Thursday, 29 December 2011

Cheah Choon Seng 謝春生


Cheah Choon Seng or Tjia Tioen Sen (spelled in Dutch) was born in 1848 in Pontianak, Indonesia and received Chinese education. He was also known as Cheah Meng Chi (謝夢池) and Hsie Yung Guang (謝榮光). He married daughter of Chong Hi, the Burgermeester (Mayor) of Pontianak. With the help from his father-in-law, during his early time, Cheah Choon Seng was a contractor supplying food and daily provisions for the Dutch East Indies Government. For eight years he secured various government contracts in Pontianak, before moved to Kota Raja (now Banda Acheh) and took the contracts for railroad constructions and other government contracts. Cheah Choon Seng also engaged in opium, liquor and gambling farm interests in those Dutch colonies.

He was appointed Lieutenant of China and served the position for 21 years before given the title Kapitan. During his time in Dutch East Indies, Cheah Choon Seng was the catalyst in forming goodwill and friendship bonds between the Chinese and Dutch governments. He was decorated with the Ster voor Trouw en Verdienste (Gold Star Loyalty and Merit)  for his significant and meritorious services rendered to the Dutch Government. 

Cheah Choon Seng was the founder of Deli Bank in Medan and became the Managing Director of the firm. He also owned considerably property at Kota Raja and several parts in the Dutch colony. In 1895, Cheah Choon Seng was appointed as the third Chinese Vice-Consul to Penang. He took this post seriously, where in 1897, he ceased all his business in Dutch East Indies and passed it to Leong Mok On. In return, he focused his task as the Chinese government representative in the Southeast Asia. 

Cheah Choon Seng who was then a well-known Hakka Chinese merchant, retired from the government post in 1903 and handed it to his son-in-law, Leong Fee. But had been reappointed as Acting Chinese Vice-Consul to Penang from 1906 to 1907. In the British colony, Cheah Choon Seng took great interest in tin mining. He owned the Tambun mines in Perak and Bentong mines in Selangor. He was also an active member in the social circle in Penang, where he joined the Penang Chinese Town Hall and various Chinese associations and co-founded the Chung Hua School in Penang. Cheah Choon Seng had one son, four daughters and three adopted sons. He died on 4 February 1916 at his Penang residence, 8 Leith Street, and was buried at his ancestral village in Songkou (嵩口镇), Meixian County of Guangdong.

Cheah Choon Seng's mansion at 8 Leith Street, Penang was situated next to Cheong Fatt Tze's mansion, it was later demolished to make way for adjoining Northam Road and Farquhar Street. The legacy of Cheah Choon Seng in supporting Chinese education was passed to one of his grandsons, Cheah Sinn Kee. Where the Cheah Sinn Kee Shield was founded to support Chinese schools sport events in Penang.

On 31 March 1912, Cheah Choon Seng made his will and appointed Cheah Hee Nyan as the will executor and trustee.  

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Cheah Choo Yew 谢自友

Cheah Choo Yew CH, JP

Cheah Choo Yew was born in 1841 to Cheah Yam with ancestry in Sek Tong, Fujian. Cheah Yam or also known as Cheah Hun Yam was an early settler in Penang, in around 1750s, when the Colony was founded by Sir Francis Light. Cheah Yam first settled at Bagan Dalam, Province Wellesley as an angler, before moved to Penang. By then he was already a successful merchant. During the early time, he owned two houses and a shop lot in Penang and was then a wealthy man where his property worth 2,700 Spanish dollars. Cheah Yam soon recognized as the leader for the Cheah clansmen, and in 1801 he acquired a building at Armenian Street to form the Cheah ancestral temple and housed the Patron Saints Hock Haw of Sek Tong. 

In 1820, the under the name of the Cheah temple, a property was purchased and named the Jee Lye Hock Haw Kongsi. Cheah Yam died in 1845 and was then a well-established man among the Chinese community in the Colony. His active involvement in assisting and concerning the welfare of Cheah clansmen in Penang was passed to his wife, Ong Sin Neoh. 

In 1858, Ong Sin Neoh and her son, Cheah Choo Yew founded the Cheah Kay Sek Tong Seah Hock Haw Kong Kongsi (Cheah Clan Temple) at Armenian Street, the establishment of the temple cost 12,367 Spanish dollars. The construction work commenced in 1858 and ended in 1873. Cheah Choo Yew continued the work of his parents and in 1901 he acquired a 12-acre land at Mount Erskine and used as the burial grounds for the Cheah clansmen. 

