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.

Chan Teck Chye


Chan Teck Chye was born in on 15 July 1882 in Malacca to Chan Say Peng. His family was well-known and highly respected by the Chinese community in Malacca. He was educated at the Malacca High School. Chan Teck Chye was an elected Municipal Commissioner of Malacca (1932 – 1935), President of the Malacca Chinese Benevolent Society and various Chinese associations. He died on 5 February 1974 in his residence at 165 Haig Road, Singapore, leaving behind two wives, and upon his death he had 48 grandchildren and 51 great grandchildren, and was cremated at Bukit China Cemetery, Malacca. His eldest son, Chan Lian Hong married Tay Swee Lian youngest daughter of Tay Kim Guan in 1926. While his other sons were, Chan Poh Kiat, Chan Boon Eng married Law Pui Seng in 1931, Chan Chin Eng, Chan Poh Ann, Chan Poh Leng and Chan Hean Hoe. One of his daughters, Mary Chan married John Loh Jwee Siam. Chan Teck Chye was a landed proprietor, Director of Malacca Pinda Ltd., Unitac Ltd., United Malacca Rubber Ltd., Kew Estate Ltd. He also held the trusteeship in Cheng Hoon Teng Temple and the Estate of Chan Say Peng.

(revised on 25 Nov 2012)

Chan Sow Lin 陳秀連


Chan Sow Lin was born in 1845 in China. His name is undeniable to associate in the history of Perak and Selangor, and was the man who responsible for restoring peace after the Larut Wars and was one of the founding fathers of modern Kuala Lumpur. 

Chan Sow Lin migrated to Taiping, Perak in 1867 and worked for Low Sam in tin mining interest. His capability in managing tin mines was proven no ordinary, within few months, he was appointed to supervise the tin mines at Assam Kumbang, Taiping. And a year later, he was given full authority by Low Sam to take charge in all his mining interests in Larut district. 

Chan Sow Lin was notably known as the inventor of Nai Chiang mining system, a system that later adopted by most tin miners for almost 100 years old before the invention of tin dredge. He had also engaged in the Larut Wars, waged between the Si Yap and Chung Loong groups, and seriously wounded and was treated in Penang. When the war ended, Taiping was captured by the British troops. However, there were some unsatisfied members who wanted to wage another war. In an immediate act, Chan Sow Lin offered to arrange a dinner for keeping the interests of both groups in win-win situation. It incurred that the wars had brought disaster to the business interests of both parties. In spite of the cordial call by Chan Sow Lin, the opponents had doubt over his sincerity. Thus, Chan Sow Lin allowed himself to the opponents’ captive as to prove his sincerity. The dinner went on, and both parties agreed that peace shall come first. 

In extend, Chan Sow Lin was praised and thanked for his whiz act. After the war, Chan Sow Lin joined Low Sam again, but shortly afterwards he ceased his position and commenced tin mining on his own capacity. It was in Taiping he had known Loke Yew, a man who later claimed to be the richest man in British Malaya. Loke Yew who had suffered financial loss due to the war decided to move to Kinta before Selangor. Loke Yew’s tin mining interests in Taiping who had brought him the fortune and wealth had also made him down to earth and almost penniless. 

In 1883, together, Chan Sow Lin and Loke Yew moved to Selangor. Due to the war in Perak, Selangor’s economy also severed. As to speedy cure its loss, the Selangor Government welcomed fresh investments and barren lands and tin mines were leased at very low remunerations. Both men were the pioneers in the Selangor General Farm and were known as the largest tin mine owners. 

 In 1893, Chan Sow Lin under his firm, Chop Tan Kee leased two rich mine lands at Serdang and Sungei Besi from Loke Yew. Later, he leased from the government, mining lands at Simpah, Sungei Puteh, Kuala Kubu, Setapak, Kepong and Petaling. One of his prominent establishments was an engineering firm, the Chan Sow Lin & Co. Ltd., with its Chinese name Chop Mee Lee at Kuala Lumpur. His firm was the first Chinese established engineering consultant, where he was the Managing Director. He employed Chinese engineers and labours and proved a success in par with its European counterparts. 

