Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Balik Pulau Town Roundabout

Another history of Balik Pulau....

The roundabout at the town of Balik Pulau is the only roundabout in town, the smallest roundabout, and the roundabout with the history....

It is located at the end of the town's main street, Jalan Besar or called Kongsi by the locals. The roundabout open to two roads, one to Jalan Genting, which will lead you to Genting Hill, Pulau Betong, and Teluk Kumbar; another road will lead to Sungei Pinang, and all the way to Telok Bahang.

The roundabout is a landmark in Balik Pulau,three roads from different part of Penang Island converged at this point at 18th century. From the Telok Bahang/Tg Bunga, from the Teluk Bahang/Bayan Lepas, and the path from Air Itam(the old Durian route, where the people from Balik Pulau will bring their agricultural products(especially durians) to the Air Itam town. The Jalan Tun Sardon route is not open yet.

The roundabout is actually the location of the town's public pump and served as water trough for elephants and horses.

In 1882, a rich merchant Koh Seang Tatt
(辜尚達, 1833-1908), built a monument at the roundabout to commensurate the visit of Sir Frederick Weld(Governor of Malacca) to Balik Pulau. The monument is a fountain, with two lion-head faucets at the base of the fountain. Villagers believed that as long as the water from the fountain, the village will prosper. The water was from the spring from the hill, its flow may indicated the level of ground water. The water from the fountain has not be sprout out for some time. Is it time the district office to ensure the function of the fountain?

Koh Seang Tatt
(辜尚達, 1833-1908)

Koh Seang Tatt, is the great grandson of first Capitan China of Penang, Koh Lay Huan(
甲必丹辜禮歡). Koh Lay Huan was the one that bought Chinese and Malay to Penang from Kuala Muda, Kedah, shortly after founding of Georgetown by Francis Light in 1786. He was a merchant,planter, tax farmer, Chinese secret society headman, and one of the pioneer leader in Penang. Initially Koh Lay Huan was in Siam when come from China, and a close ally of the Siam ruler of Nakhon Srithammarat, who married his daughter in 1821. He later moved to Kedah, after seeing the commercial prospects. He was the Capitan Cina of Kedah. He died in 1826. He found a dynasty of Koh family, which has historical impact to not only Penang and Kedah, but also Taiwan and China.

Koh Lay Huan's eldest son, Koh Kok Chye(
辜國材, d 1849), was the Governor of Kuala Kedah from 1821-1841. Koh Kok Chye is Koh Seang Tatt's grandfather,his father is Koh Teng Choon(辜登春,d 1874),he was a planter. Koh Seang Tatt has a brother, Koh Seang Tek(尚德 1838-1874), Seang Tek Road is named after him.

Koh Seang Tatt was a successful merchant:
(1) Operated Tye Sin Tat & Co with Foo Tye Sin
(2)Tin mining and revenue farm concessions in Perak
(3)Opium farm of Penang
(4)In 1879, he become the first outsider to take over the opium and spirit farm of Singapore. He later formed the Penang Opium Syndicates,which controlled the opium trade in Malaya, Siam, Singapore, Sumatra, HongKong, Saigon and even in China.
(5)The first Chinese to be appointed Justice of Peace(JP) in Penang
(6)Together with Cheah Chen Eok, Dr W.C.Brown, Koh Seang Tat was among the first elected member of the Penang Municipal Commission in 1887.

The land where the current Dewan Sri Pinang is located, was once Koh Seang Tatt's mansion, Edinburgh Lodge(named after Duke of Edinburgh who visited Penang in 1869 and stayed there). The mansion is no longer there,but the mansion of his business partner,Foo Tye Sin is located at the same street(Light Street). The mansion is now occupied by Hong Leong Bank, at the corner of King Street/Light Street.

In 1883, in conjunction with the building of Town Hall, he built a Municipal Fountain as a gift to British government. The fountain is still loated at the garden beside the Town Hall.

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