Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Importance of Epigraphic Materials As Primary Source of Reference in Chinese Studies: Selected Case Study on Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, Penang

INTRODUCTION

Epigraphy is a methodology in the study of inscriptions in the aspects of its cultural value and historical significance. Epigraphic material is a tangible remnant (either in the form of stone, metal or wood) inherently erected to commemorate and document the establishment of a particular event / monument. The practice of engraving writing on materials such as stone, metal or wood denotes the artistic value and appreciation towards literary composition in the form of perpetuity. Although, the practice of inscribing has been dated since ancient time, but the exposure of its expression value to the public is somehow limited.

Only selective experts would be able to transcribe and translate epigraphic materials and draw conclusions from their studies. In fact, different experts would have differing ideas in the translation and conclusion on a same epigraphic material. These arguments are crucial for researchers to gain better insights as the said experts may be trained from different approaches and thoughts. 

In this article, my intention is to discuss and create the awareness of epigraphy as a primary source of reference in Chinese Studies in Malaysia and Singapore. 

In the period of 1982 until 1987, Professor Wolfgang Franke and Chen Tieh Fan from University of Malaya published a three-volume of Chinese Epigraphic Materials in Malaysia. They also published a similar work on Indonesia. This authoritative work is important to historians and reminds the rule of thumb in the primary source when it comes to the empirical studies, thus working as complimentary references. 

Ever since the work of Prof. Franke and Chen, more similar projects were carried out, such as the Penang Fujian Public Epigraphy Materials by K.Y. Chng in 1997 (originally in Chinese 张少宽 (1997) 梹榔屿福建公冢暨家冢碑铭集. 新加坡: 新加坡亚洲硏究学会). And recently, Professor Kenneth Dean and Dr. Hue Guan Thye both from National University of Singapore published a two-volume of Chinese Epigraphy in Singapore, 1819-1911

In this article, I would like to undertake the task in studying two stones in the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, Penang. and more importantly is to highlight the importance and the wealth of information unveiled through the stones. 

LEONG SAN TONG KHOO KONGSI

The Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, or simply known as Khoo Kongsi was originally established in 1835 as Ee Kok Tong in Penang. The membership of this establishment is restricted only to the Khoo clansmen from a same ancestral village. 

Plaque of Ee Kok Tong (Yi Gu Tang)
Source: Author's collection (Fieldwork 2011)

The story goes by in 1835 during a birthday celebration of the Khoo clan Patron Saint, Tua Sai Yah (大使爷), or Double Fifth Festival on the 5th day of the 5th moon of the Lunar Calendar in Penang. Three days after the celebration, its 102 clansmen gathered to form the clan association, which was then known as Ee Kok Tong. Thus, a sum of $528 was collected as contributions from the clansmen. After 15 years, on 5 July 1850, the Khoo clansmen gathered again and mooted for future expansion of the association. Thus, the funds collected in 1835 were used to serve the purpose. 

The two incidents mentioned above are recorded in two stones, which will be discussed in this article, they were known as: 

龍山堂石碑 (大清咸豐元年)
The Inscription of Long Shan Tang – First Year of Xian Feng Reign of Qing Dynasty (1850)

詒穀堂碑記 (光緒二十九年)
The Inscription of Yi Gu Tang – Twenty-ninth Year of Guang Xu Reign of Qing Dynasty (1904) 

THE INSCRIPTION OF LONG SHAN TANG

The Inscription of Long Shan Tang in Khoo Kongsi, Penang

Transcription of the Inscription of Long Shan Tang
English Translation: 
The Inscription of Long Shan Tang – First Year of Xian Feng Reign of Qing Dynasty (1850)

