Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Choong Cheng Kean 庄清建


Choong Cheng Kean was born on 16 June 1857 in Xianglu Village, Amoy to Choong Chuo. Being the only son of a poor family, he first came to Tongkah in 1875 and worked at a provision shop. It was shortly afterwards he moved to Kedah and worked at a provision shop. It was in Kedah he married his employer’s daughter Lim Gek Kee in 1881, and was also known as Lim Cheng Kean. Though he first married a wife in China named Teoh Kuan Neo, but the couple had no issue and lived all her life in China had adopted several children. And when Choong Cheng Kean died in 1916 she was disgraced for not named in the Will of Choong Cheng Kean’s Estate. Choong Cheng Kean’s success was through the help from his father-in-law in Kedah. Choong Cheng Kean first started his own provision shop at Alor Star, and had then befriended with the Regent of Kedah, Tunku Abdul Aziz who often stopped by his place for drinking and gambling habits. It was through this friendship ties with the Kedah Royalties, Choong Cheng Kean enjoyed a long term paddy rice monopoly in the state, including held the opium, liquor and gambling syndicates. When his career thrived, he adopted several secondary wives distributing over Penang, Kedah and Thailand. Following with his successful career, in 1894 he built the Choong Mansion in his ancestral village. And 13 years later he funded the construction of the Choong Clan Temple. Choong Cheng Kean was a shareholder of Eastern Shipping Company and several other Chinese companies in Penang and Kedah. His sons were Choong Lye Hock , Choong Lye Hin and Choong Lye Teong. Eldest son, Choong Lye Hock married Lim Liew Saik (1884 – 1936) and they had two sons and four daughters. One of Choong Lye Hock’s sons, Choong Soo Ghee was the appointed trustee of his Estate and in 1940 one of his daughters, Choong Sim Gay married to Chua Keat Siew eldest son of Chua Lye Hock. When Choon Cheng Kean died on 23 June 1916, he was then a well-established millionaire in Penang, where his amassed wealth was able to pass down five generations after him.

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Chinese Kapitans In Malay States 马来亚华人甲必丹

According to historical records, the Kapitan post was originally created during the Portuguese and Dutch rules in Malacca and the Dutch East Indies . The then colonialists needed a smooth administration in their colonies, but the fact was they were unable to do so without the help from the local residents. And for the reason that their colonies had the status as international trading ports, thus, merchants from all around the globe will have trade there. As a solution to enhance the better understanding between the colonists and the trading community, the post of Kapitan or also known as today's 'ambassador' was established to represent the county they belonged to. The Kapitan is not only limited to the Chinese from China, but there are also Kapitans for India, Arab, Java, etc.

This Kapitan system was later adopted by the British in their early administration in the Malay states and colonies in the Straits Settlements. The office of the Kapitan of China was designated as the representative of the Chinese business community outside mainland China. The Kapitan of China means the chief for all Chinese, and only had the power of attorney in a particular state in overseas. For instance, in Malaysia, the state of Kedah, Perak, Kuala Lumpur (for Selangor), Sungei Ujong (Ngeri Sembilan), Malacca, etc. had their own choice of Chinese leaders. The Kapitan post was elected by the Chinese business community and appointed by the colonial ruler on behalf of the Malay Sultans and Rajahs. The Kapitan will be given an official seal (chop) to perform his duty and styled after the Imperial Qing court. 

During this time, the Kapitan was responsibled in collecting taxes from the Chinese merchants on behalf for the local Malay rulers. The Kapitan also has the power of attorney in governing and making laws for his own settlements. The Kapitan's formal attire was in accord to the Imperial Qing Dynasty Mandarin Officer style, where a resemblance of a headgear with a peacock feather and a dark silk robe with ranking symbol. This unique post was later abolished in the early 1900s. However, today the Kapitan post still exist in the Borneo Island, particularly in Sarawak.

