Saturday, 30 July 2011

Change of Street Name-from Birch Road to Jalan Maharaja Lela

The Pasir Salak Historical Complex at the bank of Sungei Perak
documented the event on the assasination of JWW Birch

Malaysia has been known as a country with many controversial practice and unconventional implementation of its policies, much to the chagrin and amusement to foreign political watchers. The classification and division of its citizens into bumiputra and non-bumiputra is one, the never ending policy NEP – the government now calls it New Economic Policy is another scourge that bring scorns, jeers and laughter from foreign critics, as well as mockery.
                   Artiste impression of Maharaja Lela                      
                                      JWW Birch 1826-1875  
                                                                                                                                    Here down memory lane is another fine example. It sure will bring a chuckle or two to our own nation watchers, not necessary the politicians but the common citizens. As to show the BN government loathed the British colonist so much, and to erase the shameful historical fact that Malaya, Sarawak, and North Borneo (Sabah) were under British rule before Independence, there were many drastic actions to rid the country of any sign of remnants of British colonization; some of them were overzealous and out of this world. Well, many senior citizens do not consider colonization a really bad experience to the country. Since 1850s when there were organized migrations into Malaya and Sarawak and North Borneo, the British’s East India Company was calling the shots and most people who provided labors to the primary industries were migrants of China, India and Indonesia origins, except the Orang Asli of Peninsula and the indigenous people of Sarawak and North Borneo. It is true that the British ruled Malaya with an iron fist but they were not draconian or harsh in administrating their rule.

Birch's grave paints a forlorn sight but his memorial still stands

It was a known fact that the British colonists were quite relentless and ruthless in their effort in rooting out the communists during the emergency (1948-1960). They however maintained law and order and promoted general education to the mass during their 130 yrs of colonization. Today Malaysia and Singapore are the two proud countries in South East Asia with citizens well versed with the universal English language, and it is a great advantage that cannot be denied.

                      The Pangkor Treaty-It legitimized British control of the Malay Rulers
                                       and paved the way for Bristish Imperialism into Malaya

A photo was taken to mark the signing of the
Pangkor Treaty

During the administration of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamed a.k.a. as Mahathir Kutty @ Dr M, the hogwash and humbug of the nation, many times the nation was made laughing stalks due to his unconventional, baffling and ludicrous way of governing the country. With regards to his inferiority complex, here is one of them: Malaysia had been one country fond of changing street names even though the names were significant to the people as they had been known for the past hundred years or few decades.                                 
                        A small plate to remind citizens that there
                                            had been a name change                      
J.W.W. Birch was the first resident-general the British appointed for the state of Perak in 1874 after the signing of Treaty of Pangkor. He was murdered in 1875 by a group of Malay warriors led by one chieftain named Maharaja Lela, who was eventually apprehended and executed by the British forces. With his death, he was deemed as a martyr and a hero in fighting against colonialism. There were streets in Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, and Seremban named in memorial of Birch. The Birch Road in downtown Kuala Lumpur was renamed Jalan Maharaja Lela, shortly after Dr M came to power in the 1980s. (PM Dr Mahathir -July 1981 to October 2003) By changing the name of the street, Malaysia became the one odd country to name a street after a murderer, replacing the name of the murdered victim. Do you think it makes sense? Was it not just a matter of vindication?

Alan CY Kok
Article written on
March 4, 2010

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