Chan Sow Lin was the first Chinese to use tin dredge in tin mines and he was the pioneer in iron works in Selangor. Chan Sow Lin was then known as father of iron works and owned large foundry at today’s Chan Sow Lin Road, Kuala Lumpur. In 1906, under the decree of the Emperor of China, Viceroy of Guangdong sent a Special Commissioner on Education to the Malay States. The Commissioner made their visit to the Chinese owned companies and tin mines, and had written a report to the Viceroy praising Chan Sow Lin’s efforts in promoting Chinese culture, knowledge and technology in his business in the Malay States. In return, the Viceroy awarded him a medal. Chan Sow Lin’s ability was viewed as the pride of China, he was awarded another medal by His Excellency Wong, the Chinese Ambassador to England for his philanthropic work. 

Chan Sow Lin was the Chairman of the Selangor Anti-Opium Society and the Selangor Chuan Hong Chinese School, the Vice-President of the Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and co-founder of Tung Shin Hospital and Chan She Shu Yuen (Chan Clan Temple) at Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur. He was also an appointed member of the Selangor State Council (1902 – 1921), a member of Visiting Committee of the Selangor Goal, the Lunatic Asylum and the Selangor General Hospital. Chan Sow Lin died on 8 June 1927 at his residence at 20 Klyne Street, Kuala Lumpur and buried at the Guangdong Cemetery, Sungei Besi. He had four sons.

Chan Say Peng 曾西聘

Chan Say Peng was born in 1838 to an old Malacca family. He was a well-known multi-millionaire in the Straits Settlements and also throughout the entire Malay States. Chan Say Peng died on 7 October 1925 at 10 Tranquerah, Malacca, leaving behind his wife Yeo Kiat Neo (1845 - 1932). His first and third daughters were married to E Kong Guan, and his second daughter, Chan Joo Neo married Lee Teck Bong. Upon his death, Chan Say Peng’s sons, Chan Jin Seng and Chan Teck Chye inherited the family’s wealth worth over million dollars. Chan Say Peng was buried at Bukit Baru, Malacca and had 16 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His sister, Chan Tiew Neo (1843 – 1934) was the wife of Low Guan Swi, a longtime resident of Malacca with a family house at 55 Heeren Street. Chan Say Peng was known as a founder of the Lee Sian Neo Neo Temple, which was as a gift to the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple in 1884. 

Chan Kye Choo 陈继祖


Chan Kye Choo was born in Ipoh to Chan Kang Choon. He received English education at St Michael’s Institution, Ipoh. In 1923 he left for London to study law and was called to the English Bar at Middle Temple on 17 November 1927. After four years lived in Wandsworth, London, he returned to Ipoh in 1928, and started to initial as KC Chan. And some time later he was known as KC Chan Sr. and married daughter of Leong Fee in 1932. In 1934, together with Ho Pan Thong son of Ho Yuk Phooi, they established a legal firm, Chan, Ho & Co, premised at 29 Station Road, Ipoh and 40 Kota Road, Taiping. In 1902, he was also a partner in Messrs. C.S. Seng & Co. (Chew Seah Seng). During the Japanese Occupation in Malaya, KC Chan was an official leader of the Chinese community in Perak. He was the President of the Perak Turf Club and Honorary Secretary of the Perak Chinese Amateur Dramatic Association. His son, Colonel KC Chan Jr. was also a lawyer called to the English Bar in Middle Temple and to the Malayan Bar in 1956. One of his prominent cousins was Leong Yew Koh, the first Governor of Malacca who was also a lawyer.

Chan Mah Phee 曾广庇


Chan Mah Phee son of Chan Ee Shin was born in 1848 to a poor family in Tong'an, Fujian, China and received no formal education. In 1870, he left his native land and first arrived in Singapore, where he spent two years there. After ten years of hard work, in 1883 Chan Mah Phee established a provision shop known as Taik Leong & Co. at 75 Strand Road, where the firm engaged with food, rice, oil, and tobacco trading. His business prospered and extended to a larger premise, where Chan Mah Phee purchased a property at 57 Strand Road. 

In between the years 1894 and 1899, he was known as an important figure in rice trading in Burma. He was then famed for being one of the largest property owners in Rangoon; shops and houses were rented to people with business interest and fertile lands were used for planting paddy. Chan Mah Phee was unable to converse in English, but he gained respect from people of all classes and was best known for generous in doing charity. He was the principal donor to the Rangoon Hokkien Association which was built in 1903 and a main supporter of the Chan Clan Temple. In 1911, he donated $20,000 to build a school in his native homeland. In the late 19th century he built a hospital in Rangoon and a road was named after him (Ahlone). Chan Mah Phee also financed the development in his homeland by building the Long Shan Girls School and Tong'an Hospital.  

