Saw Seng Kiew Building, George Town, Penang

Saw Seng Kew Building at Beach Street, George Town

The Saw Seng Kew Building at Beach Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a double-storey colonial office building. Designed by Stark & McNeill, it was constructed in the 1920s and once housed the Southern Bank, which was founded by Saw Seng Kew. He was also a former president of the Penang branch of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a component party of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

As of April 2016, the building is occupied by a real estate company.


The site on which Saw Seng Kew Building now stands was once occupied by several businesses, including Cunningham Clarke & Co. and the Lux Brothers. The building, designed and owned by Stark & McNeill, was built in the early 1920s and named the British India House.

Its front façade consists of five rusticated arches, while on its upper floor, recessed double windows were installed between pairs of pillasters. On either ends of the front façade are balustraded balconies. The building is crowned with a parapet bounded along its bottom by a cornice.

Upon its completion, the building was first occupied by Sime Darby & Co. Ltd. Over the decades, the offices inside the building were used by several businesses, until the 1960s when Saw Seng Kew acquired the building.

Born in 1900, Mr. Saw made his fortune in rubber and banking, before entering Malaya's new political scene at the time. He rose to become the president of the Penang branch of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a component party of the ruling Alliance coalition (now Barisan Nasional). In 1968, he managed to persuade the Malaysian federal government to expand the Port of Penang's facilities.

In 1965, with a capital of $20 million (Malaya and British Borneo dollar), he opened the Southern Bank at the upper floors of the building. Since then, the building is known as the Saw Seng Kew Building. Although the bank no longer exists today, the building still houses a real estate business.

Political Representation

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)


  1. Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
  2. Langdon, M. A Guide to George Town's Historic Commercial and Civic Precints. Penang : George Town World Heritage Incorporated, Penang.
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