02 November 2019


First of all, I would like to congratulate Mr Cheah Yew Saik for being honoured with a retrospective by the Penang State Art Gallery (PSAG) as he turns 80 this year.

I am told that the PSAG committee goes through a meticulous selection process to identify the artist they would honour, often with much discussion and debate but in Mr Cheah’s case, his selection was a unanimous decision by the committee.

Mr Cheah is now proudly given the honour as with the previous Retrospective Artists. This is a fitting honour as Mr Cheah has contributed tremendously to the art education of our country. He founded the Kuala Lumpur College of Art in 1968 and helmed it until 2002. As we are all aware, KLCA was an art academy that has influenced several generations of artists in our country. KLCA had nurtured hundreds of outstanding fine art artists, potters, sculptors, art teachers, photographers and even fashion designers who had made their mark in the commercial art field and other art-based professions. The considerable influence and contributions by KLCA graduates had, in a way, made the society we live in a much beautiful and colourful place. And today, quite a number of the alumni are also present to celebrate with Mr Cheah.

Other than his contributions to art education, Mr Cheah is also a prominent artist of our nation. His career spanning more than 60 years is impressive. This retrospective is a testament to his artistic labour of love throughout the decades. The length and breadth of the artworks featured here on this floor and on the third floor show his dedication to his art. Mr Cheah is certainly an inspiring example for many artists and for generations of artists to come.

Penang is now on track to become an international city. For us to realise this aspiration, Penang has to be a centre of arts, culture and heritage. PSAG as the depository of Penang art plays an important role to help us realise this goal. By honouring worthy artists and showcasing their lifetime achievement, we will be able to educate and inspire future generations of artists and the general public.

The state government is, of course, fully committed to develop the arts scene. The 9 acres Penang Art District shows how serious the Penang state government is about art.

There is no great city in this world without a great art gallery. I know the space you have now for the Penang State Art Gallery is not ideal. It is too small and the third floor is not accessible by lift. I know many museums and galleries have gift shops larger than this ground floor space. There is now a plan to build a new State Art Gallery 5 times the size of this current one at the Penang Art District. We look forward to a new PSAG in time to come.

I am glad that the Penang art scene is very active. I am confident that with the cooperation between the state government and the art community, the art scene in Penang will continue to flourish.

2010 is the Experience Penang Year. This retrospective exhibition is a good event to promote so that Penangites and the many tourists who visit Penang can experience the height of fine art in Penang.

I wish Mr Cheah Yew Saik the very best and I wish this worthy exhibition every success.

I hereby declare this Retrospective Exhibition open.

Pejabat Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang Tingkat 28, KOMTAR, 10502, George Town, Pulau Pinang