Penang to restore roads to original gazetted names

Zairil Khir Johari points at the Lebuh Muntri road sign in George Town on May 9, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Zairil Khir Johari points at the Lebuh Muntri road sign in George Town on May 9, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, May 9 — Confusion over the different spellings of many road names and towns in Penang will be relieved soon as these will be returned to their original gazetted versions.

Air Itam will revert to its gazetted name of Ayer Itam while road names containing the names of historical figures will also revert to the original spelling of the personality’s names.

State exco Zairil Khir Johari said the state must streamline some township names such as Air Itam, Tanjung Bungah, Gelugor and Batu Ferringhi to prevent continued confusion.

“We will revert back to the spelling that were previously gazetted,” he said.

Zairil, who is the state geographical names committee chairman, said some spelling of the road names and townships was changed previously due to the standardisation of the Malay language by the government more than 30 years ago. 

He said the changes would not be major as most involved spelling changes such as from Abu Siti Lane to Aboo Sittee Lane. 

The whole process will take months as it would involve both the Public Works Department and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP). 

Any changes proposed for road names within the heritage zone of George Town will require consultations with the George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) and the heritage department, he added. 

Zairil said there were proposals from stakeholders for the current Cheong Fatt Sze Street to be reverted to its former name, “Hong Kong Street”.

He said the residents there continue to use “Hong Kong Street” as their addresses despite the official change.

He admitted that the original name “Hong Kong Street” also has historical significance for that road. 

“There were also some confusion among tourists who wanted to visit Cheong Fatt Sze Mansion but went to that street and couldn’t find the mansion,” he said.

He said they will have to look for other streets to bear the name of Cheong Fatt Sze Street, possible somewhere nearer to the heritage mansion. 

Earlier, Zairil announced that Muntri Street’s Malay name has reverted to Lebuh Muntri instead of Jalan Muntri. 

The spelling for Lorong Kucing was changed back to Lorong Kuching while the road name, Lorong Lembah Permai 9 in Tanjung Bungah was changed to Lebuh Lembah Permai 1.

He said name for Muntri Street was historically significant as it was named after Mentri of Laut, Ngah Ibrahim, the son of Long Jaafar. 

“Muntri is the old spelling for Mentri,” he said. 

There were also stories that said the word “Muntri” referred to high ranking colonial officials staying in Leith Street and Muntri Street.

The street was also traditionally called the “mah cheh street” in referrence to the traditional “black and white nannies” of olden day China who came here to work in the homes of wealthy families as housekeepers and nannies.

They were known as black and white nannies due to their standard white top and black trousers attire.

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