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Penang's Who's Who

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Penang's Who's Who celebrates all the significant individuals in Penang society, past and present. They include people born in Penang who have made have a name for themselves locally, nationally or internationally, as well as people born elsewhere who have made a significant contribution to Penang.

  1. Abdul Cader (? - 1852)1
    Abdul Cader was the Indian Muslim imam from Tanjore, India, who founded the Alimsah Mosque on Chulia Street around 1811.

  2. Abdullah Ariff (1904-1962)1, 2
    Abdullah Ariff was a watercolourist who was a member of the British Arts Council and elected Municipal Councillor in 1955. Alumnus of Methodist Boys School, he design the crest for the Anglo-Chinese School Penang and later Methodist Boys School, from 1930 to 1971, and from 1983 to present day. Jalan Abdullah Ariff and Lintang Abdullah Ariff were named after him.

  3. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi aka Pak Lah
    Tun Haji Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi was the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is an alumnus of Bukit Mertajam High School, Methodist Boys School and University of Malaya. (cf. Ahmad Badawi Abdullah Fahim, Syeikh Abdullah Fahim)

  4. Abdullah Fahim aka Pak Him 36
    Syeikh Abdullah Fahim is a Malay religious scholar and the first mufti of Penang after Independence. Syeikh Abdullah Fahim was instrumental in founding Hisbul Muslimin, which later became known as Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, or PAS. Ironically his son became one of the founding members of UMNO.

  5. Abubacker b. Mamak Hussain (1916-1975) 1
    Abubacker Mamak Hussain was the founder of Barkath Store and synonymous with the Hacks brand of sweets.

  6. Ahmad Badawi Abdullah Fahim 1
    Dato Haji Ahmad Badawi bin Abdullah Fahim was a Malay community leader in Kepala Batas. He was one of the founding members of the United Malay National Organisation and served as a state executive council member for Penang. His son became the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. (cf. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Syeikh Abdullah Fahim)

  7. Anwar Fazal 14
    Dato' Anwar Fazal is an environmental activist who was among the founders of the Consumer Association of Penang. He also serves as Trustee of the Penang Heritage Trust.

  8. Anwar Ibrahim 15
    Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician who serves as the leader of Pakatan Rakyat adn de facto leader of the People's Justice Party (PKR). He was the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1993 to 1998 and held various ministerial positions including Minister of Culture Youth and Sports (1983), Minister of Education (1986) and Finance Minister (1991).

  9. Aisha Hanum bte Dadameah 1
    Hajjah Aishah Hanum bte Dadameah was an educationist and the first Malay girl to pass the Cambridge School Certificate.

  10. Ariff Wan Chik Ariffin Mohamed (1877-?)1
    Ariff Wan Chik Ariffin Mohamed was an authority in Mohamedan Islamic Law (presently Syariah), Ariff Wanchee was the establisher of Masjid Wan Chik Ariffin.

  11. Chong Hon Fatt, D.S.P.N. (1941-present)
    Oil Painter, Watercolorist, founding member of the Penang Watercolour Society.

  12. David Arumugam (1969-present) 33
    Dato' David Arumugam is a vocalist who is one of the founding members of the band Alleycats, together with his younger brother Loganathan Arumugam. He received the Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang (DIMP) award in 2008 which carries the title Dato'.

  13. Loganathan Arumugam (15 July, 1953 - 4 June, 2007) 34
    Dato' Loganathan Arumugam is a vocalist who is one of the founding members of the band Alleycats, together with his elder brother David Arumugam. He received the Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang (DIMP) award in 2008 which carries the title Dato'. He died of lung cancer at the Mount Miriam Hospital in 2007.

  14. Joseph Manook Anthony (1847-?) 1
    Joseph Manook Anthony was the shipping and insurance magnate who was the doyen of the Anthony clan in 19th century Penang.

  15. A. Balakrishnan (1920-1990) 13
    Indian businessman, politician and municipal councillor who was instrumental in saving the Ramakrishna Ashrama from closing down.

