Jawi Peranakkan



The Jawi Peranakkan, the first Malay newspaper in Singapore, was founded in 18761 and remained in circulation until 1895.2 The rise and demise of the newspaper was closely associated with the history of the Jawi Peranakan community in Singapore. The Jawi Peranakan were the Straits-born children of Malay-Indian parentage.3

History of the Jawi Peranakan
Indian immigrants, mainly from southern India, streamed steadily into the Malay Peninsula since the rise of British East India Company from the late 18th century. The Muslim migrants married local Malay women, as they both share their faith in Islam. Their children were known as the Jawi Peranakan.4 Jawi Peranakan families were found throughout Malaysia and Singapore, and they gained prominence in the civil service and mercantile circles. The Jawi Peranakan sought to be accepted as Malays regardless of their continued practice of selective South Indian customs.5 When the Malay independence movement after the war pushed the race factor to the forefront, the Jawi Peranakan came under the leadership of Malay nationalists.6 The ambiguous status of the Jawi Peranakan within a dominant Malay identity discouraged the Jawi Peranakan from distinguishing themselves as a separate community. Today, their fluid yet marginal status has led many to register themselves as Malays.7


Jawi Peranakkan newspaper
The Jawi Peranakan were successful merchants and civil servants. By the late 19th century, they had accumulated considerable wealth and status to be “ranked next to the Arabs in leadership and authority within the Malay-Muslim community”. Being English-speaking, the Jawi Peranakan also found it easy to get jobs in the colonial government and to be recruited as teachers to the Europeans.8 Their wealth and high level of literacy contributed towards the publication of a newspaper that sought to address the needs of the Malay community with whom they identified.9 In 1876, a group of prominent Jawi Peranakan pooled together their capital to start a printing company. They launched the first Malay Jawi newspaper in Singapore, Malaya and Indonesia, Jawi Peranakkan, in late 1876.10 They also bought a new press from England to shift to typographic printing of their newspaper in 1877.11 The paper’s first editor was Munshi Muhammad Sa’id bin Dada Muhyiddin, a Penang born to Tamil-Jawi Peranakan parents, who was the paper’s editor until his death in 1888. Munshi Mohammad Alie bin Golam Al-Hindi took over as editorof the paper, and he was succeeded by Muhammad Siraj bin Muhammad Salleh between 1889 and 1891.12 The newspaper was sustained by the Malay-speaking literati, ceasing only after nearly 20 years in 1895.13 The paper was the longest enduring Malay newspaper before World War I.14


Description
The Jawi Peranakkan was a weekly paper published every Monday in the Jawi script.15 Jawi script is the Arabic script adopted for the Malay language. The paper was the first Malay language newspaper in the whole of Malaya and Indonesia at the time.16 The newspaper's initial circulation was around 150 copies,17 catering to a small community of  local-born Muslims, Arabs, Babas or the Malay-speaking Straits-born Chinese, and Malays in the towns.18 The contents relied on international news from the contemporary English-language media. The paper also carried official government notifications, letters from readers, an editorial column and syair (Malay verse or poetry) corner.19 The Jawi Peranakan also tried to advance reformist ideas on Islam, influenced by the Islamic resurgence in the Middle East, by discussing the weaknesses of the Malay community.20 The success of the newspaper sparked off a host of other Malay language publications.21



