Cheah Kongsi reopens with improved features

Members of the Cheah Clansmen Association of Muar praying during the reopening of the Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi clanhouse at Armenian Street in Penang.

THE majestic Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi clanhouse in Penang was reopened in a grand ceremony after being closed for almost three years for refurbishment.

Cheah clans from around the world came for the event held at the 142-year-old clanhouse in Armenian Street Ghaut on Wednesday.

A new interpretation centre which showcases the kongsi’s rich and unique history was unveiled during the ceremony.

In his speech, Cheah Kongsi chairman Cheah Swee Huat said the kongsi faced many challenges during the RM3.8mil refurbishment over the last three years such as the controversial decision not to rebuild the shophouses on the Beach Street frontage.

He said the interpretation centre has artefacts, touch screen tables showing animation and historical videos of the Cheah clan, and eight paintings depicting the transformation of Penang through the years.

The centre, he added, would also house professionally designed exhibits, presented in world-class displays that tells the story of the kongsi in an easy-to-understand format.

Cheah said other new features added were a resource room where visitors could read about the Cheah clan’s history and contribution towards the development of George Town, and a landscaped garden.

He also said that most of the kongsi-owned shophouses along Armenian Street had been restored. Cheah said the major part of the refurbishment project was restoring the whole clan house, stripping its back walls and floors, re-roofing and re-flooring the upper level and replacing the roof sculptures.

Skilled artisans from Fujian , China were employed to reinstate the magnificent sculptures, using traditional designs which relate specifically to the Cheah clan, he added.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who launched the ceremony, said the interpretation centre would accelerate efforts in the research into the history and culture of the Chinese society in Malaysia.

He also said the Cheah Kongsi had collaborated with the state government in many ways, especially in arts, culture and heritage as it allowed its properties to be painted by artists.

The clanhouse will only be open for public visits from Jan 2 next year. The entry fee is RM10 for adults, RM5 for children aged three to 12 and RM2 for students.

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