Ren i Tang

Story

Story

Story

Chinese medical halls were established during the Sung Dynasty, back in the 13th century. The oldest Chinese medical hall still in existence today, Tong Ren Tang was founded in 1669 and is located in Beijing, China.


In South East Asia, the oldest Chinese Medical Hall is Yin Oi Tong, established in 1796. Yin Oi Tong was founded by Koo Suk Chuan, a medicine-peddler immigrant from Canton. Like many young people, Koo dropped out of school in his early teens to provide for his family and travelled to Penang with the early wave of Mei Xian immigrants.

 

In 1885, Suk Chuan's descendants moved the Medical Hall from the small shop they had been trading on Pitt Street and into Lebuh Penang and there it served the local community for 124 years. They expanded their space to a Retail side - located where Ramani Market is now and maintained the wholesale side at 82a-c Lebuh Penang. Yin Oi Tong pre-war period spanned across 7 shophouses along Lebuh Penang and Lebuh Cina.

 

 

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The business managed to survive trying times such as the Japanese Occupation in 1940s; the abolishment of the Free Port status by the Federal Government in 1969 and later when the Rent Control Act in 2000 was repealed.

 

In later years, many of the old businesses in the area moved away and new businesses moved in. Catering to the growing Indian communities from all over the Northern Territory, Little India soon expanded into other streets. So much so that Yin Oi Tong became one of few existing Chinese-run businesses left on this section of the street. As it was for over a century, generations of local Indian and Chinese customers and their families have come seeking advice from the resident “Sin Seh” (Chinese herbalist) to help them with identifying medical problems. A visit to this famous medicinal hall was an integral part of these shopping trips.

 

 

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