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Authors & Contributors



KHOO SALMA NASUTION is a writer, publisher and heritage advocate. She is author or co-author of about a dozen books, namely Streets of George Town (1993), Penang Postcard Collection (2003), Raja Bilah and the Mandailings in Perak (2003), Kinta Valley: Pioneering Malaysia’s Modern Development (2005), More Than Merchants (2006), Sun Yat Sen in Penang (2008), Heritage Houses of Penang (2009) and Redoubtable Reformer: The Life and Times of Cheah Cheang Lim (2015). Her recent book The Chulia in Penang (2014) is the winner of the ICAS Book Prize 2015, Colleagues’ Choice Award. For more details about her work, click here. Contact the author at snkhoo[at]


ABDUR-RAZZAQ LUBIS (also known by his Mandailing name Namora Sende Loebis) is an author and activist who writes on the environment as well as the social history and cultural heritage of Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Sumatra, Indonesia. His publications include Perak Postcards: 1890s-1940s (2010), Kinta Valley: Pioneering Malaysia’s Modern Development (2005) and Raja Bilah and the Mandailings in Perak: 1875-1911 (2003). His latest book Sutan Puasa, Founder of Kuala Lumpur (2018) was met with huge response from both scholars and laymen alike. For more details about his work, click here. Contact the author at namorasende[at]

Earl Drake is a retired Canadian diplomat. He has served in Pakistan, Malaysia and Burma and later as Canada’s Executive Director at the World Bank in Washington. He was Ambassador, first to Indonesia, then to China. He has worked at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Gayatri Rajapatni: The Woman behind the Glory of Majapahit (2015).


Ruth Iversen Rollitt grew up in Ipoh, Perak and was educated in Denmark. She lived in London, Singapore, Islamabad, Bonn, and Tokyo before retiring to London. She went through extensive records and hundreds of family photographs to compile a biography about her father, the Danish architect B.M. Iversen. She is the author of Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya (2015).


Francis Frederic Cooray (1890–1963) was born in Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka, and later moved to Malaya in 1918 with his wife and first son, Dodwell. The author was also a journalist in Malaya for 29 years. A survivor of the Japanese Occupation and former pro tem secretary of the Ceylon Association of Malaya (1920), Cooray was highly interested in Malaya and Sri Lanka’s political progress. He is the posthumous co-author of Redoutable Reformer: The Life and Times of Cheah Cheang Lim (2015).


Jon LimJon Sun Hock Lim BArch, MArch (Melb), PhD (NUS) was born in Malaya in 1942. He lectured in the National University of Singapore’s School of Architecture between 1972 and 2002. His primary research interest is the architects of Singapore and Penang (1786–1942). Lim has collected oral history related to the architects of Penang and researched the history of the island’s architectural practice. He is the author of The Penang House and the Straits Architect 1887–1941 (2015).


KhenChin Yoon Khen is currently chief operating officer at He studied information technology at Kolej Damansara Utama (KDU), Penang. He has worked as a systems analyst at Intel and a project management advisor at Dell. In between those two jobs, he supported himself for two years as a freelance photographer and website developer, while pursuing his passion and writing his book Traditional Trades of Penang (2014).


Koh Shim Luen was born in Ipoh, Perak. She graduated from Universiti Sains Malaysia with a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts in 1987 and served as Professional Art educator in Malaysian government schools for over 30 years. Her love for art has led her to participate in various art exhibitions. Her paintings of shophouses have been turned into a small book of 16 detachable postcards called The Straits Shophouse: George Town and Malacca (2014).


John Michael Broome Hughes (1917–2011) was a celebrated educator who taught in the schools of Malaya from 1948 to 1963. He was posted to the Penang Free School in Penang, Ismail English School (subsequently Sultan Ismail College) in Kota Bharu and the Malay College in Kuala Kangsar. He left Malaysia as the headmaster of the Penang Free School in 1963, having educated a generation of young Malaysians destined to play leading roles in post-independence Malaysia. His memoirs were compiled by his son and published as The White Crocodile’s Tale: My Memoirs (2014).

TenasTenas Effendy (1936–2015) was a teacher, writer, poet, culturalist, linguist and highly revered advocate and connoisseur of Malay–Indonesian arts, language and culture in their highest forms. He was awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon. D. Litt) from the National University of Malaysia in 2005. He lived and died in Pekanbaru, Riau, Indonesia. In 2014, he collected old Riau–Malay rhymed sayings and wove them into a long Malay poem, Rumah. This literary work was translated and illustrated in the book Rumah: An Ode to the Malay House (2014).


