LOCATED in the heart of George Town, Penang, is a century-old heritage building with ties to Thailand.
Segara Ninda was the residence of Ku Din Ku Meh, who was the first governor of Satun appointed by King Chulalongkorn.
Also known as Tengku Baharuddin, he fostered a good relationship between Siam and British Malaya through trading activities.
Dr Tengku Sepora Tengku Mahadi, who is the great-granddaughter of Ku Din, said he was a man of vision with leadership skills.
“Ku Din’s trading activities enabled the movement of people across borders, the Chinese from Penang into Satun and vice versa, which resulted in cross-cultural borrowings of ideas and thoughts.
“The improvement of administrative systems in Satun enabled more trade between these provinces.
“After his death, Ku Din’s properties were rented out to many different ethnic groups, particularly the Chinese.
“Some were long-term tenants and they had a harmonious relationship with Ku Din’s descendants who were his estate’s administrators,” she said during a sharing session at the building along Penang Road.
Tengku Sepora said Segara Ninda used to be Ku Din’s base for trading activities until the 1920s.
“From the mid-1920s to late 1920s, the building was the residence of Tengku Zainul Abidin (the only son of Ku Din) while he was studying at Penang Free School.
“However, we are unsure of the usage of the building from 1932 to the late 1940s.
“From the 1950s till late 1990s, Segara Ninda was rented under the Rent Control Act 1966.
“In the mid-1990s, the tenancy was terminated and the tenant was compensated.
“In the late 1990s, restoration works started.
“On Nov 2, 2002, we saw the reintroduction of the mansion under the name ‘Segara Ninda: Residence of Ku Din Ku Meh’.
“Segara Ninda became the home of Tengku Yahaya Tengku Mahadi, one of Ku Din’s great-grandsons.
“In fact, Ku Din had 26 houses along Bertam Lane and Penang Road, which were rented out to many families after his death,” she added.
Tengku Sepora hopes Ku Din’s legacy of cultural, social and harmonious relationships can be propagated through Segara Ninda.
“It was a heritage homestay site from 2002 to 2019 and we received many visitors from Europe, the United States and Japan.
“We hope that Segara Ninda can also be a language and cultural centre in the future.
“Ku Din’s residence in Satun, Thailand, which is almost a replica of his Penang home, is now a museum,” she said.