Saturday January 5, 2013
Penang’s rich history unfolds

Wong Chun Wai may have left Penang more than two decades ago to settle down in the Klang Valley. But his heart remains in his hometown. Now, in this column aptly titled Penang’s History, My story, Chun Wai makes the streets of George Town come alive by taking a walk into the past to unravel the personalities and events that made Penang what it is today. It is history, and also his story, as the writer juxtaposes the stories with those of his growing-up years in the heart of George Town. The weekly column begins today in StarMetro.

MORE than ever, the stories behind all the street names lining George Town need to be told. Unlike most major towns in other states, the names of roads bearing the original names of colonial administrators, Malay leaders, Chinese tycoons and Indian traders have remained unchanged.

Yet, it would not be wrong to assume that the lovers, strolling along Gurney Drive, hand in hand, are unlikely to have any idea who is Henry Gurney. Or care.

Henry Gurney was a British High Commissioner who was ambushed and killed by the communists on his way to Fraser’s Hill, but that’s another story.

The motorists passing by Farquhar Street daily probably do not see the need to find out about Robert Townsend Farquhar, who was a Lieutenant Governor — a senior colonial officer, who was a representative of the Queen.

But there is also romance, err sex, in history. There is Love Lane. Some said Love Lane, or ai cheng hang as the Hokkiens called it, was so named because sailors used to meet their local lovers there, with its large Eurasian community around the church while others claimed the name originated from its association with the local Chinese rich who kept their mistresses by the adjacent road, Muntri Street.

In fact, at least one house there had a horse stable. For a while, the stable was converted into rented homes but now, it has become a boutique hotel, appropriately named The Mews.

And who is the Muntri or Mentri that was so important and powerful until a name was referred to this man?
Still standing: The Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang in 1950. It is founded by the Sarkies Brothers. Still standing: The Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang in 1950. It is founded by the Sarkies Brothers.

This is a weekly column to share my passion for the history of Penang, my hometown, and where my heart is still is although I have lived and worked in the federal capital for the last two decades.

......................  story at My History - thestar

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