Chung Keng Kwee Temple, located adjacent to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion at Church Street within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a Chinese ancestral temple built for the ancestors of a rich 19th. century Penangite tycoon. While the temple is part of the compound housing the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, it is normally closed off from public access.
Built simultaneously with the Pinang Peranakan Mansion (then known as Hai Kee Chan in Penang Hokkien) in the 1890s, its main purpose was to worship the ancestors of Chung Keng Kwee, one of the richest men on Penang Island at the time. It was also rumoured that the temple's well was where the Ghee Hin secret society disposed of its enemies.
In 1893, Chung Keng Kwee, one of the richest men on Penang Island at the time, acquired two adjacent properties at Church Street - the former headquarters of the rival Chinese secret society, Ghee Hin and a Chinese school known as Goh Hock Tong (meaning 'Five Luck Villa' in Penang Hokkien). Chung compensated the school with a plot of land at Chulia Street.
On the former Ghee Hin headquarters, Chung built a residence-cum-office named Hai Kee Chan - which is now the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. As for the site formerly occupied by the school, he built the Chung Keng Kwee Temple in honour of himself; he even had a large bronze statue of himself, dressed in a Mandarin robe of the Second Rank and wearing a Manchu cap, cast and placed within the temple.
In addition, the temple served as an ancestral hall for Chung's ancestors and a family school, with portraits of Chung's parents and wives gracing the walls of the temple. The interior fittings of the temple is similar to that of Ng Fook Thong Temple at Chulia Street; it is believed that both temples and the Pinang Peranakan Mansion were designed and crafted by the same artisans Chung had brought in from southern China.
Behind the temple, in a secluded courtyard accessible only via a narrow eastern path, is a well where the Ghee Hin had once disposed of its enemies from the Tua Pek Kong society. Later on, Hai San, Ghee Hin's fiercest enemy, also did the same with captured Ghee Hin members. Due to its bloody past, the well has since been covered up to allow the souls to rest.
Chung Keng Kwee Temple is normally off-limits to the general public, so for those who intend to visit the temple, it is advisable to consult with the Pinang Peranakan Mansion museum staff.
Penang State Government
N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)
- Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
- Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books, Penang.