Alluding to a particular overseas Chinese custom, in the so-called (settlement of) Penang, which separated by vast oceans, guided by the far breeze. Herein, a foreign soil, a meticulous ceremony was strictly observed in the presence of clansmen, whom will decipher their best in order not to disgrace their literacy. However, the journey from their native to the city thence to build the hall, the ceremony shall meet prior respects to the ground and other unexceptional taboos. It was due to those who were sincere to build the association hall after years of established settlements, and also for their willingness. In the autumn, the Qiu clan of Xin Jiang village, Hai Cheng district bought a piece of land. It was formerly owned by a local British merchant; (the land) faced the sea and backed by a mountain, the building was great and grand, and very much to be resplendently expanded. Thus, backed by its height, it can be transformed (into Long Shan Tang). (It had) a splendour gate of royal hall, planted with courage and sowed the triumphs so the accomplishments will abundantly prosperous, (and) it was called Long Shan Tang. Whereby, the clansmen could (use it to) honour their forefathers as well as for wedding and other occasions. The hall shall be reserved for the elders based on rank, to cultivate respect (and) to restore harmony which included related morality and mischievous actions.  
The surname of the Long Shan Tang Qiu clan was originally belonged to the Quan Jun Long Shan Ceng clan. This (fact) was not forgotten as it was recorded that the (Ceng) family had adopted the (Qiu) surname. Those who were not from the Ceng clan of Long Shan, thus, they were not affiliated with the Qiu clan of Long Shan Tang of Xin Jiang village, Hai Cheng district. There shall be a provision for the worshiping of ancestors. In a particular event, the hall shall be able to raise funds and promote goodwill (among its clansmen). Among other things, a tribute must be paid to Da Shi Ye as well as with the offerings (were made) to receive blessings on this foreign lands. Therefore, to those who had funded the hall shall be recognised as the Headmen, and this put to rest on those who did not. These people (Headmen) were of no ordinary members, as they represented the entire (Qiu) clan. This was done as reminders for patriotism and remembrance (as the clan had reached) prosperity in this foreign land. For the future generations, (the hall) may be used as the ancestral hall of the Xin Jiang Qiu clan to record the clan’s accomplishments.
First Year of Xian Feng Reign of Qing Dynasty (October, 1850)
Headmen: Hua Dong, Shi Quan, Jun Wen, Jiang Shui, Jun Dui, Tai Pin, Jun Qi, Si Fang, Xin Mei, Zhao Bang
Directors: Xin Ju, Liu You, Jun Wen, Tian De 
Recorded by: Qiu Ceng Ming, the Imperial Scholar during 28th Year of Guang Xu Reign (1902)

