History was shaped here – right in the humble rooms of this double-storey shophouse where China’s first elected provisional president, Dr Sun Yat Sen held important meetings that helped change the face of China’s political and social structure.
It was here – the Nanyang headquarters of the South-East Asia T’ung Meng Hui (a revolutionary party led by Dr Sun before China became a republic) that the great leader of the Chinese nationalist revolution held the momentous “Penang Meeting”.
Held on the 12th day of the 10th lunar month in 1910, the meeting saw members of the T’ung Meng Hui planned the Canton Uprising in 1911 that eventually led to China becoming a republic in 1912.
No doubt, the humble, inconspicuous premise was instrumental for the Father of Modern China who believed that “the overseas Chinese are the Mother of Chinese Revolution.”
The shophouse was also the birthplace of the world’s oldest surviving Chinese newspaper, the Kwong Wah Daily (Kwong Wah Yit Poh) which first went into print in 1910.
The pictorial exhibition will feed the visitors with information about the premises and the revolutionary work of Dr Sun during his stay in Penang.
Much of the original feel of a Straits Chinese shophouse has been painstakingly maintained and inside the house, you will find two halls and a typical Nyonya kitchen, complete with coffee corner, stone mortar and pestle (chengku) and firewood and charcoal stove.
The wooden chairs adorned with beautiful shells, an old hat stand, fireproof safe (believed to have been left behind by the T’ung Meng Hui), an old portrait of Dr Sun (Chinese school students would bow daily to the portrait to pay respect to him), an iron book safe, a signboard and several valuable antiques dating back to the 1900s can be found here.
The premise was also used for the filming of the international movie “A Road to Dawn” which tells of Dr Sun’s struggles away from the motherland.
Today, the shophouse (though yet to be opened to the public on a daily basis) is privately owned but visitors can enter for a nominal fee of RM3. If you are lucky, you might just bump into its custodian, historian and author Khoo Salma. The friendly lady is a wealth of information and is quite the authority on Penang’s rich heritage.
For more information, visitors can drop by the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Museum Research Centre at 65 Macalister Road. It is about 15 minutes away from the Armenian Street by public bus.
The colonial mansion is along the main road and impossible to miss with its life-size sculpture of Dr Sun and his ardent supporters from Penang – Goh Say Eng and Ooi Kim Kheng.
Location of Dr Sun Yat Sen’s Penang Base
120 Armenian Street, George Town, Penang Island.