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Introduction to Book Four of “Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India” February 15, 2013 – Posted in: Excerpts

(please click here to find more excerpts from the book) Book Four is entitled: “Suffolk House” Perhaps more than any other early building in Penang, Suffolk House represents the high expectations that were held for the island as the fourth presidency of India. Indeed it seems to have mirrored the changing fortunes of the island: planned at a time when the promise of Penang becoming the principal British naval hub on the eastern side of India…

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Introduction to Book Three of “Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India” – Posted in: Excerpts

Book Three is entitled: “Government House” (To read the entire introduction to Book Three, please click here) Francis Light’s many years of experience as a trader in the eastern seas, together with his repeated personal recommendations for the utilization of Penang as an East India Company port, led to his being charged with settlement and superintendence of the island in 1786. The position carrie far more responsibility than he had known before. Although an arduous and…

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Introduction to Book Two of “Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India” – Posted in: Excerpts

Book Two is entitled: “The Administrators” (To read the entire introduction to Book Two, please click here) In the previous book, the interplay between the East India Company’s administration and the British government was briefly touched upon, as was the prevailing politics at the turn of the nineteenth century. It is helpful here to offer an overview of how the East India Company administration operated both at home and in its territories. The word ‘government’ is…

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Introduction to Book One of “Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India” – Posted in: Excerpts

Book one is entitled: “Ships for a Presidency” (To read the entire introduction to Book One, as well as the book’s general Introduction, please click here) It may appear unusual to begin a history of early Penang with a study of shipbuilding. However, in the days when slow, timber sailing vessels were the mainstays of international trade, a primary requirement was for regular and safe stopover points: sea ports with an ability to provide a facility…

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“Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India” Geoff Wade’s Foreword – Posted in: Excerpts

(please click here to find more excerpts from the book) Geoff Wade is from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore  The island of Penang has long attracted – through its fascinating streetscapes and scenery, its diverse populace, cultural heterogeneity and its vibrant history – quite an amount of attention from writers, popular and academic. Historians have been no exception to this and a wide selection of studies has been published examining diverse aspects of the Penang past.…

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3 February 2013: “Black and White, The Singapore House 1898-1941” February 14, 2013 – Posted in: Newsletters

“Three conditions architecture must accomplish: Utilitas (utility), Firmitas(permanence) and Venustas (beauty).” -Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (fl. 46-30 BC), De Architectura In the early years of twentieth-century Singapore, a newly-created, singular style of house stood in stark contrast to the verdant background of the island’s tropical surroundings. Juxtaposed against the lush jungle, still very much present in the city’s last century, the black and white houses appeared to be as anomalous as any architectural design could possibly be. But dissimilar as…

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25 January 2013: “Straits Chinese House” – Posted in: Newsletters

“Their house can be said to symbolise [the Straits Chinese] vibrancy of culture and heritage. It is the setting in which Straits Chinese art, ritual and tradition are most clearly expressed.” Having firmly established themselves in the Malay archipelago as early as the seventeenth century, the Straits Chinese, also known as Baba Nyonya or Peranakan Chinese, rose to prominence in the region and developed a complex and fascinating material culture. With many Peranakan men involving…

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14 January 2013: “Malacca, Voices from the Street” – Posted in: Newsletters

“We began by listening to the voices of ordinary Malaccans. We listened to the city’s streets, as we searched out hidden corners and abandoned alleyways. Listened to houses and temples, ruins and cemeteries… And we heard them speak.” Excerpt from the book In the early 1400s, a small port on the west side of Malaysia was waking up to what would be a long, colourful, and at times violent history. Over the course of its…

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4 January 2013: “Recollections” – Posted in: Newsletters

“This attempt to record a part of Penang’s unique history through the lives of a local family sheds details on the people who contributed to its growth and development during the 20th century… through the lives of the extended [Baba Nyonya] clan members are rare insights into their genteel world.” From the Preface of Recollections The elegant culture of the Baba Nyonyas, that heritage so fundamentally stitched into the fabric of George Town’s past and present,…

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27 December 2012: “The Way Home” – Posted in: Newsletters

“All those who had been excluded, who had been silenced, and who were invisible actually did not go away. They are the unhealed wounds that cause us dull pain. This book reveals their existence.”  Leung Man Tao, Hong Kong Social Commentator The Sungai Buloh Settlement in Selangor, Malaysia, once the second largest leper colony in the world, was created to separate those infected with leprosy from the rest of society. In the process of separation, those…

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