Thio Thiaw Siat Building and George Town Dispensary, Beach Street, George Town, Penang

Thio Thiau Siat Building (left), right next to the George Town Dispensary (right) along Beach Street. As of April 2016, Thio Thiau Siat Building has been unoccupied.

The TTS Building at Beach Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a Straits Eclectic-style double-storey building built by Cheong Fatt Tze's family in the 1920s. Cheong Fatt Tze, who is famous for his blue mansion at Leith Street, was also known by his Hokkien name Thio Thiaw Siat, hence the initials TTS on the building's front façade.

As of April 2016, the building lies empty, after its last occupant, American International Group (AIG), moved out to the suburb of Gelugor.


Cheong Fatt Tze

Cheong Fatt Tze, one of the richest men in Southeast Asia at the turn of the 20th. century, was also known by his Hokkien name, Thio Thiaw Siat.

The land on which TTS Building now stands, at 37 Beach Street, was first granted to John Colhoun in 1802. For most of the 19th. century, the Penang Foundry Company, established in 1876, was based at this site.

In 1895, the George Town Dispensary was relocated from Logan's Building to 37 Beach Street. Advertised as the ‘Wholesale & Retail Chemists and Druggists’ supplying ‘patent & proprietary medicines, pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals’, it soon became the most prominent dispensary in town, distributing imported pharmaceuticals to dispensaries and hospitals throughout British Malaya and Siam. At the time, the property belonged to Lee Chin Tuan and Lee Chin Soon.

In 1923, the George Town Dispensary was relocated once more to the adjacent building. Two years later, the old building at 37 Beach Street was demolished to give way for the construction of the TTS Building.

Completed in 1925, the TTS Building was owned by Cheong Fatt Tze's family. Cheong Fatt Tze, who was also known by his Hokkien name Thio Thiaw Siat, was one of the richest men in Southeast Asia at the start of the 20th. century. His blue mansion at Leith Street is today a famous tourist attraction within George Town.

As with Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion at Leith Street, TTS Building features a mix of Western and Oriental elements combined into a Straits Eclectic architectural style. Four ornamental urns, each aligned with a pier running along the building's front façade, create the portico. Drapes can also be seen hanging down from each of the four ventilation holes slightly above the TTS initials carved into the front façade.

Thio Thiaw Siat Building, Beach Street, George Town, Penang (2008)

Thio Thiaw Siat Building in 2008. At the time, it housed the Georgetown College.

Initially, TTS Building was occupied by businesses like Nawng Pet Tin Ltd. and Grafton Laboratories Ltd. In the 2000s, it housed the Georgetown College. The building was acquired in 2012 by the insurance firm, Chartis Inc., and was renamed Chartis Place. It was subsequently renamed AIG Place, following the rebranding of Chartis Inc. as the American International Group (AIG).

As of April 2016, the building has been closed, after AIG's Penang Island branch was relocated to the e-Gate within the southern suburb of Gelugor.

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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