  16. Baba Ahmad bin Ahmad (1888-1967) 1
    Baba Ahmad was the military captain who also served as hospital assistant at the Balik Pulau District Hospital and Penang General Hospital. Jalan Baba Ahmad in Tanjung Bungah is named after him.

  17. Cikgu Bahroodin @ Bibik Hitam (1944 - 2008)1
    Mohd Bahroodin Ahmad was a practitioner of Malay performing arts such as the Bangsawan, Boria and Ronggeng. He received the Living Heritage Treasure Award from PHT in 2005.

  18. B.H. Balderstone 20, 21
    B.H. Balderstone is the founder of the Anglo-Chinese School, the precursor of Methodist Boys School.

  19. Eric P. Balhatchet (1907-1968) 1
    Eric P. Balhatchet was the editor of the Straits Echo. A Eurasian, he also served as President of the Penang Eurasion Association.

  20. Beow Lean (1844-1907) 1
    Reverend Beow Lean was the China-born abbot who served as chief monk of Kong Hock Keong, and was the prime mover in founding Kek Lok Si.

  21. Himatlal Hariram Bhatt (1899-1985) 1
    Himatlal Hariram Bhatt was the leader of the local Gujarati community and first president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Bhatt also served on the committee of the Ramakrishna Ashrama.

  22. Jimmy Boyle (1922-1971) 1
    James W. Boyle is a local Eurasian who became a popular jazz musician and composer of songs in the 1950s.

  23. David Brown (1778-1821) 1
    David Brown was a Scottish law student who settled in Penang and became the largest landowner on the island. He is remembered with the Brown Memorial, Brown Garden and Brown Road.

  24. Marius James Byrne (?-1946) 1
    Brother Marius James Byrne was an educational pioneer who played a huge role in the growth of the St Xaviers Institution. He died during the Japanese Occupation, and is commemorated with Brother James Road.

  25. David Chen (1901-1952) 1
    David Chen was a Chinese educationist who served as Headmaster of Chung Ling High School. He was credited with making Chung Ling into what it is today. David Chen held leadership positions at the Penang Philomatic Society. He was assassinated in 1952. Taman David Chen was named in his memory.

  26. Harold Cheeseman 1, 38
    Harold Ambrose Robinson Cheeseman held no academic degrees. Yet through natural capabilities, he became a legendary teacher at the Penang Free School. He founded the Penang Free School Magazine (1909), the oldest school magazine in Malaya and the Penang Free School Scouts (1915), the oldest scouts in Penang. Cheeseman Road was named in his honour.

  27. Jimmy Choo (1948-present)
    Dato' Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat is a shoe designer based in London who apprenticed at making shoes at a shoe store at the junction of Muntri Street and Leith Street. Since 2001, he has expanded his product line to include couture.

  28. Karpal Singh (28 June 1940 - 17 April 2014) 28
    Malaysian lawyer and politician who has a reputation for representing people who are downtrodden, and as a opposition politician, who earned the nickname "Tiger of Jelutong". Karpal Singh was killed in a car accident on the North-South Expressway.

  29. David Choong (5 April 1929 - 10 September 2011) 31
    David Choong Ewe Leong is a badminton player who won the All-England Championships in 1951, 1952 and 1953 with his brother Eddy Choong. He was inducted into the International Badminton Hall of Hame in 1998.

  30. Eddy Choong (29 May 1930 - 28 January 2013) 32
    Eddy Choong Ewe Beng is a badminton player who won the All-England Championships men's singles four times between 1953 and 1957. He also won the men's doubles in 1951, 1952 and 1953 with his brother David Choong. He was a member of the 1955 Malayan Thomas Cup team which retained the world team title in 1955. He was inducted into the International Badminton Hall of Hame in 1997.

  31. K.S. Choong18, 19
    Founding editor of The Star when the newspaper started in 1971.

  32. Chow Kon Yeow 29
    Politician for Democratic Action Party/Pakatan Rakyat, Member of the Executive Council of Penang State, Chairman of the Local Government Committee, State Assemblyman for Padang Kota in the Penang State Assembly, former journalist. Served as Member of Parliament for Tanjong, Penang from 1998 until 5 May, 2013, when he was succeeded by Ng Wei Aik.

