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Malay Street Ghaut, George Town, Penang

Malay Street Ghaut, George Town

Malay Street Ghaut, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a seaward extension of Malay Street. It continues from the eastern end of Malay Street, linking Beach Street to the northwest with Weld Quay to the southeast.

Malay Street Ghaut sign, George Town, Penang

A bilingual Malay Street Ghaut sign, featuring its Chinese name.

The street was created in the late 19th. century, when the area was reclaimed from the sea. True to its name, it led to a formerly Malay portion of George Town, where cows were bred and slaughtered. Some shophouses near the junction between Malay Street Ghaut and Beach Street also feature unique balconies protruding above the street.

Etymology

Similar to the adjoining Malay Street, Malay Street Ghaut was named after a Malay enclave of George Town which had existed within the area in the mid-19th. century.

All streets that were extended towards the sea carry the word 'ghaut', which means a flight of steps leading down into the sea. A common feature along India's rivers, ghauts were constructed to allow the offloading of a ship's cargo.

In the past, cows, which are essential in Muslim festivals, were bred and slaughtered within the Malay enclave. Hence, the street was also known to the Chinese as Thai Gu Hang Lor Thau in Hokkien and Thong Ngau Hong Lo Thau in Cantonese. Both names meant 'the beginning of cow-slaughtering street'.

History

The adjoining Malay Street had been in existence since at least the mid-19th. century. At the time, it was part of the Malay enclave to the south of Acheen Street. By the end of the 19th. century, Malay Street became a charming residential street, with elegant Chinese shophouses being built.

The area around Malay Street Ghaut was reclaimed from the sea towards the end of the 19th. century. Prior to the land reclamation, Beach Street served as the coastal road, with its eastern side stretching along George Town's original eastern seafront; mangrove swamps covered the coast directly east of the junction between Malay Street and Beach Street.

Shophouses near the junction between Malay Street Ghaut and Beach Street have unique balconies that jut out above the street. However, renovation works in recent years have somewhat reduced their former charm.

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.27 Pengkalan Kota State Assemblyman : Lau Keng Ee (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books, Penang.
  2. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/malay-street-ghaut.htm

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