The Penang Woman

Updated: 8 Mar 2013

Just like the island, the Penang woman is a contradiction of characters that’ll only make you fall in love with her deeper as time goes by. Just what is that one thing about her varies, as Cheng Sim and Su Aziz discover from the myriad reply below that acknowledge her strength on this day celebrating women.

What do they think is the most unique habit or character a Penang woman has?

‘Tenacity, strength, class, and an independent spirit.’
Tan Twan Eng, Novelist, Cape Town.

‘Fun, adventurous and never afraid to speak her mind but approachable, friendly and sassy at the same time.’
Mindy Low, Senior Account Executive, Kuala Lumpur.

‘Her ability to bargain for anything under the sky – be it food , fashion or household products – she’ll bargain at the market, shopping mall and coffee shops to restaurants. The Penang woman can be seen haggling everywhere.’
Christina Tan Soh Ann, PR Manager, George Town.

‘It’s her sense of duty.’
Ooi Geok Ling, Managing Director, George Town.

‘When I was a medical student at University Malaya in the 80s, it is said that any girls riding a bike is either from Penang or Sitiawan. What does that speak of Penang girls? Adventurous? Courageous? Uninhibited? Of course, one cannot generalize.’
Dr Oo Loo Chan, Medical Director of Charis Hospice, Penang.

‘Kheng chey, tua tay, pang gee. And the direct translation from Hokkien will be (always want) a lot, huge slice, cheap.’
Adrian Cheah, Art Director, George Town.

‘Penang girls work hard and party hard.’
Grace Chiam, Marketing Communications Manager, Batu Ferringhi.

‘Being able to make you feel like you've known her all your life in just a few minutes!’
Kien Lim, Folk Rocker and Music Co-ordinator, Petaling Jaya.

‘Penang women love food and surprisingly they hardly put on weight.’
Josh Lee, Perfume Master, George Town.

‘I think Penang women are special as they are humble and tend to place family first.’
Peter Chan H. Kong, Marcom Manager, Penang.

‘Savvy at money management and always try to get the best deal to make the ringgit stretch.’
Nazlina Hussin, Culinary Guide, George Town.

‘Her palate!’
Jasmine Low, Marketing Director, Kuala Lumpur.

‘They're complex, they're all different with different cultural values and religious beliefs but they’re generally welcoming and hospitable to outsiders.’
Robert Brennan, Sydney.

‘Her unique ability to marry both old and new such as wearing a Nyonya kebaya top with slim pencil cut pants or keeping traditions and pantang larang (taboo) alive while cruising along in this new millennium. That said, there's this other ability my girlfriends and I have –we can all (eight of us) talk simultaneously and yet understand and hear what the other seven are saying and can all reply accurately. This might be, I think, a woman thing.’
Amy Aw, ‘Ice-creamist’, George Town.

‘Penang women stay true to their roots regardless of race, language or religion. They are generally welcoming, soft-spoken and gentle. We always hear them say Welcome to Penang even after working in Penang for a year.’
Dave Looi, Chef, Penang.

'A Penang woman is definitely the ultimate multi-tasking super star. It's always a pleasure working with them.'
Thanabalasingam Balakrishnan, Arts Festival General Manager, Philippines.

Lillian Tong, Museum Director, George Town.

Tags: Features