Rumah Bendahara?

1 September 2005

MP Zainul Abidin Rasheed asked about whether the Gedung Kuning (GK) or the land on which GK now sits once belonged to the Bendahara (Prime Minister or Vizier in the Malay Kingdom). He stated that there was a “request that we rename the Gedung Kuning to Bendahara’s House, even if it’s just for glamour and/or marketing purposes”.

3 September 2005

Hidayah objected and stated her reasons in her email.

5 September 2005

Mr Iskander Mydin from Singapore History Museum informed via email that “as far as we know there was no Bendahara on the island at the time of Raffles’ arrival. There is no documentary evidence to indicate that the Riau Bendahara was based in Singapore. The Pahang Bendahara did visit Singapore on his way back home to Pahang. (Source: Hikayat Pahang)”

26 February 2013

Hidayah noticed that a Mamanda wedding invite stated “[email protected] Bendahara”. She emailed the owners of Mamanda to inform them about the factual errors. They did not reply.

March 2013

A wedding signage refered to Gedung Kuning as Rumah Bendahara.


April 2013

SPH Rewards to subscribers stated “[email protected] Bendahara”.

1 April 2013

The Online Citizen published Hidayah’s letter ‘Gedung Kuning and NOT Rumah Bendahara’.

3 April 2013

Berita Harian published Hidayah’s letter ‘Nama sebenarnya Gedung Kuning dan bukan Rumah Bendahara‘.

8 April 2013

Mamanda published an advertisement (front page of Berita Harian) ‘Majlis Perkahwinan @ Rumah Bendahara” (Wedding ceremony @ Bendahara’s House). The tagline was “Hubungan cinta diraja dengan santapan Melayu bermula 150 tahun yang lalu dan terus hingga ke hari ini di Mamanda.” – Royal love affair with Malay cuisine started 150 years ago and continues to this day at Mamanda. The tagline gave the impression that Royalty had been staying in Gedung Kuning since 150 years ago, and their love for fine Malay cuisine continues until today at Mamanda.

9 April 2013

Mamanda published an advertisement (front page of Berita Harian) “Mamanda: [email protected] Residence”. Notwithstanding the incorrect grammar, the statement is factually wrong, as Gedung Kuning was never a residence for the non-existing Bendahara.

13 April 2013

Hidayah wrote a letter to the CEO of the National Heritage Board about this matter.

15 April 2013

Mamanda revamped its website. The contents remained – it is mentioned that the house was Rumah Bendahara; no mention of Haji Yusoff’s family who lived there since 1912.

18 April 2013

NHB responded via email and stated that “In the course of developing the Kampong Glam Heritage Trail, NHB sought to incorporate inputs from the community and it was pointed out to NHB by some local residents in the area that the building was also referred to as “Rumah Bendahara”. Consequently, NHB mentioned that the building was “reportedly” known as “Rumah Bendahara” because we wanted to acknowledge the community’s inputs on the heritage of the building.

Having said that, NHB acknowledges that the use of the term “Rumah Bendahara” might cause some confusion and we will remove the term from our heritage trail as well as official collaterals. We will also work with MHF to update Mamanda so that they will avoid using the term for their future marketing collaterals.”

19 April 2013

Hidayah emailed Julina (GM of the Malay Heritage Foundation) and the owners of Mamanda informing them of NHB’s decision.

20 April 2013

Berita Harian published an article about the the matter. In the article, Mamanda stated that even Hidayah had used the word Rumah Bendahara in her book, Gedung Kuning: Memories of a Malay Childhood. Mamanda added that it got the information from NHB, MHF as well as Hidayah’s Gedung Kuning website and blog.
Hidayah posted on her Facebook wall:
“My rejoinders to the statements made by the owners of Mamanda in the article that is published in Berita Harian today:

1. In my Gedung Kuning Book, on page 194:
“c. 1850: Even though Singapore never had a Bendahara (Prime Minister), a Rumah Bendahara (House of the Prime Minister) was built for Tengku Mahmud, the younger son of Sultan Ali. Tengku Mahmud changed the name Rumah Bendahara to Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion) after its yellow walls.”
The facts about the Bendahara and the house have been clearly stated.

2. The same information is published at

3. The owners of Mamanda were told about this fact in my email to them on 15 April 2012 – “…. I also hope that the Malay Heritage Foundation and Centre will use the extensive research that I have done about Gedung Kuning and not misrepresent historical and legal facts.”

4. I have also informed the owners of Mamanda on 26 Feb 2013 of past correspondences in 2005 about the name that “as far as we know there was no Bendahara on the island at the time of Raffles’ arrival. There is no documentary evidence to indicate that the Riau Bendahara was based in Singapore. The Pahang Bendahara did visit Singapore on his way back home to Pahang (Source: Hikayat Pahang).”
Yet, they went ahead to use Rumah Bendahara in the April advertisements.

