Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shi Chung Branch School (槟城时中分校)

Shi Chung Branch School (时中分校) or in Malay it is Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Shih Chung Cawangan(short form SJKC Shih Chung Cawangan). The new school is located at Lebuh Nipah 2, Sg Nibong, Penang. Shi Chung Branch School is a Chinese primary school with a long history. It was one of the early Chinese school in Penang, established by Hakka Chinese.

The most interesting part of the school history is the former school building at Northam Road, called Goh Chan Lau, which was a heritage building, and attracted a lot of attention on its relocation and re-development by the new owner.

Knowing the school history is like knowing part of the history of Penang.

Shi Chung Branch School was an old school located at the junction of Transfer Road and Northam Road(now Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah). It was now an abandoned old pre-war bungalow. Northam Road at that time was known as Millionaire's Row,where when Capt Francis Light planned Georgetown, this road was reserved for European as first residential suburb. There were rows of European style bungalows, and only the richest in Penang stayed there. The local Chinese called it Ah Mor Lou(European Road), as there were many ah mor lau (European style bungalow with garden, tennis court, stables & driveways) there. It was a tremendous effort for any local Chinese to build a residential house there, it will reflect that their riches and properties was at par with the European. Cheah Tek Soon was able to construct a 5 storey bungalow there.

The building was a 5 storey Anglo- Chinese mansion owned by the late millionaire Cheah Tek Soon(谢德顺). The building was build in 1880. The local Chinese called it Goh Chan Lau( literally meant 5 storey bungalow). It was the first 5 storey building in Penang, and is a building which is historical, and a heritage building.

Cheah Tek Soon was a founder and partner of Penang Khean Guan Insurance Company(the first Chinese insurance company in the Straits Settlement , established on 10-7-1885) ;owner of Sin Eng Moh & company; Member of Penang Opium Syndicate (1880-1888) under Chop Ban Bee. He was one of the big 5 richest Hokkian family in Penang. Tthere is a street in Penang named after him, Tek Soon Street or Lebuh Tek Soon (德順路), an off road of Penang Road right across the KOMTAR , parallel with Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong and end by joining the remaining Jalan Maxwell(which was a road parallel with Prangin raod, separate by river/drain, but due to KOMTAR project, it was left with a short part at the end of road near Siah Boey, from Prangin Road to Jalan Magazine).

This building is also related to the Chinese Revolution of Dr Sun Yat Sen, the bungalow was sold by the son-in-law Mr Goh Say Eng (吴世荣)of Cheah Tek Soon's only daughter Cheah Liew Bee(谢柳美), to obtain finance to help the Chinese Revolution Movement by Dr Sun. The building was sold in 1908.

The new buyer was Tye Kee Yoon (戴喜云)of the Tye family , who was the Residency of Manchu Dynasty , China(清朝驻槟领事). The Tye family are Hakka from Daipu. There is a road in Penang named after him, Jalan Tai Kee Yoon 10150 Penang(an off road from Jalan Gurdwara, after Jalan Terang, road toward J Jelutong from the traffic light junction of Jalan Dato Kramat, Jalan Macalister near Komtar). In 1911, when the new China formed after overthrew the Manchu, Tye Siok Guan( 戴淑原) become the Chinese Consul of the new China, Republic of China (1912-1930),Tye Siok Guan is the son of Tai Kee Yoon. The building continue to be used as the Consul's office.

The building later become Bellevue Hotel or Raffles-by-the-sea hotel, imitated the famous Raffles Hotel of Singapore. But it was a failure, and the hotel was closed soon.

1915, It was another Hakka millionaire, Leong Fee or Liang Pi Joo 1857-1911(梁碧如) who started to use the building as Pi Joo Girl School, but all the school expenses was supported by Tye family's estate. Leong Fee was a Hakka from Mei Xian, Dabu (born in 1857, and left for Penang in 1876, 6 months later he migrated to Ipoh. He was member of Perak State Council 1895-1908 and Federal Council). But the school was stopped when the colonial government passed a statutory act required the registration of all schools. (note: Leong Fee is a friend of Cheong Fatt Tze, he had constructed a mansion at 7, Lebuh Leith, Penang , opposite Cheong Fatt Tze's mansion, beside St Xavier's Institution. The building is now a heritage building , owned by Christian Brothers, it was once part of the school, but now leased to Equator Art Academy)

It was then leased for the Government Girl's School in 1920.

Shi Chung School(the main school) is located in Love Lane, Penang. The school was established by Hakka people. In 1937, Shi Chung School was over crowded, and the building was not able to cater for more new students. The Tye brothers decided to renovate the old Goh Chan Lau building, and established the new branch school for Shi Chung School there , it was named Shi Chung Branch School(时中分校).

Shi Chung School or 时中学校 or Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Shih Chung (short form SJKC Shih Chung) is still located at Love Lane, Penang.

The old Shi Chung Branch School(时中分校) which was located at Goh Chan Lau building, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Penang, was later sold by the trustee , when the restriction period in the will expired( after 3 generations). The building had been purchased by new owner, Malaysia Vegetable Oil Refinery Sdn Bhd for RM9.5M in 1993. The buyer is the major shareholder of the group Stanford Raffles by the Sea Sdn Bhd. It is now an abandoned building, but was intended to be developed as a 3 blocks columbarium of 9 and 10 storeys. The Penang people started a state wide campaign against the plan. It is a historical heritage building, it should be retained at all cost for cultural purpose.

(note: The Tye family trust was an early example of a Hakka family that left a will for the descendants, which provided that the family estate including the Goh Chan Lau cannot be sold for at least 3 generation, and 10% of estate revenue is to be donate for education purpose. It is Chinese belief that the estate of a family cannot passed more than 3 generation or will be finished by the 3rd generation. The will of Tye family provide clauses to mitigate the risk on that belief and provided clauses in the will, that the family estate cannot be sold prior to 3 generation. It also provide clause that 10% of estate revenue to be used for education purpose. This reflected the wisdom of the Tye family, and their trust was able to support the Chinese education in Penang for long time.)

The school was then shifted to the new school building at Sg Nibong.

This is the story of how Hakka people contributed & played their role in the area of education, in Penang.

The New School

The new school located at Sg Nibong, from the donation by the people. It is now one of the premier Chinese primary school in Penang.

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