Raimy Ché-Ross was born in a rumah sakit, raised in a rumah pangsa and settled in a rumah teres. Raimy Ché-Ross is an accredited Malay translator whose writings explore little known aspects of Malay arts and literature. He teaches Malay while engaged in translation and voice-over assignments in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. He divides his time between his rumah hinggap in Woden and his rumah keluarga in Selayang. He translated Tenas Effendy’s poem into English and wrote the glossary for Rumah: An Ode to the Malay House (2014). He is also the compiler of The Royal Letters of Baginda Omar (2015).

Ahmad Harun was born in Sungai Petani, Kedah. He acquired his architectural background at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, then gained his Part II in RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) in Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK, in 2006. He is currently a full-time visualization artist working with an architectural firm in London. Ahmad subscribes to the philosophy that ‘Art gives our creative soul the food it needs to realize dreams and hopes’. He illustrated Rumah: An Ode to the Malay House (2014).

Dr. Wu Lien Teh (1879–1960) was born in Penang, attended Penang Free School, and won a Queen’s Scholarship to Cambridge where he qualified as a doctor. He worked in scientific research in Europe before returning to Malaya. He laid the foundations of the modern medical service in China and achieved fame as the ‘Manchurian Plague Fighter’. He was the world authority on pneumonic plague for more than a decade and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1935. His autobiography, Plague Fighter: The autobiography of a modern Chinese physician, was first published in 1959 and reprinted by Areca Books in 2014 under the auspices of the Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Society, Penang.


natM. Nadarajah, or ‘Nat’, earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. He is a pioneer of the Global Centre for the Study of Sustainable Futures and Spirituality (GCSSFS, He wrote Another Malaysia is Possible and Other Essays: Writings on Culture and Politics for a Sustainable World (2004) and co-edited Urban Crisis: Culture and the Sustainability of Cities (2007). Based on a research pilgrimage supported by his Asian Public Intellectual fellowship, he wrote Living Pathways: Meditations on sustainable cultures and cosmologies in Asia (2014).

Justine Vaz is an independent researcher based in Malaysia. She has extensive experience as a conservation practitioner and environmental consultant, focusing on forest-dependent communities, indigenous knowledge, resource management, and customary tenure. She is co-editor of Living Landscapes, Connected Communities: Culture, Environment and Change Across Asia (2014).


Narumol Aphinives is a consultant specializing in environmental education and sustainable development projects. She was previously the executive director of Amnesty International Thailand, general manager of the Green World Foundation, as well as a journalist. She is co-editor of Living Landscapes, Connected Communities: Culture, Environment and Change Across Asia (2014).


lucLuc de Gijzel was born and raised in the Netherlands. The author currently lives in The Hague, Holland, with his wife and their two children, both of them born in Penang. He is the author of Penang Hokkien Dictionary (English-Hokkien) (2013).



msMark Yoi Sun Soo was born in Hong Kong in 1933 and grew up in Hong Kong and Malaya. He was the first Asian Head of Radiology at the University Hospital, Kuala Lumpur. He later migrated to Australia. He retired as Head of Neuroradiology and Director of MRI at Westmead Hospital, Sydney. He is the author of My Days in the Sun (2013).


Marcus-142x150Marcus Langdon was born in England, transplanted to Australia early in life and currently lives in Penang. He is acknowledged as the leading authority on Penang’s early history under the East India Company. He has published in scholarly journals and his research findings have been widely cited by heritage advocates, architects, conservationists and local historians. He is the author of Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India 1805–1830, Volume One: Ships, Men and Mansions (2013).


Ooi Cheng GheeOoi Cheng Ghee was born in Penang and practices as a medical doctor. He is an Associate Of the Royal Photographic Society, United Kingdom, and has held solo exhibitions at Galeri Seni Mutiara, Penang. He documented the port workers of Penang and life in Little India in 1979. His photographs are the subject of the book Portraits of Penang: Little India (2013).

Himanshu Bhatt is an active freelance journalist based in Penang. His range of writings and news reports cover politics, business, arts as well as special features on society and culture. A scholarship graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Himanshu pioneered Cape Poetics and has directed and acted in several drama productions by the Penang Players. He wrote an essay for Portraits of Penang: Little India (2013).

