Thursday, 30 December 2010

Comic book journalist retires

Brenda Starr had been in the Malaysian newspapers since goodness knows when. I do remember reading this comic strip in the 1970s. The drawings were horrible but so were the story lines.

Then I stopped reading it for a long while when the local newspaper dropped it.

Brenda Starr came back into my reading horizon maybe about 10 years ago when The Star newspaper included the comic strip on its funny pages.

By then I had also begun following Brenda Starr online. Now I'm saddened because the strip's writers - June Brigman and Mary Schmich - have decided to retire our heroine. It's final. The last strip will appear on 2 Jan 2011.

Goodbye, Brenda Starr. Your readers in Malaysia will miss you.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Big scare no.2

Ever since months ago when the Penang Water Supply Corporation announced that there would be a water cut on 28 Dec - which, coincidentally, is today - from seven o'clock in the morning till seven o'clock in the evening, I'm astounded by the amount of fatalistic feedback in the newspapers and of course, on the online forums and facebook as well, from the people in Penang.

Truly astounded. They way they have been reacting, you'd think that the 12-hour water cut is akin to the world ending. All the vitriol and anger surfacing. All the unkind and unfounded words being said about the Corporation.

All these people do not seem to understand that every now and then, there must be some maintenance done to everything, water treatment plant included.  Even our own bodies need maintenance to stay healthy. Nothing can go working on forever without maintenance or come a day there will be a major breakdown. I would have hoped that there are educated and informed people out there who would understand the issues better than joining in the criticisms.

According to the Corporation, this is the first major scheduled supply interruption since 2006 and they needed to carry out upgrading and maintenance work at the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant to ensure continuous good water supply in future.

So the public has already been informed of the water cut on 28 Dec. What's so big deal about it? You mean to say that the taps will suddenly run dry at seven o'clock itself? You mean to say that there is no residual water in the main pipes that will continue to trickle into your house and your office and your factory? Maybe there won't be enough pressure to take a bath if there's no water tank in the house, but I'm sure that's all the inconvenience we'll ever face. And do you also mean to say that the water stops, the tap will remain dry until seven o'clock in the evening? Miraculously, water stops flowing totally during this 12-hour period?

Common, only an idiot will really believe that. Or want to believe that. I should believe that once the maintenance works are completed, the Corporation will resume the water supply immediately. Why would the Corporation wait until seven o'clock in the evening to turn on the main supply when their work had ended at, say, four o'clock in the afternoon? You think they really want to inconvenience the public beyond their work finishing? That they have a warped sense of humour? It would defy logic if they do that. To me, the seven o'clock to seven o'clock time frame is only to cater for a "worst case' scenario in case something does go wrong. If everything goes according to their plan, we may not even be aware of the water cut at all.

So, the irrational people should just calm down and let the Penang Water Supply Corporation simply do that work. If you are really afraid of the water cut, then wake up early and take your bath. And brush your teeth. And do your business. And store whatever water you need. Just be prepared, like a good scout would. The warning had been given months ago. Just don't whine as if there is no tomorrow. Enough said.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Big scare no.1

Does anyone remember the El Nino scare of the 1990s? I can't remember when exactly it was but it must have been in the second half of that decade. Maybe around 1997 or 1998. It happened after Ban Hin Lee Bank had relocated its head office from downtown Beach Street to the fashionable Northam Road part of the city where many other banks had also set up their branches.

I remember that Citibank was the first bank to set up its branch office along Northam Road. It was just across the road from the Wellesley Primary School. The road being very busy, the bank later built a pedestrian bridge to connect both sides of the road. Butterfly bridge, people used to call it then. It's still there.

Then there was the white and impressive MBf Tower, close to the old Pangkor Road/Kelawei Road/Gurney Drive/Northam Road roundabout. It stood in solitary splendour until another building sprang up beside it and Ban Hin Lee Bank moved over to occupy about a third of its floors.

By that time, I was entrenched in the Information Technology Division and we had taken up the whole of the third level of the podium block. Where we sat, we had a grand, unhindered view of the Northern Channel.

But back to the El Nino scare. One fine day, someone wrote an article about the El Nino and the possibility of nature wreaking havoc on our shores. A date was even suggested that the tide would come in so high that the water would creep inshore and flood the roads and buildings. If ever there was a doomsday warning, this must be it.

