Kampung Chetti sudah wujud sejak tahun 1414 – iaitu jauh sebelum kedatangan Portugis.
15 Disember 2013, Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) mengadakan
Kunjungan Perpaduan Kavyan ke Kampung Chetti di Gajah Berang, Melaka.
Kunjungan ini adalah sebagai susulan kepada beberapa kunjungan
sebelum ini yang bertujuan menghayati warisan kaum Chetti yang amat unik
dan seharusnya menjadi kebanggaan Malaysia.
Walau bagaimanapun, pada kali ini, Kavyan dikejutkan dengan berita
projek pembangunan yang sudah dimulakan di kawasan Lot 93 yang terletak
di tengah-tengah perkampungan ini.
Kampung Chetti sudah wujud sejak tahun 1414 – iaitu jauh sebelum
kedatangan Portugis. Malah, kampung ini serta para penduduknya berjaya
mempertahankan hak, identiti dan maruah walaupun negara pernah dijajah
Belanda, British dan Jepun.
Malangnya, kini pembinaan dua blok kondominium 22 tingkat, hotel 12
tingkat dan tempat letak kereta 6 ringkat sudah diluluskan Kerajaan
Negeri Melaka di atas tanah Lot 93.
Menjelang Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 (Mei 2013), Ketua Menteri waktu
itu, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam dilaporkan mengarahkan projek pembinaan
itu dihentikan. Akan tetapi, kini projek itu diteruskan walaupun
mendapat bantahan penduduk Kampung Chetti.
Pihak Kavyan diberikan taklimat lengkap mengenai perkara ini oleh
Yang DiPertua dan AJK Persatuan Kebajikan dan Kebudayaan Kaum Chetti
Melaka pada 15 Disember 2013.
Kavyan yang menjalankan aktiviti bahasa, sastera, seni dan budaya di
seluruh negara sejak diasaskan pada Ogos 1999 merakamkan rasa kecewa dan
melahirkan bantahan terhadap sebarang projek yang boleh menjejaskan
kedudukan Kampung Chetti yang sudah diwartakan sebagai Perkampungan
Menurut laporan media, Pemuda MIC segera bangkit “berjuang” apabila
candi Lembah Bujang di Kedah dirobohkan baru-baru ini. Dalam kes Kampung
Chetti pula, Presiden dan Timbalan Presiden MIC sudah ditemui wakil
penduduk tetapi tiada sebarang reaksi positif.
Sekiranya perlu, Kavyan mencadangkan wakil Pertubuhan Pelajaran,
Sains dan kebudayaan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (Unesco) dipanggil untuk
membuat tinjauan serta mengemukakan saranan dan laporan kepada Majlis
Bandaraya Melaka Bersejarah (MBMB) dan Ketua Menteri, Datuk Wira Ir
Tambahan pula, Kampung Chetti mendapat pengiktirafan sebagai
Perkampungan Warisan dan tentu sahaja ada enekmen yang menghalang
pembinaan bangunan tinggi di sebelahnya.
Tinjauan Kavyan mendapati bahawa beberapa kuil lama di Kampung Chetti
yang dibina menggunakan batu kapur (limestone) berdepan masalah besar
berikutan projek pembinaan ini.
Misalnya, Kuil Sri Anggala Parameswari yang digazetkan sebagai
Warisan Negara terletak sekitar 300 meter dari tapak pembinaan; Kuil Sri
Kailasanar (sekitar 400 meter) dan Kuil Muthu Mariamman (100 meter).
Harapan dan gesaan Kavyan adalah supaya cadangan pembinaan di Lot 93
dihentikan segera. Rundingan patut diadakan dengan Persatuan Kebajikan
dan Kebudayaan Kaum Chetti Melaka mengenai cadangan tanah Lot 93
digazetkan sebagai sebahagian daripada Kampung Chetti.
Sambutan “Ponggal” (pesta menuai) secara besar-besaran bakal
berlangsung di Kampung Chetti pada pertengahan Januari 2014. Semoga akan
ada berita baik daripada pihak berkuasa sebelum tarikh itu.
Biarlah insiden Lembah Bujang menjadi pengajaran kepada kita supaya
lebih bertanggungjawab dalam memelihara dan memulihara warisan negara.
Sesal dahulu pendapatan, sesal kemudian tiada gunanya.
Malaysia may lose world heritage status
Malaysia as a whole will lose its Unesco heritage status if Kampung Chetti in Malacca is developed.
