Kuala Terengganu, a town at the mouth of the Terengganu River is the state capital and the largest town in Terengganu. With area of 12,955 sq km and population of 1.2 million people (2011 estimate), on which 95% are Malays, 5% are Chinese and the remainder is Indian and other ethnics.
The Chinese, who made up about 5%, mostly concentrated in Chinatown at Kampong China Road, Kuala Terengganu. It's the trade Centre since early 13th Century. However, the Chinatown is first established by the Chinese community in the late 19th century.
It was once a hub for commercial activities that help shape Kuala Terengganu into what it is today. The Chinese built the traditionally designed shop houses according to their place of origin in China. The buildings have been declared a heritage site by the United Nations.
Terengganu mean literally in Chinese “have long term perspective and aim for higher achievement.” An earlier traditional Chinese name had the meaning “slavery from childbirth.” Because of this, the local Chinese appeal to the local government to change to the existing one.
Traditionally, the Chinese name for Terengganu has been "丁加奴", which is a direct transliteration of the Malay name. However, some Chinese in Terengganu raised objections to the name, citing that the characters used loosely translate to “bring a child into the world to be a slave" (添丁加做奴).
As a result, they petitioned the regulatory commission for Chinese language in Malaysia to change the Chinese name for the state to "登嘉楼" , which can be loosely translated to "step up advance to next higher levels". It wasn’t until September 2004 that such attempt was finally successful.
The successful attempt, however, add nothing to the Chinese culture. It’s worth nothing and do not have any meaning to that society because the new name has been in use unofficially by the local Chinese society for not less than 30 years.
Some segments of the Chinese society and those who opposed the name change base their opposition largely on the fact that the new name contains too many character strokes, making the writing much more difficult.
They proposed the name reverted back to the version used before the year 2004, but changing the word “slavery” (奴), the main cause of the controversy to the more positive similar sounding word “perseverance”(努).