Personally, I was sceptical that this would ever happen. I was telling colleagues that the day that the tides crept in so far inland, the end of the world would be near. And it won't be happening in my lifetime or theirs, I assured them.

But of course, many people took the warning very seriously. Many people stocked up on sandbags because they had also learnt, possibly from the same source that issued the warning, that sandbags would prevent water from entering their house or compound, or at least delay the flow of water. The happiest people in Penang were the traders that sold gunny sacks and the traders that sold sand.

The problem with banks is that sometimes, the people in the banks are too cautious. Overly cautious. Or gullible. Or both. Somehow, someone in the Ban Hin Lee Bank managed to convince the management that the bank should also arrange for sandbags to be piled up at the entrance to the building. Just in case. After all, the building is just a stone's throw from the shoreline. If the water comes it, it will reach the building. And get into the ground floor. And flood everything. And spoil everything on the ground floor too. So sandbags are important. After all, we cannot be too careful.

So, one or two days before that fateful day, we saw lorries delivering sandbags to the front of the building.

Now, if you have seen the Menara BHL Bank - by the way, that's the name of the building, Menara BHL Bank along Northam Road, Penang - you will have noticed that the ground floor of the building is raised about four or five feet from the road level. It is NOT a disability-friendly building and you will need to climb up a flight of steps if you want to do your banking business.

And the sandbags were stacked up on the top of these steps, see. Neatly, bag by bag, they formed a barrier against any impending water rushing in from the sea.

Of course it never happened. The fateful or fearful day came and went. Anxious people were peering out into the sea, anticipating the calamity. But it never happened. In fact, we hardly noticed any rise in the sea level at all. The houses most exposed to the sea, those on the other side of Northam Road, well, they remained dry. Not even a hint of dampness on their grounds.

The fearful El Nino phenomenon had been a non-event. But it certainly left a lot of people with sheepish grins. Especially those who had cried wolf. Especially those who had recommended buying the sandbags. Especially those who had authorised buying the sandbags. Nothing more was heard about the El Nino in the newspapers. Nothing more was heard about the author of that infamous piece. But as I said, the incident left gunny sack traders and sand traders very happy. Very happy, indeed.

Other Ban Hin Lee Bank stories here

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Little paradise on earth

For today, I want to share these pictures with you. Beautiful, aren't they?

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

What is Christmas without a Christmas tree, right? So, here's one for you.

And what's Christmas without carolling too? So, here are also some carol singers for you.

But Christmas is not complete this year without our personal wishes to everyone reading this blog and it includes YOU. If you celebrate Christmas, a very Merry Christmas to you; if you are just enjoying the holidays, then a very Merry Holidays to you. Whatever, just enjoy the cheer as we see out the old year and bring in the new one.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Brr, where's that ball?

Shall we start the game? On 16 January 1926, snow covered the ground as Arsenal and Manchester United readied themselves to kick off their game in the old Division One. For the record, we lost by 2-3.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

It's time to ... scream!

Standard supplies at the Bates Motel
After I snapped this picture, I had to look over my shoulder constantly to ensure that Ma Bates wasn't following me with a knife in her hand. I'm still suffering the effect....

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Penang's flower festival 2010

At the spur of the moment, I decided on Sunday to visit this year's Penang Floral Festival at the Botanical Gardens, right after the conclusion of the Penang Heritage City international chess championship in downtown George Town. Initially, I was a little apprehensive about travelling along this part of Western Road. It's never easy to travel here whenever there are functions at the Botanical Gardens or religious activities at the nearby Indian temples. I wasn't wrong. The jam began soon after the Western Road/Gottlieb Road traffic lights and I decided to park at the Youth Park exit's car park. But already it was almost full of cars and outstation buses. Seemed as if outstation tourists were flocking to the Gardens as well.

Parking there meant having to walk a considerable distance past the Indian temples, some apartment blocks, various other buildings, past the Moon Gate before reaching the unshaded open ground right before the entrance gate into the Botanical Gardens. Of course, the two horrendous arches have already disappeared. Work is now in progress to grow giant lily plants here. 

