Death and Life of Hokkien Exhibition

Kwong Wah Yit Poh Coverage 24.07.2020
Opening Ceremony by Guest of Honor YAB Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (Right second), accompanied by Cheah Kongsi Chairman Mr. Alan Cheah Teik Cheng (Left first), Hokkien Language Association of Penang President Mr. Sim Tze Wei (Left second) and EXCO Petach YB Yeoh Soon Hin (Right First)

HOKKIEN is a language and not a dialect, says Hokkien Language Association of Penang president Sim Tze Wei.

“The education system is therefore the prime mover in the large-scale linguistic change of our society. If parents are to be blamed for not passing on their mother tongue at home, then policymakers and educators are accountable for creating the very conditions which give them no choice.”

Hokkien Language Association of Penang president Sim Tze Wei.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who was among the distinguished guests to launch the exhibition, said he was glad to have an opportunity to see the efforts taken by Tze Wei and five clan houses – Cheah Kongsi, Khoo Kongsi, Tan Kongsi, Yeoh Kongsi and Lim Kongsi – in reviving Hokkien.

“He is a very passionate about Hokkien. For it to thrive, it is important for more people to understand its history, speak Hokkien and use Hokkien. If not, one day it may become extinct.

“I’m happy to support the works of the five clan associations and others in promoting Hokkien.”

Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi chairman Alan Cheah Teik Cheng said his association was honoured to play its part to revive the Hokkien language which has since been demoted to a dialect.

Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi chairman Alan Cheah Teik Cheng

“It is our ardent hope that through this exhibition which will run for three months barring any future developments of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can create an awareness and try to revive Hokkien language to its former glory,” Cheah said in his speech.

He said the arrival of Cheah ancestors in Penang in 1644 indicates that they were amongst the earlier Chinese migrants to bring the Hokkien language to Malaysian shores.

“Currently in Penang, we see many people of other races speak fluent Hokkien ala Penang style especially the Indians, Sikhs and even Malays too,” said Cheah.

Among the guests who attended the exhibition were state executive councillors Chong Eng, Yeoh Soon Hin and Soon Lip Chee, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi, trustees of Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi

Content extracted from Buletin Mutiara