Faces of Penang

Ordinary people who make Penang Extraordinary

Penang is more than just glorious food and heritage buildings. A great part of its delightful charm lies in its people. Join us as we celebrate ordinary Penangites that make Penang unique and special. 



Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Nawab Khan, Seniman Negara

Celebrating six decades of contribution and achievements in the music industry

Ahmad Nawab © Adrian Cheah

On 13 August 2017, Ahmad Nawab shared his musical journey in a dialogue session with Gareth Richards at the Penang House of Music. In a career spanning six decades Ahmad has composed more than 2,000 songs and almost 70 singers from all over the region have recorded his songs. Many have become standards. Besides ‘Bintang Malam’ (subsequently recorded by Zaharah Agus and Uji Rashid), other songs include ‘Kau Kunci Cintaku Dalam Hatimu’, ‘Setulus Hati Mu’, ‘Sabar Menanti’, ‘Tiada Maaf Bagi Mu’, ‘Antara Matamu dan Mataku’ and ‘Wajah Kesayanganmu’.

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Abdul Rashid Abdul Razak – a self-taught artist of great talent

"In portrait painting, likeness is crucial"

Abdul Rashid Abdul Razak © Adrian Cheah

Under the guidance of his father, Abdul Rashid Abdul Razak honed his artistic skills at a very young age. He was just nine years old when he earned his first commission – a portrait in oil which he sold for RM80.

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Pastoral charms and rustic women – the batik art of Teng

An appreciation of a local legend

One does not run the risk of overstatement when describing Chuah Thean Teng as the pioneer of batik painting. He is after all, recognized internationally as the master of an exquisite and delicate art - one which requires skill, draftness, patience and meticulousness. In the fickle, fidgety and evolving world of art, his oeuvre has carved a permanent niche in the rare pantheon reserved for timeless and sublime works of beauty.

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Capturing the opulence of bygone days - the Nyonya art of Sylvia Lee Goh

Sylvia Lee Goh

Sylvia Lee Goh embarked on a journey of discovery of identity and self-worth. It was a long road, but with a lot of encouragement and moral support.

In the mid-eighties Sylvia was a member of the Arts and Craft Guild, holding a committee member position for two years. This Guild was under the umbrella of the American Association.

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Tan Choon Hoe – the crusader of Penang Hokkien Dialet

Tan Choon Hoe

The Digital Age and today’s globalised world has been a boon for the spread of Popular Culture. Popular culture – Western or American, is slowly but surely seeping into our way of life. Predictably, even Asian youths are dressing and gesturing like their hip hop or boy band idols from MTV. Even the way we speak is being MTV-nised and you will find certain youths who are more at home going “Yo, dude” or "Whassup” than greet you in their native tongues.

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P. Ramlee: Where lies the heart of a star

Every genius has his roots. Each marvel springs from a source.

In 1925, a young sailor from Lho' Seumawe in Acheh by the name of Teuku Nyak Puteh settled in Penang to marry a quiet lass from Butterworth, Che Mah Hussein.

As the modest couple began a new life in a village, it is unlikely they could in their wildest dreams have imagined that they would have a son who would some day become a legend.

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Penang is not just about its hot weather, tasty food, and wonderful heritage buildings. A great part of the delight of living here is the friendliness of the everyday encounters with ordinary Penangites. Neither obsequious nor snooty, most possess a genuine warmth and an interest in people that sets them apart. Join us as we celebrate a few of the human jewels of Penang.