THE INSCRIPTION OF YI GU TANG

The Inscription of Yi Gu Tang in Khoo Kongsi, Penang

Transcription of the Inscription of Yi Gu Tong

English Translation: 
The Inscription of Yi Gu Tang – Twenty-ninth Year of Guang Xu Reign of Qing Dynasty (1904) 
During the eighth day of fifth month in the fifteenth year of Dao Guang Reign of Qing Dynasty (1835), the hall was established with the donations from a group of people as listed on the left: 
Qiu Han Zi - $24   
Qiu Hua Yan, Qiu Shu Qi, Qiu Shuang Chun, Qiu Hua Long - $20 
Qiu Zhao Gong - $16
Qiu Tai Ye - $14
Qiu Zun Yang, Qiu Hua Liu, Qiu Yue Cheng, Qiu Rong Xia, Qiu Heng Quan - $12
Qiu Hua You, Qiu Hua Li, Qiu Song Bai, Qiu Tian Jiao, Jiu Yin Feng, Qiu Yue Zhao - $10  
Qiu Xun Piao, Qiu Jun Kui, Qiu Guang Cha, Qiu Ma Liang - $8
Qiu Jun Shang, Qiu Ming Jia, Qiu San Man, Qiu Hua An, Qiu Zeng Dian, Qiu Hua Que, Qiu He Shang, Qiu Tai Xi, Qiu Zhan Kui, Qiu Da Shang, Qiu Hua Deng, Qiu Dun Hou, Qiu Heng Lu, Qiu Yu Lu, Qiu Zi Xun, Qiu He Shang - $6
Qiu Hua Bao - $5 
Qiu Huang Zhi, Qiu Shu Hui, Qiu Jun Mi, Qiu Jun Xiang, Qiu Hou Hua, Qiu Hua Ju, Qiu Hua Shuang, Qiu Hua Teng, Qiu Hua Zuo, Qiu Qi Yong, Qiu Tai He - $4
Qiu Jun Long, Qiu Hua Shun, Qiu Hua Ran - $3
Qiu Jun Ri, Qiu Jun Bin, Qiu Jun Jian, Qiu Fu Yi, Qiu Jun Chang, Qiu Guang Han, Qiu Jun Qi, Qiu Jun Hua, Qiu Jun, Qiu Jun Yuan, Qiu Jun Yan, Qiu Jun Zhi, Qiu Hua Bin, Qiu He Shang, Qiu Hua Xiang, Qiu Hua Tan, Qiu Hua Ruo, Qiu Hua Shuang, Qiu Hua Xun, Qiu Kuan Rou, Qiu Hua He, Qiu Hua Dui, Qiu Hua Sheng, Qiu Wu Zhu, Qiu Hua Jiang, Qiu Hua Zhou, Qiu Hua Gen, Qiu Hua Ju, Qiu Tai Lun, Qiu Xian Ying, Qiu Wu Yi, Qiu Tai Ruo, Qiu Bao Long, Qiu Cheng Jiao, Qiu Si Ji, Qiu Tai Huan, Qiu Tai Bing, Qiu Tai Zhui, Qiu Tai Xue - $2
Qiu Jun Zhen, Qiu Xin He, Qiu Hua Jia, Qiu Shi Fang, Qiu Hua Fa, Qiu Tai Zuo, Qiu Tai Chang, Qiu Tai Yi, Qiu Guang Quan, Qiu Cheng Hao - $1
A total of 528 silver dollars.
Collected on 30th day of 5th month of the Bing Shen year (1836)
Under the collection of Wang Sun Da Ye (referring to the clan saint patron, the Noble named Cheah Aun).
The Yi Gu Tang of Penang branch was established in the autumn of fifteenth year of Dao Guang Reign (1835). The silver (dollars) donated by the early clansmen had been cautiously and conscientiously passed down without personal interests. It was for the purpose of making a successful foundation. Fearing for lost or (losing the) interest in remembering the ancestors’ benevolence.  Therefore, the original donors on the right were memorialised on this stone. Their establishments here were difficult to be witnessed or heard (in the future), thus, this record was the only way.       
The midsummer of twenty-ninth year of Guang Xu Reign (1904). 
Recorded by Zhe Qing, the Secretary of the Qiu and Ceng of Xin Jiang

CONCLUSION

From the translations of the two stones mentioned above. We could understand that the Chinese practice in epigraphy usually contains engraved information with great detail and accurate as possible. This is to ensure, the future generations could decipher the events and circumstances that took place.

In these particular Khoo Kongsi stones, we understand the reasons of its establishment and purposes. In order to provide greater details, the Inscription of Yi Gu Tang listed down the donors who had subscribed to its establishment. Many of the names mentioned on the stones were important figures in the history of Malaysia. Their pivotal role in the Chinese social and political influence had shaped the demography in Penang, Perak, Singapore, Phuket and Burma.

Through some of the information extracted from the stones we could intensify the information with other sources. For example:

1) The Inscription of Long Shan Tang

(a) There is a mention of the criteria in selecting and constructing the building.

The actual location is at Cannon Square, the land is backed with the Penang Hills on the west and facing the waterfront at Beach Street on the east. 

(b) There is a mention of the purchase of the land from a British, a further investigation reveals that:

The land area is a 97,035 square feet lot acquired in 1851 from David Brown, under the name Khoo Family Tua Sai Yah

(c) There is a mention of the reasons and purposes of the association establishment.

This has been incorporated into the Khoo Kongsi Constitution.

2) The Inscription of Yi Gu Tong

(a) There is a mention of an assembly of Khoo clansmen.

The 102 names inscribed shows an important fact of the Khoo clansmen population in Penang.

(b) The inscription shows the names of the early Khoo clansmen in Penang.

A study on the figure mentioned, indicates that most of them were community leaders and wealthy merchants. They were later influential in many of the British policies in the Malay States. 

