Tag Archives: Penang

Chinese Chamber of Commerce office George Town

Chinese Chamber of Commerce, George Town
On one hand, preserving old building brings a big return from tourism sector. Yet conservation cost aside, it actually pays a hefty price in the land scarcity needed to make way for economic development of bigger size and population. Is it worth it?

Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s branch office in Penang, Malaysia, dated back in 1928, at the decline of Qing dynasty and the rise of Nationalist movement in China, is one of the examples of Chinese preserved buildings overseas.

More than just protecting the site amid the modernisation—as seen across the block—conservation of such buildings in Penang, is a guarantee for indefinite time.

Penang has also preserved a number of Chinese ancestral temples.

This is an extraordinary commitment considering that keeping old buildings is inefficient as low-density offices cost space. Especially in a town that sits on a small island, separated by a strait from the rest of the country, space is extremely limited.

What the commerce says about conservation

High-rise buildings have in the past few decades slowly scraping the skies of Penang, keeping up with demand for space. But supplying office space within these low-density old buildings deserves a praise.

This is part of the solution to ensure continuous growth for commercial and tourism sector, although economic gains to land value ratio does not look too good.

In Singapore, for instance, the policy favors land reclamation, while the city administration in Jakarta compromises the protection of heritage sites for the sake of supplying new, high-density office spaces. In many ways, however, it is hardly that each cases be compared.

Remember ancestors

Chinese ancestral temple in Penang
Chinese settlers brought together with them the complete set of culture, not least this type of structure, rich in decoration and well-conserved.

The annual Chap Go Meh festival this year and the Hakka festival that follows a week later sparked the old tale of Chinese settlers in this small island that now became one of Malaysia’s attractive tourist destination.

For all its heritage, George Town depends on its ubiquitous, well-preserved old buildings to present a “Truly Asia” experience, a tourism jargon created by its host country, Malaysia.

Some of the epic buildings were inherited from the past British administration, located near the main harbor, but Chinese architecture dominates the greater part of the town. An outstanding example would be the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Chinese ancestral temples are found scattered across the old parts of George Town, the very heart of it. It is note-worthy that not only the municipality protects these buildings for its historical value, the Malaysian of Chinese descents also care for each of their memorial center, keeping the tradition of paying homage to the past generations.

A couple of elderly in one of these temples are responsible to keep it clean. There is an office for them on the first floor where they occasionally welcomed relatives from other countries.

Chinese ancestral temple in Penang
Chinese Ancestral temples are usually managed collectively by the same group of family or people with the same specific places of origin.