05 September 2007

Singapore Short Stories - Ah Kong's Land

After a brief survey of the Karimun Islands, Raffles discovered Singapore to be a place where there was no Dutch presence which made Singapore suitable for the British to to set-up a free trade post. Noting that the Sultanate of Johore was in bad shape at that time, Raffles took the opportunity of sign an rudimentary treaty with the local Temenggong. Few days later, a formal treaty was signed with Tengku Long, who claimed to be the lawful sovereign of this region.
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Sometimes, you may hear Singaporeans retort "You think this is your Ah Kong's land/street/house etc ah!" Well, the roots of this phrase can be traced back to Raffles time...

According to The Kin Jio Leaf,
shortly after Raffles identified Singapore as the place to set up a British trading port in this region (and dried himself), he set about the administrative aspects to formalize it. During that time, the Johore Sultanate was in bad shape and no longer had control over this place which gave Raffles an opportunity. He didn't know who to approach initially so he consulted Farquhar and asked if he can just plant the Union Jack and cliam his prize!

"You think this is your Ah Kong's land ah!" yelled Farquhar but paused immediately in deep thoughts. He continued,"Actually, I think this is really Ah Kong's land...let's look for the Temenggong!"

And so, they proceeded to make the first official contact with the local authorities...and eventually managed to formalise a treaty Tengku Long, the man who had supreme nominal authority over this area at that time.

Well, you can see, the first person who used the phrase with gusto was Farquhar...
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Major William Farquhar, was the British Resident of Malacca. One of his tasks was to negotiate commercial treaties with the local chiefs of the Riau Archipelego. After the founding of Singapore with Raffles, he was subsequently appointed as the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore from 1819-1823.

2 comments:

Gecko said...

Actually, dat phrase "Your Ah Kong's land, road etc" was quite often used since da early 20th century.

Since da late 19th century, many lizards from china came to s'pore and made their fortunes here either in trading or plantation. Wid da money dey amassed, dey invested in properties and social projects. Hence many roads and buildings in s'pore were either named after dem or cos they were situated on da land dat dey owned. Notable ones are Whampoa, Chong Pang, Nee Soon, Lim Chu Kang, Eu Tong Sen, Tan Tock Seng etc.

As da saying goes.. "A family's wealth seldom last beyond 3 generations..." Da descendants of these illustrious lizards behaved exactly like da typical spoilt indonesian brats ya see here in s'pore - walking in da middle of da road, flaunting their wealth, talking loudly in public places etc behaving like da place belongs to dem...

Dis often caused others to snap back "Ya think dis place belong's to your ah kong ah??"

Frankly... it does belong to their ah kong ;p kekekeke....

khirsah said...

Hehehe...Gecko's providing a more accurate historical account...warned you readers not to take every word form this orang utan to be the truth, right? :P