Cheah Choo Yew commenced his early life at Langkat, Sumatra, and was for about two years trading in small sailing ships from one port to another. He was afterwards the government licensee for Opium Farming in Deli, Sumatra, where he engaged the business for about 17 years. Cheah Choo Yew partnered with Khaw Joo Choe managed to the Opium and Liquor Farm in Thailand and Penang, and in 1906 he partnered with Lim Ah Siang in the Farm interest. He also managed the Gambling Farm in Siam for three years, a gambling farm at Hong Kong and also the Singapore Gambling Farm for about 12 years. 

Cheah Choo Yew was a member of the Penang Advisory Board, Managing Director of Khean Guan Insurance Company Ltd., shareholder of the Eastern Shipping Company. In 1919, he founded a Chinese school in the Cheah Clan Temple, where the school ended its service in 1942. Cheah Choo Yew was awarded the Certificate of Honour in 1928 for his invaluable public services and was made a Justice of Peace. He died in 1931 in Penang. The family obligation to serve the Cheah Clan Temple was continued by his son Cheah Seng Khim, a prominent politician in Penang during the 1950s.

1) Lim Soh Yew
2) Lim Chye Yam
3) Lim Hoon Neoh

1) Cheah Seng Yean (b. February 1886)
2) Cheah Seng Khim (b. April 1906)

Cheah Geok Suat (b. February 1913)

Cheah Chen Eok 谢增煜


Cheah Chen Eok was born in 1852 in Penang and was the only son of Cheah Sim Hean. He was educated at the Penang Free School and first worked at the Messrs Boon Tek & Co. and later to the Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London and China of Penang branch. Where he served the firm for eight years. His father, Cheah Sim Hean was born in China with ancestry in Chang Tai District, Fujian. 

In 1872, Cheah Chen Eok married daughter of Foo Tye Sin and had six sons and three daughters. With financial support from his father-in-law, in 1876, he commenced business in partnership with Foo Boon Sean, his brother-in-law, under the firm Chen Eok & Co., principally engaged as a ship chandler and trading general goods. After six years of prosperous business, he joined the Opium & Liquor Farm with interests in Penang and Singapore. In 1902, he became the Superintendent for the farm, backing by his vast experience in business affairs. In the farm business where he had engaged for almost 25 years had made him a great success to-be-told. The farm was one of the biggest income revenues for the colony and had employed more than 200 workers. 

Cheah Chen Eok’s business by then had expanded to tin mining and plantations. Besides business concern, he was active in playing pivotal role in public affairs. He was a Justice of Peace, Municipal Commissioner of Penang, Visitor to goals and hospitals, member of the Chinese Advisory Board, a trustee of the Penang Free School and member of all local clubs. Cheah Chen Eok regarded himself as a loyal British subject and had great interest in English educations. In 1897, when Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, he offered to fully fund the erection of a clock tower in commemorating the event. The clock tower was constructed at King Edward Place, costing him $35,000. Cheah Chen Eok died in 1922 at the age of 70 years.

Cheah Chen Eok in his youth

Monday, 26 December 2011

Cheah Cheang Lim 謝昌林


Cheah Cheang Lim was born on 6 December 1875 in Taiping. He was the sixth son of Cheah Boon Hean and Foo Kang Nyong. His grandfather left Shitan, Fujian and first migrated to Penang in the early 1800s and commenced in pepper and cloth trading under the firm Chop Eng Huat. Business rival in Penang during the early years was not competitive, thus, he expanded the business to plantation and was the importer and exporter of goods to and fro China with his own vessels. His second son, Cheah Boon Hean took charge of his vessels and traded porcelain ware and cloth in Sumatra. Cheah Boon Hean later commenced mining interest in Taiping and was then well established man in Perak. 

Cheah Cheang Lim was educated at King Edward VII School and later worked at the Taiping Post Office (1890 - 1894), as his father’s business was in-charged by his elder brother, Cheah Cheang Hooi. On 14 November 1896, he married Khoo Bai Hua of Penang (10 October 1878 – 6 March 1930) and had one son and three daughters. His son was Cheah Gim Leng, born in 1902. In 1894, Cheah Cheang Lim became private secretary to his uncle, Foo Choo Choon of Lahat and became appointed assistant manager in 1896 and general manager and attorney in 1900. He was the owner of the 50 acres Lahat Kiri Mines, with about 300 working force. 

