Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Penang Based Chinese Newspapers

The first Penang based Chinese Newspaper, Penang Sin Poe(槟城新报) only published in 1895. Much later than the first Penang based English newspaper, Wales Island Gazette/Pinang Gazette in 1806. But the longest surviving newspaper in Penang is the Chinese newspaper, Kwong Wah Daily or Kwong Wah Jit Poh(光华日报).

Unlike English newspaper which were mainly serving the colonists and English speaking world, the Chinese newspapers based in Penang are very localized and closely linked with the local Chinese community, especially, the clan association, Chinese education and businesses. Their staff remuneration and benefits were much inferior than the English newspaper. But they are more dynamic in serving local needs of Chinese community, and have strong support from their readers. The failure of the Chinese press company are mainly due to economical crisis, legal restriction, competition, and non-professionally managed press house. It was difficult to run a Chinese newspaper company in the old days and many failed. The business is mainly cultural venture and not profit generating business. There were even the popular saying that, if you want to make a person lost money, ask him to invest in Chinese newspaper company. However, the strong readers base of Chinese speaking Chinese is always there to support the newspaper. There are many Chinese tycoon who are willing to commit into the cultural venture, despite without the prospect of good profit. To many of them, Chinese newspaper business is a long term cultural commitment.

槟榔屿的第一份华文日报《槟城新报》Penang Sin Poe 创刊于1895年,1936年因资金不足,售予光华日报。战前续有《槟城日报》(1906-)、《光华日报》(1910-)、《南洋时报》(1920-30)、《华侨日报(槟城日报)》(1922或22年)、《中南晨报》(1930)、《电讯新闻》(1932-33)、《现代日报》(1936-49)、《星槟日报》(1939- )、《星槟晚报》(1939- )等。日本占领槟榔屿期间(1941-1945),槟岛所有报纸都被迫停刊,日人以中英版的《彼南新闻》取而代之。战后,最早在槟城新创的华文报纸是《中华公报》,接着是《北斗报》、《商业日报》、《新生报》、《战友报》,复刊的华文报纸则有《现代日报》、《星槟日报》与《光华日报》。

Penang Sin Poe(1895-1936)- Penang first Chinese Newspaper

Penang first Chinese newspaper was Penang Sin Poe((槟城新报). It was found by Mr Lim Seng Hooi(林成輝, 1872-1943). Lim Seng Hooi was one of the founders of the Penang Chinese Chambers of Commerce in 1903, he served as committee member for more then 20 years, intermittently from 1903 to 1928. He managed the business of the Criterion Press that was established in 1883 by his late father Lim Hua Chiam or Lim Mah Chye JP and made it prosper. Criterion Press was the publisher of three early Penang newspapes of three languages, Strait Echo(English), Penang Sin Po(Chinese), Chahaya Pulau Pinang(Malay).

In 1895 he launched a Chinese daily paper and the Penang Sin Poe(槟城新报)was published. (Note: Some said it was 1896 or 1894, a copy of 1895 10th August edition of the said newspaper was kept at NUS Library, it should be 1895). The office of Penang Sin Poe was at 230 & 232, Beach Street(港仔口 Káng-á-khaú, between China Street and Chulia Street). Four years later (1899) he founded a Malay weekly, the Chahaya Pulau Pinang. These two journals were the only Chinese and Malay newspaper in Penang at that time in spite of reported prosperous years. To fulfill the need to see fairer play and to obtain justice for the people of Penang, a new daily under the name of Strait Echo was launched in 1903 by the Criterion Press Ltd. with Lim Seng Hooi as the Managing Director. The venture was an immediate success and the Strait Echo enjoyed a wide circulation.

In 1899, additional shop at No 228 was purchased, the office located at 228,230,232 Beach St.

In 1936, the paper was sold to Kwong Wah Daily or Kwong Wah Jit Poh, another Penang based Chinese newspaper. The last issue of the newspaper was on 30-9-1941, a copy kept in NUS Library, which revealed that despite bought over by Kwong Wah Jit Pohin 1936, the Penang Sin Poe still continue published but printed under Kwong Wah Press Ltd until 1941, before the arrival of Japanese army in 2nd world war. The editor was Song Sin Zia, its office at 211, Victoria St, editorial dept at 4, Chulia St Ghaut, which were the premise of Kwong Wah Jit Poh.
During Japanese occupation all press were ordered to stop. After the war, Penang Sin Poe did not resume publication, and reached the end of the newspaper.

