Monday, July 25, 2011

The Royal Malaysian Customs Museum

Malacca is blessed with many museum and one of the them is The Royal Malaysian Customs Museum which is located beside the Malacca River, just behind the Maritime Museum. Entrance to the museum is free of charge.

This building was constructed by the British colonial administration in the early 1890s to store imported trade goods such as rice, sugar, flour, spices, textiles and ceramics imported from China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines as well as goods for export.

These trade goods were transported aboard barges and lighters from seagoing vessels anchored offshore and unloaded at the Melaka jetty and stored in this godown until customs and excise tariffs on them were determined and paid. Its role as a customs godown remained until 2001 when all import and export activities were moved to the ports at Kuala Linggi and Sungai Rambai.

A portion of the building was converted to house the offices of the Melaka State Customs Department from the 1950s until Wisma Kastam was built in 2003. The godowns was converted into a museum and was opened to the public on 25 August 2006.

This safe was used at the Kuantan, Pahang customs office secure valuable documents including Departmental receipt books from the 1940s to 1970s.

Before computer was invented, this is the register that record the Custom officers' salary and pension.

These books are actually the various Acts enforced by the Royal Malaysian Custom over the years.

The evolution of the Royal Malaysian Custom

These scales originating from China were used at all Customs stations since the 1930s before being replaced by more modern weighing scales. They were still in use at smaller stations up into the 1950s to weight lighter loads.

Adding and receipting machines used by the Department over the years. The National Cash Register (NCR) machine was capable of recording and printing all tax payments directly onto Customs declaration forms which also served as receipts. Information such as dates, tariff codes, amount of duties, receipt numbers and goods codes were printed onto the relevant form. This machine was utilized by the Department between the 1950s and 1970s before being replaced by more sophisticated equipment. This machine could be operated both manually and with electric power. This particular machine was used at the Federal Customs Collector's Office in Tanjug Pagar, Singapore.

This offensive wooden sculptures (in fact I like these sculptures. Will be nice to have one at home) were confiscated by the preventive division of Melaka Customs in 1966. The sculptures were concealed among logs and sawn timber imported from Indonesia.

Some of the pornographic films and material which is illegal in this country.

British made handcuffs and locks used to lock up tax unpaid goods in ship's stores during the 1950s.

There is a whole lots of items confiscated which include endangered species, horns and some exotic decoration items.

These are some of the equipment and tools once used by the Royal Malaysian Custom which is now good for display purpose only.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Bastion of Frederik Hendrik

The Bastion (bulwark) of Frederik Hendrik was built on the former site of the Prtuguese Fort, which itself was constructed upon a more ancient site of the fort of the Malay Sultanate. It is believed that this Fort was located nearby the palace of the Malacca sultans and the residences of their chiefs. At the height of the ruling of Malay Sultanate, large trading vessels plying the Straits of Malacca and the Malacca River estuary thrived in commercial and trade activity.

Under the Portuguese, bulwarks surrounded Malacca at every corner. The bulwark of Courassa lined the main defence wall facing the Straits of Malacca.

During the Dutch rule beginning 1641, the bulwark was reinforced and renamed as the "Bastion of Frederik Hendrik", in honour of King Hendrik who rule the Netherlands from 1642 to 1647. In 1641 and 1678, the bulwark was again strengthened. It was expanded in dimension and increased in height, making it the main wall of defence for the Dutch.

The bulwark was crucial to the defence of Malacca. From this high point on the bulwark, a panaromic view of the commercial activities in the port and the Strait of Malacca was gained. Troops posted on duty at this bulwark were able to keep an eye on possible incoming threats and accordingly mount a swift response.

The bulwark is equipped with cannons and other weapons of war, served as a major military post for the troops and provide storage facilities for their military resources. It was also here that vital evidence and historic war related documents were discovered. This discovery verified the military force commanded by the Malay, Portuguese and Dutch government in Malacca.

In 2006 and 2007, the Department of National Heritage conducted a number of archeological excavations. These lead to the discovery of the structure of the Fort, The Bastion of Frederik Hendrik as well as human skeletons. Also discovered were glass beads, cannon balls and old coins buried deep at this site.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Malacca Fort

The Malacca Fort built in the 15th century was a prominent landmark during the time of the Malay Sultanate. This was where the administrative complex and royal residences were located. The complex, guarded by armed warriors also housed the palace, mosque and sentry towers.

Laterite red stone was the main material available then and used to build and integrate the buildings in the complex. The bulk of this building material was sourced from Pulau Upeh, Pulau Melaka, Tanjung Kling, Sebatu and Bukit Piatu.

One of the sentry tower and its view which overlook the Melaka River.

Malacca was subject to change with each successive colonial power that came to control it. In 1511, the Portuguese captured Malacca and heedlessly destroyed the Malay fortification. In 1512, the Portuguese replaced the old Malacca Center with another fort named Fortaleza de Malaca, which largely resembled the other Portuguese forts built in other parts of Asia and Africa.

The Portuguese Fort, completed in 1588, covered an area of 1.4km. On this site were located the administration building, governor's residence, hospital, quarters for employees, a church and barracks for the army. The Fort was equipped with 8 defence bulwarks.

When the Dutch captured Malacca in 1641, they renamed the eight bulwarks; Victoria (St. Domingo), Emelia (Madre de Deus), Henrietta Louyse (Onze Mille Virgines), Wihelmus (Santiago), Mauritius (Hospital dos Pobres), Frederick Hendrik (Courassa), Ernst Casimir (Mora) and Amsterdam (Hospital Del Rey).

In 1660 and 1678 the Dutch reinforced this complex of defensive walls by building another bulwark called Middelburg, making a total of 9 bulwarks.

Malacca declined when the british ruled from 1795 to 1818. The Fort of Malacca that strongly attracted trading groups and commerce was destroyed in 1807, influencing residents and traders to move to Penang.

Archeological excavations conducted by the Department of national Heritage in 2006 discovered the site of the Malacca fort. Following this, the structure of the Fort was revealed, making it public in 2008. The Middelburg was then reconstructed based on archeological research and excavations, written documents, reports and discussions among local and foreign experts in the field of archeology, history, architecture and geology.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Malacca River Quayside Square

One of the best way to enjoy the Melaka River is taking a walk alongside the new Malacca River Quayside Square.

The walk roughly starts from the Malacca Fort and end around the Maritime Museum

The new Casa Del Rio Hotel just across the river. Its architecture design pays tribute and blends with the historical surrounding.

It is quite a scenic and enjoyable walk along the wide pathway. No wonder the Melaka River is dubbed as "Venice of the East" by European seafarers.

Cafes, souvenir shops and toilet also can be found along the pathway which make life a lot easier for visitors coming here.

I guess this is a rough map of Malacca and its river. I not too sure whether they will elaborate on this map as it appears quite vague as it is.

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