Category: Muar History & Story

Relics of historic Muar

MUAR: Kings of the roads! Yes, they were indeed. But those days are gone and the trishaws in this historic town are fast turning into “relics”.

Only a few are willing to “hire” the trishaws as there are other faster and more comfortable public rides on buses and cabs.

Decades ago, there were hundreds of trishaws in this town, but now only about 25 are left plying the streets. A Bernama check found that all the “surviving” trishaw pedalers here are elderly men living under the poverty line.

A trishawman taking a rest while waiting for passengers.

Atan Said, despite reaching the age of 72, still has to earn a living as a trishawman.

Atan said his days as a trishawman began during the Japanese Occupation. “At one time, there were 600 to 700 trishawmen in Muar. We sent passengers to any place they wished,” said the Muar-born senior citizen, who charges RM3 for a trishaw ride.

“Now, it is hard to earn even a small sum as people prefer buses and taxis. On some days, I take home only less than RM10. On other days, it is nothing at all,” he said.
Eighty-year-old Atan Mohamad admits that life is difficult working as a trishawman.

“I have been working since 1942. Each of us can earn up to RM20, a princely sum in the old days.

“Nowadays, we can hardly earn RM10 a day. Sometimes nothing at all. How to earn a living?,” said the Johor Baru-born who has been living alone since the death of his wife not long ago.

Atan admits that the years to come are “bleak” and sadly acknowledges that the trishaw is also his home.

“The trishaw has been my home all this while. I have no house, no fixed income. We trishawmen are living from hand to mouth,” he said.

All the trishawmen in Muar are members of the older generation.

It is a different story for 60-year-old Shukri Zuhani, who hails from Rengit, Pontian. He is a trishawman during the day and sells satay in the evening.

“The earnings of a trishawman is seasonal. When a festive season is approaching, I can earn RM20 a day,” he said. Shukri hoped the recent rise in fuel prices would tempt more townfolk and tourists to use the trishaw to move around.

Muar’s unique trishaws have prompted local authorities to build a 7m replica of the vehicle at the Kesang Recreation Park near here. It has become a favourite among tourists.

State Legislative Assembly representative for Maharani, Datuk Mohd Ismail Mohd Shah, called for the state government to assist trishawmen in efforts to preserve their existence as part of the town’s unique history.

“Trishaws of Muar are unique and have their own colourful history.

“It will be a waste if we allow them to fade into extinction, swallowed by modernisation. No other district in Johor has these vehicles.

“They exist only in Muar,” said Mohd Ismail. – Bernama

Category: Muar History & Story