Tuesday, August 7, 2007

About Muar - Centre Of The Universe

From Wikipedia & Malaysiana1.

Muar (also referred to as Bandar Maharani or Queenstown) is a town in northwestern Johor, Malaysia.

The name Muar is also used for the Muar district, which is divided between the towns of Muar and Tangkak.

Muar district borders Melaka on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Muar district is about 2,346 km², with a population of 328,695 (2000).

The name originated from the word Muara or estuary in Bahasa Malaysia.

The town of Muar is located at the mouth of the Muar River. The town is about 150 km southeast of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, and about the same distance northwest of Singapore . It is 45km south of Melaka City and 50 km north of Batu Pahat.

Muar was once Johor’s state capital, before Johor Baru. It is a historical town which has seen several invasions by the Portuguese colonialists, who took Melaka from its last ruler Sultan Mahmud Shah 1 in 1511.

Sultan Mahmud re-started the Sultanate of Johor in Muar after leaving Melaka that year.

One of Melaka’s Sultans, Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah 1 is buried in Pagoh, a suburb of Muar town.

The Portuguese once occupied Muar and built a fort there, but it was destroyed by the Johorean forces.

From 1835 to 1877, Muar became known as the autonomous Sultanate of Kesang created by the British to pacify the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ali Iskandar Shah.

At that time, Sultan Ali was at loggerheads with Tengku Ibrahim Shah, the Temenggung (Home Minister) of Johor who was also his cousin.

The Temenggung was an able administrator and the British recognised him as the Regent of Johor, but this was resented by the Sultan, who did not have much popular support.

The Sultanate of Kesang pacified Sultan Ali, because it allowed him to have his own estate where he could command his subjects and win their support with development projects.

Sultan Ali also owned land in British-ruled Singapore, encompassing the indigenous township of Kampung Gelam.

Johor’s protectorate Pahang was governed by another of Sultan Ali’s cousins Tengku Ahmad Shah who was the Bendahara (Prime Minister) of Johor.

He was recognised by the British as Pahang’s legitimate leader as he had the people’s support.

After Sultan Ali died in 1877, the Sultanate of Kesang was scrapped and Tengku Ibrahim’s son and successor as Temenggung, Tengku Abu Bakar Shah, became the new Sultan of Johor with the title of Sultan Abu Bakar.

Tengku Ahmad Shah became the Sultan of Pahang with the title of Sultan Ahmad Shah 1.

One of Sultan Ali’s sons Tengku Alam Shah rebelled against Sultan Abu Bakar, but was promptly defeated. He was banished to Singapore but eventually received a pardon.

Muar used to have its own railway known as Muar State Railway. It operated between 1889 to 1925 and linked Sulaiman Road in the town centre to the suburb of Sungai Pulai 22.5 km away.

The track has been replaced by Temenggung Ahmad Road. The MSR locomotive is now displayed in Tanjung Emas Gardens in the town centre and is the country’s oldest locomotive.

Muar is known as the furniture capital of Malaysia. It has more furniture factories than any other towns or cities in Malaysia.

Muar has several supermarkets and one major shopping mall, the Wetex Parade in Ali Road.

The 14 km Muar Bypass (2 lane dual carriageway) completed in 2005 is the latest landmark of the town. It diverts traffic away from the town centre and from the old Sultan Ismail Bridge across the Muar River.

Muar is also accessible via the North-South Expressway through the Tangkak and Pagoh Interchanges which are located 20 km and 30 km from the town, respectively.

A ferry service to Dumai, Sumatra, Indonesia is also available at the Customs Department Jetty.

One of the main tourist attractions in Muar is the Mount Ledang National Park. The park is situated 170 km from Johor Baru and has an area of 107 km².

The park has two entry points, one in Sagil, Muar and the other in Asahan, Jasin, Melaka.

Mount Ledang's peak, which is 1,276 m above sea level is the highest point in the park and Johor.

Mount Ledang is arguably the most climbed mountain in the country. Sagil Waterfall, which is also in the park is a famous picnic site.

