Khaw Sim Bee and the Na Ranong family: a shared history of Penang and southern Thailand

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Back in the days when political boundaries were fluid, business and family ties lived a life that crossed borders, enriching both sides. Bloodlines were crossed as well, as were cultural and language barriers. For the social economy of Penang and Phuket, the Khaw clan was a central player.

Penangites may recall catching a glimpse of a road sign bearing the name “Jalan Khaw Sim Bee” while passing Perak Road. This may very well be the only landmark in Penang reminding us of the Khaw family who once commanded a business empire of tin mining, rubber and shipping which straddled Penang and southern Siam.

The Khaw family history began with the emergence of one patriarch – Khaw Soo Cheang – who migrated to Penang from Zhangzhou, Fujian in 1822.


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