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This is the oldest Catholic Cemetery located in Penang, the first who buried here is dated back to 20 October, 1789.
The Protestant Cemetery is the resting place of Penang pioneers such as Captain Francis Light (Founder of Penang), the early British governors of Penang, the husband of Anna Leonowens, inspirtation for "The King & I" and Anna & the King, and found of Penang Free School. For years, the silent tombs had remained in the late-18th century graveyard in George Town, Penang, largely ignored by people. When news broke out that the Roman Catholic Church intended to exhume the remains from 204 graves, visitors started popping by. Among them were people claiming to be relatives of those buried there, heritage conservationists, pressmen and curious folk. The graveyard is located within the grounds of the Church of Saint Francis Xavier on Penang Road, next to the St Josephs Home. After the death of Francis Light in 1786, Penang Heritage Trust has carried out several restoration to the cemetery. A signboard with site plan indicates the location of important tombs.
The statement from the bishop that the descendants didn't take care of their ancentors cemetery didn't make sense as most of the ancentors buried here are European, and the descendants are living thousand miles away. Does he expect them to fly over to Malaysia every year just to clean up their ancestor, and will he do so if he's one of them? There are plenty of land for playground available with the church and exhumation is not necessary. He may not understand the important of heritage afterall, and pay no respect to the pioneer who built up this piece of land. Without the pioneer, we will not be here today.
Cemeteries are very important to any community as they hold the strong, tangible links between our ancestors and us, and future generations. It is important for our own identity and history to maintain these links in a respectful way.
Due to the news spread out, the cemetary received more visitors than ever, and i'd like to advise visitors to wear long jeans, sock & shoes, long sleeves, hat..etc to cover up as much as possible to avoid exposure to the mosquitos. Bring mosqitoes repellent if you have one. There are hundreds of mosquitos "army" there "defending" the piece of land.
Photo by PC and Erina
article published 7/21/2004