  33. Nicol David
    Datuk Nicol Ann David is a squash player who became the first Asian woman to reach world number 1 in the sport, and holding the World Open title a record 7 times in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

  34. Cauder Mohuddeen 1
    Cauder Mohuddeen @ Kaider Madeen is the Indian Muslim kapitan who founded the Kapitan Keling Mosque.

  35. Chuah Thean Teng (1914-2009) 4
    Dato Chuah Thean Teng was the artist instrumental in developing batik as an artform. He was a recipient of the Living Heritage Treasure Award from PHT in 2005.

  36. Antoine Garnault 1
    Father Antoine Garnault was the French priest who led the first batch of Eurasians to resettle in Penang at the invitation of Captain Francis Light.

  37. Goh Guan Ho (1891 - ?) 1, 20
    First elected mayor of George Town. A lawyer by profession, he had also served as president of the Anglo-Chinese School Union and was a committee member of the Chinese Recreation Club and Penang Bar. Goh was an alumnus of Methodist Boys School studying under Rev. Pykett in 1909.

  38. Gu Hongming @ Amoy Ku (1857-1928) 1
    Amoy Ku was a Penang-born intellectual who was fluent in many languagesn and produced many literary works in English.

  39. Reverend Hutchings (28 June 1940 - 17 April 2014) 35
    Reverend Robert Sparke Hutchings was a Chaplain of the Church of England who was instrumental in the construction of the St George's Church in 1816 (even though he was not in Penang when the church was consecrated), and the founding of the Penang Free School that same year. Also in 1816 he founded the Auxiliary Bible Society in Penang. He is credited with having compiled the first books on Malay grammar.

  40. Arthur A. Julien (1917-2004)
    Father Arthur A. Julien was the Belgian priest of the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows who established the Heng Ee Schools.

  41. Francis Light (1740-1794) 1
    Captain Francis Light was the founder of the British colony of Prince of Wales Island, with its capital George Town, in 1786.

  42. James Richardson Logan (1819-1869) 1
    James Richardson Logan was a lawyer and served as editor of the Penang Gazette best remembered for fighting for the rights of non Europeans. He is remembered with the Logan Memorial and Logan Road.

  43. Kee Phaik Cheen 20, 28
    Dato' Kee Phaik Cheen served as councillor for Tourism, Culture, the Arts and Women's Development within the Penang State Executive Council for 23 years until 2009. She is the chairman of the Penang Tourism Action Council and Chairman of the MGS Board of Governors. Kee is an alumnus of Methodist Boys School.

  44. Koh Lay Huan 25, 26
    Leader of the pioneer group of Chinese settlers in Penang, following its opening by Captain Francis Light as a British trading port. Koh was born in Zhangzhou in Fujian Province. He was active in the Tiandihui secret society, which was plotting to overthrow the Manchu Qing Dynasty. He fled China when the Qing authorities clammed down on his activities. He resettled in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Kuala Muda before eventually relocating to George Town.

  45. Koh Seang Tat (1833-1908)
    Turn of the 20th century Penang millionaire who was also the great grandson of Koh Lay Huan. Koh is credited with erecting the Queen Victoria Memorial Clocktower in commemoration of the monarch's diamond jubilee.

  46. Khoo Hun Yeang 22
    Tin miner and philantropist, son of Khoo Thean Teik.

  47. Khoo Salma Nasution @ Khoo Su Nin
    Khoo Salma Nasution is a historian and publisher of history-related books. She serves as president of the Penang Heritage Trust in 2009-2015.

  48. Koh Tsu Koon 17
    Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon was the third Chief Minister of Penang, from 1990 until 2008. In 2013 he became the first president of Gerakan not to be named a candidate in a General Election. He is an alumnus of Phor Tay Primary School, Methodist Boys School, Chung Ling High School and Princeton University.

  49. Kok Ah Wah 6
    Kok Ah Wah is the wood carver famous for making calligraphy signboards and recipient of the Living Heritage Treasure Award from PHT in 2006.

