𝘿𝙞𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙄𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙖 𝙃𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙂𝙖𝙩 𝙇𝙚𝙗𝙪𝙝 𝙂𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙟𝙖 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙇𝙚𝙗𝙪𝙝 𝙋𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙞 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙖 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙖 𝙘𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙐𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙎𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙨 𝙄𝙣𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙢𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙎𝙚𝙧𝙫𝙞𝙘𝙚 (𝙐𝙎𝙄𝙎) ?
𝐴𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒, 𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝐶ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑢𝑖𝑙𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑛 𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑦, 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑦 𝑑𝑢𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑦𝑚 "𝑈𝑆𝐼𝑆", 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒ℎ𝑜𝑤 𝑚𝑎𝑑𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑘 𝑡𝑜 𝑚𝑒𝑎𝑛 "United States Insurance Service".
India House. Credit Source: Wikipedia.
Designed by S.N.A.S Sockalingam Chettiar and completed on 1941, India House is an art deco style building located at the heart of the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site. Upon completion, the building was left empty until 1945 due to the World War II.
After the war, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) occupied the building until 1953, while waiting for the reconstruction of its former headquarters to be completed.
Then, India House was used by the United States to accommodate the Lincoln Resource Centre of the United States Information Service (USIS) until the 1970s.
A close-up of the signage, which features an elephant's head. Credit source: GTWHI
USIS is an important agency during the cold war to collect intelligence information and spread propaganda information to benefit the United States, among other goals such as:
To explain and advocate U.S. policies in terms that are credible and meaningful in foreign cultures;
To provide information about the official policies of the United States, and about the people, values and institutions which influence those policies;
To bring the benefits of international engagement to American citizens and institutions by helping them build strong long-term relationships with their counterparts overseas;
To advise the President and U.S. government policy-makers on the ways in which foreign attitudes will have a direct bearing on the effectiveness of U.S. policies. According to oral history, during the time when USIS moved into the India House, the building had a state-of-the-art computer, one that is so big it occupied the entire floor!
Interestingly, many illiterate local Chinese often confused the building to house an insurance company instead, probably due to the acronym "USIS", which somehow made them think to mean "United States INSURANCE Company".
A lost gem: A visual of the former HSBC building circe 1906, with its beautiful domed tower. At that time, it was the tallest building in Penang and the first building to be fitted an electric lift. This unique building was demolished in 1948 to make way for a "modern" building.
The bank moved to the India House temporarily while waiting for the new modern building to be completed.
Credit Source: Jamil Othman (Facebook)
Penang Then & Now (ISBN 978-967-170080-0-8)