This article appeared as a short review of my current research "A Brief History of the Khoo Clan in Penang." 


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Khoo Yang Tin 邱扬阵

KHOO YANG TIN

Khoo Yang Tin was born in 1857 in China, with ancestry in Sinkang Village, Hai Teng District, Fujian Province. He came to Singapore in the late 19th century and in 1892, he founded a rice trading business under the style chop Aik Chiang. 

Khoo Yang Tin’s business was affluent and diversed. He also invested in real estates and plantations with substantial investments in Saigon and other Southeast Asian countries. Khoo Yang Tin was best known for his role as a financier, where he held the directorship in the Oversea-Chinese Banking Cooperation (OCBC). The Oversea-Chinese Banking Cooperation Ltd. was formed in 1932 with the merger of three banks, Chinese Commercial Bank (est. 1912), Ho Hong Bank (est. 1917) and Oversea Chinese Bank (est. 1919). Khoo Yang Tin was known as its founding shareholder. In which the his family had a major role in behind. 

Khoo Yang Tin and his family lived in a humble live and shy from publicity. It is little known to public that he was a generous philanthropist, who had provided various financial aids to educational institutions and welfare organizations in both China and Singapore. The Khoo Yang Tin Scholarship was created by his descendant, Khoo Choon Tin in his honour for the Anglo-Chinese Junior College in Singapore. One of his sons, Khoo Teck Puat (1917 - 2007) had donated SG$50,000.00 to the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, Penang in 2002 for the establishment of the Khoo clan museum. 

Khoo Yang Tin died in 1943. He has 13 sons and nine daughters through his various wives. 

Yeo Kim Chiam
Wive:
Yeo Kim Chiam (1881 – 1983)

Sons:
Khoo Teck Soon
Khoo Teck Chuan
Khoo Teck Puat
Khoo Teck Imm 
Khoo Teck Quee

Daughters:
Khoo Tiam Tee
Khoo Ai Tee
Khoo Suat Ngoh
Khoo Suat Khim 

References:
The Straits Times, 31 March 1983, p. 39
The Straits Times, 6 October 1985, p. 10
The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 14 November 1914, p. 12
Lee, K.H. (2003). Dahles, H., et al. (Eds.). Capital and Knowledge in Asia: Changing Power Relations. (p. 167) 
Gomez, E.T. (1999). Chinese Business in Malaysia: Accumulation, Ascendance, Accommodation. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press (pp. 75-77)
Tan, Y.W. (2003). Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi: The History and Architecture. Penang: Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi (p. 48)

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA)

Tchan Chun Fook posting with the SCBA regalia
Source: Song, Ong Siang. (1923). One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore. London: John Murray

Singapore Branch
Founded on 17 August 1900 now known as Peranakan Association Singapore

List of Presidents
1900 - 1904 Tan Jiak Kim
1905 - 1907 Dr Lim Boon Keng
1913 - 1916 Koh San Hin
1917 - 1919 Lee Choon Guan
1920 - 1921 Dr Lim Boon Keng
1921 - Song Ong Siang
1924 - 1925 Wong Siew Qui (SQ Wong)
1926 - 1930 Wee Swee Teow
1930 - 1932 Dr Lim Han Hoe
1933 - 1939 Tay Lian Teck
Dr Yap Pheng Geck
1948 - 1992 Ong Tiang Wee (TW Ong)
1992 - 1996 Dr George Tay
1996 - 2009 Lee Kip Lee
2010 - present Peter Wee

**The "Singapore Branch" is still under research. Information will be updated from time to time.

The early members of SCBA in 1900
Source: Song, Ong Siang. (1923). One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore. London: John Murray

Malacca Branch
Founded on 25 September 1900 now known as Persatuan Peranakan Cina Melaka

List of Presidents
1900 - 1903 Lee Keng Liat
1904 - 1928 Chan Kang Swi
1929 - 1934 Tan Cheng Lock
1935 - 1938 Loh Kim Swi
1939 - 1941 Ong Bak Hin
1946 - 1950 Ee Yew Kim
1951 - 1954 Khoo Kim Lian
1955 - 1977 Ee Yew Lin
1978 - 1988 Khoo Peck Wan
1988 - 1993 Chin Thian Soo
1994 - 2007 Jimmy Khoo Seng Kiong
2008 - present Phua Jin Hock

