Monday, June 29, 2009

Penang welcomes British Helicopter Carrier.

History was made in Penang when Royal Navy helicopter carrier - HMS Ocean -L12, anchored in the Pearl of Orient for the first time on June 18, 2009.

The Penang stopover is a welcome respite for Her Majesty ship and her thousand plus crew who have just returned from a tropical war game at their favorite army camp in Brunei.
Needless to say, the arrival of the HMS Ocean brought much excitement to the otherwise mundane ferry terminal in Butterworth. However, the sight of the warship gets more profound if one could grab the opportunity to view it from the iconic ferries plying across the narrow Penang Strait.

It is from the ferry, one can appreciate the full scale of the carrier. The 208 meter long floating airfield dwarfs over everything nearby at the wharf.

However, all eyes are quickly drawn to the Sea Kings and Chinooks on board the Amphibious Assault Ship.

Another spectacular feature of the warship is the cutting edge military hardware packed with awesome firepower. The most noticeable lot is the Phalanx CIWS - the state-of-the-art anti ship missile system positioned at the HMS Ocean’s bow and helm. I saw only two Phalanx units on board although Wikipedia notes there are three.

The ship is currently on a month long journey back to their home base in Plymouth.

Quite expectedly, the arrival of the British warship captured the headlines in the local press. The Penang based Chinese daily Kwong Wah Yit Poh ran a special feature on the event (June 18, 2009 edition; see attached photo) and the news also went national on Starmetro (Warship docks in Butterworth, June 25, 2009)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ex-Penang Museum Curator Gets Thumb-Up for Project

Penang conservationist Khoo Boo Chia, shows why he is still the best in his league when his latest museum project at Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi received rapturous applauses recently. (The Starmetro, Rich history of a clan, May 27, 2009)

Khoo, the former Penang Museum curator, grabbed the headlines in 2006 (The Sun, March 24, 06 ) when he was forced to vacate his post in Penang Museum after he fell out of favor with the then Penang BN councilman holding the cultural and heritage portfolios.

Although Khoo was not formally blamed for any wrongdoings, it was an open secret that the vocal politician from UMNO was not pleased with Khoo and his work at the state museum.

According to reliable sources, Khoo was ‘guilty’ of failing to use his good office to project Penang’s multi cultural facets in the museum. The exhibits in the state museum was deemed too pro-Georgetown which is prominently Chinese and lacked features of Malay majority in Prai.

Hence, he was axed and replaced by his then young and inexperienced assistant curator.

Fortunately, the 2006 fallout has turned into a blessing for Khoo and he could devote himself wholeheartedly to the preservation of Georgetown historical enclave without having to make consensus or - worst - being labeled responsible for cultural balkanization in the Pearl of Orient.

In just a short span of a few years and the verdict is out.

Today, Khoo’s fate has been redeemed and he has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with in the field of preservation and heritage conservation.

He has left many of his personal imprints in the RM400,000 project to refurbish Leong San Tong Museum, and it could pose serious challenge to the State Museum as the next must-see heritage site.

In this bizarre twist of fate, the state has now taken a keen interest in Khoo’s latest work and it has gone so far as to proclaim the site as its next biggest treasure chest.
The icing of the evening for the former Penang Museum curator is when he got the thumb-up for his work from the Chief Minister of Penang when the latter turned up to grace the opening.
(All Photos are sourced from Penang Tourism and Khoo Kongsi websites)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pulau Ketam's Watery Playground.

The waters around Pulau Ketam are a natural playground for the children of this Chinese fishing community in this mangrove filled island.

Unlike their peers from the city, the Pulau Ketam kids have a very different idea of having fun and find sliding or swinging at the neighborhood park a yawn.

There was a hive of activity when the tide was at its highest at about six in the evening.
A group of boys, about five of them wasted no time for some eye-opening activity from the village's main bridge.

While they seemed to throw caution out of the window, the boys certainly have a great respect for motorized boats, pausing until each boat has passed.

However, they will stop at nothing when having fun. Not even when they spotted a jelly fish under the bridge but that did not deter their enthusiasm to dive.

For hours till dusk filled the air, they dared one another to take the next plunge into the murky waters. When they jumped, they often screamed out loud the names of girls they fancied and it makes me wonder if their diving and shouting says something about adult relationship.

Right- girl swimming from door front.

Further downstream, the younger ones also took to swimming with great ease.

A few households have children some as young as five or maybe less frolicking in the waters. All they have is a small floating device on their arms but that's basically all.

Despite swimming close to the busy waterway, these kids have no qualms about the danger lurking nearby and seemed to enjoy their wet play time right in front of their doorsteps.