Cheah Cheang Lim also acquired one of the richest tin mines in Perak in Tronoh for his uncle and by 1899 was appointed Manager of the Perak and Penang Mining Company Ltd. Cheah Cheang Lim also had tin mines in Sungei Besi, Selangor. He was the Chairman of Ipoh Foundry Ltd and Director of the Tanglin Rubber Estate Syndicate Ltd. In 1904, he donated a land in Chamberlain Road, Ipoh for the building of the Chinese Maternity Hospital. 

Cheah Cheang Lim was the Treasurer of Perak Anti-Opium Society, a committee member of the Perak Literary and Debating Society, and Ipoh Gymkhana Club, and a trustee of Cheah Kongsi, Penang. He also founded the Straits Chinese British Association and the Chinese Widows and Orphans Fund in 1903. In 1919, he founded the Cheah Boon Hean Scholarship for his alma mater in Taiping. 

In 1906, the international commodity price for rubber hiked drastically, and many investors turned to rubber plantations instead of tin, Cheah Cheang Lim who had been ventured into rubber plantation even before the over-demand, had made him a big fortune when the price went to its peak in 1910. He was then in the Board of Directors of the Gunong Rapat Syndicate Ltd. His business affairs were then managed by his brother, Cheah Cheang Hee and his brother-in-law, Khoo Soon Keng. Cheah Cheang Lim was given a seat in the Federal Council in 1927 and was a strong promoter for the restoration of Queen’s Scholarships and took great interest in securing the market price for rubber and tin. 

Cheah Cheang Lim had residences in Penang and Ipoh, he died on 15 November 1948. His famous residence was at 13 Leith Street, Penang.

Beh Cheng Chuah


Beh Cheng Chuah was born on 28 April 1919 in Penang to Beh Cheng Siew. He was educated at St George’s Institution, Taiping from 1926 to 1936. After the World War II, he was employed under the British Military Administration as Assistant Stenographer and was stationed under the Indian Divisions and later became the Assistant to the Brigade Commander of Commonwealth force in British Malaya. 

He served the armed force for almost 17 years before entered into his father’s business in 1963 and got married in the same year. He was the President of the Old Georgians' Association (1967 – 2004), Chairman of the St. George’s Institution Board of Governors, and founder of the Beh Cheng Siew Memorial Scholarship in 1969 and Beh Cheng Chuah Scholarship in 1993, respectively; both scholarships were endowed to his alma mater. 

His philanthropic work to his former school had earned him the Patron of the Old Georgians' Association. Beh Cheng Chuah had two sons, and was the proprietor of Bersatu Property Centre, a real estate agency in Taiping. One of his sons, Beh Yang Toh who took the management of his business was the Vice President of Malaysian Institute of Estate Agent, President of Rotary Club, Taiping, and a coordinator for Taiping Peace Initiative.

Beh Cheng Siew


Beh Cheng Siew was born in 1883. He was a well-known businessman in Taiping and had landed property in Perak and Penang. Beh Cheng Siew engaged mainly in rubber plantation business in Taiping and owned various estates in Perak and Penang. He married Khor Siew Kin and had two sons and two daughters. His children were Beh Cheng Chuah, Beh Khoon Chuan, Beh Sai Keow and Beh Gaik Keow. 

Beh Cheng Siew died on 13 March 1966 at his town house 74 Barrack Road, Taiping. His daughter, Beh Gaik Keow was married to Dr Leow Hock Chin, an early ophthalmic optician in Singapore. Upon his death, his eldest son Beh Cheng Chuah took charge of the family business, while second son, Beh Khoon Chuan was a former teacher at Hua Lian High School, Taiping. All his children were English educated. In 1969, Beh Cheng Siew Scholarship was established by his eldest son and endowed to St. George’s School, Taiping, the first recipient was Wong Yin Chong.   

Boey Lian Chin 梅连振

Boey Lian Chin was the first Chinese to manage a Chinese-owned-Western-styled banking institution in the Straits Settlements. He was a Managing Director of Kwong Yik Banking Company Limited, Singapore, and the first Kwong Yik's manager. Under his term in office as the first Chinese bank manager, the Kwong Yik Bank which was established on 16 December 1903 was a prominent financial institution in the colony, but shortly afterwards was liquidated (1915). 

