Past Events

27 Feb’16 – Book Launch & Forum: Penang Chinese Commerce in the 19th Century

penang cinese commerce in the 19th century

Penang Institute together with Areca Books is proud to jointly organize the upcoming book launch and forum on “Book Launch & Forum: Penang Chinese Commerce in the 19th Century” by Dr Wong Yee Tuan.

Date   :   27 February 2016
Time  :   10am-12pm
Venue: The Star, Pitt Street
The story of Penang would be incomplete without the Big Five Hokkien (the Khoo, the Cheah, the Yeoh, the Lim and the Tan). It was the Big Five who played a preponderant role not only in transforming Penang into a regional entrepot and a business and financial base, but also in reconfiguring maritime trading patterns and the business orientation of the region in the nineteenth century. Departing from the colonial vantage point, this book examines a web of transnational, hybrid and fluid networks of the Big Five comprising of family relationship, sworn brotherhood, political alliance and business partnerships, which linked Penang and its surrounding states (western Malay states, southwestern Siam, southern Burma, and the north and eastern coasts of Sumatra) together to form one economically unified geographical region, having inextricable links to China and India. With these intertwining network, the Big Five succeeded in establishing their dominance in all major enterprises (trade, shipping, cash crop planting, tin mining, opium revenue farms), which constituted the linchpin of Penang’s and it’s region’s economy. By disentangling and dissecting this intricate web of networks, this book reveals the rise and decline of the Hokkien mercantile families’ nearly century-long economic ascendancy in Penang and its region.



About the Author
Dr. Wong Yee Tuan is a fellow and the head of History Studies at Penang Institute. He received his PhD in history from the Australian National University. His main research interest is in the area of the Chinese business history of Southeast Asia, particularly Penang.

10.00 am – Registration
10.30 am – Welcoming Speech, YB Zairil Khir Johari, Executive Director Penang Institute
10.40 am – Author’s presentation
11.10 am – Panel discussion (Dr Wong Yee Tuan & Khoo Salma)
11.40 am – Q&A Session
12.00 pm – Adjournment

As seats are limited, please register your interest below.
For further enquiries, please contact the secretariat at 04- 228 3306 or email to

Online Registration