100 years ago on 27 April 1911, the Huanghuagang Uprising took place in Guangzhou and this event was planned by Dr. Sun Yat Sen from Penang, during the ‘Penang Conference’.
Penang Tongmenghui descendants meet Wen Jiabao
On 28 April 2011, China Premier Wen Jiabao had a one hour meeting with the descendants of the Penang Tongmenghui members. This meeting commemorated the 100th anniversary of Sun Yat Sen’s Huanghuagang Uprising (27 April 1911). Wen Jiabao said, ‘We should not forget the deeds of the Penang Tongmenghui members who supported the Huanghuagang Uprising’.
Members of the nine-person delegation from Penang:
Ms. Lim Gaik Siang, Sun Yat Sen researcher, advisor and head of the Penang delegation
Dato’ Dr. Yee Thiam Sun, descendant of Tongmenghui member Lim Bo Ai who wrote a book, ‘Biographies of the Nanyang Chinese’.
Dr. Lawrence T.C. Khoo, descendant of Tongmenghui member Khoo Beng Cheang, the main founder of Chung Ling School.
Mr. Khoo Kah Hong, descendant of Khoo Khai Thuan, one of the 11 Tongmenghui members who supported Sun Yat Sen’s family from 1910 to 1911.
Dato’ Chuang Kheng Khang, descendant of Chuang Soon Hwa, who founded Aik Chee Reading Club.
Mr. Loh Lam Hooi, director of Kwong Wah Yit Poh, newspaper founded in 1910 by Sun Yat Sen and Penang Tongmenghui.
Ms. Khoo Salma Nasution, custodian of Sun Yat Sen Museum.
Mdm Linda Ch’ng Cheng Ee, patron of Sun Yat Sen Museum.
Mr. Khiah Hock Leong, vice director of Sun Yat Sen Memorial Centre, Penang.
Mr. Simon Saw, observer.
Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Conference: A Centennial Celebration
Speech by Tan Siok Choo, Director, OCBC, at the launching of the exhibition
Friday, 6 May 2011 at Kongsoon House 24 Lebuh Pantai/1 Lebuh Gereja
Datuk Khor Ten Haw, Deputy Chairman, Penang Chinese Town Hall, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I would like to thank Khoo Salma Nasution, president of the Penang Heritage Trust, for inviting me to launch this exhibition titled “Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Conference: A Centennial Commemoration.”
Not only does this exhibition involve one of the most important individuals in the history of China and arguably in Asia, it provides me with a very welcome excuse to visit Penang and to enjoy eating char kway teow and assam laksa.
This exhibition celebrates two momentous events – first, Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s decision in 1910 to move the Southeast Asian headquarters of his political party, the Tong Meng Hui, from Singapore to Penang.
Although Dr. Sun lived here for only six months, it was on this island that he convened the Penang Conference on 12 November 1910 to plan the Second Guangzhou Uprising.
Admittedly, the Guangzhou Uprising on 27 April 1911 was crushed. But it inspired the Double Tenth revolution that toppled the Manchu regime and resulted in China becoming the first republic in Asia. On 29 December 1911, Dr. Sun Yat Sen was elected China’s first president.
I congratulate the Penang Heritage Trust for organising this exhibition as well as the exhibition on Dr. Sun Yat Sen and his wife, Soong Ching Ling – their life and legacy in November last year to commemorate the centenary of the historic Penang Conference.
Penang’s long and storied history is arguably its most notable heritage. It is important that Sun Yat Sen’s stay in Penang and the legacy that he left behind – in terms of schools and newspapers that were established – should not be forgotten.
Today, almost 100 years after the 10 October 1911 revolution, and after the civil war, fighting off the Japanese and the turmoil caused by the Cultural Revolution, China is now the second largest economy in the world.
This exhibition also celebrates a second momentous event – the remarkable outpouring of support and financial assistance that the people of this island gave to Sun Yat Sen at a time when he was barred from almost all countries in the region.
As Tan Sri Andrew Sheng wrote in an article in The Star, it was Penang that offered the Tong Meng Hui and the Sun family both sanctuary and respite during the darkest period of the Revolution.