Gareth Richards is a writer and editor and currently runs a bookshop in Penang. He has published on international politics, development issues and photography, and was the co-editor of Asia-Europe Interregionalism: Critical Perspectives (Routledge, 1999) and Social Science and Knowledge in a Globalising World (2012). He wrote an essay for Portraits of Penang: Little India (2013).


Simon Gardner is a full-time researcher, photographer and writer, focusing on botanical and environmental issues. He currently lives in India. He is co-author of A Field Guide to Forest Trees of Northern Thailand (Bangkok, 2000), (Bangkok, 2006) and Heritage Trees of Penang (2011).


Pindar Sidisunthorn is a researcher, writer and botanical illustrator. She currently lives in India. She is co-author of A Field Guide to Forest Trees of Northern Thailand (Bangkok, 2000), Caves of Northern Thailand (Bangkok, 2006) and Heritage Trees of Penang (2011).


Lai Ee May has been a biology teacher for many years. She was formerly a lecturer at Disted College, Penang, as well as a research officer at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia and at Penang Botanic Gardens. She is co-author of Heritage Trees of Penang (2011).


George Bilainkin (1903–1981) was a distinguished foreign correspondent and author who served as editor of Penang newspaper The Straits Echo from 1929 to 1930. He was the author of Hail Penang! Being the Narrative of Comedies and Tragedies in a Tropical Outpost, Among Europeans, Chinese, Malays and Indians (2010).


Manicasothy Saravanamuttu (died 1970) was a legendary journalist and esteemed Sri Lankan diplomat, and the editor of Penang’s The Straits Echo (1931–41 and 1945–47). He was born into a prominent Jaffna Tamil family in Colombo and attended St. Thomas’ College. Sara was credited with having saved Penang from further Japanese bombing during the Japanese invasion in 1941. He was the author of The Sara Saga (revised edition, 2010).


Alison Hayes is a native of Dundee, Scotland, and loves life in George Town. She is co-author of Giving Our Best: The Story of St George’s Girls’ School, Penang, 1885–2010 (2010).



Sehra Yeap Zimbulis grew up in Penang and has recently returned to her home town after many years. She has a degree in English and psychology. She is co-author of Giving Our Best: The Story of St George’s Girls’ School, Penang, 1885–2010 (2010).



Malcolm Wade (1933–2015) was a postal historian and stalwart of the Malaya Study Group. He has written an authoritative postal history of Perak. He was co-author of Penang Postcard Collection: 1899–1930s (2003) and Perak Postcards 1890s–1940s (2010).


Edi Nasution hails from Gunung Tua-Muarasoro in Mandailing Julu (Upper Mandailing). He obtained a degree in ethnomusicology in 1995 from the University of North Sumatra in Medan, Indonesia. He is the author of Tulila: Muzik Bujukan Mandailing (2007). He passed away in Tambang Bustak, Mandailing, after a long illness in March 2017. Read this heartfelt tribute from fellow Mandailing Abdur-Razzaq Lubis.


Goh Mai Loon is the project initiator and location producer of the Chinese historical film Road To Dawn. She co-authored the souvenir album of Road to Dawn: Filming in Penang/«?·?»:????, (2007) written in English and Chinese.



Christine Wu Ramsay grew up in the British Straits Settlement of Penang, part of present-day Malaysia. She graduated from and undertook research in organic chemistry at Adelaide and Melbourne Universities, the Chester Beatty Research Institute in London and Brandies University in Massachusetts in the 1960s. She is co-author of Days Gone By: Growing Up in Penang (2007).


Tan Kim Hong is a local historian residing in Penang. He has published and edited works on Chinese Malaysian politics and socio-economic change in Penang, including histories of the Labour Party of Malaya, the Goddess of Mercy Temple, the Chinese Town Hall, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Ghee Hin Society. He is the author of The Chinese in Penang: A Pictorial History ?????:??? (2007).


Julia de Bierre was born in Penang and grew up there. She writes for leading design and decoration periodicals and currently runs Galerie Huit in the World Heritage Site of Arles, France. She is the author of the coffee table book Penang Through Glided Doors (2006), available both in French and English.


James Bain Smith is an international artist and photographer with a parallel career in the decorative arts. He is co-author of the bestselling Restoration Recipes. His photographs of Penang illustrate Penang Through Glided Doors (2006), available both in French and English.


