TWO loyal employees were recognised as Ghee Hiang celebrated its heritage dating back 155 years.
During the Ghee Hiang 155th anniversary dinner at Straits Quay in Tanjong Tokong, Tan Soo Hock and Koay Teow Soon took home RM10,000 and RM8,800 respectively for their contributions to, among others, Penang’s homegrown tau sar pneah (fluffy pastry with green bean paste filling), beh teh saw (flaky pastry with sesame seed molasses), phong pneah (light fluffy pastry with white sugar), hneoh pneah (flaky pastry with brown sugar) and sesame oil.
Added up, the duo have clocked in more than a century of toil to help make Ghee Hiang products a household name.
They were among 16 long-serving employees who have worked with the company for a period of between 20 and 60 years.
In his speech, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Ghee Hiang is among Penang’s most recognised brands.
He said its tau sar pheah is listed by the state government as a must-buy iconic delicacy while its sesame oil is a number one brand.
“Ghee Hiang is a living heritage,” he said at the glitzy red and gold event recently.
Tourism Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng, who was also present, described the homegrown brand’s growth as “truly inspiring”.
“Ghee Hiang is Malaysia’s first and oldest biscuit company that has set world-class standards for other local manufacturers to follow,” he said.
Ghee Hiang executive chairman Datuk Ooi Sian Hian paid tribute to the company’s founding partners Ch’ng Kah Seng, Ch’ng Kar Jim and the late Ooi Kooi How for their “impeccable business acumen, far-sighted vision, passion for success, devotion and sacrifice” that laid a strong foundation for the company to grow.
“Because of these great men, Ghee Hiang is what it is today.
“Our pastries, biscuits and sesame oil will always be done the traditional way with quality ingredients.
“We started from humble beginnings as a mere cottage industry selling fresh handmade biscuits and pastries that originated from Fujian, China — it was tough in the early years,” he said.
Sian Hian said Ghee Hiang’s products have received HACCP and ISO22000:2005 certificates in Food Safety Management Systems and the company had embarked on an aggressive branding exercise targeted at the younger generation.
“We have opened a visiting gallery for the public to explain how our pastries are made and are working with the state government to promote tourism.
“With George Town being listed as a Unesco heritage site, we hope to establish a Ghee Hiang living heritage museum in the heritage enclave on Beach Street and collaborate with other surviving century-old companies founded in Penang to showcase a legacy of business, culture and art,” he said.
Ghee Hiang director Ch’ng Huck Theng said the company had its fair share of ups and downs.
“Tonight, we celebrate and acknowledge all those who have contributed to our success.
“The Ghee Hiang name was adopted from a pastry shop in China which no longer exists but we are now re-introducing the brand back to China and the rest of the world,” he said.