I've never been too keen about the Tourism Ministry's ill-conceived expansion plans for the Botanical Gardens because it meant the clearing of so much greenery. The Penang Rifle Club's building is now in full sight of anyone visiting the Gardens. And without the foliage to act as a natural buffer between the club and the Gardens, the noise from the club members' activities jar the tranquility of the place.

Last Sunday at the Penang Floral Festival, it was clear that the organisers of this event had failed to meet up with the management committee of the rifle club to work out a compromise for the week. Or maybe the organisers did but the compromise did not happen. Or maybe the rifle club's management just couldn't care less. I'm saying this because right through my visit to the Gardens, their members were merrily practising away with rapturous abandonment, simply being insensitive to the fact that the firing of the guns were creating a huge disturbance for the Festival's visitors. How would you like to have rifles firing away in close proximity to you? The rifle club could have been more graceful by suspending their activities for a week while this flower fair was going on.

But back to the Penang Flower Festival. Maybe, one good outcome of the Tourim Ministry's expansion plan for the Gardens is that it created an open space big enough for the festival. Unlike previous years when activities were crammed within a small piece of land outside the gate, there was so much space this time. Space for the commercial exhibitors to display their plants and flowers and enough space for the competitors to display their winning entries. This must be the biggest floral fair in Penang in years. I really liked it. I liked what I saw (not that I liked what I heard).

When I was showing some of the early snapshots to my wife last night, her first comment was why I kept photographing the same old flowers. You have taken them so many times before, she said and added that they all looked the same to her.

Wait, I told her, there are more to the flower fest than these common orchids. These early pictures I was showing her were taken at the commercial section of the festival. The commercial orchid growers were trying to sell off their plants. My later pictures would show her some of the winning plants and flowers. So here they are, some of the winning orchids and bonsai.

First, here are the leafy bonsai plants. Magnificent miniature trees.

Impressive? Then there are the leafless bonsai plants. Positively creepy. I don't know how they got this way but it's quite obvious that these are not dead plants. Not yet, anyway.... :-)

And now to the orchid section. These are but a small selection of the best orchids on display. Of course, I only photographed what impressed me and ths one certainly did. My own plant, bought some two years ago, still hangs forlornly in the driveway, leafing but with no flowers in sight and here, this one is showing off its magnificent blooms. Sigh...

Seen enough? If not, why not make a beeline to the festival itself? It's open until Sunday.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Flower-powered garbage truck

Time to stop and smell the flowers. Whatever you do, try thinking positive like these men, whose job isn't the most positive in this world. 

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The lucky few

There are guitar players, and then there is Tommy Emmanuel.

Tommy Emmanuel was the primary reason that I bought tickets for the Penang Island Jazz Festival, now in its seventh year. I've heard a lot about the Festival in recent years and had always wanted to go but being the practical person (call me lazy if you like), driving between Batu Ferringhi and Bukit Mertajam wasn't very agreeable with me. Besides, I'd be casting a wary eye on the weather too. Invariably, December brings with it a lot of rain in the evenings. The Festival is held in an open enclosure at the Bayview Beach Resort and unless you bring along some umbrellas, you'd be drenched. There are also very few chairs so it's best to bring a large mat to lay on the court or grass. But sitting down for long periods on the ground also present its fair share of problems to me! So you see, that's why I've never attended the earlier editions of the Festival.

But it would be different this time, see. As long ago as a few months, I had learnt that two-time Grammy nominee Tommy Emmanuel had agreed to perform in Penang at the end of the year. I've heard of him, I've read about him, I've listened to some of his songs over the radio, and I've watched some short clips of him over the Internet. I decided why not go and see him live since he was coming my way. I know that this year, there had already been some foreign artistes performing here but they had cut no ice with me. Patrizio? Nahh....too superficial. Air Supply? Nahh...too gooey and yucky. Now, Tommy Emmanuel was somethng else! The real thing, the fair dinkum stuff. I don't know how to play any musical instruments but I do know good music when I hear it. And I had heard enough about Tommy Emmanuel from the airwaves and the Internet. Now to see him live in person.

The funny thing was, come mid-November I had almost forgotten about his visit. My memory is not as good as it used to me, unfortunately, and I simply forgot about the Festival inself. Until one fine day I wandered into a CD shop at a shopping mall and saw tickets on sale. Thank goodness for that. My memory jolted, I immediately got two tickets for the final night of the Festival. Come rain or come (moon)shine, my wife and I shall to there for him. So that was how I ended up at the Bayview Beach Hotel, 46 kilometres one-way from home.

