Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dr Sun Yat-sen and Balik Pulau

(photo credited to source:, taken from Pg 38-39 of the book with the title, "Sun Yat Sen in Penang"(2008),by Salma Nasution Khoo, published by Areca Books, ISBN 9834283482, 9789834283483 )

Pg 38:

Apart from the Penang Philomatic Union,two other reading clubs were started in Penang - Gung Yi in Balik Pulau headed by Xu Ruilin, and Hua Qiao in Bukit Mertajam headed by Lin Shi'an......

Pg 39:

An autographed portrait of Dr Sun Yat-sen presented to Xu Ruilin or Choo Swee Ling,founder of Balik Pulau Reading Club in Penang

Gung Yi Reading Club was formed in Balik Pulau, which was headed by Choo Swee Ling. But it did not provided any documentary evidence, that did Dr Sun visit Balik Pulau?. It only provided evidence that there were supporters from Balik Pulau. Being a Hakka himself, the support from people of the same dialect , from Balik Pulau Hakka people is expected. Moreover, the followers and their descendants of Taiping Rebellion armies in China was reported to have migrate to Balik Pulau, and naturally they will support Dr Sun to continue their dream of overthrow Manchu dynasty.

Did Dr Sun visit Balik Pulau, and eat durian there? that will be a good academic question.

Nostalgic Penang

Dr Sun Yat-sen's speech in Penang

The speech was actually from a part of movie filmed in Penang. I do not know is it the actual voice of Dr Sun?.

The speech was made on 13-11-1910 at Penang Conference,which started the donation campaign throughout Malaya, that financed the 2nd Guangzhou Uprising or Yellow Flower Mound Revolt( 黄花岗起义or 辛亥广州起义)on 27-4-1911. The Penang Conference was at 120, Armenian Street, Penang. The place was also where the Malaysia oldest Chinese newspaper, Kwong Wah Jit Poh( 光华日报) was found on 20th December, 1910. Even the 2nd Guangzhou Uprising failed, but the spark of revolution had spread until the Wuchang Uprising(武昌起义) on 10-10-1911, which started the Xinhai Revolution(辛亥革命), which resulted in the collapse of Manchu or Qing government. The day October 10th is now known as Double Ten Day (雙十節)or National Day of China(國慶日).

The speech which moved the heart of Penang Chinese, that secured the support and finance for the Chinese revolution. The Qing dynasty fell in 1911. They said it is this appeal for finance from Nanyang Chinese, that helped the overthrow of Manchu. Dr Sun said "Nanyang Chinese is the mother of Chinese revolution"....


The location of No 120 was ideal for the base of Dr. Sun's political party because it provided an escape route should a raid occur. If the front of the house was stormed, the occupants could escape via the back door into the Indian Muslim village of Kampung Kaka and Kampung Kolam!

Apparently, the Malay community in the Acheen Street area was aware of the anti-Manchu revolutionaries who were operating in their neighborhood. In fact, the revolutionaries were referred to as "orang Sun Yat Sen yang potong thau chang", or in English "the followers of Dr. Sun Yat Sen who cut off their pigtails in defiance against Manchu oppressors.


Today, the trails of this revolutionist is the new tourist attraction for Penang, it is part of Penang history. Some of the historical sites may have disappeared, but there are few still remained for tourist to explore.

The speech in Penang shaped the world history.....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Penang Peranakan Mansion

Penang Peranakan Mansion is also known as Baba-Nyoya Mansion , Chung Keng Quee Mansion. It was the former residence and office of Kapitan china Chung Keng Quee(郑景贵), the leader of Hai San kongsi. He named his mansion Hai Kee Chan(which in Hokkien dialect means the store at the sea-side, but some said it is sea remembrance store,where the word "kee" was translated as remember). The sea shore line at that time was at Beach Street.

The mansion is located at 31, Church Street, Penang. The location was formerly the kongsi house of Ghee Hin Kongsi. But it was bought over by Hai San Kongsi leader Kapitan Chung Keng Quee. He built the mansion in 1894 and named it Hai Kee Chan(海记栈).He is not a baba, but a Hakka, the mansion however was built with baba-nyonya culture influence. Beside Hai Kee Chan, there is a family school(书斋),which was also used as ancestral temple(祠堂),with the name of “慎之家塾”.

