My Penang: Joe Sidek
Slight in stature but big on presence is
probably the best way to describe Joe Sidek. Right now, he’s been racing around
Penang at 1,000km per hour just to keep up to the demands of being a festival
director of Penang’s largest arts festival. In fact, it’s very possibly
Malaysia’s most successful, largest and popular arts festival. George Town
Festival 2015 kicked off on 1 Aug and ran till 31 Aug. Packed with international
renowned performances and exhibitions, GTF2015 also served as a platform for
local acts to show off their ever-evolving development. However, today, Joe’s
taking a minute off from discussing his brainchild and will natter on about his
beloved island instead.
Here’s what Joe has to say:
When you think of Penang, you think…
If there is one thing you can change about Penang, what would it
Control of commercial tourism, George Town is rather delicate and we should
look into the type of tourists we want to attract.
Which Penang street food is nostalgic
Mee agong. This is basically a very moist stir-fried egg noodles or mee goreng
with a definable Indian Muslim influence.
Why is this Penang street food
nostalgic for you?
Because it holds fond childhood memories of eating this dish from the original
stall at Metropole Hotel when I was eight years old.
What would be the one myth about Penang
you’d want dispel?
That it is a creative hub. We (Penang) still have a long way to go.
Why would you want to dispel this myth?
There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done before Penang can be
recognised as a creative hub.
What do you think is Penang’s best
Its people. Its food. Its architecture.
If a visitor only had time to see three
things in Penang, what would you advise them to see?
Go visit Cheong Fatt Tze mansion in George Town. Go eat steaming steamboat at
Bellevue on Penang Hill during dusk. Go discover ChinaHouse on Lebuh Pantai.
If Penang was a famous person, who
would it be?
The late Tan Sri P. Ramlee. Because it will be everything the man was – witty,
liberal, a good person, clever, creative – and more.
(P.Ramlee was born in Penang and a Malaysian actor, film director,
scriptwriter, lyricist, musician in 1950s and peerless till today.)
What is your advice to a first-time
visitor to Penang?
George Town Festival is an annual arts event that goes on for a month long in
various locations in George Town. The events, exhibitions and performances are
mostly free with only a handful that are ticketed. This year (2015), GTF was
held between 1 Aug and 31 Aug, and for the first time, this arts festival was
brought over to Butterworth with an exciting line up.