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Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Light Street, George Town, Penang

Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (seen here is the older eastern wing) at Light Street, George Town

The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, housed at Light Street in the heart of George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, was established in 1903. The building lies along the southern side of Light Street facing The Esplanade, between King Street to the west and Penang Street to the east.

As Malaysia's first Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce has played a vital role in safeguarding Penang's Chinese commercial interests. It is also currently one of the strongest commercial institutions in Malaysia.

Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Light Street, George Town, Penang (2)

The western wing of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce now houses The Chambers Hotel.

The building itself was built in two phases. The first phase at the junction between Light Street and Penang Street was designed by Chew Eng Eam and constructed in 1928, while the second phase, a western wing at the junction between Light Street and King Street, was designed later in the Art Moderne style. Both wings have been restored as of April 2016 and the western wing has been converted into The Chambers Hotel.

History

Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Light Street, Penang (1930s)

The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (centre-right) in this 1930s picture of Light Street.

The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1903 to supervise business transactions amongst the Chinese in Penang with common business activities and to form a united front for Penang's Chinese merchants to exert pressure on the Straits Settlements government. It was the first Chinese Chamber of Commerce in British Malaya and Malaysia.

Throughout its history, the organisation has played an influential role in safeguarding ethnic Chinese interests in Penang. It led a successful protest against British plans to rescind Penang's duty-free status in 1946 and subsequently joined the failed multi-ethnic Penang Secessionist Movement, which attempted to prevent the merger of Penang into the Federation of Malaya.

Today, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce is among the strongest commercial institutions in Malaysia, with over 1,000 individuals, corporations, commercial associations and guilds.

The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce building was built in two phases. The original building, at the junction between Light Street and Penang Street, was designed by a Penangite Chinese architect, Chew Eng Eam. Constructed in 1928, it comes with an open-air rooftop verandah with splendid views across most of George Town. The ornamentations on the building include urns, corbels, terrace balustrades and even a Tudor gable.

Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Light Street, George Town, Penang (2012)

The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 2012, prior to its recent renovation.

The eastern wing was built directly opposite Foo Tye Sin's Mansion at Penang Street. Foo Tye Sin was one of the richest men on Penang Island in the late 19th. century.

Meanwhile, the western wing, at the junction between Light Street and King Street, was designed in the Art Moderne style, combining both Art Deco and Moderne architectural styles.

Light Street, George Town, Penang

The Chambers Hotel (right) within the newly-restored western wing of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

During the Second World War, the western wing was destroyed by Japanese bomber aircraft in 1941, while the original, eastern building was subsequently occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army. The western wing was rebuilt in 1954.

Renovation works on both wings have been completed very recently and the western wing now serves as The Chambers Hotel.

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
  2. Leong H.K., 2009. Connecting and Distancing : Southeast Asia and China. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.
  3. Cheah J. S., 2013. Penang 500 Early Postcards. Editions Didier Millet.
  4. http://www.pccc.org.my/
  5. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/chinese-chamber-of-commerce.htm
  6. http://thechambers.com.my/

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