  50. Raymond Kwok
    Raymond Kwok is an expert on Nyonya antiques and compiler of Penang Hokkien rhymes and ditties.

  51. Lee Chong Wei
    30 Dato Lee Chong Wei is a professional badminton player. He once held the top ranking for 199 consecutive weeks, from 21 August 2008 to 14 June 2012. He is only the third Malaysian player to get into such a ranking since the rankings were first recorded in the 1980s, and the only one to hold it for more than a year. Lee obtained a silver medal from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

  52. Lee Khek Hock 6
    Lee Khek Hock is the maker of traditional lanterns and recipient of the Living Heritage Treasure Award from PHT in 2007.

  53. Lim Bian Yam 6
    Dato Lim Bian Yam is the chef instrumental in promoting local cuisine and tastes and recipient of the Living Heritage Treasure Award from PHT in 2005.

  54. Lim Chong Eu (1919-2010) 14
    Tun Dato' Seri Dr Lim Chong Eu served as the second Chief Minister of Penang, from 1969 to 1990, for a record 21 years. He is credited as the architect of modern Penang.

  55. Lim Guan Eng
    Lim Guan Eng is the Chief Minister of Penang since 2008. He is also the secretary general of the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

  56. Lim Cheng Teik 24
    Eldest son of rice mill tycoon Phuah Hin Leong. He married Khoo Guat Lee, the granddaughter of Koh Seang Tat.

  57. Lim Lean Teng (1860-1963) 20, 23
    China-born Penang millionaire who served as chairman of the Teochew Association, under which he established Han Chiang School and also supported the growth of Methodist Boys School, among others.

  58. Loh Boon Siew (1915-1995) 14
    Tan Sri Dato' Loh Boon Siew was one of the richest man in 20th century Penang who was best known for introducing the Honda motorcycle into the country. Jalan Loh Boon Siew was named after him.

  59. D.D. Moore 20
    Reverend D.D. Moore is one of the Methodist missionaries credited with the founding of Anglo-Chinese School, precursor of Methodist Boys School.

  60. Noo Wan @ Wan Dee Aroonratana 12
    Noo Wan is a Thai Menora performer and recipient of the PHT Living Heritage Treasure Award in 2007.

  61. Ooi Sew Kim 6
    Madam Ooi Sew Kim runs a Hokkien Puppet Opera and is a recipient of the PHT Living Heritage Treasure Award in 2006.

  62. Reverend Pykett (1864-1932)
    Reverend George Frederick Pykett was a Methodist missionary who was instrumental in the development of education in Penang. Pykett Avenue and Pykett Primary School are named after him.

  63. P. Ramlee (1929-1973)5
    Penang-born Tan Sri P. Ramlee was a Malaysian entertainer who found fame as actor, singer, director, composer and producer.

  64. A. Rajagopal (1922-1969)13
    Indian businessman, community leader and municipal councillor who served in the Penang Indian Chamber of Commerce and was actively involved in the Penang St John's Ambulance. Raja Gopal Road was named after him.

  65. N.B. Samarasena 6
    N.B. Samarasena is a Sri Lanka-born jewel craftsman and recipient of the Living Heritage Treasure Award from PHT.

  66. Martin Sarkies (1852-1912)37
    The eldest of the Sarkies Brothers, which also include Tigran (1861-1912), Aviet (1862-1923) and Arshak (1868-1931). The Sarkies brothers established the Eastern Hotel on 15 April, 1884 and Oriental Hotel, previously called Hotel de l'Europe in 1885. In 1889, the Sarkies sold off the Eastern Hotel but renamed the Oriental as the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, which is still in operation today. They also founded the now defunct Crag Hotel in 1929.

  67. Joe Sidek 17
    Joe Sidek is the Festival Director of George Town Festival. He manages a textile business and is also involved in performance arts.

  68. Sim Buck Teik 6
    Sim Buck Teik is a master rattan weaver and recipient of the Living Heritage Treasure Award from PHT.