The Church Street is also known as Ghee Hin Street(
义兴街). Church Street or Lebuh Gereja is located between Pitt Street(Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling) and Beach Street(Lebuh Pantai).

- 五福堂舊址


初創時可能只是茅舍木屋,數年后始設義興街的院宇,為廣府12 縣子女提供教育。1895年,業主鄭景貴(鄭慎之)索回作為家塾,名為慎之家塾,另捐獻牛干冬街地皮興建五福書院,1898年書院現址落成。遷址后百多年 來,五福書院從讀經書的私塾改設商務夜學,數年后創廣東公立商務學堂,民國元年(1911)改為新式小學,1958年接受政府津貼,易名商務國小,於 1974年從書院會館遷至新校舍.

Chung Keng Quee(1827-1901)
Kapitan China Chung Keng Quee (Chinese: 鄭景貴/郑景贵, B. 1827, D. 13 December 1901)was the founder of modern Taiping. He was a millionaire philanthropist and known as an innovator in the mining of tin. He was respected by both Chinese and European communities in the early colonial settlement. His survival in the chaotic era owes much to his standing as leader of the Hai San, a Chinese secret society in British Malaya during the time of the Larut Wars (1862-73), a position he is said to have held till early 1884, although in all probability he continued to remain a leading member. He was a member of the Commission for the Pacification of Larut and sat as one of six members of the Advisory Perak State Council appointed by the British.

Third among his father's five sons, Chung Keng Quee was born into a Hakka (客家 )peasant family in Xin Cun (新村) village, Cheng Sheng county (Zengcheng 增城县 ) , Guangzhou city(广州), of Guangdong Province (广东省) , China (中国).

Kapitan China Chung Keng Quee died at the age of 74 on the 13th of December 1901 after a brief illness of only a few days. Chung Keng Quee was buried in the Chung Family Burial Plot in Mount Erskine purchased beforehand by himself and his daughter Chung, Kang Neoh.
(source: wikipedia)

There are two streets in George Town named after Capitan China Chung Keng Quee:
(i) Jalan Ah Quee or Ah Quee Street, located between Jalan Masjid Capitan Kling(or Pitt Street) and Beach Street(Lebuh Pantai). Its entrance in Pitt Street, is just opposite Buckingham Street. This road is given by Capitan Chung Keng Quee to Municipality of George Town. He demolished his shop house that fronting Beach Street to create the new street. It run through a Malay village known as Kampong Takia, that is why Malay called the street Lorong Takia.
(ii)Lebuh Keng Kwee or Keng Kwee Street, located between Penang Road and Jalan Kuala Kangsar(Kuala Kangsar Road). This is the street where the famous Teochew chendol is located.

Related articles:

1. Chung Keng Quee ,
3. Home site:

Ming Eng Soo(名英祠)

Ming Eng Soo, the memorial hall dedicated to the leaders and members of Ghee Hin Kongsi, it is also called Ghee Hin Memorial hall of heroes.

Ghee Hin Kongsi(the 2nd branch of Tian Di Hui), the aim of the society is to overthrow the Qing dynasty and to rebuild the Ming dynasty. The memorial hall is not open at normal day, but it open today due to the celebration of 1st anniversary of George Town Heritage City status.

It is located at 48, Jalan Pintal Tali or Rope Walk. Rope Walk is between Prangin Road(now Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong)and Chulia Street.Now the Ming Eng Soo is also Penang Chinese Clan Council secretariat office.

View Larger Map

History of Ghee Hin

Tian Di Hui (天地會)literally means the association of heaven and earth.It was established in 1674. It is also known as Hong Men, San He hui or San Dian Hui. The members prayed to heaven as father and earth as mother, that is the reason why it is called Tian Di Hui. Tian is heaven in Chinese and Di is earth in Chinese. Hui is the meaning of association. Tian Di Hui is the association of heaven and earth. Ghee Hin kongsi ( 義興公司)is sub-branch of Tian Di Hui. Ghee Hin was formally established in 1790 at Penang, one of the strongest branch of Tian Di Hui. Ghee Hin literally means "The rise of Righteousness ". (note: Capt Francis Light reported in 1794 that the Chinese secretly come together forming societies or association group, to fight what they considered any unfair policies of the government)

In 1854, Ghee Hin Kongsi under the leadership of Wen Ke, donated a piece of land and established the hospital for the poor in Penang. The memorial stone is still at the car park of Penang General Hospital. In 1886, the society donated another land to built Penang State General Hospital.

