A Little Bit of History



Left photo: The local Ken Boon Chinese Primary School taken in 1960, and now replaced with new building.
Right photo: An old government office collapsed in early 70 now replaced with Immigration Office.


THE District which is now known as PONTIAN, was called KUKUP or KUKUB with its administrative center located somewhere near the present harbour/jetty in Kukup Laut.


IN those ancient time, the West Coast of Johor, from Kukup to Benut was the stop and rest place of the sea pirates based in the Straits of Kukup. They stationed and based at the river mouths of the Perhentian Besar River, and the Perhentian Kechil River. (In Malay "Perhentian" means Stopping Place (Mooring Place), "Besar" means big, "Kechil" means small, and "Sungai" means river.) These two rivers were then called the Pontian Besar River (Sungai Pontian Besar) and Pontian Kechil River (Sungai Pontian Kechil). Thus it was obvious that the name PONTIAN, came from the Malay word Perhentian meaning the Stoping Place (mooring place).


QUOTED from the "Hikayat Abdullah Munsyi" written by Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir (The Legend of Abdullah Munsyi), The Straits of Kukup was then a shelter for the sea pirates and those travelled by the sea. When the Straits of Malacca outside was rough by strong waves and winds, the Straits of Kukup would still be very calm and safe. Hence those who travelled by sea and met the strong wind and waves, and wanted to seek shelter would come inside here to meet their fate of being robbed and caught by the sea pirates.


BECAUSE of such sequencce, people called this place Telukup (Malay word meaning overturn), since their boats would be overturned by the pirates if met. Another legend said that the Malacca people, trying to flee to the then British Colony of Singapore because could not tolerate the Dutch's ruling from 1819 to 1824, using the sea route via Kukup. Because they were afraid of such place, they called here Telutup. Later the name was changed to Kukub and then Kukup, the present name.


IT was said that the sea pirates were then demolished by Daing Ibrahim a native Bugis who was the Johor Temenggong in the 19th Century. Because of the majority of the residents here were Malacca people, and that fish caught here were sent to Singapore markets, hence at demands of the people, a surau (a small Muslim worship place) was built under the suggestion and supervision of Tuan Shaikh Arif bin Abd. Kadir. Because of the surau, it was suggested by the iman (Muslim Religion Leader) and Guru Agama (Religion Teachers) that this place to be called Kukub, because kukub in Arabic Language means "stars" and related to the Islam religion.


EVER since then,Kukub becoming more and more prosperous. When the famous Singapore Arab by the name Syed Muhammad bin Ahmad Alsagoff (known also as Nong Chik) obtained the approval of the Sultan of Johor to develop the Southwest Coast of Johor, Kukup became more and more prosperous. Many government organisations were set up here, harbour and port were nicely set up. Boats and ships from the North to the South would stop here, loading and unloading cargo, leaving for Singapore or Malacca. Shops were opened and many people came here to settle down. At such time, many people disagreed with the name Kukub for it was not a Malay name, as such, they changed it to Kukup.


DUE to its rapid development, Kukup became one of the big town in Johor. The rapid development was due to the coming of Tuan Syed Muhamad Alsagoff or Nong Chik as he was so called. A Singapore Arab who had seek and obtained apporval from Sultan Abu Bakar Johor to explore and open up agriculture lands in the South West Coast of Johor bordered by Sungai Permas, Sungai Pontian Kechil, Sungai Pontian Besar and Sungai Jeram Batu (Sungai in Malay means river). Kukup was rapidly developed under Constantinople Estate owned by Tuan Syed Muhamad Alsagoff. And because of so, the whole place was named "Kukup District". Kukup District was replaced with "Pontian District" when the main road linking Pontian and Johor Bahru was completed in 1900. At that time all the Government organisations in Kukup were shifted to Pontian. Tuan Syed Muhamad Alsagoff while developing the Kukup area, he even issued his own currency. If you are interested in the currency issued by Tuan Syed Muhamad Alsagoff, please click The Kukup Currency, and if you are interested in reading about Tuan Syed Muhamad Alsagoff, pleae click The Alsagoff History.


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