Indeed, Dr. Sun himself paid tribute to Penang: “I have failed in all eight uprisings. There appears to be little hope for the Revolution. But the people of Penang provided me with protection and collected money for the ninth and successful uprising,” he said.
That the people of Penang are willing to aid and support anti-establishment politicians is still evident today.
Penang is the only state in this country that has voted into power two different opposition parties – the Gerakan party in the May 1969 general election and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition in March 2008.
On a personal note, as a director of OCBC Bank Malaysia Bhd, I am very pleased the Penang Heritage Trust decided to hold this exhibition in a building owned by one of the oldest banks in Malaysia.
It is now my pleasure to open this exhibition.
Speech by Khoo Salma, President, Penang Heritage Trust
at the launching of the exhibition: ‘Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Conference: A Centennial Celebration’.
Friday, 6 May 2011 at Kongsoon House 24 Lebuh Pantai/1 Lebuh Gereja
Ms Tan Siok Choo, director of OCBC Bank, ladies and gentlemen. I am very pleased to welcome all of you to this exhibition entitled ‘Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Conference: A Centennial Celebration’. This event is a continuation of our celebration which began in July 2010 with the premiere of Road To Dawn at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, the 22nd Joint Conference of the Sun Yat Sen and Soong Ching Ling Memorials which brought delegates of 30 museums and memorials from China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines and 29 direct descendants of Dr. Sun Yat Sen and his elder brother Sun Mei to Penang in November 2010. This exhibition was part of a larger exhibition entitled ‘Sun Yat Sen and Soong Ching Ling: Their Life and Legacy’ which was organized by Min Sin Seah and Penang Heritage Trust under the auspices of the Penang State Museum from November 2010 to February 2011.
Last week, on 28 April a nine-person Penang contingent, including the descendants of the Penang Tongmenghui members, had the honour of meeting the China Premier Wen Jiabao in Kuala Lumpur. It marked the centenary of the Huanghuagang Uprising which took place on 27 April 1910. The Premier acknowledged the role of the ‘Penang Conference’ in planning the Huanghuagang Uprising in Guangzhou, China, and the role of Penang and Malaysian members in supporting Sun Yat Sen in that critical hour.
The leadership and vision of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, his political beliefs and vision, and his determination to forge a better world, inspired the Penang people not only to support his revolution in China, but also to improve the society in Penang. Sun Yat Sen’s followers played a key role in founding the Penang Philomatic Union, the Kwong Wah Yit Poh, Chung Ling School, Peng Hua School, Min Sin Seah, Li Teik Seah, Hu Yew Seah, Aik Hwa, Chong San School and many other organizations and schools. They struggled for revolution in China and for social reform in their own society. Their political legacy may be clouded by later political developments, but their cultural, social and educational legacy continues to shine brightly. This exhibition is a tribute to the forgotten pioneers such as Goh Say Eng, Ng Kim Kheng, Tan Sin Cheng, Khoo Beng Cheang and the members of their remarkable movement.
This legacy has been largely forgotten or at least it is not in the social consciousness of the present generation. That is why it is so wonderful that this exhibition is visible to everyone who walks up and down Beach Street, a main commercial street. It is a great thing for Penang Heritage Trust to be on Penang’s ‘High Street’. I believe this is the first event held in Kongsoon House which was the ‘best fitted and most imposing’ business premises in Penang when it opened in 1914.
Kongsoon House was the premises of Goh Taik Chee & Co., wholesale store and ship chandlers, suppliers of mining, engineering and industrial machinery, reputedly the first Chinese company to import goods directly from England and Europe. A business and community leader of his time, Goh Taik Chee (1862-1919) was a public official and a Justice of the Peace. A philanthropist, he was the first Chinese in Penang to be awarded the Order of the British Empire for donating and distributing rice in response to the food shortage during the First World War. He was also a founder of two Chinese schools and president of the Penang Chinese Anti-Opium Society in 1906. Goh was also known as a patron of Bangsawan, a theatre form which flourished in Penang in the early 20th century.
We are grateful to OCBC Bank for sponsoring this wonderful space for the exhibition and launch and we look forward to future collaborations.
NOTE: The exhibition was developed by the Penang Heritage Trust and the new material in this section was mainly researched and written by Lim Gaik Siang and compiled with the assistance of Lau Pei Ling.