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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

My trip to Kenaboi, Negeri Sembilan

Kenaboi dwellers early 1960s opening up land for development

1. Last Eid, I was given an exclusive opportunity from a friend of mine to visit and experience Eid celebration at his village in Kampung Chennah, Kenaboi within the district of Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan. It was a fantastic outing especially for me that never had any experience in visiting the rural part of Negeri Sembilan.

2. The trip took me half an hour drive from Kajang using the old route (Kajang-Semenyih-Kenaboi) road. We drove past the Semenyih dam and the old road multi-linking the Kenaboi with Semenyih, Batu 14 and the Greater Klang Valley. The road trip was quiet and empty along the way as we drove past through a number of natives villages (orang asli) which to my surprise their houses were well supplied by electricity and I bet also with clean water.

3. The trip to Kenaboi opened up my mind to a lot of things in particular about the social aspects of Malaysian nation building concept. The populations of Kenaboi consists of only two races which are Malay and Chinese that I can estimate up to 1,500 peoples (sic). I was told there were one Indian family lived in Kampung Chennah but choose to migrate to Seremban, but that doesn't stop the head of the Indian family to continue visiting Kenaboi to safeguard one Indian temple built besides the road linking Jelebu town to Kampung Chennah. I did visit the temple that was located right besides a very big tree. The dwellings and populations houses were well surrounded by a rubber plantation worked out from the pre-war period up till today.

4. Most of the Malays population worked as a rubber tapper or owner of a rubber plantation whereas the Chinese works in various fields such as mechanics, Groceries stores, planters and contractors. However the younger generations of Malays and Chinese populations choose to work in Klang Valley area mainly in Kuala Lumpur and they did commute daily from Kenaboi to Kuala Lumpur.

5. I remember that I was once told by a Perbadanan Putrajaya Holdings personnel that Tun Dr. Mahathir did actually considered the Kenaboi area as a location for the new administrative city (Putrajaya) before Prang Besar was choose eventually. During my short stint in Kenaboi, I was fascinated when the population did brief me on the historical facts of Kenaboi and showed the site where Dato’ Undang Abdullah and his family members were beheaded by the Japanese Imperial Army during the war. It was near a bridge of river Kenaboi.

6. I was later told that during the Japanese Occupation period, the Malays population in Kenaboi were not so fond of their new Japanese masters and in seeking protection from the Japanese the Malays did contacted the Malayan People Anti Japanese Army (MPAJA) later known as the Communist which consists of mainly Chinese races. And in that, they formed a pact whereas the MPAJA will provide protection for the Malays while the Malays will provide foods, information and medical supplies for the MPAJA. This relationship continued after the war and when the British came back to Malaya, the introduced the new settlement policy called "new villages" and idea suggested by General Harold Rowdon Briggs (popularly known as Briggs plan) where the Chinese population were put into a center of protection and shields of barbed wire to break the supplies of food and medicine going to the fighting 2nd Regiment of the Communist insurgents hiding within the areas (consist of 250 personnel).

7. I was also showed an interesting areas that concealed many caves (3 of them were shown to me) where the Malays during the Japanese Occupation period seek refuge from the notorious Japanese army and later after the war, the caves were turned into a safe hideout of the Communist insurgents that operated within the Jelebu districts up to the interior Pahang. It was very interesting site as the Kenaboi area were also closely linked with the interior Pahang and ones can only see the strategic location of the based linking Kuala Lumpur and Nothern Part of Peninsular Malaysia through Pahang especially for the Communist insurgents.

8. It is very fascinating when I was later briefed that most of the Malays in Kenaboi area came from various parts of Malaya with a Minangkabau descent and also Pahang bloodline. Although the dialect were about the same, on certain daily usage however Kenaboi populations were comfortable to use certain Pahang influenced dialects in addressing oneself and others.

9. The Briggs plan that were introduced in 1950s proved to be lethal to the Communist insurgents and effective in starving the bandits in the Kenaboi area and you can clearly see through the populations settlements quite a big police station were built in Kampung Chennah a definite an over estimation of the true populations. The structure materials of the old woods of the local houses built mostly for the Chinese populations are distinctly recognize up to this day. Not only through the physical infrastructure part as the Briggs plan were there to be seen, but also on the social aspect where Malays community seems to be complacent and very comfortable conducting daily business with the Chinese descents. And during the night while I was watching Malays kids playing futsal, I can visibly see a throngs of shirtless Chinese kids only watching the Malays playing as the old relationship still continues to this days.

10. In the interior part of Kenaboi area, I was shown during my personal tour to the area of natives in Kenaboi from the Temuan tribe. The orang asli main work are within the industry of the rubber plantation either as a tapper or a menial workers and some of them also work diligently collecting the jungles products such as bamboo and "dammar" latex to be sold to an intermediate that came mostly from Kuala Lumpur. I was very surprised to see that their houses were well supplied by electricity and clean water even their dwellings site were far interior from Kampung Chennah. Their house were a resemblance of FELDA early wood house model and some of them were doing quite well I might say looking at the types of vehicles that they owned and used.

11. I also would gladly state here that Kenaboi also provides streams of beautiful rivers with volcanic rocks that were a beautiful sight and such it that can be develop as the main attraction for tourism industry. The air is still undiluted by others threatening substance and during the night it was a chill cold experience. I will return back to Kenaboi in bringing some of my friends especially to study the new villages and its impact that it had on the population in particular the Kenaboi area.

To be continue…

Faces of Tun Teddy

Faces of Tun Teddy