Hmm... Why did I say 'venerated'? Perhaps many don't realise this The official history books say, Masjid Lebuh Aceh and the surrounding area was opened some time in the 19th century by a wealthy Acehnese trader of Arab origin. Some added further, the said trader was an Acehnese royalty. But many don't know, the trader, Tuanku Syed Hussein Aidid actually became the Sultan, ruler of Aceh albeit for only 3 days before handing the throne to his son because he was said to suffer from a sickness!
The tomb area in front of the mosque. Again, many don't realise the existence of the tombs, that of a group of Acehnese royalty! Then again, the area is kind of sheltered from the outside because of the way it is flanked by anothet building...
This picture was taken when I was last there 16 January or so 2007, Lebuh Aceh (Aceh broadway?) and the surrounding area was still under renovation... Funny because I see the same renovation from the first time I was there in 2004. Why is it not completed yet? Or is it intentional to achieve certain purposes?
One thing I do know, although Lebuh Aceh has lost its granduer as the place for Muslims as far as Singapore and Indonesia to converge before performing their hajj to Mekah, it was still the main centre for Penang Malays of modern times up till the renovation started, I don't know when. Lebuh Aceh was known for its many Islamic bookshops but now it is not even a shadow of its past. For information, the works carried out has forced the Malays in the area to move elsewhere, all under the name of development.
It seems, they are to told to make way for the works and in time will be asked to come back. And so the shops that used to belong the Malays were left empty. At the same time, the Chinese who occupied other shops nearby could still be seen at large. Is there something wrong with this picture? Or is this something similar to the story of Central Market in Kuala Lumpur after it was taken over by a Singaporean outfit? Where the raised rental rate have reduced the presence of the Malays while increasing that of another ethnic group with more cash to play around?
Look at this. Sure, there is some progress but is it really any good for the Malays? Improved amenities and all the touch up to make the place worthy of a world-class tourist destination walk might be good for some but it could make the cost of living too high for the generally poorer Malays, forcing them to leave the area for the outside while the land that used to belong to them fell into other's hands?
Remember, the whole Lebuh Aceh area is actually tanah wakaf, a piece of land kind of donated to public used. Under Islamic law, no one could infringe or sell this kind of land. Then again we don't operate under the Islamic law. Although the present system inherited from the British did make allowances for such land, what used it is when the politicians in power could simply play with technicalities and turn everything into fair game all in the name of progress?
Or progress for some simply means that the Malays can go on living but only in memories preserved through the establishment of museums such as this... The house of the Al Attas family in Lebuh Aceh used to be a centre for Malay resistance against the British colonialists. Now, how much resistance can it put up against the economic onslaught of the Penang Malays? What is even more saddening, it appears even the Malay politicians have a hand in making the poorer members of society pack their bags for elsewhere. After all, who cares about history?
What is important is money... One only cares about history if it makes good speech in winning the heart of the voters. Isn't that the way of life? In fact some would even dare twist verses from the Quran and act like an Ustaz, a religious teacher to justify many wanton acts using the name of God! Truly the ends of times is near... Rotten people who are very good at pretending to be heros just like Nicholo Machiavelli's Prince get too run the country while true people of noble intentions are forced to fight the just cause from inside the drains! Allah! Do help us...
The Jejak Warisan or Heritage Trail signboard. Perhaps it should say: "Once upon a time the Malays used to rule this land, along with the dinasours and the trilobites..." Enough said! Good night!