A Nearly 100-Year-Old Sampan, Witness to a Great Flood in Perak Tengah

Perak By: Aida Aziz

BELANJA: Who would have thought that the sampan (traditional wooden boat) now stranded in a house at Kampung Bukit Chupak, Parit, was once a witness to a significant flood event that struck the Perak Tengah area in the 1960s.”

It is understood that the sampan, made of cengal wood, is nearly 100 years old, yet it remains intact, and its original structure can still be admired by the present generation.

The sampan belongs to the descendants of Abdul Hamid Khatib Bertuah and his wife, Halimah Kulub Derais.

According to Zahari Ahamad Zarani, 76, who is a native of Kampung Bukit Chupak, the traditional sampan was crafted by his grandfather, Abdul Hamid, around the 1940s.

He explained that the sampan played a crucial role in transporting relief goods for the flood-affected residents during the major flood.

“To the best of my recollection, the big flood occurred around the 1960s, and at that time, the water rose to half of the house pillars. The government then announced that the aid had to be collected in Parit.

“When I was 20 years old, together with the villagers and cousins, we took the sampan and headed to Parit to collect supplies such as rice, biscuits, and others.

“We had to paddle the sampan using long wooden poles. Two people had to paddle to Parit, and it took almost two hours to get there because of the considerable distance,” said Zahari, who is the eldest of six siblings.

Zahari further explained that the sampan was built because the area was often hit by major floods due to its proximity to the Perak River in Perak Tengah.

“My grandfather was a merchant from Kampar, Indonesia. He traded cloth and goods from Indonesia along the Perak River.

“His wife, was from here (Parit). After they got married, they settled here,” said Zahari, who is also a retired teacher.

Asked about the origin of this sampan, he mentioned that it was crafted from a single central tree, estimated to be around 30 feet (9 metres) long and could carry more than 10 people.

“After collecting the aid using the sampan, we distributed the supplies to the affected villagers.

“We had to commute using the sampan for almost a week, waiting for the floodwaters to recede,” he said during a recent interview.

He further expressed his hope to preserve the history and heritage of this sampan not only for future generations but also for the public.

Currently, the sampan is being cared for by his close relatives, and there are plans to restore it to its former glory instead of letting it be consumed by time.

“This sampan is now kept at my late parents’ house here, and it serves as a memory for the children, grandchildren, and descendants of our lineage. Moreover, it can be shared with the public as part of the history of Perak Tengah in the olden days.

“Perhaps one day, I will restore this heritage sampan, beautify it once again to prevent it from decaying and perishing, as it is a significant part of Perak’s history of the past,” he said.


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