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Logan Memorial, Supreme Court of Penang, George Town

The Logan Memorial at Light Street, George Town was erected in 1873 in memory of James Richardson Logan, a Scottish lawyer who fought for the rights of Asians in British Penang. The female statue seen here is named Wisdom.

The Logan Memorial is a Gothic-styled monument built in memory of James Richardson Logan, a Scottish lawyer who successfully fought for the rights of Asians in colonial Penang. It now stands in front of the new Sessions and Magistrates Court at the junction between Light Street and Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah.

The Logan brothers, James and Abraham, studied law in Edinburgh, Scotland, before travelling to Singapore and Penang to practise law. James Logan remained on Penang Island, where he was notable for fighting in the case of an Indian sireh planter against the British East India Company. He also helped the Chinese community on Penang Island to petition for a repeal of the ban on the activities of the several Chinese clans on the island.

His death at the age of 50 in 1869 led to the public in all three Straits Settlements of Penang, Singapore and Malacca to pool in funds for a memorial in his honour. It was erected in 1873 within the premises of the Supreme Court of Penang. The monument was moved by the Japanese during World War 2, but for the most part, it remained within the Supreme Court until 2007, when it was relocated to its present location just across Light Street.

History

James Richardson Logan

James Richardson Logan, a Scottish lawyer who also first published the term 'Indonesia', hence giving the country its name.

James Richardson Logan, together with his brother, Abraham, had studied law in Edinburgh, Scotland, before travelling to George Town in 1839 to start a law practise. It was an era when, under the rule of the British East India Company, the rights of Asians were often disregarded. James Logan soon gained public attention when he skillfully fought in the case of an Indian sireh planter against the East India Company.

The Logan brothers then moved to Singapore in 1842, where James also began editing the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia. It was in this journal that James first popularised the term 'Indonesia', hence giving the current Republic of Indonesia its name.

While Abraham Logan stayed on in Singapore, James returned to George Town in 1853 and continued where he had left off. In addition, he became an editor of the Pinang Gazette; his position enabled him to advocate freedom of expression as well as legal and human rights for all.

The East India Company then began to suppress the activities of the various Chinese clans on Penang Island. The British had not made an effort to distinguish the surname-based clans from the Chinese secret societies which were causing disturbances in the streets of George Town, and regarded the clans as secret societies. In response, James Logan helped Chinese merchants in George Town to petition the East India Company to repeal the ban. This led to greater recognition by the British of the Chinese clans and their activities.

Logan Memorial, George Town, Penang

The Logan Memorial, with the Supreme Court of Penang at the background. Two of the statues, Justice (facing the camera) and Temperance (facing left down Light Street) can be seen here.

His death at the age of 50 in 1869 was much grieved by the population of the Straits Settlements. The public in all three Straits Settlements of Penang, Singapore and Malacca subsequently decided to pool a fund for a memorial in his honour. The Logan Memorial, which was originally topped by a cross and surrounded by a cast iron railing, was erected within the grounds of the Supreme Court of Penang in 1873. The monument consists of four female figures, each facing one of the four directions.

  • Justice, with a sword, faces northeast (overlooking the Sessions and Magistrates Court). The hands of Justice are now missing. Below Justice is a marble medallion of James's portrait picture.
  • Fortitude, with a club, faces northwest (up Light Street towards Convent Light Street). Fortitude's head is also missing.
  • Wisdom, with an open book, faces southwest (overlooking the Supreme Court of Penang). Below Wisdom, a dedication is inscribed on a marble plaque.
  • Temperance, with a chain and bit, faces southeast (down Light Street).

For most of its history, the monument stood within the grounds of the Supreme Court, except during World War 2 when the Japanese briefly moved it. After the war, it was moved back to the Supreme Court. In 2007, it was relocated to its present location at the junction between Light Street and Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah opposite the Supreme Court.

References

  1. Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
  2. Langdon, M. A Guide to George Town's Historic Commercial and Civic Precints. Penang : George Town World Heritage Incorporated.
  3. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/lgn-memorial.htm

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