Translated by WINNIE CHOOI
Sin Chew Daily
MELAKA -- The "Gate of Hades" in Melaka consists of a narrow alley with a pedestrian footbridge across the Melaka River. No one can tell for sure where the alley starts and ends.
The alley used to be a hive of activity until there was a suicide case at the bridge and hence the name "Gate of Hades."
Bridge Street (Jalan Jambatan), with only 12 narrow houses on either side of it, is linked to a one-way old bridge at one end. The street is only wide enough for pedestrians, bicycles or motorcycles.
The "Linotype" legacy
Most of the old shops along Bridge Street are closed but it is believed that the city's only remaining shop manufacturing red rubber printing is located right here.
Yam Teck Chung, founder of Yam Teck Chung Rubber Stamp Manufacturer at No. 8 Bridge Street, embarked on his rubber printing business circa 1960, and the business was later taken over by two of his sons.
Back in the 1960s, Bridge Street was a busy street linked to Beach Street, Bunga Raya Street, Jonker Street and other major commercial areas. Most of the rubber stamp orders had come from government agencies located near the Stadthuys.
The shop houses a very old machine, a "Linotype" product from New York. Established in 1886, Linotype has been a leading manufacturer of typesetting equipment for the printing industry.
Government office stamps
Although many engage in the rubber printing businesses today, all with a wide variety of designs thanks to computerisation, Yam's semi-manual operation continues to receive tremendous response from customers.
Traditional red rubber printing is more durable compared to modern white chemical rubber. Yam said most of his businesses had come from his regular Malay clients requesting government office stamps.
Yam is unable to modernise his operations owing to shortage of fund and difficulty in getting people to inherit his business.
More and more tourists are thronging into the narrow streets of Melaka in recent years, and tour guides have been bringing fascinated tourists to his shop on a daily basis.
Yam said as he needed to focus his attention on processing the rubber stamps, along with his poor communication with foreigners, he had made up his mind to leave his shop half-closed to avoid interruption from the stream of unexpected visitors.