Born in Singapore, Boey Lian Chin’s father, Boey Ah Foo 梅阿富 was among the early settlers in the colony. He was a well-known contractor in Singapore and had engaged in several government contracts, including the erection of the flagstaff and building shophouses at Rochore Road, North Bridge Road, and Malabar Street. In 1919, his shophouses were auctioned at the value worth $800,000. Prior to his commencement in building industry, Boey Ah Foo was a keen competitor with Messrs. Whampao & Co. in the bakery business. Boey Ah Foo was presented by the British Government with a gold watch and chain as a token of appreciation for his services. And when he died on 15 May 1889, he left an estate valued over one million dollars to Boey Lian Chin. The Boey family has its ancestry in Duanfen, Taishan, southwest of Guangdong Province, China.

Boey Lian Chin’s experience in finance sector was no ordinary, in his early days he conducted a Chinese pawnshop known as Chop Tong Guan at 91 North Bridge Road. He joined the Board of Directors of Kwong Yik Bank and later charged for embezzlement, when the firm was in the process of liquidation. He was a member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Po Leung Kuk, but his presence in the society was not overwhelming, thus he was obliged to resign from that society. His residence in Singapore was at 530, North Bridge Road. Boey Lian Chin had four sons and two daughters. In 1913 he was declared a bankrupt.

*1st revision on 7 February 2013

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Chang On Siew 鄭安秀

Chang On Siew or also known as Chan On Siew was a well-known tin miner in Lahat, Perak, born in China to Chang Kwei Long. Chang Kwei Long first came to Penang in the early 1850s and had worked in various interests before landed in tin mining. Thirty years later, he had been a well-established man where he sponsored his son Chang On Siew to Perak.

Chang On Siew first lived at Menglembu and then to Lahat. He was the owner of the Rotan Dahan Mines at Pengkalan Kacha, where more than 400 men were employed in the mining operations. His mines at Lahat were managed by a European Engineer, A. Hamilton.

His story in the Katcha mines was intriguing and worth to-be-told. The tin deposit in Katcha was rich, but due to its location near hilly areas, many miners were disinterested to develop it, because it was difficult in installing water supply to the mines. Chang On Siew was the first miner credited for his successful method of working alluvial hill land. He first solved the problem by installing water tank on top of the hill by using water pumps. The water from the peak will be channelled downhill, but this will cause ponding. So water will then re-pump again up to the peak to avoid ponding. This repetitive circular process is called hydraulic mining method. Something that, Chang On Siew discovered without knowing about it.

Besides tin mines, Chang On Siew who had shares in several mining companies also ventured into rubber plantations. One of his rubber estates at Kota Bahru was about 3,000 acres. In 1905, the price of rubber hiked to 6s 4d per pound making a significant modal return to rubber investors. In 1906, Chang On Siew sold his Kota Bahru Estate to an English company. Shortly afterwards, in 1908, the international commodity price for tin went down seriously and many miners suffered substantial loss. However, Chang On Siew who had sold off his rubber estate was able to secure his mines from the crisis. He was then known as a wise investor. His eldest and third sons, Chang Mook Yen and Chang Sen Yan took charge of his business in Malaya while his second son Chang Tey Yan managed the business in China.

Chan Yap Thong

Chan Yap Thong

Chan Yap Thong was born in Rangoon to Chan Thye. At the age of eight he was sent back to China to receive Chinese education. His father, Chan Thye was born in China and was a contractor in Rangoon. Chan Thye moved to Perak and ventured into tin mining business under his firm Tai Lee Yik Kee in 1877. His tin mines employed about 10,000 labours. Chan Yap Thong passed the Chinese examination of county-level and became Xiucai (秀才). When he was 31 years old, his father died and forced him to return to Perak and took over the family business. Chan Yap Thong had endowed a sum of money to the Kong Chee Hospital, Kong Hin Sin Tong (Home for the Poor) and a Chinese school, all in Guangdong, China. In return he was conferred by the Emperor of China the title Lock Sim Hoe See which means “a generous-hearted and honourable gentleman.”

Chan Teow Lam 曾兆南


Chan Teow Lam was a prominent member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, where he was the first elected secretary of the Chamber since its establishment in 1906, a position that had him served for three years before passed to Lim Kwee Eng. Chan Teow Lam was born in Swatow, China and came to Singapore in 1877. He ventured into trading gambier and pepper in Johor. Chan Teow Lam also engaged into tea trade interest in China, a business where his father started off first. He lived at Hill Street, Singapore, where his business interest was operated at 5 Fisher Street. Chan Teow Lam had four sons and four daughters, where all his children received English education. His sons were Chan Siow Kee, Chan Siow Kew, Chan Siow Chee and Chan Siow Choe.