Past Events

[Book Launch] The Great Hill: A Short History of Penang Hill

About the Book

A once famed destination for colonists travelling between Europe and the Far East, Penang Hill today has become a household name for everyone residing in Penang. That said, how many of us actually understand its historical significance? Published as part of the centenary celebrations of the Penang Hill railway, The Great Hill captures many tales of its transformation and deep legacy from various aspects in the form of a short, informative and easily readable history. This volume is jointly published by the Penang Hill Corporation and Penang Institute as an effort to preserve the history and heritage of the hill, and is authored by Enzo Sim.

Launch by YAB Chow Kon Yeow, Chief Minister of Penang
Purchase the book here: here.


1. Enzo Sim, Author
2. Dato’ Cheok Lay Leng, General Manager, Penang Hill Corporation
3. Allen Tan, Managing Director, The Habitat Penang Hill
4. Ahmad Chik, Retired Engineer and Long-time Resident of Penang Hill

Moderator: Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng, Executive Director, Penang Institute

About the Panelists:

Enzo Sim

Enzo Sim is a history and international politics researcher who has a lifelong profound interest in the field of Southeast Asian history. As the former Staff Writer at the Penang Institute, he was known for his various articles in Penang Monthly that published his findings on key historical events that occurred in Penang and Malaya as well as the historical background of forgotten historical sites in Malaysia. Due to his passion in documenting the history of Penang Hill, he had also singlehandedly drafted the historical contents of the funicular railway gallery at the Penang Hill Gallery following his appointment by the Penang Hill Corporation as a member of the Penang Hill Gallery consultative panel. After concluding his stint at Penang Institute, he went on to join Joe Sidek Productions where he curated and drafted the contents of the KL Story permanent historical gallery in Central Market KL and BUKU2BOOKS digitised historical archive exhibition in collaboration with the US Library of Congress and the British Library during the KLWKND Festival 2021, as well as being in charge of planning the Jawi Peranakan exhibition during the Peranakan Festival 2021.

Dato’ Cheok Lay Leng

Dato’ Cheok Lay Leng, the current General Manager of Penang Hill Corporation, has over 24 years of R&D, business and senior management experience in semiconductor and embedded business. He has held executive positions at several start-ups and business ventures. He was General Manager of Asia Operations, Communications Infrastructure Group at Intel. LL graduated in Computer Technology from University of Science Malaysia, where he also did post-graduate research in device physics, and an MBA from Nottingham Trent University, UK. He also guest lectures for the technopreneurship workshop for developing countries organised by The International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre for South-South Cooperation (ISTIC), under the auspices of UNESCO since 2010. LL is also an enthusiast about Mother Nature and spends his holidays trekking mountains and trails all across the globe.

Allen Tan

Allen is a lawyer by training and an environmentalist by accident. Allen is proud to be working through The Habitat to prove that business can be a force for good. He is also tremendously proud to have played a part in the successful nomination and subsequent designation of the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme and looks forward to continuing to work to help Penang achieve its ambition of being a centre of excellence for environmental conservation and biodiversity science and studies related to climate change and climate adaptation.

Ahmad Chik

After his secondary education at the Federation (now Royal) Military College, Ahmad worked as the seamanship instructor at the Outward Bound School in Lumut for a year, after which he went to Britain to read engineering at Nottingham University. After graduating he worked for Shell Oil in P Bukum, Singapore and various places in West and East Malaysia before leaving to start his own engineering consultancy firm specialising in the processing of tropical agricultural products. In this capacity he did several World Bank and ADB funded projects in Malaysia, Indonesia and Samoa. Latterly he broadened into construction before selling all his interests and moving to Penang in the early 1990s to volunteer his time with NGOs active in the conservation of the natural and built environment issues.