Distortion of historical facts is a serious matter. So please do not shift the blame to the information in my book and website. Thank you.”

6 June 2013, 10.14am

NMP Faizah Jamal emailed to Mamanda about the advertisement she received. She said “I note with interest your description of this building as having ‘royal roots’ in your ad.
While that may well be true, and may well be due to a need to make your marketing efforts more attractive, it is interesting to me that your ad did not also mention that up until only 14 years ago, in 1999, it was also the home of a Malay family of Javanese descent for four generations, the family of Haji Yusof who as you are very well aware, was a wealthy and successful pioneer Malay businessman and a well-known personality of his time in Singapore, a name as worthy of mention as the name of Tengku Mahmud in your ad.” – read email


6 June 2013, 11.34am

Hidayah emailed to Madam Rosa Daniel, CEO NHB echoing NMP Faizah’s sentiments and stated, “I enclose the Statutory Land Grant which is also accessible on the website. Gedung Kuning reverted to being private property in 1907, meaning that the royal family could not stayed there until 1999 when it was acquired by the government. The descriptions used in the advertisement gave the false impression that the “173 year old historical mansion” was the home of Tengku Mahmud when in actual fact, the royal family had mortgaged the house following the Court of Appeal’s decision in 1897 – Tengku Mahmud vs. Tengku Ali, Straits Settlements Laws Report 1897 (Vol. 5).”
read email & Statutory Land Grant No. 16944

6 June 2013, 9.03pm

Zulkarnine Hafiz, Director of Mamanda emailed NMP Faizah Jamal and accused Hidayah by saying “Naturally for Hidayah, it will be used as an ammunition to email to all above names to discredit Mamanda. We have stopped all communication with Hidayah and she now have you an MP as a spokes person. We do not know what is your objective and again it was used as another attack by Hidayah towards Mamanda.” – read email

6 June 2013, 11.11pm

NMP Faizah replied and among other things said, “Nor do I have a desire to defend any particular individual. The reason why it was cc-ed to Hidayah Amin and Khir Johari (and to no one else) is because their families used to live in Gedung Kuning and as I mentioned, as a child, I used to visit the family there, and for many people living in Kampung Gelam as my own family has done for more than 70 years, it was in the consciousness among the ‘kampung’ people in this area that Gedung Kuning is ‘home’ to the family of Haji Yusof, not a unknown personality within our Kampung Gelam community. You would hard put to find someone of my generation and older to resonate with the building as being the ‘home of Tengku Mahmud’ even though that is historically accurate too”. – read email

7 June 2013, 1.29am

Hidayah replied to Zulkarnine’s accusations and attached evidences “so that the relevant people in this email will know that it is you who have acted unprofessionally and without integrity.”. She also stated that “I will not hesitate to take this matter to a much higher authority (this time, I will not be considerate and kind) should you and/or the MHF continue to defame my reputation.”
read email & evidence 1, evidence 2, evidence 3, evidence 4

7 June 2013, 8.11am

Zulkarnine emailed to NMP Faizah and said, “Your action of putting them in the loop in your first email suggesting that you are defending and agreeing with an individual. It has also come to our attention (correct us if we are wrong) that you have blood ties and related to them.
The use of power is further exercises, when you signed off as an NMP. We believe and it was proven, with that email, it was use to garner support to discredit Mamanda. As a member of public, we again believe that you have abuse your power to direct us to do certain things. You have not exercise your due diligence to check with us first, before coming to your own conclusion.
As a member of public, we felt that we were abuse and unfairly treated by our MP. With that we are excising our rights as a member of public to lodged a formal complain of Power Abuse to the Parliament.”- read email

7 June 2013, 2.22pm

NMP Faizah replied to Zulkarnine and among other things stated that “These personal aspects and professional experiences, and my stand on heritage and environment both built and natural, ranging from Kampung Gelam to Bukit Brown to Pulau Ubin, are the very reasons why I was nominated, and later appointed as Nominated MP with this very niche platform. They form a major part of many of my speeches. My stand on these issues is public knowledge. I would be remiss in my role if I do not address my concern as I had in my email to your company.
Since I believe in doing the right thing I would agree with you that if it feels right to you that you lodge a complaint against me, then that is what you would have to do.” – read email

7 June 2013, 10.50pm

Hidayah emailed to Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, the Minister in charge of Malay-Muslim Affairs, to inform him of what had transpired between the owners of Mamanda, NMP Faizah and herself and asked him to advise Mamanda from further complicating this issue. – read email