  69. S.M. Idris
    S.M. Mohd Idris, J.P., served as member of the City Council in 1955. He is also the secretary of the Muslim League of Malaya and is best known as president of the Consumer Association of Penang.

  70. Syed Hassan Aidid (1916-1982)1, 7
    Tan Sri Datuk Syed Hassan Aidid was a businessman and diamond merchant of Sumatran Acheenese Arab descent.

  71. Syed Hussain Aidid 1, 13
    Tengku Syed Hussain Aidid @ Tunku Sayyid Hussain Aidid, was an Acheenese aristocrat and merchant of Arab descent who resettled in George Town in 1792, at the invitation of Captain Francis Light.

  72. Syed Mohamed Al-Attas 13
    Syed Mohamed Al-Attas was a black pepper trader in 19th century Penang and was leader of the Red Flag Society, a Malay secret society which allied with the Tua Pek Kong Society to fight the Ghee Hin and White Flag secret society. Syed Al-Attas' Mansion was preserved and once housed the Penang Islamic Museum.

  73. Tan Aik Huang (1945 - )20
    Thomas Cup winner and All England Champion. Alumnus of Methodist Boys School.

  74. Tan Boon Lin 38
    Dato Tan Boon Lin was the first Asian headmaster of the Penang Free School.

  75. Tan Choon Ghee (1930-2010) 3
    Watercolourist of Penang street life.

  76. Tan Choon Hoe
    Tan Choon Hoe is the author of books on Penang Hokkien.

  77. Toh Ai Hwa 6
    Toh Ai Hwa is a Teochew puppet opera master and recipient of the Living Heritage Treasure Award from PHT in 2008.

  78. Wong Chun Wai 16
    Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai is the group managing director/chief executive officer of Star Publications (M) Berhad.

  79. Wong Pow Nee (1913-2002) 9
    Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee was the first Chief Minister of Penang from 1957 to 1969 and later served as the first Malaysian Ambassador to Italy, from 1970 to 1975.

  80. Wu Lien-teh (1879-1960) 27
    Penang-born physician who was credited with helping to suppress the pneumonic plague in Manchuria, and became the first Penangite to be nominated to receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1935

  81. Yeap Seong Kee (? - 2008) 11
    Yeap Seong Kee was a master kebaya designer who received the Living Heritage Award from PHT in 2006.

  82. Yeap Chor Ee (1867 - ?) 39
    Yeap Chor Ee was a China-born Penang tycoon and philanthropist who founded the Ban Hin Lee Bank. His mansion, Homestead, is now used as the main campus of Wawasan Education Foundation.

  83. Zhang Li 1
    Hakka scholar who arrived on Penang Island as a political refugee from the Manchus, and established the Chinese settlement of Tanjong Tokong, deified as the first honourific Tua Pek Kong of the country at the Tanjong Tokong Tua Pek Kong Temple.

  84. Ernest Zacharevic
    Lithuanian mural artist who created some of the most popular street art in George Town.


  1. Historical Personalities of Penang (1986), by The Historical Personalities of Penang Committee
  2. Penang Artists Wesbite:
  3. The Star:
  4. Penang Artists Wesbite:
  5. Wikipedia:
  6. The New Straits Times:
  7. The Early Malay Doctors:
  8. Wikipedia:
  9. Wikipedia:
  10. Lestari Heritage:
  11. PHT:
  12. Biographical Dictionary of Mercantile Personalities of Penang (2013), by Think City and the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
  13. Wikipedia:
  15. Wikipedia:
  16. Asia On The Edge:
  17. Wikipedia:
  18. Man Behind the Lens:
  19. The Star Archives: The Star, where I cut my teeth
  20. Methodist Boys School: Our Heritage
  21. Teochiewkia:
  22. Methodist Boys School, benefactors:
  23. Wikipedia:
  24. The Star:
  25. Penang: Rites of Belonging in a Malaysian Chinese Community, by Dr Jean DeBernardi
  26. Wikipedia:
  27. Wikipedia:
  28. Travel Weekly:

See also list of Outstanding Penangites

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