Building the Penang Bridge

loading Rosalind Chua

Penang has a few iconic structures, the most photographed of which is the Penang Bridge, opened in September 1985. PEM talks to Liaw Yew Peng, the chief resident engineer for the project. Proudly, he tells us that the bridge was actually completed below budget, but is clearly upset, among other things, at how Penang no longer receives any revenue from it.

LIAW YEW PENG could have been a doctor. His grades were good enough, and he enjoyed subjects like biology. Many of his peers had chosen to go into medicine. Career-wise, it made sense.

His mathematics teacher, James Vinniasingam, didn't see it that way.

“He told me, ‘Your maths and physics are also very good’,”Liaw recalls. ‘“Why do you want to follow all these people? Next time, no job for you!’ He frightened me, actually. So that's how I applied for engineering (at MU in Singapore).”

That decision was a major turning point in Liaw's colourful life.


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