Author
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Roff, W. R. (1994). The origins of Malay nationalism. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 320.54 ROF).
2. Lent, J. A. (1978, March). Malaysia’s national language mass media: History and present status. South East Asian Studies, vol. 15, (4), p. 599.  Retrieved 2016, April, from Kyoto University website:  http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/55900/1/KJ00000133278.pdf
3. Roff, W. R. (1994). The origins of Malay nationalism. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, p. 48. (Call no.: RSING 320.54 ROF)
4. Hale, C.  (2013). Massacre in Malaya: Exposing Britain's My Lai. Stroud, United Kingdom: The History Press, p. 76. (Call no.: RSEA 959.504 HAL); Halimah Mohd Said & Zainab Abdul Majid. (2004). Images of the Jawi Peranakan of Penang: Assimilation of the Jawi Peranakan community into the Malay society. Tanjong Malim, Kedah: Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, p. 4. (Call no.: RSEA 305.89481105951 HAL)
5. Roff, W. R. (1994). The origins of Malay nationalism. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, pp. 48-49. (Call no.: RSING 320.54 ROF).
6. Sandhu, K. S., & Mani, A. (Eds.). (2006). Indian communities in Southeast Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 526. (Call no.: RSING 305.891411059 IND)
7. Chew, P. G.  (2013). A sociolinguistic history of early identities in Singapore: From colonialism to nationalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan p. 78. (Call no.: RSING 306.44095957 CHE); Sandhu, K. S., & Mani, A. (Eds.). (2006). Indian communities in Southeast Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 536–537. (Call no.: RSING 305.891411059 IND)
8. Roff, W. R. (1994). The origins of Malay nationalism.  Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, pp. 48–49.  (Call no.: RSING 320.54 ROF)
9. Kennard, A. (1973, February 12).  An account of early Malay press and periodicals. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Education report 1876. (1877, September 1).  The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A History of Modern Singapore, 1819–2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 113. (Call no.: RSING 959.59 TUR); Kennard, A. (1973, February 12).  An account of early Malay press and periodicals. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Roff, W. R. (1994). The origins of Malay nationalism. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, pp. 48–49.  (Call no.: RSING 320.54 ROF); Topic of the dag. (1879, August 12). Straits Times Overland Journal, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Freener, R. M., & Terenjit, S. (Eds.). Islamic connections: Muslim societies in South and Southeast Asia. Singapore: ISEAS, p. 93. (Call no.: RSING 297.0954 ISL)
13. Freener, R. M., & Terenjit, S. (Eds.). Islamic connections: Muslim societies in South and Southeast Asia. Singapore: ISEAS, p. 93.  (Call no.: RSING 297.0954 ISL); Tan, C. K. (1986). The <<missing link>> in modern Malay literary history: A study of the influence of social and educational backgrounds on literary development, p. 108.  Retrieved 2016, April, from Persee website: http://www.persee.fr/docAsPDF/arch_0044-8613_1986_num_31_1_2274.pdf
14. Lent, J. A. (1978, March). Malaysia’s national language mass media: History and present status. South East Asian Studies, vol. 15, (4), p. 599.  Retrieved 2016, April, from Kyoto University website: http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/55900/1/KJ00000133278.pdf
15. Birth of Malay newspapers. (1948, November 15). The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A History of Modern Singapore, 1819–2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 113. (Call no.: RSING 959.59 TUR); Kennard, A. (1973, February 12). An account of early Malay press and periodicals. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Education report 1876. (1877, September 1). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Tan, Y. S., & Soh, Y. P. (1994). The development of Singapore’s modern media industry. Singapore: Times Academic Press, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 338.4730223 TAN).
19. Talk of two papers. (1992, August 26). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Pung, L. H. S. (1993, September). The Malays in Singapore: Political aspects of the “Malay Problem” [online thesis], pp. 27–28. Ontario, Canada: McMaster University. Retrieved 2016, April, from: https://macsphere.mcmaster.ca/bitstream/11375/11824/1/fulltext.pdf; Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid. (2007). Malay anti-colonialism in British Malaya: A re-appraisal of independence fighters of Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Asian and African Studies, pp. 378–379. Retrieved 2016, April, from Academia website: https://www.academia.edu/331961/Malay_Anti-Colonialism_in_British_Malaya_A_Re-appraisal_of_Independence_Fighters_of_Peninsular_Malaysia
21. Lent, J. A. (1978, March). Malaysia’s national language mass media: History and present status. South East Asian Studies, 15(4), 599. Retrieved 2016, April, from Kyoto University website: http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/55900/1/KJ00000133278.pdf; Early Malay papers faced the same issues. (1982, October 25). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Jamae Mosque preservation guidelines. (1991). Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board, pp. 7–9.

(Call no.: RSING 363.96095957 JAM)

Lewis Micro-publishing. (n.d.). Baba beginnings. Retrieved on July 14, 2003, from www.lewismicropublishing.com/Publications/Peranakan/PeranakanBeginnings.htm

Lyons, K., & Sarwal, A. (Eds.). (2001). The encyclopedia of Malaysia (Vol. 7). Singapore: Archipelago Press, pp. 12–27.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5003 ENC)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Newspaper publishing--Singapore
Singapore--History--1867-1942
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Communication and media
Arts>>Literature>>Peranakan (Straits Chinese) Literature
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Literature