Gedung Kuning: Memories of a Malay Childhood

was launched on 9 January 2010 (Saturday) at The Pod, National Library.

Through 28 short stories, readers get a historical narrative of the lives of the people living in Gedung Kuning and the Malays of Singapore from 1850s to 1999.

ISBN 978-981-08-4756-2

The book is published by Singapore Heritage Society and Helang Books. The publication is supported under the National Heritage Board’s Heritage Industry Incentive Programme (Hi2P).

Read 2 stories from the book

The book is available in major bookstores in Singapore & Malaysia. You may also order online with

What Readers Say

Ira Renfrew, USA

‘Gedung Kuning’ brings the reader back to a time gone by, a time when Singapore was a regional trading entrepot tied to the economies of the Malay Archipelago. Hidayah’s heartfelt vignettes introduce the reader to one extended family’s journey from those days into the modern age of the developed city state. The writing brings the characters to life, weaving together the fabric of a complete story out of individual narratives.
This book is a reflection on the development of a family, a culture and a country; a reflection on what has been lost and what has been gained in the last century. Once started, it’s hard to put down; readers will surely finish the book with a more nuanced understanding of Malay culture and Singaporean history.

Ira Renfrew, USA
Kuo-Yi Lim, Singapore

‘Gedung Kuning’ provides insights into generations of Malay and Islamic way of living in Singapore. The book also signposts stages of Singapore’s development as a thriving community of remarkable personalities. For a non-Malay and non-Muslim reader like me, the book not only opens up views of life in Singapore that I never came close to knowing, but also evokes a sense of familiarity in places. An enjoyable read!

Kuo-Yi Lim, Singapore
Sabri Zain, Cambridgeshire, UK

Reading Gedung Kuning reminded me very much of that scene from ‘Amelie’, where she finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. Reading Gedung Kuning was for me like opening such a treasure box, where, to my delight, I found long, long lost memories of my life as a young boy growing up in Bedok in the 1960s.

Sabri Zain, Cambridgeshire, UKArchivistSejarah Melayu portal
Tom Estad

As an expat very interested in all things Singaporean, I really enjoyed reading ‘Gedung Kuning’. It was an especially interesting way to learn more about Malay culture and Malay family life, subjects for which I have found little written about in English. ‘Gedung Kuning’ is very accessible for readers of all ages and let the reader learn about Singapore and its history through the eyes of one family living in a most wonderfully fascinating house. I found myself envious of the author and her childhood and family history – what a rich tapestry of personalities and memories she has as a heritage.

Tom Estad
Prof John Bastin, UK

I enjoyed reading it though the word “enjoyed” is hardly appropriate given the sad ending to your story. The story itself is well told and is an interesting piece of Singapore family history, the more so as the family involved is Malay. I think it will become increasingly important as a source for the history of Kampong Glam as the years go by.

Prof John Bastin, UK
Sivam Subramaniam, Singapore

I must say it’s a sweet book. I did feel so good reading it. It was rich in history and culture of the Muslim communities. It made me so want to go there and see the place and meet your family too…..It was simple and touching in its childlike loveliness. The book did give me a good insight into the Javanese Malays and did ring lovely common chords in humanity with each anecdote…. I was sad to finish the book.

Sivam Subramaniam, Singapore
Andrew Price, Australia

Many congratulations on the fabulous book and the equally fabulous book launch on Saturday. I am enjoying the book immensely and enjoyed the launch even more!

Andrew Price, Australia
Prof Hadijah Rahmat, Singapore

Saya dan suami sedang seronok membaca buku Hidayah dan rasa bangga sekali dengan usaha Hidayah – ternyata ia diusahakan dengan rasa kasih yang mendalam terhadap warisah sejarah keluarga, rasa bangga budaya dan agama yang utuh! Tahniah Hidayah!

