Timothy Tye
Relau Villa of Chung Thye Phin

Ruins of Relau VillaRuins of Relau Villa (28 January, 2017)

Relau Villa is a dilapidated mansion beside the Metropolitan Park of Relau. It was built for Chung Thye Phin, the wealthy tin miner who was the last Kapitan China of Perak and son of Kapitan China Chung Keng Kwee, who built Hai Kee Chan.

Some people incorrectly attributed Relau Villa to Chung Keng Kwee. This is highly unlikely, as the senior Chung lived at a time when pleasures of life has not yet taken hold. His son Thye Phin, while being as successful as Ah Quee (as the father was known), has a taste for the good life. His properties included a mansion in North Beach of Penang, on the plot of land that is today the site of No. 1 Persiaran Gurney condominiums.

Ruins of Relau VillaRuins of Relau Villa (28 January, 2017)

Relau Villa was built as Kapitan China Chung Thye Phin's country villa. For this mansion, he envisioned a pool along the lines of the canals of Venice - he was one of the few Chinese of his time to have had the opportunity to travel extensively. The architect roped in to design his villa was Ung Ban Hoe, who was attached to the architectural firm of Stark & McNeil. Within Relau Villa is the first swimming pool on Penang Island. The villa was completed in the early 1930's. Sadly Chung Thye Phin passed away in 1935.

Today Chung Thye Phin is remembered with a road named after him in Taiping, a fountain which he donated to the Penang Turf Club, and the once elegant villa in Relau.

Cascading by the side of Relau Villa is one of the tributaries of Sungai Relau. Steps lead from the compound of the villa down to the riverside and a bridge crosses it to the other side, which slopes upward to the Shrine of the Jade Emperor.

Relau VillaRelau Villa (23 March, 2013)

The interior of Chung Thye Phin's Relau Villa with its indoor swimming pool (7 July 2008)

Relau Villa, experior view (7 July, 2008)

Relau Villa, side columns (7 July, 2008)

An alcove in Relau Villa turned into a makeshift altar (7 July, 2008)

Porch within Relau Villa (7 July, 2008)

Relau Villa, as viewed from the Shrine of the Jade EmperorRelau Villa, as viewed from the Shrine of the Jade Emperor (23 March, 2013)


I revisited the Relau Villa on 23 March, 2013, to find that the villa itself has been condoned off by the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP). The grounds surrounding the villa has also been spruced up. There is even a bench for visitors to sit and take a rest.

Grounds of the ruins of Relau VillaGrounds of the ruins of Relau Villa (23 March, 2013)

Sign from the MPPP at Relau VillaSign from the MPPP at Relau Villa (23 March, 2013)

Water tank beside Relau VillaWater tank beside Relau Villa (23 March, 2013)

The inside of the water tank beside Relau VillaThe inside of the water tank beside Relau Villa (23 March, 2013)

How to reach Relau Villa

Relau Villa is next to the Metropolitan Park, on Lebuh Relau 4. The nearest bus stop is a 15-minute walking distance away, on Lebuh Relau. Rapid Penang Bus 301 stops there.

Location of Relau Villa on the map

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