(1572 - 1617) Tay Hong Yong (Tay Kie Ki) - Appointed by the Portuguese)
(1614 - 1688) Li Wei King (Koon Chang)
(1662 - 1708) Lee Chiang Hou (Chong Kian)
(1643 - 1718) Chan Ki Lock (Chan Lak Kua)
(1725 - 1765) Chan Hian Kway (Kwang Hwee)
(1703 - 1784) Tan Seng Yong
(1748 - 1794) Tan Ki Hou (Siang Lian)
(1750 - 1802) Chua Su Cheong (Tok Ping)
(1771 - 1882) Chan Yew Liang (Keng Sin)

(1787 - 1826) Koh Lay Huan 辜禮歡 (the first Kapitan for Penang)
(1894 - 1908) Cheah Ching Hui 謝清輝
(1908 - 1918) Cheah Yong Chong 謝榮宗

(1858 - 1861) Hiu Siew 丘秀
(1862 - 1868) Liu Ngim Kong 刘壬光
(1868 - 1885) Yap Ah Loy (Yap Tet Loy) 叶亚来
(1885 - 1889) Yap Ah Shak (Yap Chee Ying) 叶致英
(1889 - 1902) Yap Kwan Seng 叶观盛

(1736 - 1820) Teo Tioh Eng (Zhang Zhaorong)
(1782 - ?) Kow Geok Seng
(1798 - 1847) Lim Eng Huat
(1810 - ?) Kow Teck Lee
Low Kian Tee
(? - 1899) Wee Teck Siew
Kow Swee Leng

(1845 - 1857) Tan Kee Soon (Kapitan of Tebrau)
(1859 - 1869) Tan Cheng Hung (Kapitan of Tebrau)
(1869 - ?) Seah Tee Heng (Kapitan of Sekudai)
(1870 - 1875) Tan Hiok Nee (Major China / Kapitan of Johor Bahru) 
Lim Ah Siang
(? - 1917) Lin Jin He
Lee Lei Kam (The only Kapitan of Perlis)

(1830 - ?) Tan Ah Hun 陈亚汉
(1875 - 1900) Chung Keng Quee 鄭景貴
(1875 - 1899) Chin Ah Yam (Chin Seng Yam)
(1886 - 1906) Khaw Boo Aun @ Khaw Ewe Kuang
(1930 -1935) Chung Thye Phin 鄭大平

Leung Cheng Wat (Wee Chai)

(? - 1922) Wee Hee Hoon (Kapitan of Bagan Api Api in Dumai, Riau), he died at the age of 46, leaving behind seven children. 
(? - 1924) Oey Teng Kiang (Kapitan of Palembang, Sumatra)
Wee Leong Tan (Kapitan of Selat Panjang, Sumatra)
(1915 - 1925) Wee Boon Teng (Kapitan of Selat Panjang, Sumatra)
Foo Pak Yin (Kapitan of Brunei)
Koh Heen (Kapitan of Sandakan)
Oei Leong Tan (Kapitan of Bengkalis)
Ng Eng Kee (Kapitan of Singapore) he had four sons (Quee Gam, Quee Lam, Quee Hock and Quee Teng) and 23 grandchildren

Yap Ah Loy
Kapitan Yap Ah Loy (or Yap Tet Loy) was the third Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, served from 1868 until 1885 and was a member of the notorious triad of Hai San. Born on 14 March 1837 in Dan Shui Village, Guiye District, Huizhou Prefecture, Guangdong Province, Yap Ah Yap was belonged to the Huizhou Hakka clan.


Yap Hon Chin (Yap Ah Loy's son)
Yap Loong Shoon (Yap Ah Loy's son)

Yap Ah Shak
Kapitan Yap Ah Shak (or Yap Chee Ying) was the fourth Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur. Yap Ah Shak of Hakka origin was born in Huizhou Prefecture, Guangdong Province in China. His career as Chinese Kapitan had begun in Sungei Ujong (now the State of Negri Sembilan). His appointment as the Kapitan of Sungei Ujong was supported by Wong Ying, a famous Guangdong miner cum merchant and his allies. The appointment of Yap Ah Shak as the Kapitan was linked to a coup-de-tet against the then Kapitan Sam Meng Lei. Kapitan Sam Meng Lei was an incapable leader in Sungei Ujong, he was trapped in between the waged civil wars between the two Rajahs in Sungei Ujong and subsequently killed during the strike. It was said that, Kapitan Sam Meng Lei had lost his popularity, when he could not voice-out the dissatisfaction among the Chinese merchants regarding with the increase of revenue income imposed by the Malay rulers. However, the problem was never solved dynamically by Yap Ah Shak, because due to the invitation of Kapitan Yap Ah Loy of Kuala Lumpur to appoint him as the assistant and overseer of Yap Ah Loy's mines and coolies. Therefore, Yap Ah Shak left Sungei Ujong, after less than a year service. According to some records, the reason Yap Ah Shak left Sungei Ujong, was probably he knew that there will be brighter future in Kuala Lumpur rather than in Sungei Ujong. Yap Ah Shak died in 1889 and passed the Kapitan office to his best friend, Yap Kwan Seng. Yap Ah Shak had three sons and one daughter, Yap Loong Hin, Yap Futt Yew, Yap Chin Fook and Yap Tenga.
Yap Loong Hin, Yap Ah Shak's son
Yap Loong Hin, J.P. 

