Showing posts with label Lim Eow Thoon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lim Eow Thoon. Show all posts

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Lim Leng Cheak & Family

ONE of the most powerful Chinese families in the Kedah state was of course, Lim Leng Cheak and sons. Lim Leng Cheak was born in 1850 in Penang. He was the son of Lim It Kim (d. 1873). Lim Leng Cheak’s family was originated from the coastal village of Sandu in Xiamen Island, Fujian Province. In the beginning, he was employed as a clerk in a mercantile office. A few years later he commenced business on his own account by commencing a general store. By careful management he was able to save a little capital and went to Aceh, Indonesia, where he entered into partnership with another Chinese merchant. The partners purchased two sailing vessels and did a large trade in carrying pepper from Aceh to Penang and there disposing of it. Later, they ran a fleet of steamships between the same ports and when his partner retired from business in 1879, Lim Leng Cheak took over the entire concern himself. At the invitation of the Sultan of Kedah, which whom he was on terms of cordial friendship, he opened up a new enterprise, a tapioca estate in the Kulim district of that potentate’s territory. The Sultan also granted him a twenty years’ monopoly in 1888, when he established a rice mill in Alor Star, Kedah. This privilege was extended to his successors and was enjoyed by the Lim family in monopolizing the rice business, earning him as the biggest rice dealer in the Malay States. In addition to these operations, Lim Leng Cheak also planted coffee and coconuts in Kulim. In 1893, he started a rice mill in Penang and became a director of the Singapore Opium and Spirit Farm. When Lim Leng Cheak died at the age of 51 on 16 February 1901, he left an extensive and varied business of the first importance. His family consisted of fifteen children, with eight sons and seven daughters. One of his sons, Lim Eow Hong was the managing executor of the business. It is said that Lim Leng Cheak’s father made a fortune quite early. It was even said that Lim It Kim’s wife came from a Thai noble family. Lim Leng Cheak had at least seven wives, distributed between Kedah, Penang, Ipoh, southern Thailand and Kuala Lumpur. His principal wife, Tan Say Seang (陳西祥) was a generous philanthropist in Penang, in which she was a founder of a Chinese girls school in Penang and became patron for several temples in Penang.  

Mr & Mrs Lim Leng Cheak
  1. Lim Eow Hong 
  2. Lim Eow Thoon (married Goh Saw Chooi & Lim Gaik Lee) 
  3. Lim Eow Hooi (married Yeoh Saw Geok) 
  4. Lim Eow Teng 
  5. Lim Eow See 
  6. Lim Eow Cheng (married Ooi Seok Heang in 1917)
  1. Lim Kwee Sean (Mrs Goh Boon Keng) 
  2. Lim Kwee Guan (Mrs Cheah Tat Jin) 
  3. Lim Kwee Hiang (Mrs Saw Hui Eow)

Lim Eow Hong was the eldest son of Lim Leng Cheak. He was born in 1878 and educated at Penang Free School. Besides, English education, Lim Eow Hong also received Chinese education in Penang. At the age of 17, he became an assistant to his father and four years later he was appointed as manager at his father’s firm. His second brother, Lim Eow Thoon also involved in the family business, where he took over the management of rice mill in Penang. The Messrs Lim Leng Cheak was the owner of the Chip Bee Rice Mill in Alor Star, Chip Hong Bee Mill (Bridge Street, Penang) and a large tapioca mill in Kulim, Kedah. They conveyed their product in their own fleet of steamers. The tapioca estate in Kulim estate was run by thousand of workers. The Lim family also imported large quantities of paddy and prepared both white and boiled rice in their mills. These products were supplied to Kedah, Prai, and the Federated Malay States besides exporting to Ceylon, India and Mauritius. They sold sugar locally and tapioca they sent to London, Havre, Nantes and other European ports. Messrs John Buttery & Co. was their London based agent. Lim Eow Hong was one of the leading Chinese leaders, committee member of Penang Free School, director of the Straits Echo, director of Penang Opium & Spirti Farm, eastern Shipping & Co., Great Eastern Insurance and Criterion Press, committee member of Penang Association and co-owner of Penang Foundry. His eldest son received education at Dollar, Scotland.