Kwong Wah Yit Poh or Kwong Wah Daily(光华日报) - 1910

Kwong Wah Yit Poh or Kwong Wah Daily(光华日报)is a Malaysian Chinese language newspaper founded on 20th December 1910 by Dr Sun Yat Sen(孙中山). The main aim was to propagate the idea of revolution to the oversea Chinese.

Currently it is Malaysia's oldest Chinese newspaper that still in circulation. It is not a national newspaper, but a regional newspaper based in Penang, where it has the largest readership in the northern region. It is owned by Kwong Wah Yit Poh Press Berhad, with their office and base at 19, Presgrave Street, Penang.

1927 Jinan(中国济南五月惨案),Kwang Wah(光华) promoted the anti Japanese campaign, the publishing permit was terminated by the strait government, and the publication stopped.

Kwong Wah Daily was established at 打铜仔街(Amerian Street)。Later due to insufficient space, the office moved to Malay Street(台牛后),occupied 2 shop houses. On 1-1-1936, the office moved to 红灯角(Chulia Street Ghat).

1936 - Kwong Wah Jit Poh, bought Penang Sin Poe(槟城新报). The first Chinese newspaper in Penang, another Penang based Chinese newspaper.

1937 - Japan invaded China(七七卢沟桥事变),Kwang Wah Daily started a donation campaign to support the resistance.

1938 - Managing director 董事经理刘惟明 passed away.

1941 - Japan occupied Penang island. The board of directors and staff, being actively involved in anti - Japanese activities, were the target for the Japanese Army. Many of them died. Value documents and historical records were destroyed. (战前光华的诸多董事如王景成、刘玉水、员工刘洪钟、黄望青等积极抗日,也因为这些爱国企业家及新闻工作者的推波助澜,光华日报成了战前销路最畅销的一分华文日报。槟岛沦陷后,光华董事及员工成了日军通缉的对象。走避不及的光华书记陈文彬、编辑部翻译谢国仁、手民部职员陈毛猪皆遭日军逮捕,壮烈牺牲)。

1946 - Japanese surrender, the war was over. During Japanese occupation, the daily ceased operation for 4 years. Kwong Wah Daily resumed the operation.

1957 - Malaya gained independence from British on 31-8-1957.

1960s - the late 60s was the time of socialist or left . Kwong Wah Daily being pro-right or government , was badly affected, its readership declined. It also faced competition from the pro-leftist “现代日报” & Sin Pin Jit Poh(星槟日报). The business declined.

1963-1968 - Two directors passed away, 王景成与苏承球. Kwang Wah was facing financial problem.

1971-1974 - the newspaper was having declining readership,the cumulative reserve built up from 1946 was wipe out. Loh Boon Siew(骆文秀) joined the company,together with Loo Leong San( 卢良山)、MD (周明道) with financial support, and together with the royal staff , to overcome the difficult time. But subsequently, Kwang Wah was making too much losses, it was separate from The Star; and Loh Boon Siew personally invested heavily to support the daily.

The existing MD (周明道) was seriously sick. In March 1975, Loh Boon Siew invited 温子开 who had resigned from Sin Ping Jit Poh to join Kwang Wah Jit Poh as Managing Director. There was change in the board members. Community leaders 王金生、王富金、胡由凤 joined the board as directors.

Kwong Wah Daily was operated together with The Star at the office in Pitt Street; but later Loh Boon Siew realized the operation of Chinese Press and English Press are different, and Kwang Wah continued to make losses. He decided that the two newspapers operationally should go separate ways. Kwong Wah Yit Poh moved back to its old office at No 2 &4, Chulia Street Ghat( 柴路头2号及4号柴路头).

