Jelutong is George Town's southern suburb, located past the southern banks of the Pinang River (Sungai Pinang in Malay) immediately south of George Town. It is, for the most part, a working-class suburb.
However, Jelutong has seen considerable development since the 1980s and today, the Karpal Singh Drive along its eastern coast is an up-and-coming seaside promenade.
Jelutong is also home to the Nicol David International Squash Centre.
Jelutong got its name from the Jelutong tree, aka Dyera costulata. A species of tree in the oleander sub-family, the Jelutong tree can grow up to 60 metres tall, and is coveted for its hardwood and rubber. The Jelutong tree is native to tropical Southeast Asia and the area around Jelutong, in particular, once had a heavy concentration of Jelutong trees, hence its name.
HistoryEven before Captain Francis Light landed on Penang Island in 1786, Malays, Acehnese (from Acheh in northern Sumatra) and Indian merchants were already trading along the Pinang River. According to oral tradition, the Acehnese used to trade in what is now Kampung Pulau at Perak Road. Indeed, some villages in Jelutong, such as Kampung Rawa, were founded by Malay or Acehnese traders who settled on Penang Island way before Captain Francis Light set foot.
The area to the south of George Town had been cleared in the mid-19th. century for agricultural purposes. Later on, an industrial boom led to the construction of factories and mills in the area; the former Khie Heng Bee Mills, where white rice was milled and boiled in large vats before being loaded on to boats, was among the first to be set up. However, industrial growth in the area would soon lead to the pollution of the Pinang River; to this day, Pinang River is still heavily polluted.
By the start of the 20th. century, George Town's population was spilling out to the south. Jelutong Road, which to this day acts as the main thoroughfare in Jelutong, was paved in the early 20th. century.
Jelutong was regarded as George Town's backwater; until the 1990s, coastal villages continued to exist within Jelutong's coast, populated mostly by fishermen. Also, the mangrove swamps of Jelutong, which used to host firefly colonies, provided substenance for woodcutters and charcoal makers. Bakau Street, off Jelutong Road, was the centre for the making of firewood and charcoal, and to this day, some charcoal makers still make their living along Bakau Street.
By the 1970s, Jelutong had gained notoriety for the gangsters and thugs roaming the working-class residential area. Street justice would be meted out for any infraction. In addition, Perak Lane was another criminal hostpot, witnessing repeated turf wars and police raids.
Beginning from the mid-1980s, living standards were improved and apartments were built within Jelutong for the lower to middle-income wage earners. These had the effect of gradually eradicating gangsterism in Jelutong. A few older houses and soy sauce factories refused to give way to urban development; they still stand along Jelutong Road today.
Between 1978 and 1999, the late Karpal Singh, one of Malaysia's most distinguished lawyers and a top Democratic Action Party (DAP) politician, held the parliamentary seat of Jelutong, earning him his famous moniker 'The Tiger of Jelutong'.
A new seaside promenade had been developed along Jelutong's eastern coasts in the 2000s. In 2014, the promenade was renamed Karpal Singh Drive, in honour of the lawyer and politician who was killed in a road accident that year.
Until 2010, motorists had to use the Jelutong Road to get to Bayan Lepas to the south. With the completion of the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Expressway near the eastern coast of Penang Island, substantial traffic has been diverted away from Jelutong, although traffic congestion is still a daily problem along Jelutong Road due to inconsiderate parking around Jelutong Market.
The former Bukit Dumbar Squash Centre was renamed Nicol David International Squash Centre in 2010, after one of the world's top squash player. Her talents were first discovered here in 1991.
The Penang Transport Master Plan includes the Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line from KOMTAR to the Penang International Airport. The proposed line is to align parallel to Karpal Singh Drive and south along Jelutong Road.
The Karpal Singh Drive has become Jelutong's most popular destination, and an up-and-coming promenade within George Town. One can get a scenic view of the Penang Strait, the Port of Penang, the Penang Bridge and the town of Butterworth on mainland Malay Peninsula across the straits. A number of art sculptures have been erected along the promenade as well.
Further developments taking place to the south will turn Karpal Singh Drive into part of a large seaside promenade stretching from the southern banks of the Pinang River all the way to the Penang Bridge.
Jelutong has been dubbed the home of nasi kandar, an Indian Muslim dish popular in Malaysia and Singapore. A nasi kandar stall operating inside the Tai Min Coffee Shop has been well-known for serving among the best nasi kandar dishes in Penang.
Delicious Penang asam laksa can be found at a few spots within Jelutong, such as a food truck behind the Jelutong post office and the Jelutong Hawker Centre at Jelutong Highway.
Other than that, several hawker centres, coffee shops and restaurants can be found throughout Jelutong.
- Fu Lu Shou Cafe
- Kim Hee Cafe
- Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Hock Yan
- Kedai Kopi Thor Pheng Cheng
- Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Ching Wah
- Kedai Kopi Lum Kah
- Kedai Makanan Seong Huat
- Hong Shen Stall
- 88 Cafe
- Mutiara Corner Jelutong
- Hameediyah Restaurant
- Ali Ameir Nasi Kandar
- Restoran Deen
- Restoran Janaki Vilas
- JJS Vegetarian Restaurant
- Kafe Bamboo
- Kang Beef House
Perhaps the best known sports facility in the suburb of Jelutong is the Nicol David International Squash Centre. Formerly known as the Bukit Dumbar Squash Centre, it is situated by the slope of the Dumbar Hill (Bukit Dumbar in Malay) overlooking Jelutong Road. This man-made hill also marks the informal boundary between the neighbouring suburbs of Jelutong and Gelugor.
It was here that the talents of a young Nicol David was first discovered in 1991 by Miss Ee Phoeh Hoon of the Squash Racket Association of Penang. The discovery proved to be a critical stepping stone for one of the world's best squash players. In 2010, this facility was renamed after Nicol David.
Getting to Jelutong
These Rapid Penang routes are also applicable in the opposite direction, except for route 11, which goes from Batu Lanchang straight into the George Town city centre via the Lam Wah Ee Hospital at Green Lane.
301 : Weld Quay - KOMTAR - Jelutong Road - Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Sungai Dua entrance - Bukit Jambul Complex - Relau
303 : Weld Quay - KOMTAR - Jelutong Road - Gelugor - Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Sungai Dua entrance - Sungai Nibong express bus terminal - Bukit Jambul Complex - SPICE Arena - Sunshine Bayan Baru
13 : Paya Terubong - Farlim - Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Farlim - All Season's Place, Farlim - Batu Lanchang Lane - Green Lane - Lebuhraya Batu Lanchang - Batu Lanchang market - Jalan Tan Sri Teh Ewe Lim, Batu Lanchang - Jelutong market - Tesco Gelugor, e-Gate and Udini Square
Penang State Government
N.30 Sungai Pinang State Assemblyman : Lim Siew Khim (Democratic Action Party)
N.31 Batu Lanchang State Assemblyman : Law Heng Kiang (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.050 Jelutong Member of Parliament : Ooi Chuan Aun (Democratic Action Party)