Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sun Yat Sen "museum" in Penang?

This 19th century 2-storey shop house in 120 Armenian Street, Penang, was once a very important venue for Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the first elected provisional President of China, and whom some called the Father of modern China. It used to be the headquarters of the South-east Asia Tung Meng Hui, a revolutionary party led by Dr. Sun Yat Sen before China became a republic.

It was at this small shop house that on the 12th day of the 10th lunar month of 1910 that Dr. Sun Yat Sen a meeting during which the Tung Meng Hui planned the Canton uprising in 1911 that eventually led to China becoming a republic in 1912.

The shop house is a privately owned property now, and the owner has preserved and restored to almost the original condition with many pieces of its old furniture. There are shell-decorated chairs and a beautiful old hat stand.

It houses many exhibits of Dr. Sun Yat Sen. There are old portraits and some write-ups of history, pictorial exhibits with information of the premises and the revolutionary work of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, including an old portrait of Dr. Sun Yat Sen that used to be hung in Chinese schools to which students bow to pay respect to him.

Antiques displayed include an old signboard that hang in the main hall and an old fireproof safe that custodian Khoo Salma believe used to contain the Tung Meng Hui's cash and important documents.

Visitors can also observe the authentic look of Straits Chinese shop houses of the olden days. There is also a nyonya kitchen complete with coffee corner, stone mortar and pestle, firewood and charcoal stove.

The place has yet to be opened on a daily basis to the public, but lucky visitors can be admitted with permission and a nominal payment or RM3.

Other than this shop house, there is a yet to be opened Dr. Sun Yat Sen Museum Research Center at 65 Macalister Road, an imposing colonial era building. Outside the building stand the Three People sculpture portraying Dr. Sun Yat Sen and his ardent supporter, Goh Say Eng and Ooi Kim Kheng.

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