JAYA: Malaysia risks losing its world heritage status by allowing a
development project to take place at the Unesco heritage site in Kampung
Chetti, Malacca, said an Indian writers group.
Kavyan Writers Group president Uthaya Sankar said Unesco’s world
heritage status was awarded to Malaysia as a whole and not to individual
sites in Penang or Malacca.
“Hence the development project will result in Malaysia losing its world heritage status.
“Construction of buildings more than four storeys are not allowed at
heritage sites by Unesco,” said Uthaya Sankar SB in a press statement.
On Dec 17, there were reports that the Malacca state government had
approved construction of two 22-storey condominium blocks, a 12-storey
hotel and six of levels parking space on a plot of land in Kampung
The project was stopped by the former Malacca Chief Minister Ali
Rustam last year but has been revived and given the green light by the
current state administration after the 13th general election in May.
Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Department P Waythamoorthy has objected against the project.
Kampung Chetti has existed since 1414 and both the state and federal
governments have given the village, national heritage status. In
addition, the village is also a Unesco World Heritage site.
Uthaya said Malaysia would be portrayed negatively in the
international community if it lost the world heritage status and that
would affect tourism in the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign.
He had also called upon the DAP-led Penang government to state its
stand since the island’s world heritage status would be affected.
“Unesco has the right to rescind the world heritage status enjoyed by
Georgetown if Kampung Chetti in Malacca is developed,” he said, adding
that Penang is maintaining its heritage sites.
He also called upon the federal and state governments to issue a written guarantee to protect the national cultural site
Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 7:55:49 AM
Malacca CM steps in to solve Chitty village row
by r.s.n. murali
Piling works being carried out at the high-rise condominium project site at Kampung Chitty.
MALACCA: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron has stepped into the
controversy at Kampung Chitty in Gajah Berang here, ordering a probe
into the approval of a high-rise condominium project at what is arguably
the oldest settlement in the historical city.
According to a
state government source, Idris wanted a thorough investigation to
identify those responsible for the approval of the project in 2009.
The project is within the buffer zone of an area recognised by Unesco as a heritage site.
The village was gazetted as a heritage village in July 2002.
The project, involving two 22-storey condominium blocks, a 12-storey
hotel annex and a six-storey car park, was believed to have been shelved
but was later found to have been approved.
The developer is said to have resumed work six months ago.
The source said Idris was upset as the settlement of “Indian Peranakans” was part of the city’s heritage.
It was learnt that the state government might have to fork out about RM30mil in compensation if it re-acquires the land.
The source revealed that Idris had told his officers to look into
solving the issue immediately as it was causing a major “headache” to
“My boss wants to re-examine the documents
pertaining to the project and see how it can be resolved without
affecting the heritage site.
“He is serious about resolving the
matter but he has to manage it carefully as the approval was granted
before he was appointed as Chief Minister,” the source said.
Kampung Chitty’s Welfare and Cultural Association’ president K.
Supramania slammed the state government for reneging on its promise made
during a Deepavali open house in 2012.
He said former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam had told the community the project would not go on.
“Despite feeling disappointed, we still have trust in the state government to resolve the issue,” he said.
Supramania said the settlement preceded other ethnic enclaves in the
city, adding that the state government should not neglect the welfare of
one of the earliest communities in Malacca.
“There are many ways
for the state government to acquire the land, including getting funds
allocated under the National Heritage Act 2005, if it really wants to
save the village from development.
He said the approval of the
project should be re-evaluated based on the principles of Operational
Guidelines for World Heritage by Unesco, ICCROM (International Centre
for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property)
and Icomos (International Council on Monuments and Sites).
He said three Hindu temples, dating back to more than 300 years, were at risk if piling work begins.
“Our only hope now is that the Chief Minister will intervene and stop the project,” he added.
Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 1:18:41 PM
Chitty's last refuge under threat
by m. veera pandiyan
Swift action is needed to protect and conserve the sole bastion of one of the country’s smallest communities.
HAPPY New Year! Will it be a better one? Malaysians polled by the
World Independent Network of Market Research (WiN) and Gallup
International seem to think so.
About 41% of respondents felt that 2014 would be better than last year while 28% reckoned it would be the same.
On the negative side, 29% expected it to be worse while 2% didn’t know or chose not to answer.
The WiN/Gallup poll, published on Monday in collaboration with the BBC’s Today
programme, surveyed the hopes and fears of people from 65 countries around the world.