Tommy Emmanuel appeared on stage at 10 o'clock after all the earlier acts had come and gone. From the moment the lights dimmed and the spotlight shone on him, we knew that his performance was going to be something very special. From the very first notes that were played, I knew it was going to be a mind-blowing performance of a lifetime. There he was with his three well-worn and battered guitars, but not only was he finger-picking away, he was also giving his guitar bodies enough slaps, scratches and poundings to extract every bit of sound from them. Heck, he was a one-man band. When I closed my eyes, I could swear that I was listening to the bass, rhythm and melody all at once and occasionally with percusion thrown in as well.

If you see him perform, you will understand why Tommy Emmanuel is regarded as one of the best - if not the best - present-day guitar virtuosos in the world. That he could agree to play in the Penang Island Jazz Festival showed that he didn't mind playing before an audience of thousands or an audience of a hundred. Here in Penang, I would estimate the crowd at about 600 so that's somewhere in between. Everyone had come to see him play, so we are the lucky few that did. I bumped into Daniel from the SERI office in Penang, Eddy from my old NOMIS days and an ex-colleague Chee from my former JobStreet stint and we all confessed that possibly the one act that we had come to watch was this.

So there was Tommy Emmanuel on stage, lapping in all the adultation from the animated crowd. The programme notes said that Tommy Emmanuel would be presenting a 40-minute set but in the end, what we had was an almost unbelievable 70 minutes of entertainment. Thank you, Tommy, for a most memorable visit!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Worst nightmare

It certainly was a close shave for Manchester United. Can you imagine what it would have been like for football if the Myanmar (or Burma, if you wish) generals had full control of England's top football club?? I shudder to think about it. What's the worst-case scenario if despotic countries had decided to take over football clubs? Say, for example, if the Chubby Old Man from trigger-happy North Korea - the so-called "Democratic" People's Republic of Korea - had gone into the market. Ahh, can you imagine a wild scenario where football clubs are owned by despotic regimes? Hah, there'll be anarchy in football's board rooms. Instead of playing football, they'll be playing "Let's nuke'em" on the playing fields of England or Spain or Italy or France or Germany or...wherever else. Come on, come on, banish this improbable thought from your mind. Don't get delirious, don't get wild ideas. But the full story is out here, especially for Manchester United fans. Phew, close shave, indeed! Am I glad it's only a story.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Guitarist extraordinare

Caught up with Tommy Emmanuel on Sunday night in Batu Ferringhi at the seventh Penang Island Jazz Festival. Naturally, we were blown away by his performance. Awesome! More later....

Friday, 3 December 2010

Christchurch, anyone?

AirAsia X is finally flying beyond Australia and it's landing in Christchurch, New Zealand, from April 2011. Should be worth exploring around the AirAsia website today to see whether the deal is really that good. I know for sure that the cheapest one-way ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland by Malaysia Airlines is almost RM1,800. My only apprehension is the likelihood of being stuck in AirAsia X's seat for about 10 hours. Can be an ordeal.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

National Instruments here, finally!

Goodness knows how long it has been since I last wrote about US-based National Instruments opening their facility here in Penang (Here's an update: I last wrote about NI on 30 May 2009, which makes it ... 18 months ago. That long, huh?) but it seems that all the anticipation is finally over. NI Malaysia Sdn Bhd held its official opening by Lim Guan Eng today.

Now, I don't have any connection with NI. The only reason why I have some curiosity about NI is because two years ago, I had wandered by chance upon a National Instruments press conference called to announce their investment of USD80 million into their new facilities in Penang.

Already, I was aware then that National Instruments was big - big in the United States and big around the world - but I just didn't realise how big it was. All I knew was that the company develops and manufactures software and hardware products that engineers and scientists use for testing, control and embedded design applications.  

So having been intrigued with them, I've been following up on this development whenever I could. Now I'm told that construction work on NI's permanent facility, located on a 17-acre site in Bayan Lepas, will begin by middle of 2011 and scheduled for completion in a year's time. The facility is eventually expected to house some 1,500 staff in manufacturing, R&D, product development, IT and finance. In the meantime, NI will operate temporarily from the Sun Tech Building in Bayan Baru.