Ric Francis is co-founder of the Perth Electric Tramways and a member of the Western Australian Omnibus Group Inc and the Electric Trolleybus Group. He is the author of Kalgoorlie Transport History 1901–2001 (Goldenlines) and co-author of Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways (2006).


Colin Ganley is a member of several British train and bus preservation societies. He is the co-author of Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways (2006).


Christopher Hugh Gallop was born in Wimbledon, United Kingdom in 1931 and educated at Sherborne School and the University of London. He spent twenty-eight years in Brunei Darussalam, thirteen of them as a school principal in the rural district of Tutong, followed by twelve years in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, as inspector of schools. From 1991 to 1993, he contributed a weekly page to the ‘Borneo Bulletin’ under the pen name ‘Pengembara’ (Malay for ‘Wanderer’). A compilation of these articles, ‘Pengembara: A Road Less Travelled’, was published in 1997. He has been resident in Penang, Malaysia since 1994. He is the author of Wanderer to Brunei and Beyond (2016).

Wu Yu-lin, professionally known as Tai Yu-lin, is the eldest daughter of Dr Wu Lien-teh. Born in Harbin in 1926, she received her early education in Shanghai and university education at the University of Malaya (Singapore), Columbia University (as a Fulbright-Smithmundt Scholar), and University of London. She is the author of Memories Of Dr. Wu Lien Teh: Plague Fighter (2016).

Adnan A Hezri is an independent scholar and an elected Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. He specialises in comparative public policy spanning areas such as environmental policy, green economy, natural resources governance and sustainable development strategy. His research has appeared in scholarly journals such as Ecological Economics, Institute of Development Studies Bulletin, Natural Resources Forum and the Australian Journal of Public Administration. His co-edited books include Towards Green Economy (2012) and Facets of Sustainability (2013). He is the author of The Sustainability Shift: Refashioning Malaysia’s Future (2016).

Farouk Yahya (PhD, SOAS University of London, 2013) is currently Leverhulme Research Assistant in Islamic Art and Culture at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, and Postdoctoral Research Associate at SOAS. He is the author of Magic and Divination in Malay Illustrated Manuscripts (Leiden: Brill, 2016), and The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections (2017).

Gurmit Singh Born in 1942 to Punjabi parents in Japanese-occupied Malaya, Gurmit went on to found two pioneering NGOs — Environmental Protection Society, Malaysia (EPSM) and Centre for Environment, Technology and Development, Malaysia (CETDEM). At various national and international fora, Gurmit not only put forward the Malaysian perspective, but also spoke up for the ‘third world’ and the global good. He is the author of Memoirs of a Malaysian Eco-Activist (2017).

Shireen Jahn Kassim, Norwina Mohd Nawawi and Noor Hanita Abdul Majid, are academics at the International Islamic University of Malaysia and specialists in diverse fields such as sustainable design, bioclimatic technology, health planning, and Asian and vernacular architecture. Together, they are the authors of The Resilience of Tradition (2017).

Peter Zabielskis is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Macau, where he teaches courses in cultural anthropology, theory, the environment, and the anthropology of art. His research interests include material culture, art, architecture, religion, heritage, and the urban built environment in Macau and Southeast Asia, especially Penang and Malaysia. He is the co-editor of Penang and Its Networks of Knowledge (2017).

Yeoh Seng Guan was born in the former tin-mining capital of Ipoh, Malaysia. He is currently an Associate of the UNESCO Chair in Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Relations Asia-Pacific Region held by Emeritus Professor Gary Bouma. He is also Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Malaysia. He is the co-editor of Penang and Its Networks of Knowledge (2017).

Kat Fatland has been Editor at Large for Greenleaf Book Group, LLC since June 13, 2017. In addition to her work as an editor, she contributed to a number of monthly magazines based in Malaysia, including Time Out Malaysia and The Expat. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Drake University. She is the co-editor of Penang and Its Networks of Knowledge (2017).

Harriet Lim was born in Singapore but grew up in Penang, where she enjoyed the mixed traditions of her mother’s Cantonese origin, her father’s Anglophile ways and her paternal grandmother’s Nyonya heritage. The book affords an intriguing glimpse into an opulent past. The author hopes that her illustrations will help kindle a greater interest in Nyonya culture, and keep it alive for future generations. She is the author of Penang Nyonya Colouring Book (2017).