Chan Mah Phee also showed his concern to the flood disasters in his native land, where from time to time without hesitation a large sum of money was remitted for relief work in the China floods and famine. Chan Mah Phee was a devoted Buddhist, he built a shrine at the Shwe Dagon Pagoda and financed the cost of constructing the Waso Kyoung at Dedaye.

He married Ma Aye Mya, daughter of Oo Oung Ba, a farmer of Dedaye, where he had three sons and three daughters. One of his sons, Chan Chor Khine was a prominent leader in the Hokkien community, he was given a seat in the Rangoon State Council for the first and fourth terms. In April 1934, Chan Chor Khine shot himself at his house in 82 Park Road, Brightlands, he was then 50 years old. One of Chan Mah Phee’s sons had married Lim Chin Tsong’s daughter. Without a doubt, Chan Mah Phee is a fine example of single-handed built millionaire. He died on 30 September 1920. 

林锡星 (2001). 缅甸华叠精英与知名侨领概述 (Miǎndiàn huá dié jīngyīng yǔ zhīmíng qiáo lǐng gàishù). Southeast Asian Studies
Wright, A. (1910). Twentieth century impressions of Burma: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Chan Koon Cheng 曾混清

Chan Koon Cheng, JP
Courtesy: Dexter Y.P. Koh

Chan Koon Cheng was born in 1869 and educated at the Government Free School. Chan Koon Cheng was born to an old Straits Chinese family, where he can trace his lineage in a direct line for eight generations. In 1671, his ancestor who first came from China and settled in Malacca was Chan Pian Long who was a Chin Su. Chan Koon Cheng's grandfather, Chan Hong Luan was a lessee of the government spirit and opium farms in Malacca. While his father Chan Eng Hock was a tapioca planter.

In 1885, Chan Koon Cheng worked with Messrs Kim Guan & Co. as a shipping and goods clerk. He was also an agent for the Blue Funnel Liners (Alfred Holts' steamer). Two years later he was promoted to assistant agent and in 1888 acting agent. In 1889 he was made manager of the company and was transferred to Kuala Lumpur. However, he remained for only 10 months and had to resign due to ill-health. In 1891 he joined the SS Sappho as Chief Clerk, but shortly four years he resigned and commenced rubber plantation in partnership with Tan Chay Yan at a 60 acres land in Bukit Lintang (Kandang and Ayer Molek). In 1897 he planted 40 acres on his own estate at Bukit Duyong. Being established himself into plantation business, Chan Koon Cheng was also a manager for Messrs Guan Hup & Co, a post he held since 1895 until relinquished in 1900. In 1901, he commenced in planting 3,000 acres at Kemendor, Bukit Senggeh, Selandar, Kesang and Rim, and known as Kesang-Rim Rubber &Tapioca Estate and by the year 1906 he had the whole estate planted with tapioca and interplanted with rubber. By that time, he was a famous tapioca and rubber planter in Malacca. However, the estate was sold shortly afterwards.

Chan Koong Cheng had considerable houses and lands in Singapore, Selangor, Ngeri Sembilan and Malacca. He had five sons, three daughters and one adopted son. His sons were Yeo Chiang Hoe@Chan Soo Chin (died in 1935), Chan Soo Khim, Chan Soo Ann and Chan Soo What, daughters were Chan Eak Jin, Chan Eak Hin and Chan Eak Sheng. His only brother, Chan Koon Chiang lived at 137 Jonker Street died on 4 November 1908 at the age of 43 years. Chan Koon Cheng was a Municipal Commissioner in 1905 and Justice of Peace in 1906. He was a trustee of the Pulok Samah Burial Ground, a Visiting Justice of Malacca Prisons and a Licensing Justice under the Liquors Ordinance 1907. In 1911 Chan Koon Cheng was appointed to become the Adviser to the Malacca Plantations Limited. In 1912, together with E Kong Guan, Tan Chay Yan, Chan Cheng Siew and others they proposed the establishment of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Malacca and subsequently Chan Koon Cheng was elected as the President. In 1908, Chan Koon Cheng donated a sum of $10,000 to build a bridge for public use. He died on 26 October 1912 at the Paul Krudger Lodge, Klebang Besar, Malacca at the age of 44 years.  In order to honour Chan Koon Cheng’s contributions, a road was named after him in Malacca.

