Local Heart, Global Soul

November 6, 2012

One Building Has Worn Multiple Hats, Another, the Result of a Dying Wish…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Situated near the Stadthuys entrance of the square stands a clock tower painted in a matching shade of pink/red as the Youth Museum & Art Gallery, Church and Stadthuys… our guide tells us it was built by a son over a century ago to fulfill his father’s last request. I did some research on the internet because I had totally forgotten the names our guide gave us at the time and discovered the following information: (website link at the bottom of this post if you are interested in reading more)

More commonly known as Red Clock Tower, the Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower stands tall at the center of the Dutch Square. While it was named after Chinese billionaire Tan Beng Swee, it was actually his son, Tan Jiak Kim, who had this built in 1886 to fulfill his father’s promise.

Tan Beng Swee was a rich Chinese man who lived in Malacca and was known for his philanthropy. He donated the land where the city’s Chinese cemetery now lies and the bridge just beside the tower.

For almost a century, the clock installed on top of the tower was from England. In 1982, however, it was replaced by a Seiko clock, which was not received well by the older residents of the city and caused an outrage because many of them still remember the suffering they experienced when Japan occupied the city decades ago.”

When I first photographed the clock tower  from the bridge I was under the impression that it supports a radio mast… luckily this isn’t this case, the mast being a far larger construction situated behind the Stadthuys, and my position on the bridge just producing an unfortunate angle.

Once I walked a bit further it was clear that the two were separate and that the clock tower was rather a sweet little building. In case you are wondering if  it’s Melaka’s version of Pisa, it’s me on a lean, not the tower. I was juggling crutches, camera and a water bottle and the further I walked the more I ended up leaning on at one of the crutches when I stopped since it was rather tiring keeping up. Nevermind, you get the idea of the surroundings at least.

I’m not quite sure if requesting my kids to build a clock tower would be an item that features anywhere on a list of my dying wishes… but hey, each to his own, and Dutch Square is certainly a prettier place for it, so maybe Tan Beng Swee was onto something.

There’s another former administrative building on Dutch Square too, it stands on the opposite side of the Christ Church to the Stadthuys and was built in 1784. In 1826 it became the Malacca Free School and then roughly one hundred years later a second story was added to it and it took on a new function as a post office, before finally becoming the  Malaysia Youth Museum & Art Gallery.

The  Youth Museum is located on the ground floor and the Art Gallery is housed on the upper floor and displays artworks from both local Melakan artists and from artists from around Malaysia.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)



  1. The buildings in this square are all very charming. I have to say it speaks well of the residents that they recognize the historical value and continue to put them to good public use, rather than demolishing them as remnants of the former colonial rule (which was not uncommon in some parts of the western U.S.).

    Comment by Luddy's Lens — November 6, 2012 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

    • Even if they now have alternative uses at least they are being used and loved… AND they are the original buildings so I’m with you totally on this one, FAR better like this than being torn down for modern development.

      Comment by kiwidutch — November 8, 2012 @ 9:05 pm | Reply

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