There are only 40 employees presently but the company is expected to launch a broad recruimtnent programme for university graduates and experienced industry engineers and technicians. The aim, according to NI CEO Alex Davern, is to boost this number to 300 engineers by two years.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Farewell to Lim Chong Eu

I took the decision late last night to join the Old Frees' Association representatives at the state funeral of Dr Lim Chong Eu today. As far as I am concerned, it was the right thing for my wife and I to do. We just had to give this Great Old Free a grand send-off on his last journey. We walked right behind the Penang Free School Band which had the honour of leading the procession from the Dewan Sri Pinang to the end of Carnarvon Street. Here are some photos from this morning.

In the years to come, these boys will remember their contributions to the passing of this era in Malaysian politics.

It was a pleasant surprise to bump into Hwang Hong Shi. Though never my teacher, he was quite prominent at the school. He taught there until 1973 when he was transferred out to Westlands Secondary School. He said the headmaster of his time, Yogam, simply did not appreciate what he achieved on the sports field - he was deeply involved in scouting activities at the school and was the swimming coach and twice had been at the SEAP Games - but all these were lost on the headmaster who had him transferred out. Eventually, he left the government service at 50 years old and joined the Uplands School and later the Penang Club as its general manager. 

OFA deputy president Khoo Boo Yeang in the foreground and OFA secretary Gerald Clyde with the placard. They were all wearing the official blue-striped School Tie.... (Photo by Chan Lilian)

...all except me and Sukhindarpal Singh. I was rummaging through my ties the night before but I knew my luck was stacked against me. I don't have that tie because I had not bought it. Years ago while still in the OFA management committee, I had preferred to be different and bought this one (which I wore) instead. I would still consider it sort of a school tie since it still sported the motif (the school badge) on it. Sukhindarpal, also an Old Free, happened to wander into the crowd and saw this bunch of Old Flers holding a placard and wearing the old familiar School Tie. "Hey, I'm wearing the blue of Penang Free School on my turban," he insisted. Turned out that he was one year my junior in school. Sportingly, he joined us in the procession. (Photo by Chan Lilian)

Here they are, the Penang Free School Band marching smartly down Kampong Kolam Road. Despite a bout of nervousness at the start of the procession - there were some false notes - the boys quickly warmed up to the task as we proceeded along the 1.4-kilometre journey. Mind you, walking for an hour under the hot mid-day sun from 11.30am is not everyone's cup-of-tea, especially when they have to carry the heavy instruments, but they did it admirably well.

Finally, the cortege bringing up the rear. It was almost at the funeral procession's dispersal point at the end of Carnarvon Street, where the Su Beng Dispensary once stood, where Dr Lim once practised as a medical doctor before turning to politics, where his father Dr Lim Chwee Leong had also once practised, and where his elder son Lim Chien Aun has now converted into his own real estate/valuation law firm. The chartered buses were waiting to ferry people to the Batu Gantong crematorium. However, this was where we stopped to retrace our steps back to our cars near the Dewan. But having walked at the head of the procession...

...we weren't prepared to see this scene which brought up the rear. It was an overwhelming sight to see the people of Penang turning out in force to give their former Chief Minister his grandest farewell. (Picture from The Malaysian Insider)

Friday, 26 November 2010

An appreciation of Dr Lim Chong Eu

One of the best known figures in Penang has passed away. Dr Lim Chong Eu, second Chief Minister of Penang from 1969 to 1990, died at his house in Tanjung Bungah on Wednesday night without recovering from a stroke. He was 91.

Every true blue Penangite should appreciate that Chong Eu was not only a giant in Malaysian politics, he was above all the architect of Penang's recovery from the doldrums of economic stagnation in the 1960s. After his Gerakan political party wrested the state from the Alliance in the 1969 elections, he turned Penang from a largely agricultural, tourist and trading outpost into the engine of technological growth for the whole country.

I deeply respected him. In the late 1970s, I understood what he was doing for Penang. He might not have done everything right but he did everything necessary. But for him, Penang would never have recovered economically in the 1970s. He brought jobs to a state that was dying and stagnating after it had its free port status stolen away from it.