Lim Eow Thoon was the second son of Lim Leng Cheak. He was born on 6 December 1886 in Penang. After completing his schooling in Penang Free School he joined his father’s firm as an assistant and since 1901 he engaged with his father’s business and became the managing partner of Chop Chip Hong Bee & Co. owned by Leng Cheak & Co. which was one of largest rice and oil mills in Malaya. Besides the rice mills business, he also co-owned the Batu Puteh estate and other estates under his father’s will. Lim Eow Thoon was a member of the Chinese Recreation Club; he was an active sportsman, where he played tennis, football, cricket and billiards. Lim Eow Thoon was a keen patron of the Penang Turf Club; he owned the well known racing house, The Gunner which won two gold cups in 1906 and several other racehorses. On 4 March 1904, he married Goh Saw Chooi, the second daughter of Goh Ewe Keong of Penang. Lim Eow Thoon’s private residence was at No.278, Penang Road, Penang. His eldest son was Lim Seong Wah. Lim Eow Thoon died in 1976 at age of 90 years. 

Lim Kwee San (Mrs Goh Boon Keng)
Born in Penang, Lim Kwee Sean was the eldest daughter of Lim Leng Cheak and Tan Say Seang. She married Goh Boon Keng in 1894. Goh Boon Keng was the fourth son of Goh Oon Kee (d. 1877). He was born in 1872 in Penang and received English education at the Penang Free School, where he attained a gold medal in 1887 and four scholarships. Upon the completion of his studies, Goh Boon Keng worked at the Merchantile Bank for three years and later joined the firm, Messrs Behn, Meyer & Co. In 1896, Goh Boon Keng commenced on his own account as general revenue farmer in the Malay states. He also involved in the business of opium, gambling, tin mining and other farms, as well as a superintendent and general managing partner of the rice mills in Bridge Street, Penang. Goh Boon Keng who acted as his father-in-law’s representative, had travelled extensively in Europe, Asia and had explored all the Malay states. He also involved actively in various social activities; Goh Boon Keng was a committee member of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Recreation Club of Penang, the Penang Literary Association, a director of the Straits Echo & Co. the Goh family’s residence was located at No. 159, Beach Street, Georgetown, Penang.

Lim Kwee Guan (Mrs Cheah Tat Jin)

Lim Kwee Guan was the third daughter of Lim Leng Cheak. She married Cheah Tat Jin in May 1906. Born in 1886 in Penang, Cheah Tat Jin was the second son of Cheah Chen Eok and grandson of Cheah Sim Hean. He was educated at the St. Xavier’s Institution, Penang. Cheah Tat Jin worked for his father’s Pinang Opium and Liquor Farm, besides being a partner with the firm Keng Bee, a shipping company. He was a member of the Penang Turf Club and the Chinese Recreation Club. Cheah Tat Jin and family lived at Eokham, Penang.

The decline of Lim Leng Cheak’s family

Lim Leng Cheak in the Official Mandarin Attire

The founding father of Leng Cheak & Co., Lim Leng Cheak died in 1901 and after his demise, the family business continued to expand in the 1900s, at least superficially. Under the terms of the will of Lim Leng Cheak, the estate was divided into 20 shares. His widow, Tan Say Seang received 8/20 and the four sons 3/20 each. The four daughters were provided with money legacies of $30,000 each. The fourth son Lim Eow Teng died on 4 July 1916 and although he had been married he left no issue. Therefore, the shares were divided into 17 shares instead of 20 and distributed among the widow Tan Say Seang and three sons, Lim Eow Hong, Lim Eow Thoon and Lim Eow Hooi. The will stipulated that its provisions should come into effect only when the youngest son had attained the age of 21. The widow Tan Say Seang, Lim Eow Hong, Goh Boon Keng (the eldest son-in-law) and Lim Phee Cheak (Lim Leng Cheak’s brother) were appointed his executors and trustees. However, during their lifetime, Goh Boon Keng and Lim Phee Cheak took no active part in the administration of the will. As the widow, Tan Say Seang was illiterate, while the other sons were minors, hence, Lim Eow Hong was appointed to manage the estate on her behalf during the period prior to 1918. The family business had found itself in financial hot water, which led the matriarch, Tan Say Seang to lose confidence in the management of her eldest son Lim Eow Hong. As their executive manager, it was said that Lim Eow Hong had been playing ducks and drakes with the estate and also had been misappropriating certain estate property to say nothing about overdrawing his share. Up to the year 1918, it was estimated that Lim Eow Hong had overdrawn sums on the estate amounting to between $300,000 and $500,000, a sum excess of his own shares in the company.

Lim Eow Hong
Lim Eow Thoon
Lim Kwee San
Tan Say Seang and family