Hu Yew Seah honours legendary poet and doctor


  • Nation
  • Monday, 12 Mar 2018

Honouring great men: Bayan Baru Member of Parliament Sim Tze Tzin (fifth from right) and other top officials from Think City, SJK(C) Hu Yew Seah, Balik Pulau International Art Village, Penang Gandhi Peace Centre and Ming Art in front of the commemorative mural of Tagore and Dr Wu in Madras Lane, George Town.

GEORGE TOWN: The local mural art scene now has an extra attraction along Madras Lane here, where the historical Hu Yew Seah buildings are located.

Depicting the legendary Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and the Penangite plague fighter Dr Wu Lien-Teh, the mural adorns the facade of SJK(C) Hu Yew Seah – one of the four buildings.

Measuring 12m in height and 18cm wide, the colourful mural commemorates the legacy of the two men, who helped lay the foundation for the buildings.

Alison Chong, the great-grandniece of Dr Wu and vice-president of the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Society, was among those who attended the launching ceremony on Saturday.

“I find that the use of colours really brings him to life.

“Hopefully, when tourists come to take photographs of the mural, they will also learn more about their legacy,” she said.

The launch of the mural, which took artist Gabriel Pitcher about 80 hours to complete, also coincided with Dr Wu’s 129th birth anniversary.

“It was difficult as the only reference photographs of them were in black and white,” said Pitcher.

School vice-president Tan Hun Chin said he wanted to have the mural painted after learning from Think City chairman Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal that the men had laid the first two foundation stones for SJK(C) Hu Yew Seah.

Dr Anwar said Tagore and Dr Wu were kindred spirits in the fight against colonialism and had championed indigenous cultures.

“Tagore, as an Indian, fought for cultures to retain their identities despite being colonised by foreign powers.

“Dr Wu battled the opium trade and racial discrimination.

“That is why Tagore was asked to lay the foundation stone for one of the Hu Yew Seah buildings in 1927 and Dr Wu did the same for the next one about a year later,” he said.

Founded in 1914, Hu Yew Seah – also known as the League of Helping Hands – was originally set up to give Chinese education to the Straits Chinese (Baba Nyonya).

Tagore, the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, helped shape the thoughts of world leaders with his poems and writing while Dr Wu was celebrated as the “Plague Fighter” after saving masses in north-eastern China from a pneumonic plague in 1910.

Dr Wu was also the first Malayan nominee for the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1935.

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