The last Siamese village of Penang


Inhabitants of the Siamese village in Pulau Tikus live in anxiety, awaiting the impending demolishment of their homes. Penang Monthly talks to village patriarch Noo Wan Aroonratana.

The sun sets on the Siamese village. The golden pagoda of Wat Chayamangkalaram nearby glimmers in the fading light, its multi-tiered tower dwarfed by the surrounding condominiums. A hundred years ago, it was probably the tallest building around. “This area used to be a swamp,” says 91-year-old Noo Wan Aroonratana. He is sitting inside his house within the small village, which is located in the heart of Pulau Tikus. In other words, it sits on prime land.

The village, at the time of writing, is under threat. The land, which was granted to the Siamese and Burmese communities by Queen Victoria on May 30, 1845, has been sold o to a real estate developer, and in 1996, it was rezoned from a cultural and religious zone to a commercial one1.

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