The Singapore Nyonya Who Made Penang Her Home

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At 80, Annie Lim’s story is as colourful as the sarong kebayas she wears.

If you have ever visited the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, you might have noticed the petite lady decked in a sarong kebaya sitting near the main entrance, greeting the guests.

Fondly known to people in the neighbourhood as Aunty Annie, the 80-year-old Nyonya was actually born in Singapore. So how did she end up in Penang?

Birth and Youth

Annie Lim Liap Kiat was born on January 18, 1938 in Singapore. She is the only child of John Lim Bong Oo and Helen Chan Yot Chan. Annie’s father was from the Tong’an District in Xiamen, China and was born in the late Qing Dynasty when Empress Dowager Cixi controlled the empire. John Lim was a businessman who slowly expanded his enterprise into South-East Asia and later settled down in Singapore, where he met Helen through a matchmaker.


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