A personal Penang treasure that can be revived


Kee Thuan Chye returns in his mind to the village his great-great-granddad built. Sungai Bakap, after being bypassed by development, has lost much of its past glory. But the Kee family home is still there, reeking of history and other fragrances, waiting for another turn in its fortunes. Its spirit can still be awakened.

The hamlet of Sungai Bakap used to be on the North- South trunk road, and when it was, it steadily flourished, together with its neighbours Simpang Ampat and Nibong Tebal. But it went off the beaten track when it got bypassed by the new expressway. That took away whatever economic glory it had been reaping until then. Now it is back to being a virtual sleepy hollow.

As faded in glory is the Kee family homestead that used to be the fountainhead of the hamlet. In its heyday, it was the hallmark of Chinese industry and tradition, reflected in its six huge houses and ancestral hall laid out in a compound surrounded by 12-foot-high walls.

To read the rest of the article and to access our e-Archive, subscribe to us for RM150 a year.

Related Articles

Feb 2016

Literature is Not About Winning Prizes

Talk about skewed intentions when it comes to writing!

Aug 2015

The “banality of evil” in Malaysia

What happens when people cease to consider the moral implications of what they do?

Jun 2015

The Birthday Party – Pinter’s play about power remains relevant

Kee Thuan Chye reflects on Harold Pinter's classic and how it relates to Malaysia today.