Smoking opium in Penang, 1854

By Dato' Dr. Ooi Kee Beng

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During the 19th century, opium became the scourge of the Chinese, not only in China itself, but throughout the Far East, Penang included. It destroyed countless lives and countless families, and came to be associated with Chinese culture despite the trade being run largely by the British as part of their colonial commerce. As with the slave trade, where Africans were captured by British ships for shipment to America, the opium trade was built on the plant being grown and harvested...

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Dato' Dr. Ooi Kee Beng

is the Executive Director of Penang Institute. His latest book is Signals in the Noise: Notes on Penang, Malaysia and the World (Singapore: Faction Press) Homepage: