Category Archives: EZ 45 – Captains & Legends

Transforming Heritage into Evocative Spaces 古迹的惊艳变身

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Christopher Ong

Penang’s Heritage Hotelier, Collector and Entrepreneur


“I was trying to get out of corporate life and the idea was always to retire in Asia.”

Ever since George Town was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Zone in 2008 in a joint listing with Malacca, the inner city has seen gradual changes over the years as gentrification takes place. Rows of heritage buildings were saved from collapsed and beautifully restored. Slowly, George Town began to see urban regeneration with vacant buildings filling up and the city becoming alive again.

One of the few who led these notable transformations is banker-turned-hotelier Christopher Ong. The illustrious banker came back to Penang and successfully turned previously derelict heritage houses into boutique hotels that retained all of its heritage features and yet boast of clean, contemporary lines.

Wanting to escape the trap of the banking industry after many years climbing the corporate ladder in Australia, Ong made a decision to retire somewhere in Asia by the age of 40. So, in 2002, he sold off an investment property in Australia and used the funds to move to Sri Lanka as his choice spot for retirement.

“I was trying to get out of corporate life and the idea was always to retire in Asia,” he said. He chose Sri Lanka after he did a fund manager analysis comparing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the place before making a decision.

Ong did not immediately find a property he liked in Sri Lanka but after searching for a while, he stumbled across the mansion in Galle Fort. It was perfect for what he had in mind so he bought it and spent 2003 restoring the mansion that had foundations dating back over three centuries.

The Galle Fort Hotel officially opened its doors with 13 rooms in November 2004. The building survived the devastating effects of the tsunami later that year and eventually became a makeshift hospital following the disaster.

A few years later, due to his father’s passing, Ong came back to Penang to fulfill his filial duty to his widowed mother. It was then that he brought his genius in restoring heritage buildings to his homeland. Back in Penang, he began a series of restoration projects that won him accolades and a reputation for having the Midas touch when it comes to boutique hotels.

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The projects under his belt in Penang are Clove Hall, Noordin Mews, Muntri Mews, Seven Terraces, Muntri Grove, Muntri Residences and most recently, Jawi Peranakan Mansion. Clove Hall, Noordin Mews and Jawi Peranakan Mansion are located outside of the heritage zone and except for Jawi Peranakan, the projects were subsequently sold off. Ong had also subsequently sold off Galle Fort Hotel. Now, all of his existing hotels are parked under his new brand, George Town Heritage and Hotels (GTHH).

Ong termed his work in restoring these heritage buildings in Penang as his way of setting a trend for adaptive reuse of buildings like these that were previously in derelict conditions. He also bought a pre-war house across the road from his great grandparents’ former residence which he restored and turned into his home. “I wanted to lead the way in restoring these old houses and live here so I attempted to get more people to move back into George Town,” he said.

He believes that living in the heritage city is not a mere romantic notion but that the inner city is a liveable, convenient space if only people gave it a chance. “Aside from parking issues, everything is nearby. We can go to the market and have convenience stores nearby, cafes, restaurants and hawker food all within walking distances,” he said.

While he does not oppose foreigners buying some of the heritage buildings and restoring these buildings rather than leaving it empty and going to rot, he felt that some of the local owners have a duty to keep the inner city vibrant, especially the clan associations, locally known as ‘kongsi’. Today, many of the heritage buildings within the city still belongs to the numerous clan associations in George Town.

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“I wanted to lead the way in restoring these old houses and live here so I attempted to get more people to move back into George Town.”

“Why aren’t these clan associations renting out their premises to their members at affordable rates? These clan associations are supposed to be non-profit so what are the reasons for them to increase their rental rates that locals could not afford it?” he asked. He also hoped the local authorities would consider introducing incentives to owners to restore their heritage buildings instead of burying them in bureaucracy. He lamented over the immense red tape that most home owners to go through while applying for restoration permits.

“Instead of incentives, what we now have are dis-incentives when it comes to restoration of these pre-war houses,” he said. He also hoped the local authorities will look into infrastructure and cleanliness issues within the city such as increasing electricity capacities for the inner city, getting rid of the rat problem and a more efficient waste disposal system. “I really feel that we could get people to move back into George Town as we do not want it to be filled with just hotels, cafes and restaurants, we need local communities living here to keep the local economy within the city going,” he said.

Today, Ong continues to lives in his house in Muntri Street and is working on expanding Muntri Residences by taking up leases for more buildings along the row. Muntri Residences are whole heritage buildings that are divided into several private living spaces that families can rent as a whole for events and long stays. Alternatively, individuals and couples can also rent each compartmentalised spaces within the houses.

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“我试图摆脱繁忙企业生活,而且退隐的地点早确定在亚洲。”

2008年,槟城乔治市与马六甲同时被列入联合国教科文组织世界古迹保护名册。接踵而来的几年,市区内已逐渐产生变化,一排排古迹建筑物从坍塌或废墟中获得美丽修复重生,乔治市也一点点的恢复活络,空置荒芜建筑物再次回归人气。

而其中引领这项巨大改造工程的操盘手包含了从银行家转向酒店行业的王礼强(Christopher Ong)。这名杰出的银行家回到槟城,并成功将遭遗弃的古迹房屋变为精品酒店,除了保留所有古迹印记,尚增添简洁现代感的线条。

自告别银行业,王礼强多年来驻扎澳大利亚进行企业投资,并且决定40岁时在亚洲某个幽静地方退休养息。在2002年,他抛售了澳大利亚的产业,选择将资金投到斯里兰卡作为养老地点。

“我试图摆脱繁忙企业生活,而且退隐的地点早确定在亚洲。”他瞄准斯里兰卡后,作为一名基金经理的本能,进行任何决定前会比对目标的优势、弱点,机会和威胁。

当时他并没有立即寻觅到中意的斯里兰卡房产,但在搜寻一段时间,偶然发现加勒堡(Galle Fort)古老豪宅,这个已历经3个世纪的古宅大院,正是他心目中的完美目标,立即买下并在2003年展开修复工程。

2004年11月,拥有13间套房的加勒堡酒店正式开业,并且过后在毁灭性的海啸中幸存下来,而酒店在灾后成为临时医院。

几年后,为了父亲奔丧而回到槟城,王礼强也履行对丧偶母亲的孝心。另外,他在家乡的古迹建筑物上发挥所长,开展一系列的修复项目,结果除了赢得点石成金的赞誉,也把古迹精品酒店概念极致化。

他在槟城开发改造的房产包括Clove Hall,Noordin Mews, Muntri Mews,Seven Terraces,Muntri Grove,Muntri Residences及最近的Jawi Peranakan Mansion。而其中Clove Hall,Noordin Mews和Jawi Peranakan Mansion是位于古迹区外。目前除了Jawi Peranakan,所有发展项目均宣告售罄。 他随后卖掉加勒堡酒店,目前把酒店项目都聚焦在新品牌 – 乔治市古迹和酒店(GTHH)。

而他修复槟城古迹建筑物的契机,只为了掀起废弃状况古建筑翻新再利用的趋势。他还从曾祖父母前住宅附近买了战前房屋,完整修复后变成他的家居。“我想带头恢复这些老房子,生活在这里,并想让更多人返回乔治市居住。”

他认为,在古迹城市生活并非一项浪漫的概念,但只要给予机会,市区也可以是宜居便利空间。“撇开停车问题,一切近在眼前,我们可以去市场,附近有便利店、咖啡馆,餐馆和小贩熟食都在步行距离内。”

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对于外国资金购置和修复古迹建筑物他表示不反对,但希望不造成满目疮痍。他觉得一些地方业主有责任保持市区活力,特别是宗祠与宗亲会,当地称为“kongsi”的组织。今天,许多乔治市市区内古迹建筑物仍然是许多宗亲会名下产业。

“为何这些宗亲会以不可能承受的高租金向成员出租房产?宗亲会组织应该是非营利的,那么提高租金造成本地人无法负担的原因是什么?”他还希望地方当局考虑激励业主修复古迹建筑,而不是将它们埋在官僚作风中。他对于纵横交错的红色封条感到哀叹,这是大多数业主申请修复建筑物时的经历。

“排除激励,我们目前其实已抑制一些战前房屋的修复措施。”他也希望当局进一步提升市区内的基设和卫生问题,例如完善城区的电力系统,摆脱鼠患和设置有效的废物处理。“我们要让人们回流乔治市,壮大居民社区,而并非仅是酒店、咖啡馆和餐馆的聚集地段,这也是为了加强市区的经济动脉。”
今天,王礼强继续生活在南华医院街的房子,并正在扩充经营Muntri Residences,租用更多的沿排建筑物。作为一栋完整的古迹建筑物,Muntri Residences分为数个私人生活空间版块,家庭可租用作为活动空间和长期住宿。或者,个人与伴侣也可租用房屋内的每个隔间。

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The Living Passion of One Man 一个人的生活的热情

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Dato’ Pang Yun Tiam

Founder and Managing Director of Chiptronics


“We wanted to save some money hiring performers for our annual events and decided to perform with friends and family. Little did we know, the reaction from the audience was explosive and we haven’t looked back since. Unexpectedly, it became a more family-oriented show promoting family values.”

There goes this story about a humble beginning and success story involving love, passion for music and thirst for learning. Dato’ Pang Yun Tiam founder and managing director of Chiptronics is a man of many passions. His love for playing the harmonica and electric saxophone and performing with his immediate family members have recently touched the hearts of audiences and fast becoming a favourite among the Chinese community. EZ discovers the modest man behind Chiptronics, a Penang-based and one of Malaysia’s largest equipment, tools and machinery suppliers for the electronics manufacturing sector, mass transit and defense sector.

As the story goes according to an infamous Chinese saying – ‘behind every successful man there stands a woman’ – rings truth in the story of Dato’ Pang. Just a slight tweak to this saying replacing ‘woman’ with ‘family’, this troupe of a singular family cell reminds us all of the importance of core family values that is at the verge of disappearing in this fast-moving and digital age.

Dato’ Pang has started a relationship with his harmonica in his early twenties that took him years before performing at his first concert. Revealing his passion for this instrument has not only helped inspire the musician skill in him but also brought his family closer together. His love for arts and culture meant that there is more to appreciating music. His daughters bore the fruit of his love for dance when they were sent to China to learn the Hakka cultural dance only to return with immediate requests to perform at private, charity and government events. They have also garnered support from friends, which led to more requests from charity and cultural events.

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“The Harmonica is my first instrument.”

“We wanted to save some money hiring performers for our annual events and decided to perform with friends and family. Little did we know, the reaction from the audience was explosive and we haven’t looked back since. Unexpectedly, it became a more family-oriented show promoting family values.”

Dato’ Pang credits his wife’s dedication in managing rehearsal times and music education for their children and ultimately became the core person that brings the family together. It’s not the easiest job to manage a seven-people household of musicians. Nevertheless, each child has wonderfully picked up their own instrument of choice with the ultimate objective of creating a sound group.

 While Dato’ Pang’s passion has always been the harmonica and electric saxophone; Pang Yi Yun, her eldest daughter plays the percussion [shaker, chimes and claves]; Pang Yi Sha the second daughter and wife Datin Fan Mei Hoong on the keyboards; and Pang Yi Chuen the third daughter on the drums. While they were forming the band they came to identify the vital role of a bassist which saw Pang Yi Jia, Dato’s youngest daughter step up to the challenge. Pang Tze Yuan the youngest son shares his role with Yi Yun on the percussion department specialising in the Conga and Bongo. While these are their main instruments now, the children had the opportunity in earlier years to learn traditional Chinese instruments in their earlier years:  Yi Sha on the Guzheng; Yi Chuen on the Guzheng and Liuqin; and Yi Jia on the Yangqin.

This pure dedication and love for music play a huge part in them influencing each other to be better at their own individual instrument. Nevertheless, what was previously an individual and personal interest to play songs on a harmonica has motivated the whole family to go into music.

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‘Behind every successful man there stands a woman.’ – rings true in the story of Dato’ Pang

The family’s performance has attracted the attention of The Malaysia Book of Records and was awarded for organising the ‘Most Number of Family Members Performing for a Charity Event (Band)’ at the 2nd edition of the annual celebration of the Malaysian Artist Society in November 2016.

A father and an avid golfer, Dato’ Pang holds various positions in various non-profit societies and associations in Penang such as the Northern Region President of Malaysian Artist Society; Advisory Committee of Taiwan Hakka Affairs council; Deputy President of Penang Hainan Friendship Association; Advisor of ASEAN Ambassador; and President of both Penang Hakka Association and World Pang Clan Business Forum just to name a few.

With a successful business that churns over RM20 million a year in revenue, Dato Pang has come a long way since the very beginning of his career. Originally from Malacca, he completed his Diploma in Electrical and Electronics at Institute Technology Jaya (ITJ) and pursued a career in consulting on project basis for Ramada Hotel (Malacca) and Park Royal (Penang).

During the economic downturn in the late 1980s, Dato’ Pang humbly took up a sales position with UNIPAC and National Semiconductor (NS) before founding Chiptronics in 1989. Over the years, the business has won the trust and confidence of many leading manufacturers and scored successful distribution and partnership deals. Headquarted in Penang, Chiptronics has over 40 staffs with offices in Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Singapore.

“其实想节约社团年度活动的演出经费,决定与家人一起上台表演。可是,结果获得观众爆炸性回应,我们再没有回头路。出乎意料地,这成就了以家庭天伦为导向,促进美好价值观的体现。”

这是一个从谦卑开始,饱含炽热爱情、音乐和渴望学习的成功故事。捷力科技(Chiptronics)的创始人兼董事经理拿督彭永添是充满激情因子的人。无论是演奏口琴、电子萨士风以及与家人散发热情的表演皆触动观众的心灵,并成为华人社区的热议话题。EZ也探索了这名经营马来西亚槟城最大型电子制造业,且是公共交通和国防领域大型设备,机械器具供应商之一的成功企业家背后故事。

一句不朽的格言:每个成功男人背后的女人。这是彭永添的真实写照,但轻微调整,这个说法从“女人”取代为“家庭”,这个美好的家庭表演剧团提醒我们核心家庭价值观的重要性,是这个快速数据化时代消磨殆尽的元素。

当年20几岁的他,音乐启蒙从一把口琴开始,花了多年反复练习才在第一场音乐会上亮相表演。口琴不仅启发他的音乐才能,也让他与家人关系更紧密;虽然对于艺术和文化他也喜爱,但最爱始终是音乐。彭永添的女儿们得到他热爱音乐艺术基因的传递,远赴中国学习客家文化舞蹈,只有在私人,慈善和政府活动发出热切邀请,才会登上舞台演出。由于获得观众朋友支持,慈善和文化活动的邀约接连不断。

“我拥有的第一件乐器是口琴。”

“其实想节约社团年度活动的演出经费,决定与家人一起上台表演。可是,结果获得观众爆炸性回应,我们再没有回头路。出乎意料地,这成就了以家庭天伦为导向,促进美好价值观的体现。”

彭永添全心信赖妻子,她除了操心孩子们的排练管理和音乐教育,也是把家庭强力凝聚关键人物,而管理家里7名音乐家并非简单任务。然而,每个孩子都奇妙地决定自己的音乐选择,最终目标是创建一个完整的音乐组合。

纵然彭永添一直钟爱的只有口琴和电子萨士风,但长女彭依韵却热爱敲击乐器(沙铃,钟琴和响棒),次女依莎和妻子拿汀范美凤擅长键盘,三女依珺爵士鼓等。当他们组成乐队,确定低音吉他手的关键角色,因此最小的女儿依佳也加入挑战;儿子彭池源与姐姐依韵分担敲击乐部分并加入了手鼓。即使目前这些都是孩子们主修的乐器,但孩子们在早年也学习传统华乐:依莎学了古筝,依珺是古筝和柳琴;至于依佳则是杨琴。

这种纯粹的奉献和对音乐的热爱,也让他们相互影响和牵动发挥,造就他们本身独自乐器上的造诣修为。然而,这也是个人努力用口琴演奏歌曲的契机促使带动了整个家庭。

“每个成功的男人背后有一个女人”

精彩的家庭表演成功引起了“马来西亚记录大全”的注意,在2016年11月马来西亚华人演艺人公会举行的年度庆典中,被授予“组织最多直属家庭成员参与义演活动”荣誉奖。
身为一名父亲和狂热的高尔夫球手,彭永添担任槟城区各种非营利社团和协会职务,如马来西亚华人演艺人公会北马区分会会长;台湾客家事务委员会顾问理事;槟城海南友好协会副会长;东盟大使顾问,槟城客家公会和世彭商务论坛的主席等,仅举例数项。

运作全年营收逾2000万令吉的企业公司,自从业以来,他也走过漫长艰辛路。出生于马六甲,他在Institute Technology Jaya(ITJ)完成电气和电子学位,过后在马六甲Ramada和槟城Park Royal酒店的基设项目计划担任咨询工作。

上世纪80年代末经济衰退期间,创立捷力科技之前,彭永添在1989年曾与UNIPAC和美国国家半导体公司(NS)合作销售。多年来,公司赢得了许多领先制造商的信任,圆满完成分销和合作交易。捷力科技总部位于槟城,拥有40多名员工,在吉隆坡,柔佛和新加坡设有办事处。