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Friday October 15, 2010

Conference on Dr Sun in Penang PHT to celebrate centennial anniversary of meeting

IT was the year 1910 and Dr Sun Yat Sen had been exiled from China for 15 years.

With the revolution against the Qing Dynasty in dire financial straits, political leader Dr Sun arrived in Penang from Singapore with hopes of reviving the fight against the imperial rule.

Using his Nov 12 birthday as a guise, Dr Sun brought together his supporters, both from China and among the Chinese community in Malaya, at 120 Armenian Street to plead one last time for funds to spur the revolution.

In what became known as the ‘Penang Conference’, the 44-year-old leader succeeded, raising 8,000 Straits dollars for the cause, part of which was sent to revolutionary fighters in Hong Kong while another part went into establishing Kwong Wah Yit Poh, Malaysia’s oldest surviving Chinese newspaper.

The meeting also sowed the seeds for the Guangzhou Uprising that happened the year after and contributed to the eventual fall of imperialism in China - events that cemented Dr Sun’s legacy as the Founding Father of Republican China.

Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) president Khoo Salma Nasution said next month, the centennial anniversary of this historic meeting in George Town, would be celebrated in style with the state hosting the 22th Joint Conference of Sun Yat Sen and Soong Ching Ling Memorials.

It will be the first time in the conference’s history that a location outside China has been chosen to host the meet, she said.

“Penang played a very important part, both in world history and in the Chinese Revolution.

“This is a message we want to get out, along with awareness on the many heritage buildings related to Dr Sun’s stay in Penang from July to December, 1910,” she told a press conference at the Sun Yat Sen Penang Base yesterday.

She said representatives from over 30 museums and memorial sites from eight cities in China, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Singapore would be making the trip down for the conference that was scheduled to run from Nov 19 to Nov 22.

Khoo said four main activities would also be held in conjunction with the anniversary celebrations – an exhibition on Dr Sun and his wife Soong Ching Ling, an international symposium on the couple and their impact on Southeast Asia, the launching of the Sun Yat Sen Heritage Trail and a screening of Road To Dawn, a film loosely based on Dr Sun’s stay in Penang, shot entirely in the state in 2006.

“The Min Sin Seah organisation will kick off the celebrations on Nov 12 with a public exhibition entitled Sun Yat Sen and Soong Ching Ling: Their Life and Legacy at the new Penang state museum branch on 57, Macalister Road.

“This exhibition, which will feature works from 50 organisations in 10 countries, will run until Feb 17 next year,” Khoo said.

The international symposium, scheduled for Nov 21, and the Road To Dawn screening (on dates that have yet to be confirmed) will both be held at Wawasan Open University and are also open to the public.

Khoo said the Sun Yat Sen Heritage Trail, a project made possible with a RM100,000 grant under the George Town Grants Programme, would be launched on Nov 20.

She said the trail consisted of 10 to 13 historical sites in Penang associated with Dr Sun and his supporters.

“Some of the sites are very old buildings that are in pretty bad shape, so we hope the mapping of this trail will help promote restoration activities,” Khoo said, adding that the trail would also be a tourism product targeted at attracting tourists from China and Taiwan.

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