The leprosarium in Pulau Jerejak(Jerejak Island) was also donated by Ghee Hin Kongsi. The island was known as "Island for Leprosy"

The Penang Riots in 1867,was a confrontation within Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnic groups to the exclusion of the colonial government. It should not be considered as racial riot, as there were cooperation between different races group within both opposing parties. Ghee Hin and the White Flag (白旗會)of Masjid Pintal Tali; and Tua Pek Kong(or Kien Tek Society, 督公,大伯公, which were mainly Hokkien) with Red Flag of Acheen Street area. Tua Pek Kong was the ally of Hai San. The riot was actually violence conflict or war between two commercially interest parties. The war last for 10 days, all activities in George Town was stopped during the period between 3-8-1867 to 14-8-1867.

In 1872, Ghee Hin was involved in Larut War with its rival, Hai San Kongsi at Larut, Perak's tin mines.

Because of the influence of Tian Di Hui in oversea Chinese were growing rapidly, the Ghee Hin was known as " The local goverment within the Government". The growing of Ghee Hin kongsi and other kongsi, and the 1867 riots, worried the colonial government, they introduced the Societies Ordinance(社團法令) in 1889 which forced all kongsi to close, or go underground,unless they registered as lawful society under the ordinance.

In 1890, Ghee Hin Kongsi was disbanded. The leaders decided to move the ancestral tablets(or sin-chu-pai) of their leaders from the Kongsi house of Ghee Hin at 31, Church Street ; to 48, Rope Walk , the Ming Eng Soo. The Ming Eng Soo was a memorial hall for members to pray to the ancestral tablets. A trustee was set up to maintain the operation of Meng Eng Soo.

There is another version, that they set up their base in Rope Walk after they were ousted from their original base in 31, Church Street by the Hai San(海山公司) leader Kapitan China Chung Keng Kwee(郑景贵), who took over the Church Street premises and turned it into his residence and home, called Hai Kee Chan(海记栈). Hai Kee Chan was completed in 1894. The Ghee Hin's new premises at Rope Walk is located next to the base of their Malay associates, the White Flag Society based at Masjid Pintal Tali(source: However another article reported Kapitan China Chung Keng Kwee bought the land of Church Street after the Ghee Hin kongsi was dissolved. It may not be buying directly from Ghee Hin.

History of Hai San(the rival)

The Hai San Society which had its origins in Southern China was a Penang-based Chinese secret society established around 1820 and in 1825 led by Low Ah Chong and Hoh Akow (also spelt Ho Ah Kow or Hok Ah Keow), its titular head. At that time the society's headquarters was located at Beach Street (Ujong Passir). Hai San society started out mostly Cantonese and 平章会馆pro-Ghee Hin but by around 1854 had absorbed the Wah Sang society, become almost exclusively Hakka and anti-Ghee Hin.

The Hai San society figure prominently in the Larut Wars of 1862-1873 and by that time was headed Chung Keng Quee(郑景贵), reported to become leader in 1860. At Larut, miners who were members of the Hai San society fought with miners who were members of the Ghee Hin society over the tin-rich fields of Kelian Pauh and Kelian Baru. The two warring factions also clashed in Selangor.

The incessant warfare between the Hai San and Ghee Hin brought tin mine production to a standstill. The fighting between the two societies was brought to an end with the signing of a treaty between the two parties in 1874, known as The Chinese Engagement.
(source: wikipedia)

The members of Ghee Hin also supported the revolution movement of Dr Sun Yat-sen to overthrow the Manchu or Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty ended in 1911.

The moving to Rope Walk

Is it the forced taking over by Hai San, by Chung Keng Kwee personally, or Ghee Hin moved voluntarily? if they moved in 1890, it is after the signing of Chinese Engagement in 1874, the formation of Chinese Association((平章会馆)in 1886, and legally the kongsi are no longer legal society under the new law of Society Ordinance which was passed in 1889, the appointement of both leaders of Ghee Hin and Hai San as Capitan China(community leaders). The China's political reformation and revolution movement has started. The reformer Kang Youwei(康有為/康有为) visited Penang on 9-8-1900, and the Chinese revolution movement led by Dr Sun Yat-sen has start its operation in Penang in 1905, all these situational factors had contributed to the transformation of kongsi 's role in the Chinese community. The conflict of kongsi was reduced to much lower level at least at the surface. This begin the transitional period. From an illegal society to legal entities which involved in clan welfare, commercial activities; from violence conflicts to healthy competition, in business as well as communal services. But the Chinese community begin the political awareness and involvement in the Chinese politic, revolt or reform?........A new era has know the individual right of political association and democracy.

