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2:49pm 29/11/2021
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Penang conservator Tan Yeow Wooi dies of cancer at 61
Tan Yeow Wooi, a conservator nicknamed the Earth God of Penang.

PENANG, Nov 29 (Sin Chew Daily) — Penang-based conservator Tan Yeow Wooi, nicknamed “the Earth God of Penang” for his expertise in restoring and conserving buildings owned by the local Chinese in Penang, has died. He was 61.

Tan, diagnosed with cancer while pursuing his doctorate studies in Xiamen, China, in 2019, breathed his last breath on Sunday.

A graduate of National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan majoring in architecture, Tan was the director of Tan Yeow Wooi Culture and Heritage Research Studio which focuses on heritage conservation and architectural designs as well as cultural and historical researches specializing in Chinese studies.

The studio has been involved in the conservation and restoration of many buildings in Penang, including the Han Jian ancestral temple, the Armenian Street Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple and many old shophouses in George Town.

Tan, a registered conservator of National Heritage Department, was also a consultative panelist of George Town World Heritage Incorporated and a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites Malaysia.

He was well known for measuring stones and old tiles with a measuring tape which he carried with him whenever he went.

He wrote extensively on the subject of heritage conservation including publications such as “The history and architecture of Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi” and “Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee’s Shen Zhi Jia Shu and Hai Ji Zhan”, among others.

Assistant Professor Teoh Chee Keong, head of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at USCI, wrote on his Facebook that Tan had spent his entire life upgrading the conservation skills on old buildings in Malaysia to higher levels and that he was personally inspired by Tan.

Teoh recalled that during a road trip with Tan from Muar to KL International Airport in order to catch a flight back to Penang but they missed the flight as they were so fascinated by the Malay homes in rural areas that they got carried away taking photographs.

Tan, well known for his passion for historical architecture, ended up taking a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang on the same night.

Assistant professor Dr Toh Teong Chuan, head of the Department of Chinese Studies at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman who had known Tan for more than 40 years, last met him in July.

On his Facebook, Dr Toh recalled Tan as the Earth God of George Town.

Tan loved his hometown Penang very much and had spent much of his time restoring old homes and ancient temples in Penang.

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