Udini House, Gelugor
Udini House on Jalan Tunku Kudin (formerly Jalan Udini), Penang, is the former seaside residence of Y.M. Tunku Dhiauddinibni Almarhum Sultan Zainal Rashid Muazzam Shah, better known as Tunku Kudin (1835-1909). TunkuKudin was the younger brother of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin (II) Mukkaram Shah of Kedah, a sometime Raja Muda of Kedah, a Viceroy of Selangor (1868-1878) and an unsuccessful claimant to the throne of Kedah in 1881. Tunku Kudin’s story was given prominence by his great-nephew, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj. Consequently, the Penang Road Naming Committee renamed Jalan Udini after TunkuKudin.
It is sited on a hill and commands an excellent view of the Penang Channel and of the mainland beyond. The grounds once had a stable for horses, an aviary and a deer park. A tunnel from Udini House once led right up to the beach.
The foundation stone of Udini House was laid in August 1882 by the Lieutenant Governor of Penang, J. F. McNair.
Later this house was bought by TengkuKudin’s namesake. Tengku Baharuddin bin Tunku Meh (1848-1932), the Raja of Setul (today’s Satun in Thailand) and commonly known as Ku Din. Setul was then a part of Kedah. Ku Din was a capable administrator and was given wide powers by the King of Siam and the Sultan of Kedah with the Siamese title of PhyaPhuminathPakdi (“The Dedicated King”). Ku Din purchased the house in 1910 to serve as his holiday home. Ku Din renovated the house by adding a new wing, new servants’ quarters and possibly the aviary and deer park as he loved animals.
From 1930 to December 1941, Udini House was rented to the law firm of Presgrave& Matthews. During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese Navy used it as their Penang headquarters. Post-WW2, it was used briefly by the British Military Administration, then by the RAAF. In 1953, the property was compulsorily acquired by the government for public housing development but the plans fell through. The Marine Police eventually took over the property and the house was allowed to gradually fall into its present derelict state.
Support our efforts – your voice can make a difference! We suggest this short message be sent to the relevant authorities:
“I urge the Penang State Government, local authorities and related agencies to urgently take action to save the Udini House (Gelugor). This heritage building served as a house to a great individual, the Raja of Setul (Tengku Baharuddin bin Tunku Meh), also rented to Presgrave & Matthews law firm and being made headquarters by the Japanese Navy. Regrettably, the house is left in a dilapidated state until today.
I would like to register my concern for the need to safeguard Penang’s heritage and to keep alive the soul of our city. I believe that appropriate protection for heritage as well as development guided by respect for community, heritage and environment will improve our quality of life and prosper our local economy.”