Category Archives: structure

The “Big Ben” of Penang

Probably everyone knows the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, but how about “the other one” atop the FMS Railway building — now known as Wisma Kastam ?  (They used to call the building “the railway station without a railway”)

As a mainlander in my childhood and youth days,  I knew of this one only.  Like a beacon, it  beckoned the arrival of passengers onboard the ferries.   I think sometimes we could hear the chimes, as the ferries closed in to dock at the terminal.

Those were the days when the skyline was reigned by beautiful colonial-architecture buildings and not uninspiring rectangular blocks of the later years.

One day I shall try to climb up the inside of this heritage-class icon, to see what makes it tick, literally.

When We Were Small, TV Antennae Were Tall….

Now we are tall, and antennae are small…. (old Bee Gees song still rings)…hahaha

Before the advent of cable TV in Singapore and satellite TV in Malaysia, we used to see very tall TV antennae in the southern states of peninsular Malaysia, notably Johor, Melaka, and perhaps Negri Sembilan.  Their heights were in proportion to the distance from Singapore, it seemed.

Reason : To capture the TV signals from SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation).  At that time, all the programs were “free-to-air”, and the hearts of men were not so desperate for money.

Over time, I believe most of these tall aerials have been dismantled, as ASTRO came into being, and small satellite dish antennae became the norm.

Bridge Over Harbor Water

Beautiful Penang Bridge #1 …… should ask Simon and Garfunkel to come and take look.

3rd August 1985 – that was slightly over 3 decades ago – was a day of national pride when Dr Mahathir drove a bright red Proton Saga over the original Penang Bridge. I had already left my Pearl of the Orient for a year by then;  still I could not help getting emo over that. A Penanglang at heart – just as I am, still.

The 13.5km long JPP meant that going over to Butterworth changed from “kuay kang” (过港) to “kuay kio” (过桥) in Penang Hokkien lingo.   Motor vehicles could travel freely now without having to wait for the chug-a-chug vintage ferries.

In no small way, it paved the way for the transformation of Pulau Pinang into an economic powerhouse.