The Online Citizen

Gedung Kuning and NOT Rumah Bendahara

April 01
09:32 2013

By Hidayah Amin

The Official Name is Gedung Kuning and NOT Rumah Bendahara

I am the author of Gedung Kuning: Memories of a Malay Childhood and The Mango Tree books. My family owned and stayed in Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion) in Kampong Glam from 1912 to 1999 until the government acquired it under the Land Acquisition Act. Mamanda restaurant currently operates at Gedung Kuning.

Recently, I noticed that a wedding invite (and signage) at my birthplace indicated the venue as Mamanda@Rumah Bendahara. 

I would like to highlight 2 historical facts:

1.   There is no record of a Bendahara (Prime Minister or Vizier in the Malay kingdom) in the court of Sultan Hussien or his descendants.

2.   No Bendahara or its equivalent ever lived in Gedung Kuning.

Hence, stating that Mamanda is at Rumah Bendahara (House for the Prime Minister) is misleading and factually incorrect. Circa 1846, Tengku Mahmud gave Gedung Kuning its name after its yellow walls and the name has remained since. I remember how in 2005, former MP Zainul Abidin Rasheed discussed with me about changing the name Gedung Kuning to Rumah Bendahara for “glamour/marketing purposes”. As there is no documentary evidence to indicate that the Riau Bendahara was based in Singapore, I opposed the idea and it was dropped.

A historic monument like Gedung Kuning must be given its due honour. Except for the heritage trail board outside Gedung Kuning (put up by the National Heritage Board), Mamanda did not acknowledge, in its publicity collateral and website, the real history of Gedung Kuning or about my great-grandfather Haji Yusoff the Belt Merchant. Perhaps the owners of Mamanda were hesitant to mention the history of Gedung Kuning after I admonished them on 11 July 2012 for plagiarising the contents of my website (www.gedungkuning.com) without acknowledging me. As the owners did not bother to reply to my recent email correcting them about the usage of the word Rumah Bendahara, I decided to write to the press about this matter.

The pertinent question remains – why attempt to hide the real story of Gedung Kuning? What good would hiding historical facts do to anyone? This matter is not just a question of names but also a matter of past legacy that must be told. Perhaps the National Heritage Board could look into this matter seriously as the public must not be misled about historical facts that are now being compromised for the sake of branding or marketing.

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The writer was born in Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion) in Kampong Glam and own www.gedungkuning.com . She holds graduate degrees from the University of Cambridge and Lehigh University where she was a Fulbright Scholar.

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