The Evolution of Penang’s Chinese Associations

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As frontier territory, Penang generated many self-help groups in the early days. The Chinese were most keen on forming their own associations, organised according to a string of principles. These fulfilled many functions, but current challenges require them to adapt more than ever.

After the establishment of Penang by the British in the late 18th century, a steady flow of Chinese traders and workers came to settle on the island. As a rule, they had no outside support and received no assistance from either the Chinese or the local governments. In order to solve security problems, to engage in their economic pursuits and to practice their traditional customs, these settlers, modelling on the associations found in China, set up their own new ones in Penang. The Ghee Hin hui (义兴会) a composite form of association, was the earliest Chinese association established in Penang. ...


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