Asdang House (GPS: 5.42478, 100.32699) is a historic building along Northam Road in George Town, Penang. It has a long and convoluted history.
From the time it was built towards the end of the 19th century, the building has changed name many, many times. It was earliest known as Nova Scotia when it was built at the end of the 19th century by Khaw Sim Bee, who was the sixth, youngest, and most famous son of Khaw Soo Chang (1786-1882) of the illustrious Khaw family. Serving as the Governor of Ranong, Sim Bee was credited with the development of southern Thailand and is commemorated with a statue of Khao Rang in Phuket.
Nova Scotia was renamed Asdang House (or "Asadong") when it was taken over by Khaw Sim Khim, the Siamese Governor of Kra who was brother to Sim Bee and fourth son of Khaw Soo Cheang. As Asdang House, it played host to various visiting Siamese dignitaries and members of the Siamese royal family. They included King Prajadhipok (King Rama VII) who paid a call on Penang in 1929.
Asdang House was the home of Khaw Joo Tock, the Managing Director of Koe Guan Company, until the Second World War, when the Japanese took it for their use. It was in such a bad shape after the war that Joo Tock decided not to reoccupy it, moving instead to stay at Macalister Road. The property changed hands a number of times, with a car dealer and Hainanese restaurant proprietor counting as past owners.
Asdang House was reincarnated as Metropole Hotel in the 1970s, and was managed as such for a decade or so when closed down and remained unused for many years. The property was bought over by a company that quietly had it demolished in December 1993. The action caused an uproar among local conservationists and heritage enthusiasts. As the owner happened to be a politicians within the party in control of the then state government, it privided much ammunition to the opposition party.
Asdang House, after its makeover (2 June 2007)
To restore its image, the Penang Island Municipal Council ordered the owner to rebuild Asdang House to its original form, failing which it would be slapped with a RM10,000 fine and an additional daily fine for each day of delay. Many Penangites regarded the action as a mere slap in the hand.
The issue of Metropole Hotel receded from the news for over a decade before the owner, satisfied that the dust has settled, redeveloped the site as the Mayfair Condominium. Aware of the sensitivity over Asdang House, the developer decided to construct the skyscraper behind the "restored" mansion, and have its façade "pasted" to the front of the condominium.
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