Penang Branch
Founded in 1920 now known as Persatuan Peranakan Cina Pulau Pinang

List of Presidents
1920 - 1924 Lim Eu Toh
1925 - 1927 Quah Beng Kee
1928 - 1929 Lim Keong Lay
1930           Lim Eow Thoon
1931 - 1932 Heah Joo Seang
1933           Lim Keong Lay
1934           Lim Cheng Ean
1935           Koh Sin Hock
1936 - 1937 Lim Cheng Ean
1938           Cheah Inn Kiong
1939 - 1945 Dr Lim Chwee Leong
1946 - 1948 Lee Tiang Keng
1949           Lim Huck Aik
1950           Chew Boon Ee
1951 - 1952 Ong Joo Sun
1953 - 1960 Heah Joo Seang
1961 - 1982 Koh Sin Hock
1983 - 1986 Ang Cheow Kooi
1987           Law Joo Keun
1988 - 2009 Dato' Seri Khoo Keat Siew
2010 - present Dato' Tan Gin Soon

Friday, 1 May 2015

Sir Run Run Shaw 邵逸夫


Sir Run Run Shaw, GBM, Kt, CBE
Sir Run Run Shaw as he is known in the West was born in 1907 in Ningbo, China as Shao Ren Leng. Run Run Shaw was the youngest of seven children of Shaw Yuh Hsuen 邵玉軒 (1867 - 1920) and Wang Shun Xiang (1871 - 1939). He was widely known among Chinese diaspora for the Chinese entertainment industry with a Hong Kong-based television station, Television Broadcasts Ltd (TVB).

Run Run Shaw spent his childhood mostly in Shanghai, and received English education from the Shanghai YMCA School. Run Run Shaw career began in 1925, when he joined his eldest brother Runje Shaw's film company in Shanghai. Two years later he left Shanghai for Singapore to join his another brother, Runme Shaw's business involving distributing films in Malaya and Singapore. During the Japanese Occupation, the Shaw brothers' studio in Shanghai was badly destroyed, thus forcing the entire operations relocated to Hong Kong, where they were known as Shaw Brothers Studios. 

Throughout 1940s until 1970s, the Shaw brothers were collectively known in both Malaya and Singapore as the largest proprietors in cinemas. Almost every Malayan towns had cinemas associated with the Shaws. In 1957, Run Run Shaw returned to Hong Kong and focussing mainly in Chinese entertainment. He reorganised the company and setup a permanent film production site at Clearwater Bay known as Shaw Movie Town. The Shaw brothers also ventured in producing Western films when competition became fierce in the 1970s. By the millennium, the Shaw brothers sold their collection of 760 classic productions to Celestial Pictures Ltd, and invested USD180 million project on film production facilities at Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong. 

In his later years, Run Run Shaw was known as a generous philanthropist. He had donated more than USD15 billion through his Sir Run Run Shaw Charitable Trust and the Shaw Foundations. He also founded the Shaw Prize, to award scientists in three research areas, astronomy, mathematics, and lift and medical sciences for their important discoveries and contributions towards human development.

Run Run Shaw died peacefully on 7 January 2014, leaving behind his wife, four children, nine grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. His funeral was attended by various Chinese Statesmen, including China's President Xi Jinping. He was cremated at the Cape Collinson Crematorium in Chai Wan, Hong Kong.

Wives:
Lily Wong Mee-chun (1902 - 1987)
Mona Fong Yat-wa (b. 1931)

Sons:
Shaw Vee Meng 邵維銘 (b. 1938)
Harold Shaw Vee Chung 邵維鍾

Daughters:
Violet Shaw So Man 邵素雯
Dorothy Shaw So Wan 邵素雲

Siblings:
Runje Shaw 邵仁傑
Runde Shaw 邵仁隸
Tan Sri (Dr) Runme Shaw 邵仁枚 (d. 1985)