Since 1980s, circulation of Kwong Wah Yit Poh increased steadily. In order to keep up with the surging demand in the 1990s, four-storey building in Lebuh Presgrave was built. In 1992, Kwong Wah became the first oversea Chinese Press to use color laser typesetting, a product of Beida Fangzheng Electronic Publishing System. In addition, the company installed a satellite receiver for receiving color pictures and news together with high speed printing equipment. Henceforth with the modern Goss and Dev web-offset printing machines and well-skilled personnel, Kwong Wah Jit Poh are placed among the best in the country to provide quality product to suit requirements of the readers and business associates.

1992 - On 13th June 1992,Kwang Wah moved to its new office and factory at 19, Presgrave Street, Penang

1993 - Kwong Wah new building was officially opened by the Prime Minister Dr Mahathir on 20th December 1993.

2000 - In July, Board Chairman 拿督王富金 passed away. Managing Director 董事经理拿督温子开 retired. The new chairman was 拿督王锦发. Kwang Wah Daily enter into new era.

Sin Ping Jit Pao/ Sin Pin Daily(星槟日报)-1939-1986

1939 - 胡文虎兄弟創辦星檳日報(於1986年9月29日停刊)
1987 - 12月18日,在林敬益的支持下復刊,更名為光明日報
1992 - 12月,張曉卿收購光明日報。

1939 - Sin Ping Jit Pao/ Sin Pin Daily(星槟日报), developed by Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the Tiger Balm King in 1939, it was the sister newspaper of Sin chew Jit Pao(星洲日報) which was formed on 15-1-1939. The purpose of the newspaper was to advertise Tiger Balm products.

The Sin Ping Daily office building at Leith Street was demolished for road expansion development. The Northam Road or Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah was extended to Faquhar Street, cut through Leith Street, when the old office building of Sin Ping Jit Poh was located.

Sin Ping Daily, was sold to DATO' LIM KHENG KIM of Penang following the directives from the government on restraining foreigners from controlling the press. The Aw family was from Singapore, they sold their ownership of Sin Chew Daily/Sin Ping Daily to Lim Kheng Kim in 1982. Lim Kheng Kim, who was in construction and property, has no experience in printed media, the management of the said Chinese newspapers caused him cash flow problems. Despite of the problem, he acquire the Strait Echo from Tan Koon Swan. The acquisition added more salt to the wound. The company's financial situation deteriorated.

DATO' LIM KHENG KIM faced financial problem with Maybank Penang, the bank seek legal action to recover the debt. Sin Ping Daily stopped publishing on 29-9- 1986, the National Echo( previous Strait Echo)faced the same fate.

In 1987, Sin Chew Daily sank into deep financial trouble. A receiver was appointed over the company. On 27 October 1987, the publication license of Sin Chew Daily was suspended under Operasi Lalang, one of the most drastic clampdowns on civil dissent launched by the government.
The National Echo was closed, and Sin Chew Jit Poh & Sin Ping Jit Poh sold. Sin Chew Jit Poh was bought by Sarawak timber tycoon, Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King,from Ribunan Hijau group,acquired Sin Chew Daily. Sin Ping Daily was acquired by the former staff, to restart the newspaper publishing, and obtained publishing permit in December 1987, Guang Ming Daily(光明日报) was born.

Guang Ming Daily (光明日报/光明日報)- 1987

Guang Ming Daily (光明日报/光明日報) was previously known as Sin Pin Daily (Chinese : 星檳日報), Sin Pin Daily was founded by the Aw brothers which have also started Sin Chew Daily. Sin Pin Daily was headquartered in Penang but unfortunately it has to stop publishing in 1986 after some major changes in management.

All the former staff of the defunct Sin Ping Daily are desperate to restart the newspaper publishing. Finally in December 1987, Guang Ming Daily was born after obtaining the publishing permit with the help from Dato' Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik.

In 1992, the Rimbunan Hijau Group bought over Guang Ming Daily and thus making it the sister company with Sin Chew Daily.

Similar to the English printed media industry, there are many Chinese journalists and pressman from Penang in the Chinese printed media sector. The Han Chiang School was the first one to establish a school for journalism in the 80s, which have produced many young journalists and reporters for the requirement of Chinese press. There are many senior and established journalists from Penang state in the Chinese press. Penang is always the resource base for the recruitment of young journalists.

Related articles

1. Kwong Wah Daily official website -

1 comment:

  1. Great writing and the history coverage of Chinese press in PG, Malaysia.