George Town specifically and Penang in general, since the last quarter of the 18th century had exhibited characteristics that were far divorced from the surrounding territories. Penang was a colonial outpost for more than 170 years whilst its neighbours were indigenous polities with traditional rulers. George Town itself was urbane, cosmopolitan, multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious, simply a dazzling of rainbow colours vis-à-vis the homogeneity of the populace, the rural country landscape that predominate the neighbouring lands. Trade and commerce had long been the economic lifeline of the port-city of George Town and Penang as a whole in contrast to the subsistence agricultural livelihood of the immediate neighbours. Still many other traits set aside George Town and Penang, subsequently evolving a unique identity largely consequent of history.
A Story of George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia: c. 1780s to c. 2000s combines historical, architectural and sociological studies to showcase the unique identity of the multiethnic, multicultural, and multi-religious society, and its rich sociocultural heritage.
The strength of this volume is the way in which the expansion of this port-city is contextualized in economic, political and sociocultural terms, and then expressed in the builtforms and architectural constructions which are now so much admired by tourists. As Professor Ooi demonstrates so admirably George Town is a cosmopolitan, multiethnic city; its winding streets and bustling urban districts were established and developed on the basis of this all important multiculturalism. lts nodes and foci were provided by religious buildings: churches, temples, and mosques; by schools and colleges; and by grand public and private buildings.
Professor Ooi takes us through this fascinating and colourful story of over two hundred years of colonial and postcolonial history and provides us with an understanding of the issues, problems and opportunities which now face George Town and the wider Penang in a globalizing, economically transforming world. Emeritus Professor Victor T. King, South East Asian Studies, University of Leeds