Prof Hadijah Rahmat, SingaporeDeputy Head of the Asian Languages and Culture Academic Group at the National Institute of Education (NIE)
Rilla Melati, Singapore

Laughed and cried reading Gedung Kuning: Memories of a Malay Childhood. Thumbs up to the author Hidayah Amin for this new national treasure.

Rilla Melati, SingaporeCelebrity and Author
Hazimah Salikemin, Singapore

I learned so much history facts, malay culture as well as Islam practices in a malay family in one book! GEDUNG KUNING IS AN AWESOME READ! I really really really like your book! I feel myself immersed in your childhood memories.

Hazimah Salikemin, Singapore
Ibrahim Iqbal, Singapore

What I enjoy about the book, other than the richness of information, is how you have written it in a manner that can be easily understood by people even without a deep background on Singapore’s Malay History. Also, the plentiful pictures illustrate some of the associated points very well.

Ibrahim Iqbal, Singapore
Dr Yahaya Sanusi, Germany

Der Mangel an Literatur über die malaiische Kultur in Singapur ist bekannt. Viele haben nachgedacht und diskutiert, aber Frau Hidayah hat’s geschrieben. Das Buch ‘Gedung Kuning’ ist für die hiesige malaiische Literaturlandschaft wichtig, weil es ein typisches malaiisches Kulturleben dokumentiert, was leider verloren gegangen ist. Frau Hidayah hat dies liebevoll in ihren vielen Kindheitsgeschichten erzählt. Dieses Buch ist um so bedeutender, weil es auch zeigt, wie diese junge, resolute und mutige Frau alleine kämpft um ihr Erbe – das Erbe der Malaien – gegen den Strom der Gesellschaft zu verteidigen.
Meine Hochachtung. Vielen Dank Hidayah

Malay translation: Kekurangan buku-buku mengenai kehidupan dan kebudayaan Melayu di Singapura memang tidak dapat dinafikan. Ramai telah memikir dan berbicara, tetapi Puan Hidayah telah menulisnya. Buku “Gedung Kuning” adalah sangat penting dalam wadah mengenai kebudayaan Melayu di sini, bukan saja kerana ia telah menggambarkan satu faset kehidupan Melayu yang malangnya telah hilang. Puan Hidayah telah menceritakan kisahnya dengan penuh kasih. Tetapi buku ini lebih bermakna kerana ia menunjukkan kegigihan seorang anak muda yang sanggup melawan arus masyarakat, untuk menahan warisannya – warisan masyarakat Melayu.
Hormat saya kepadanya. Terima kasih Hidayah

Dr Yahaya Sanusi, Germany

Other Comments

Book Reviews

A Palace Within A Kampong

Dan Koh wrote:

Changing fortunes also colour the Yellow Mansion, round the corner at 73 Sultan Gate. The two stone eagles at its gate have for the most part guarded four generations of the Haji Yusoff family, the philanthropist who ran a songkok (headgear) and tali pinggang (money belt) business. Because of financial tides, the Yellow Mansion passed from its original owner, Sultan Hussein’s grandson, to an Indian moneylender, Haji Yusoff, and two Chinese families, before Haji Yusoff finally bought it back.

In Gedung Kuning: Memories of a Malay Childhood, Hidayah Amin, Haji Yusoff’s great-granddaughter, writes of growing up here. Despite Haji Yusoff’s Austin 6, “life was simple…[we] always valued familial ties over material wealth”.

Haji Yusoff used his automobile to go about matchmaking his eldest daughter. After meeting a young, “soft-spoken” man at the Sultan Mosque, he quietly parked himself daily, for months on end, outside the docks. This was “to make sure that Jofrie was really employed as the accounts clerk they said he was”. He was, they wed, and the marriage lasted till death, 53 years later.

The Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei

Gedung Kuning book was mentioned in ‘The Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei’ (pg 188) – “A simple, heartfelt account of life in the little yellow mansion on Kandahar Street, taking in Muslim festivals, family weddings, neighbourhood characters and stories handed down over the generations, culminating with the author’s family being pitiably turfed out in 1999 when the state took over the property.”