Title: The Malay Peninsula and Archipelago
Author: Ashley Gibson, Barbara Shaw (illus)
Publisher: J. M. Dent, 1928.
Condition: Hardcover. Some wear and fraying to spine. Page edges tanned, with minor foxing to end papers and fly leaves. Inscription to fly leaf. Maps for end-papers. Binding tight, text clean.
About the book:
The Malay Peninsula is an entertaining, informative and very underrated book about Singapore and Malaya in the early 1900s. Written by Ashley Gibson, a friend of the famous writer H. M. Tomlinson, this little volume contains beautiful woodcut plates and illustrations, as well as a fairly exhaustive bibliography within the text. There are also entertaining bits of information. Here are some quotes:
“Records of European history in Singapore are admittedly scanty, but those of the Chinese are scantier still…There is no doubt, however, that Mr. Song Ong Sian’s A Hundred Years of the Chinese in Singapore..has proved a labour of love. Local activities of secret societies, for instance….are, it appears, almost if not quite as old as Singapore.”
“There is one Malay word that has a world-wide currency. Nobody requires to be told what ‘running amok’ means. The worst case in recent times took place in 1924, when a deck passenger on one of the Straits Steamship boats…went amok shortly after the vessel left Singapore, killing thirteen people including the European captain.”
“This writer goes on to admit that ‘wages have increased considerable since the war’. The are now, in fact, something like this:
For a houseboy – 20 to 30 dollars per month
Tukang ayer (water- carrier) – 14 to 18
Cook – 25 to 35
Sais (chauffeur) – 30 to 35
Ayah (Indian nurse) or Amah (Chinese nurse) – 25 to 40
Dhoby (washerman) – 15 to 20.”
“Curiously, the Malays have taken to motor-cars like ducks to water, and with a very short course of training develop into good mechanics and chauffeurs.”