmad Murad Merican’s ‘Batu Uban: Sejarah Awal Pulau Pinang’
“History is written by its victors.”
Published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in 2015, Batu Uban: Sejarah Awal Pulau Pinang‘s details the history of one of Malaysia’s most popular states. But don’t expect tour guide material over these 262 pages.
Supported with extensive statistics, records and deep research into his subject matter, Penangite author Professor Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Murad Merican makes it clear that the popular, current version of Penang’s history is very Eurocentric — seen and told through the blue eyes of its colonisers.
How was it plausible that the history of Pulau Pinang only began in 1786, when Francis Light and his men set foot on Tanjong Penaga, Pulau Pinang?
Because the island lacked archaeological evidence, at one point in time Penang was thought to have had zero inhabitants. For example, L. A. Mills in British Malaya 1824-1867 deemed the island a mere piece of land filled with tropical jungle.
Ahmad Murad Merican however refutes this claim, arguing that Malay people would have existed on the island prior to the arrival of the British, judging from the island’s geographical and cultural aspects.
Buku ini bertujuan meluruskan sejarah, dan dengan harapan Batu Uban dapat dipuliharakan dan diwartakan sebagai kampung tradisional dan tanda kewujudan sejarah awal Pulau Pinang.
Batu Uban also delves deeper into Pulau Pinang history pre-colonialisation. Aside from explaining the origin of the name Pulau Pinang, its author also touches on Kampung Batu Uban — one of Pulau Pinang’s earliest settlements.
It’s not all empty talk — Ahmad Murad Merican backs up his findings with a fairly heavy bibliography. Among highlights to find in Batu Uban are records of Kampung Batu Uban’s villagers and their family trees, occupations, and pictures taken by the author himself during visits to the kampung.
Perfect for history addicts, nationalists, and most importantly, the children of Batu Uban!