Photo taken from Pok Pok and Away
Today, Pulau Tekong is best known to Singaporeans as the military zone where boys turn to men. However, little is known of the stories and histories behind the various kampungs that used to scatter around Singapore's largest offshore island. During a visit to my Mak Cik (elder aunt) for Hari Raya this year, I learned something very fascinating about my maternal great-great-grandfather, Abdul Rahman.
He was involved in the founding of Kampung Pahang on Pulau Tekong Besar.
According to Maznah binti Sulong, it was narrated to her by her father — Sulong bin Yunos — that his grandfather along with three other siblings, opened a Malay settlement on the western coasts of Pulau Tekong after arriving from Pahang during the Perang Saudara Pahang (Pahang Civil War) of 1857 - 1863. It was their identities as Orang Melayu Pahang that gave the kampung its namesake, nearly 300 kilometres from their birthplace.
This is in line with the scarce information available that documented the role of the Pahang Civil War in the inhabitation of the island.
The Pahang Civil War broke out between two siblings, Tun Mutahir and Wan Ahmad, shortly after the demise of their father Bendahara Tun Ali who reigned over the newly independent Pahang sultanate from 1853 - 1857 (Negeri Pahang, 2019). While the eldest son Tun Mutahir succeeded as viceroy, he went against his father's will of granting tax revenues from the provinces of Kuantan and Endau to his younger brother Wan Ahmad.
According to Lee & Chen (2011), Wan Ahmad resented and fled southwards to Pulau Tekong in 1857 with his followers to plan an attack. It was here where he would also silently gather manpower in Singapore before launching an offensive into Pahang in November that same year (Negeri Pahang, 2019). After two more major military campaigns in 1861 and 1863, Wan Ahmad emerged the victor after his brother had fled to Kuala Sedili and succumbed to his injuries there. Wan Ahmad would formally be proclaimed as the first Sultan of Pahang in 1882 until his demise in 1914 (Portal Diraja Pahang, n.d.).
Another separate narration that talks about the civil war and its relation to the founding of Kampung Pahang comes from Malik who shares of his father who was a soldier from Pahang (Tan, 2018). Malik mentioned how his father has fled to Pulau Tekong after the declaration of civil war.
For now, it is unsure if my great-great-grandfather was a follower of Wan Ahmad or if he was a refugee who wanted to flee from the senseless violence; and I'm afraid only God knows best. However, one thing that I do know is that the migration of Abdul Rahman from Pahang into Pulau Tekong marks the beginning of my forefathers' identities as Orang Pulaus.
On Pulau Tekong, Abdul Rahman fathered three children: Aminah, Aseah and Ismail. Yunos bin Abdul Kadir — affectionately known as Tok Aki Yunos — would father six children to Aminah; of whom the eldest is my grandfather who was born in 1922. Sulong would then father eight children — with my mom being the last — on Pulau Tekong to Jariah binti Salim, before migrating to Pulau Ubin in 1959 where he would father four more.
From Kampung Surau on Pulau Ubin, to Kampung Pahang on Pulau Tekong Besar, to the actual state of Pahang in Malaysia, there is still so much more for me to learn and trace of my family heritage and genealogy. I ask Allah SWT to ease me in my affairs for He knows best.
Lee, L. S., & Chen, P. S. (2011). Retrospect On The Dust-Laden History, A: The Past And Present Of Tekong Island In Singapore (Illustrated ed.). Wspc.
Negeri Pahang. (2019). Sejarah Perang Saudara di Pahang Pada tahun 1857–1863. https://negeripahang.com/sejarah-perang-saudara-di-pahang-pada-tahun-1857-1863?fbclid=IwAR2LiUGqL78jAUCbeWnobDP8_pyI2SSjZrQV41TASt1qb_tCq5t9Jy2ZH08
Portal Diraja Pahang. (n.d.). SULTAN PAHANG I. http://www.dirajapahang.my/portaldiraja/?page_id=1723
Tan, Z. (2018). familyroots. Singapore Memory. https://www.singaporememory.sg/contents/SMA-ce4035ff-78bd-4850-aa51-89cb27f03ebd?fbclid=IwAR3pngZW6-dpWS51gQB39dhssEtqhk2-lDLqwxh3GytNE-tfOWyr1d0bI0w