14 Quirky Malaysian Facts That Weren't In Our Textbooks

From ketchup to out-of-place screws!

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1. Once upon a time, Peninsular Malaysia was known as Chersonesus Aurea or 'Golden Peninsula'

Image via Wikimedia

It translates to 'Golden Peninsula' and was given to us by the Greek geographer, Ptolemy in 150AD. It represented the entirety of the Malay Peninsular which includes, Peninsular Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

2. The word Ringgit means 'jagged' in Malay

Ringgit was a term that originally referred to the jagged edges of the silver Spanish dollars circulated during the Portugese colonial era. The name was then made official in August 1975.

3. The first design of the Jalur Gemilang had a 5-point star, which many thought resembled communist symbols

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The final design was modified to include more points and then approved by King George VI on 19 May 1950.

4. The word "ketchup" is derived from, ke-tsiap, the name of a sauce brought by Chinese traders to Melaka

Image via Fast Company

Ke-tsiap was a fermented sauce that was similar in taste to soy sauce. It was popular enough in Malaysia for English sailors to bring some back to their homeland. As Europeans tried to 'improve' the recipe, tomatoes evolved to become the main component of the dish.

5. In 1957, 17-year-old Kok Shoo Yin was the first non-bumiputera in Malaysia to be granted citizenship

Image via Lowyat

When the Chinese and Indian communities in the country were first granted citizenship, 17-year-old Kok Shoo Yin was the first person to have received his documentation, dated 14 November 1957.

6. Our local time has been adjusted many times throughout the years

Image via Jeff Hester

In 1901, we adopted the Singapore Local Mean Time.
In 1905, we adopted the mean time of the 105th meridian.
In 1932, our clocks were advanced 20 minutes to lengthen daylight.
In 1941, they were further advanced 10 minutes.
In 1942, they were fast forwarded by an hour and a half to follow Tokyo’s time.
In 1945, we reversed our clocks back to the time observed in 1941.
And finally in 1982, we advanced 30 minutes to sync with Sabah and Sarawak.

7. The first National Service programme was technically in the 1960s

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During the Indonesian confrontation, all male Malaysian citizens between the ages of 21 to 28 became liable to be drafted for a two-year military training with the armed forces. It was under a proclamation signed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

8. The Sultan Abdul Samad Clock Tower has only stopped working once and it was because of an out-of-place screw

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It was on Merdeka Day in 1987 at 1am. It took the team of people who maintained it six hours to fix until they finally realised that it stopped working because of a screw that had fallen off.

9. St. George's Church in Penang is Southeast Asia's oldest Anglican church...

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The church was built in 1818 by the British East India Company.

10. ... and the Penang Jewish Cemetery is believed to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Southeast Asia

Image via Penang Tourism

It was established in 1805 and is still maintained today with the support of private donations.

11. The first Punjabis in Malaya were political prisoners

Bhai Maharaj Singh

Image via Sikh Philosophy Network

They were Bhai Maharaj Singh and Kharak Singh. They were sent to Malaya in 1850 after being thrown out of India due to an anti-British involvement.

12. Sybil Kathigasu was the only Malayan woman awarded with the George Medal for bravery

Image via Ipoh Echo

She was a trained nurse who gave her services to the resistance forces during the Japanese occupation. She went through severe interrogation and torture by the Japanese and was even thrown into jail. Her memoir, No Dram of Mercy was released shortly before she passed away in 1948.

Here are more Malaysian heroes most of us haven't heard of:

13. Cinema began in 1933 with the screening of Leila Majnun

Image via Wikimedia

The film was based on a classical Persian story of two ill-fated lovers. It was directed by B.S. Rajhans and produced by the Singapore-based Motilal Chemical Company of Bombay.

14. There's a banned move in badminton called "Sidek Service" that was invented by the Sidek brothers!

Image via Rompedas

Also called, the s-service, it causes the shuttlecock to move in unpredictable and erratic manners. It was eventually banned by the International Badminton Federation in 1982.

More facts you probably didn't learn in school:

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