Andre Akito

June, 2023

Rifle Range Flats | Penang | Malaysia

Penang Rifle Range Flats (also known as Flat Padang Tembak) has a significant history that spans for several decades. 

In the late 19th century, the British colonial government took notice of the strategic location of the area and converted it into a military location. The British constructed sturdy buildings and facilities, transforming the once-empty field into a thriving military base.. The area was formerly used as a shooting range by the British Army, hence its current name. 

During World War II, Rifle Range played a crucial role in the defense of Penang. The Japanese forces invaded the island in 1941, and the military barracks became a target of their attacks. The area witnessed intense battles as the British and Japanese forces clashed. The British were eventually overwhelmed, and Penang fell under Japanese occupation.

During the Japanese occupation, thousands of ethnic Chinese were executed by the Japanese authorities and many were buried in mass graves throughout Penang, including at Rifle Range. The remains of the victims would only be uncovered in the 1960s, when the construction of the Rifle Range flats was underway. 

After the war, the area underwent significant changes. The military barracks were no longer needed, and the site was repurposed for other purposes. It served as housing for refugees and displaced individuals, providing them with shelter during the post-war reconstruction period. Following the subsequent influx of people to urban areas, the demand for affordable housing escalated. In response to this need, the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) embarked on the construction of Rifle Range Flats as part of their public housing initiatives. Originally established in the mid-1970s, Rifle Range Flats played a crucial role in addressing the housing needs of the growing population of Penang.

The flats were designed to provide affordable housing options for low-income families and individuals. The project aimed to create a community-centric environment, offering basic amenities and a sense of security for the residents. Rifle Range Flats quickly became a vibrant and close-knit community, with people from diverse backgrounds coming together to form a unique social fabric.

Over the years, Rifle Range Flats underwent various renovations and upgrades to improve living conditions for the residents. These efforts included infrastructure enhancements, such as improved plumbing and electrical systems, as well as the addition of communal spaces and facilities.

Rifle Range Flats stands as a testament to the enduring spirit and resilience of its inhabitants. The community that has thrived within its walls has cultivated a strong sense of belonging and togetherness. Today, Rifle Range Flats not only represents a significant chapter in Georgetown’s housing history but also serves as a reminder of the importance of providing affordable and inclusive housing for all.

* All photos available for printing. Get in contact by email or on social media for more information. 

for more photos, videos and stories from around the world, check out the rest of my website and follow me on social media