The lasting legacies he left Penang were the free industrial zones, the Komtar tower and the Penang Bridge. I would have loved it if the Penang Bridge could be renamed as the Dr Lim Chong Eu Bridge in his memory but I hear that the prerogative to do this lies solely with the Federal Government in Kuala Lumpur. Instead, I am happy to learn today that at least, within the Penang Government's powers, both the Jelutong Expressway and the Bayan Lepas Expressway have been renamed as the Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway. Still a very nice way of showing appreciation of him.

Tributes to Dr Lim are everywhere on the Internet and I wouldn't want to add second-hand news to everything that have already been said. So let me try to add something different. It was related to me not so long ago that Dr Lim had once mentioned dryly that "every Old Free thinks that he is Somebody." Actually, I find this a very amusing (but perhaps outdated) observation. It says a lot about his understanding of the Penang Free School character. After all, he was himself a product of the old school. He understood what would make an Old Free tick. He understood how - and why - Old Frees think they are the centre of the Universe. But of course, he understood the part an Old Free still plays in today's society.

(Note: According to one of my old school mates, Abu Huraira, during the investiture of Dr Lim's Chief Ministership in 1969, he wore the School tie and this was captured on the front page of the then Straits Times Press.)

I never knew the man personally and could count meeting him face to face only twice in my life. The first time was in 1974 when he was the Chief Minister and the last time was in 2009 when he had long retired from the political scene. In July of that year, I was wandering through the aisles of a supermarket in Bayan Baru when I bumped into him. He was alone but soon to be joined by an executive staff of the supermarket once they learnt of his presence. I'm so glad for this grainy picture, snapped on my mobile. As far as I'm concerned, Dr Lim stood tall. Goodbye and thank you.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Cluttered mess

I was at a lawyer's office recently to get some stuff done and I couldn't help noticing all the files lying around. These are files of their client's cases, all tied individually with a filmsy string and then stacked everywhere. As long as there is an available space on the floor or a table top, chances are very, very good that there'll soon be several files piled up there. This is a sight which is common to almost all, if not all, lawyer firms in the country. One fine day when I come across a lawyer friend, I must ask him why lawyers do this. Is this a tradition or what?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The grounds of Suffolk House

This is a heritage building which was almost lost. It once stood on land belonging to the Methodist Church and had been earmarked for new school buildings. In 1956, the Church submitted demolition plans to the George Town Municipal Council but was asked by the Council's president, John Sjovald Hoseasom Cunnyngham-Brown, to preserve the building and instead, build the school on the rest of their land.

For many years after that, the building descended into a bad state of neglect. The Methodist Boys' School used the place as their canteen but in 1975, the authorities decided to cordon off the building and declared it unsafe. Below is a reproduction of a painting by Captain Robert Smith in 1818, that showed the building and the grounds it stood on. A river flowed lazily beside it. In the distance, a bridge.

Yes, that same familiar bridge which I wrote about recently. Okay, maybe it's not the original bridge but the reconstructed structure is mightily similar to the old one. Plus, the bridge still spans the Ayer Itam River and connects the grounds of the Suffolk House to the other side where there is now a condominium.

Many people believe that this same building was built by Francis Light, who founded the British settlement here in 1786, but it is now widely accepted that there were two separate constructions on Suffolk Estate, though not necessarily on the same spot (I don't know). The first was Light's original abode of timber and attap. He stayed here with his common law companion, Martina Rozells, until his death in 1794. Light's executors then sold the estate to William Edward Phillips in 1805. It was Phillips who built the present Georgian-styled Suffolk House. In the early 19th Century, Suffolk House was the official residence for several early governors of the Prince Of Wales Island (as Penang Island was called then). It wouldn't be too far-fetched to say that many historical and political decisions were made here. In fact, it is understood that Stamford Raffles was here for discussions that led eventually to the founding of Singapore.

Suffolk House's role as the centre of governance ended when the mansion and grounds were sold to a Lim Cheng Teik who in turn sold off the estate to the Methodist Church of Malaya in 1928. The Penang state government acquired Suffolk House in 2000 and conservation work commenced on the building. Today, Suffolk House is managed by Badan Warisan and open for public viewing. A fine dining restaurant occupies the ground floor of the double-storey building.