Apparently, about half were more upbeat about 2014 than they were for 2013.
I can’t speak for the rest of the world but the results of the tiny
sample of 300 Malaysians aren’t quite convincing, especially when the
Powers That Be seem to be constantly promising one thing and doing quite
Our policy-makers and implementers seem to be fixed in a cycle of repeating the same insensitive blunders over and over again.
The furore over a massive condominium project in the ancestral
village of the Malacca Chittys – one of the smallest minorities in the
country – is the newest example.
For those who are not familiar with the community, it is the Indian version of the Baba-Nyonya or Peranakan Chinese.
They should not be confused with the Chettiars, the clan of
merchants and money-lenders who hail from the Chettinad region of Tamil
The Chittys are descendants of traders who came to Malacca in the early 1400s from the Coromandel Coast.
Coramandel is derived from Chola Mandalam or Land of the Chola, a Tamil dynasty which lasted from the 9th century to 1279.
Their ancestors were among the pioneers of the spice trade who married local women.
They spoke Malay, adopted both Malay and Chinese Peranakan cultures, cuisines and garments but remained staunch Hindus.
It has been speculated that the place where they settled, Gajah
Berang (angry elephant) was called “Kanja Pidam”, a corruption of
Kanjipuram, a city famous for its silk where some of the Chittys
originated but historical records show that there was indeed an enraged
jumbo there once.
The community played a big role in the early development of Malacca and after its fall to the Portuguese.
The most prominent of its leaders was Naina Chatu or Naina Chitty, a
trader credited with minting the city’s first Portuguese coins.
The community lived in Campon Chelim (Kampung Keling), in Upeh (present day Tranquerah).
Its influence, however, waned during the Dutch era when they moved
out from the richer areas to various places including Bachang and Balai
Panjang, before eventually settling down in Kampung Tujuh to become padi
They built several historical places of worship, including the
Poyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple in Jalan Tukang Emas (Goldsmith Street)
in 1781, which still stands as the oldest functioning Hindu temple in
Around the village they built the Muthu Mariamman Temple (1822), the
Kailasanathar Temple or Sivan Kovil (1887), the Kaliamman Kovil (1804)
and the Angalamman Parameswari Temple (1888).
They also built several smaller shrines amid the padi fields,
including the Linggadariamman Kovil, Amman Kovil, Dharma Rajah Kovil,
Kathaiamman Kovil and Iyenar Kovil.
Today, there are only about 30 Chitty families in the village.
Ten years ago, a census showed that there were only 325 members of the community left in Malacca.
The condominium project – which is just metres away from the village
houses and temples – was first proposed seven years ago by a
It was originally meant to be a 33-storey condominium and adjoining
12-storey hotel with a six-storey car park on a 2.25ha plot next to the
village. The height of the condominium blocks was later revised to 22
The then mayor of the Malacca Historic City said it was on private
land and located outside the World Heritage Site zones although the
village was already gazetted as National Heritage site in 2002.
When Malacca and Penang were inscribed as Unesco World Heritage
sites in 2008, about 63ha of the historical city were listed under the
core heritage zone and about 175ha in the buffer zone.
In meeting Unesco’s guidelines, the Department of Town and Country
Planning commissioned a Special Area Plan to study areas covering the
core and buffer zones.
In 2009, the developer was told to submit a more suitable development plan for the area.
Three years later, the then Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam declared that the project had been shelved.
In February last year, he directed the Melaka Tengah District Office to acquire the land and convert it for public use.
But in spite of all these developments, work has resumed and the
sales of the units – priced between RM259,400 to RM373,295 – are being
The reasons remain a mystery but it is appalling that a project
involving three high-rise, high-density towers in a vulnerable heritage
site was even considered by the council.
Surely, the authorities must know that the village and surrounding
historical temples are the last refuge of the Chittys who have been
squeezed out of their ancestral homes over the years because of their
poor economic standing.
But it’s still not too late for both the state and federal
governments to act swiftly to protect and conserve the unique minority’s
only bastion of culture, heritage and faith.
The right thing for the Malacca Government to do is to cancel the
project and for National Heritage Commissioner Prof Datuk Siti Zuraina
Abdul Majid to declare it a heritage site.
Will it be done? It’s a brand new year and hope springs eternal.
- Associate Editor M. Veera Pandiyan likes this quote by Confucius: “Study the past, if you would divine the future.”
- The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.