Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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.

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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

1 comment:

  1. Nice Blog, But I still can't figure out about Ghee Hin, some artical says they were mostly represented by Teochew group. For example here:

    What do you think?