Yap Loong Hin was the eldest son of Yap Ah Shak. Born in 1873 in Kuala Lumpur, Yap Loong Hin was the Head of Yap Clan, owner of tin mines in several Malay states, trustee and the president of many educational and social institutions in Selangor. Yap Loong Hin had five wives, three sons, three daughters and 11 grandchildren. He died in 1937 and was buried at the Birch Road Chinese Cemetery. 

Yap Kwan Seng
Kapitan Yap Kwan Seng was the fifth Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur and also marked as the last one upon his death. Famously known as the last Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, Yap Kwan Seng was also famed for his philanthropic contributions in economics, educations, social and health welfare in British Malaya.Yap Kwan Seng of Hakka origin was originated from Liangpoi Village, Chixi Township, Taishan County, Zhuhai Prefecture, Guangdong Province in China, where he was born there in 1846. He was the eldest son of Yap Hoin Yin. Yap Kwan Seng first arrived in Malaya at the age of 16 years. He first arrived at Malacca to visit a friend and learning the great success in managing tin mining in Malaya. The curious young Yap Kwan Seng, was then decided to remain in the country after spending some time in assisting Kapitan Yap Ah Shak.Yap Kwan Seng later commenced tin mining own his own account and was successfully in securing from the government in monopolizing the State Selangor Farms (Opium & Liquor). In 1888, on the death of Kapitan Yap Ah Shak, subsequently, Yap Kwan Seng was elected to replace the Kapitan office. He was given a seat on the Selangor State Council and Kuala Lumpur Sanitary Board. Yap Kwan Seng died at his residence at Kuala Lumpur in 1901, leaving a family of fifteen sons and ten daughters, and estates valued at several million dollars. His estates were left in trust to Messrs. Teh Seow Teng, Tong Tung and Yap Tai Kee (his eldest son). Yap Tai Kee died shortly after his father and his position was taken by the second son, Yap Tai Cheong.

Chin Seng Yam
Kapitan Chin Seng Yam (陈亚炎) or commonly known as Chin Ah Yam (of Ho Hup Seah) was a famous Chinese Kapitan of Perak. He was a powerful leader of a notorious triad of Ghee Hin during the early 1850s. His main opponent was Kapitan Chung Keng Quee of Hai San triad. Chin Ah Yam of Dapu Hakka origin, was given a seat in the first Perak State Council and earned the title Kapitan following with his appointment. Chin Ah Yam was originally a Hakka chief in Larut District of Perak, where he represented the Ghee Hin tribe based in Penang. Chin Ah Yam of Ghee Hin and Chung Keng Quee of Hai San were a long time enemies, they fought for power and control of tin mining rights in Perak. However, their little quarrels had never thought that it could lead to a great turbulence to the State's economy by waging a series of twelve years wars. In the late 1880s, the importance of Ghee Hin in Larut had ceased, with the control of tin mines was transited to the Hai San. Following with the British Colonial intervention in Perak for peace keeping, in January 1874, the infamous Pangkor Treaty was signed among the two leaders of the triads and the Malay rulers and chiefs and marked the end of the Chinese wars. Where Chin Ah Yam, signed a separate Chinese Engagement at Pangkor, undertaking to cease the wars between the two triads, resulted Chin and his triads were immunized from the obligation to pay the claim for causing chaos in the State, thus gaining more popularity from his triad members. Before, Chin Ah Yam died in 1899, it was said that he had visited England. The Chin family later spelled their surname as Chan. Chin Ah Yam's children were Chin Guang De, Chin Guang Yuan, Chin Yu Lin, Chin Yuet Ming, Chin Yuet Qing and Chin Ng Zi.

Chung Keng Quee
Kapitan Chung Keng Quee or commonly known as Chung Ah Kwi was one of the early Chinese Kapitans in Perak. He was the chief of the Hakka miners in Larut District and the headman of Hai San triad society.