Literature Archive


This research explores the visual representation of animals in postage stamps issued in North Borneo, Sarawak, British Malaya and Malaysia from the 19th to the 20th century. Since postage stamps were an official product of the State, this research exemplifies the postage stamp as a part of the visual culture that facilitates different State narratives and reveals their contribution towards the formation of colonial or national identities. Furthermore, the study explores visual art from a sociocultural perspective, intending to augment its value as a piece of historical evidence. It shows the visual representations of postage stamps as a record of the civilising process by examining the changes in animal representation as it shifts from a kaleidoscope of exotic romanticism towards the righteous pride of animal protection in
the postcolonial era. More than hundreds of thematic animal stamps that were issued in Malaysia were examined in order to identify the preferences influencing animal selection in both colonial and postcolonial era. Following that, background studies, theoretical analysis and visual methodologies form the main research approaches. This paper addresses the research gap that State narratives are disputable without any visual cultural element or ideological construct.

06-06-2007 – Clock Towers Series II / Menara Jam II

clocktowerMany of Malaysia’s clock towers are of historical interest. They were built mainly during the heyday of the nation’s colonial past. Many became the most enduring aspects of the colonial municipal buildings of which they were part. Yet others were constructed as free-standing structures, often in commemoration of an important date or event, and usually located along a major thoroughfare within the town or village concerned. It was also not unusual for many of these clock towers to be built under the financial auspices of well-to-do private individuals of the Malayan society.

The towers served their earlier purpose well, to tell time to generations of people in an era when wristwatches and house clocks were not generally the order of the day. Today, they tell of those times when they were built, when the Malaya then was dramatically different from what Malaysia has now become.

30sen – The J.W.W Birch Memorial Clock Tower, Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridzuan
50sen – The Atkinson Clock Tower, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
RM1 – Alor Setar Clock Tower, Kedah
Sheets: 30sen x 20, 50sen x 20, RM1 x 20
specially produced Postal Card, priced at 80sen each (inclusive of stamp) which features: Medan Pasar Clock Tower, Kuala Lumpur. & State Mosque of Kelantan Clock Tower, Kota Bharu

Date of Issue: 06.06.2007

This ornately constructed clock tower was built in 1909 in memory of J.W.W. Birch, the first Resident of the British colonial administration in Perak. He was assassinated in the early upsurge of Malaysian nationalism that eventually led to the nation’s freedom from colonial governance. The original presentation of the History of Civilisation around the faces of the tower, which also depicted the Prophet Muhammad, was regarded as controversial and subsequently altered in the 1970s. In spite of the change, this clock tower remained as a significant link to the nation’s past.

Completed in 1905, the Atkinson Clock Tower is one of the oldest buildings in Kota Kinabalu. As with many such towers constructed during the era of British Malaya, it was built in commemoration of an important member of the colonial administration. In this case, it was in memory of the first Resident of Sabah, a certain Francis George Atkinson, who unfortunately passed away at the age of 28 from malaria (curiously, called ‘Borneo Fever’ in those days). It originally also served as a lighthouse of sorts, giving positional information to vessels navigating the port of Jesselton, the old name of Kota Kinabalu.

This eye-catching clock tower was built in 1912 and bears distinctive Moorish influences which some say reflects a blend of Hindu and Islamic motifs. Located along Jalan Putera, near Masjid Zahir, the tower’s function and destiny appear closely linked with that of the mosque, with its various calls to prayer coordinated with the time as indicated on the clock face. This interesting clock tower rises aesthetically into the heights and gives the town of Alor Setar a major landmark which is both historic and visually pleasing.

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