Century Old Village Keeping With The Times

Last update: 28/04/2015

By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin


SABAK BERNAM (Bernama) -- If you are driving up north using the "old road", you would inevitably pass through Sabak Bernam before entering the state of Perak.

The "old road" here refers to the main road connecting the northern part of peninsular Malaysia to its southern side, before the North-South Expressway was built.

Some 22km off the town of Sabak Bernam is where you will find a village that is nearly a century in age: Kampung Parit Baru Pekan.

With a population of 1,080 and 330 families, the site is more like a mini township than a village.

What is more interesting is that nearly half of its residents comprise those under the age of 40.

This is almost unheard of today, where village youths tended to migrate to larger towns in search of a better life and source of income.


DEALING WITH CHANGES

The Village Security and Development Committee head Noor Asmadi Mohd Yahya, 41, said that the village preserved its legacy through programmes that involved every member of its community.

The village still practices activities like "gejobos", (the Javanese word for "gotong-royong") particularly in the organisation of ceremonies. It has become a platform for the young and the old to work together and interact with one another.

"The elders would usually head the gejobos in the kitchen. They would be assisted by the young and at the same time, the young would also become 'peladen'(servers) during the ceremony," Asmadi explained to Bernama.

The village's "kompang" group is also another platform for both generations to get together.

The group holds its practices twice a week and more frequently when there is an upcoming event.


YOUTH ACTIVITIES

The youths of the village have a penchant for extreme sports, and the village committee goes all out to accommodate to it.

"We want the younger generation to know that we understand their needs. That is why we let them engage and organise programmes that appeal to their interests," said Asmadi.

Limited funds are not an obstacle to them. The programme organisers are a creative and hardworking lot when it comes to finding ways to fund their programmes, from seeking out sponsors to getting them from competition fees.

The "Sungai Lang Drag Race" organised on April 8 has become an annual event at the village.

The event attracts motorsports fans from all over the country. Its success prompted the organisers to host the "Sungai Lang Sprint Test 201 Metre" motorcycle race this year.

In March, the village for the first time launched a mountain bike racing competition. Avid cyclists from across the nation joined the event, with participation numbering over 300.

In view of the response, Asmadi is now considering organising a motocross race in the near future.

He said sporting events as such helped narrow the gap between the young and the old and allowed for them to identify the future leaders of the village.


FROM JAVA TO MALAYSIA

The district of Sabak Bernama is known for its population of Malays from Javanese or Bugis descent.

Kampung Parit Baru Pekan is no exception.

In 1918, an entourage of 25 headed by Abdul Razak Alias arrived from Java and settled down in the district.

A year later, under the British rule, the group had developed the land and created the village called Kampung Sungai Lang.

"The lore goes that a unique-looking eagle (called "helang" in Malay or "lang" in Javanese) used to live around here. But what it actually was was a dead tree with living branches," Asmadi explained.


NEW NAME

In 1938, the District Education Office accidentally sent a shipment of books meant for the village to another village in Banting with the same name.

Although the British were aware of the conflict, they were unable to do anything at the time as in 1941, Japan invaded Malaya and remained until 1945.

"When the British regained control, the village management agreed to change the name of the village to Kampung Parit Baru, to commemorate the then newly-completed irrigation system that was jointly worked on by everyone from Sungai Bernama to Kampung Teluk Rhu," said Asmadi.

He said due to the rapid population growth, the village was then split into three to ease administration matters.

The three new villages are named Kampung Parit Baru Pekan, Kampung Parit Baru Baroh and Kampung Sungai Apong, all of which still exist today.


DEVELOPMENT

The villagers' main source of income is agriculture, with the main crops being coconut and oil palm.

Development has brought about some demographic changes in the village.

The opening of the Sabak Bernam Fully Integrated Residential School, the Sultan Idris Shah Polytechnic, the National Accounting Institute and the Selangor Dakwah Training Institute has opened up a new dimension to the area.

"Today, while the husbands are working the plantations, the wives work in the offices here. Some are teachers, and some work at government offices outside the village," he said.

The opening of new shop lots also provided another source of income, with some 80 per cent of traders comprising the villagers.

-- BERNAMA