9 June 2013, 12.05pm

Zulkarnine replied to NMP Faizah again defaming Hidayah and said “Lastly, we want to put a closure to this and we accept your apology.” He apparently forgot that he wanted to lodge a complaint against her. And as far as NMP Faizah’s email of 7 June at 2.22 pm goes, she did not apologise to Zulkarnine. – read email

10 June 2013, 12.07am

Hidayah emailed to rebut Zulkarnine’s accusations (with evidence).
She also wrote:
“Yes, we do learn something about Gedung Kuning from Dr Hadijah’s article in Berita Harian today (9 June 2013). Dr Hadijah mentioned that Encik Abu Putih acted as the Sultan’s confidante ‘such as’ treasurer. As for Encik Bujal, there was a mention of him being a treasurer. But there was no mention of either one of them residing at Gedung Kuning.
Furthermore, if it was true those Bendahara stayed at Gedung Kuning, why would Tengku Mahmud change the name to Gedung Kuning? Would the name Rumah Bendahara be more fitting for the Bendahara who allegedly live there?
I put it to you that the reason why you are so adamant on the Rumah Bendahara issue is that your restaurant’s name is Mamanda (the title or pronoun for Minister). So, if you cannot use the term Rumah Bendahara or House of the Prime Minister, then your marketing strategies would have failed.”

– read email, evidence 1, evidence 2, evidence 3, evidence 4, evidence 5, evidence 6.

11 June 2013, 10.16am

Zulkarnine emailed Faizah and again deviating from the real issues at hand and ignoring Hidayah’s evidences. Instead he stated that:
1) “About time NHB or MHF should have an Official Gedung Kuning Website to educate the public a balance and factual about Gedung Kuning. Daily there are hundreds of school going children come to Gedung Kuning. There are foreign students learn about it. Imagine what kind of information we are feeding them with the current website.”
2) “NHB or MHF should have the rights to the domain name bearing Gedung Kuning as it is of National interest.”
– read email

12 June 2013, 10.29am

Faizah replied to Zulkarnine’s email and talked on 3 matters:
1) she wrote in her capacity as Nominated MP
2) that Zulkarnine is in the position of upholding a public trust as he chose to do business in a 173 year old public heritage building in an important heritage area
3) “No you could not have accepted an apology from me. I had not offered one.”
read email

12 June 2013, 5.45pm

Zulkarnine’s usual response deviates from the main issues and once again, he manipulates facts and wants NHB to shut down this website:
1) “Does it make sense for Mamanda to tell about Gedung Kuning and yet when the public Google or goes to the Gedung Kuning Website it shows all the family disputes, letters to NHB, MHF, Mamanda, STB, SPH etc.? Will this look good for NHB, MHF, STB, SPH and the ministers? What will the public think?

2) “In addition in my opinion, there is an urgency for NHB to look into the on going Gedung Kuning Website. It should be better of as “Hj Yusoff dot com or Hj Yusoff Tali Pinggang dot com instead of Gedung Kuning so as to keep personal matters separate. Gedung Kuning is a heritage building so personal matter should not be included here. That way Gedung Kuning heritage and history is more complete and balance. We strongly believe this will do justice to the heritage building. Then, we are more than happy to link to this website as point of reference in our email blast or marketing collaterals. Simple yet effective.

3) “Our main mission is to promote Malay Heritage through food and culture and not Hj Yusoff family only. Gedung Kuning history does not start from 1912. As much as we respect and values their family heritage and history, we do not want to seen as using their family heritage for marketing or been subject to be labelled as manipulating or abusing their family heritage for marketing purposes. There are a lot of sensitivity of using their family history. We refrain from using it to avoid any copyright matters or been accuse of using the family materials or information for marketing purposes. Unless you can guaranteed us we will not tangle in any legal dispute with Hj Yusoff family.”
– read email

*As per the Malay proverb, “Anjing menyalak, bukit takkan runtuh” (The dog barks but the mountain will not crumble). Its meaning “Bagaimana orang yang jahat mencela orang yang baik tidak ada akibatnya” or No matter how much a good person is insulted by a bad person, the former will not be affected by the latter’s insults.
The truth will always prevail no matter how much the owners of Mamanda choose to discredit Hidayah and family and/or choose to change history.

15 June 2013

Abdullah Joffri, a trustee of the estate of Haji Yusoff (he is also Haji Yusoff’s grandson and Hidayah’s uncle) wrote a complaint letter addressed to Dr Yaacob Ibrahim about MHF’s and Mamanda’s mistreatment towards Hidayah as well as about the artefacts belonging to the family that are on loan to the MHF.
-read letter

*Please go to Contributions for correspondences about the artefacts.