The mountain is famously associated with a fairy princess whom Sultan Mahmud Shah 1 is believed to have lusted over. She sent him a list of impossible tasks before he could marry her, and he eventually learnt that it was a polite way of saying “no” to his advances.

Muar is also famous for its traditional food. The most well-known is the spicy fish dumpling called Otak-Otak and the Javanese (Orang Kuala) Bandung Mee, which is a spicy, soupy noodle.

Satay (Malaysian kebab) is also famous in Muar and is served for breakfast in Abdullah Road.

Haji Abu Road is famous for its foodstalls. Besides indigenous Malaysian food, Chinese food is aplenty here and it includes Wanton Mee (noodles with stuffed dumplings a la ravioli), Oyster Omelette and Prawn Noodles (prepared dry, unlike that in other parts of the country).

Rows of well-preserved, pre-War buildings dominate the town’s architecture.

These buildings still house various shops along Abdullah Road, dubbed Muar’s central business district.

Prominent heritage buildings, among others, are the Abu Bakar Building (completed in 1929) that houses the town’s administrative offices and the Customs Department building (completed in 1909).

The age of most buildings can be easily identified since the date of completion (from the 1930s to 1950s) were cast on the buildings’ exterior.

There is a town park, Tanjung Emas Park, at the mouth of the Muar River. It includes a 9-hole golf course and an hour-long river cruise.

The Sultan Ibrahim Mosque is one of the major landmarks of Muar town. Completed in 1927, its architectural design has British influence.

The mosque is noted for its four-storey minaret in its backyard.

The latest icon of the town is the Sultan Ismail Mosque, located at the northern bank of the Muar River in Tanjung Agas.

Its design is similar to the first mosque.

Completed in 2002, it is the biggest mosque in the town.

Muar High School, established in 1904, is the town’s oldest public school. It was used as a Japanese concentration camp during World War 2.

Its alumni includes Johor’s Menteri Besar (Head Ministers) Datuk Seri Abdul Ghani Othman and his predecessors Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Tan Sri Othman Saat who are all from Muar.

Muar and Tangkak are served by two government hospitals as well as numerous primary health centres. The two hospitals are Muar’s Fatimah Hospital and Tangkak Hospital.

Both hospitals are teaching centres of the famous Melaka Medical College.

Muar is the birthplace of Ghazal, Johor’s Arab and Iranian-influenced traditional music.

Kuda Kepang, the traditional Kelantanese and Javanese Hobby Horse dance is performed in Muar and its most respected troupe is the Sungai Balang Troupe.

Muar is also famous for its 10-time world lion dance champion troupe the Kun Seng Keng Lion Dancers.

Muar is also famous for the Hindu temple Nagamalai Koil Alaiyam in Bukit Pasir. It is a popular hill temple for devotees in both Singapore and Malaysia.

Notable people from Muar:

Singaporean president S. R. Nathan.

Former Malaysian health minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng.

Malaysian singers M. Nasir, Ramli Sarip, Ramlah Ram, Nash (Jamaluddin Alias), Zainal Abidin and Zainal Alam Kadir a k a Mr Universe (Ghani’s cousin).

Comedian and TV presenter Jaafar Onn.

DJs Nana Mahazan (niece of Zainal Alam) and Reza Mohamad of Astro TV’s Era FM radio station.

Badminton player Yap Kim Hock.

Film-maker Yasmin Ahmad.

Former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Yusuf , his wife and former Women, Family and Community Development Minister Tun Fatimah Hashim and their son, former Securities Commission chief Tan Sri Ali Kadir.

Former Parliamentary Speaker Tan Sri Noah Omar, the grandfather of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak and Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman and his nephews, leading heart surgeon Datuk Dr Yahya Awang, former Health Ministry Director-General Tan Sri Dr Abu Bakar Sulaiman, and TV presenter, newscaster and MC Mahadzir Lokman.

Former Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Dr Neo Yee Pan.

Leading crime journalist Badrolhisham Bidin.

Former KFC Malaysia head the late Datuk Abdullah Omar, whose daughter Azreen is married to Kamaluddin, the businessman son of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Former Penang State Governor Tun Dr Awang Hassan, the father of Dr Yahya Awang.