The kitchen

The antique cupboard

The entrance from Jalan Pintal Tali or Rope Walk.

The name board of Ming Eng Soo in gold color

The memorial stone on the restoration of the Ming Eng Soo

Door at the main entrance

The symbolic deity is the red face General Kuan Yi, from the three kingdom era. He is respected by not only the members of the secret societies , but also the police in Hong Kong. They respect him because of his "yi gi", the strong brotherhood with his god brother General Chang Fei, emperor and god brother Liu Pei, and his fellow General Choa Yin. The historical figure become diety for the secrect society.

The staircase to upper floor

The list of names of the leaders where the tablets were located in Ming Eng Soo. The ranking in the kongsi are clearly stated in the list.

The tablets of the Ghee Hin's leaders

Putu Mayam

Putu Mayam or string hoppers, is the popular South Indian food that is popular as street food in Malaysia. It is make by mixing rice flour with coconut milk, and press the dough through sieve to make vermicelli like noodles. They are then steamed with the pandan leaves or screwpipe leaves. It is eaten with coconut palm sugar (or Gula Melaka), and grated coconut .

I love Putu Mayam.

Goodbye, Yasmin

Yasmin Ahmad(1958-2009)

She is a true Malaysian, no matter filming a short advertisement or an award winning film, the element of Malaysian spirit is clear , and very strong......

She is not only a Malay, but a high spirited Malaysian that all Malaysian are proud of.

I started to notice her advertisement film during the festival day sometime ago, it is always very Malaysian, with the simple message of love, and racial harmony. It was the time we suddenly realize, advertisement can be different, it can promote love and harmony. The short advertisement touched hearts, and it was the talk of the people during the festival. It added life and joy to the festival atmosphere. They said, we loved the advertisement.....

Remember the childhood days, where we did no have the then black and white TV. We will always go to the neighbor, a shop next to the coffee shop, to watch P Ramli's film. The neighbor were all there, whenever P Ramli's film was showing. It was in the early time after Merdeka, before May 13th; Chinese in the Chinese dominated town watching a Malay film, they just love P Ramli, children or old folks, some don't even know Malay language......that is pioneer Malaysian spirit. In school, the students talk about P. Ramli. P Ramli is still in the heart of many Malaysian Chinese today, it is their memory of the past......there is no more artist with the status of P Ramli after his death. Singers like Anita Sarawak, Sheila Majid, Suriman, nearly..... nearly make it. But we know something is still missing....

Until we saw the advertisement film of Yasmin; the spirit come back.....

The film "Sepet" shocked the traditional local viewers, Yasmin is dare to explore, and the simple kampong love story touched the hearts. Who care about the cutting of the National Film Censorship Board, who always overreact. The film did well in the box office in Malaysia and Singapore. It is her first cinema release, it was a breakthrough for Yasmin, and everyone love it. We expected more films to come from her....

Mukhsin(2006), about the children love story; Mualiaf(2008) and Talentime(2009)....

It was a sad day that Yasmin passed away on 25-7-2009 at the age of 51 years, still too early when there are more films to come.....

Goodbye, Yasmin Ahmad.... it is difficult to find another Malaysian like you; but we prayed that the spirit of Malaysian will blossom, and many new film makers will followed your footsteps.....

Related articles:
1. Yasmin Ahmad, by
2. Personal blog of Yasmin Ahmad: &
3. Farewell to Yasmin Ahmad, the Sun by Bissme S., dated 29-7-2009
4. Even as we grieve..., by FATIMAH ABU BAKAR, NST, dated 28-7-2009
5. Yasmin's footprints, by Allan Koay, The Star online,dated 29-7-2008
6. Goodbye Yasmin, The Star online , dated 27-7-2009
7. For Chinese readers, 別了,雅斯敏……演藝圈和市民難過送程, Sinchew Daily dated 26-7-2009,
8. Al Fatihah- Yasmin Ahmad, by Bob Teoh, My Sinchew, dated 27-7-2009,