Lee, K.H. & Chow, M.S. (1997). Biographical Dictionary of Chinese in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Pelanduk Publications. (p. 5)
Wright, A. (1907). Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources. London: Lloyd's Greater Britain Publishing Co. Ltd. (p. 843)
The Straits Times, 10 November 1908, Page 6
The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 29 October 1912, Page 6
The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 31 October 1912, Page 283
Malaya Tribune, 23 June 1928, Page 8
The Straits Times, 25 August 1935, Page 5

Chan Kim Boon 曾锦文


Chan Kim Boon was a famous, writer, poet, novelist, translator, and had profound knowledge in Chinese literature and mythology. He was well versed in English, Chinese and Malay. Born in Penang in 1851 to Chan Yong Chuan. His father was a merchant at Padang, Sumatra, who later moved to Penang. Chan Kim Boon was first educated at the Penang Free School, and later enrolled to the Foochow Naval School in China. In 1867 he became an assistant tutor in mathematics and from 1867 to 1871 he studied military intelligence but refused to become an army officer due to his ill-health. 

Chan Kim Boon was a book-keeper and cashier at Messrs Donaldson & Burkinshaw Co. Amongst his students at the naval school were Admiral Yin, Commander of the South Squadron of Guandong, Admirah Sah, the Rear Admirals Liu and Lin, Sir Chih-Chen Lo Feng Luh 罗丰禄, former Chinese Ambassador in London. 

In January 1872, he left Foochow and returned to Penang on a visit to his widowed mother in Foochow, In March 1872, a month before the Dutch-Acheh War, he joined a Singapore legal firm, Aitken & Rodyk (later known as Aitken & Co and thereafter Donaldson & Burkinshaw). Chan Kim Boon was best known for his excellent work in translating several Chinese legendary works into Malay language, this tedious work was written in series and claimed to be the earliest Chinese – Malay translations. His books were popular among the Straits Chinese who cannot read Chinese.

Chan Kim Boon in Singapore

Chan Kim Boon used a pen name in all his writings, where he named himself after a cemetery, Batu Gantong (Hanging Stone) in his writing. He had four sons, two daughters and six grandchildren. When he died in 1920 in Singapore, his body was sent to Batu Gantong Cemetery, Penang for burial. Chan Kim Boon was a member of the Celestial Reasoning Society, Chinese Philomathic Society and Lee Cheng Yan Club.

Chan Kang Swi


Chan Kang Swi was born in 1875 to Chan Tiew. Chan Tiew was born in China and arrived in Malacca in 1853, at the age of 13. He first worked as a servant for the wealthy Chinese family. At the end of 14 years old, he had managed to save a little money and with this he commenced business as a rice merchant. He was very successful and eight years later he became a tapioca planter. He had built up a large fortune, prior to his death in 1892. His estate descended to his only son; Chan Kang Swi. The estate comprised 8,000 acres of land, where 3500 acres were planted with tapioca by Chan Tiew.

In 1902, Chan Kang Swi commenced inter-planting para rubber with the tapioca, putting in 180,000 of these trees and 1,000 ficus elastica. In 1907, there were 7,000 acres planted with tapioca and rubber, where coconuts and pepper were also cultivated. Chan Kang Swi owned a wholesale dealer business in First Cross Street, Malacca.

Chan Kang Swi was educated at the Malacca High School, and married Ng Teh daughter of Ng Gong Kow. He was the President of the Malacca Hokkien Association, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Straits Chinese British Association, President of the Chinese Malacca Club and member of Chinese Advisory Board, Po Leung Kuk, Chinese Lawn Tennis Club and was one of the four trustees of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple.

In 1916, he was appointed a Commissioner of the Peace. In order to honour Chan Kang Swi’s meritorious services to the community, a life size portrait of him was unveiled by Sir Shenton Thomas at the Stadthuys in 1935. In 1934 he was conferred with a Certificate of Honour by King George VI.

Chang Kang Swi was a great supporter to education institutions, he donated $150,000 for the maintenance of the Amoy University Library and helped to establish the Nanyang Normal School in Singapore.

Chan Kang Swi’s eldest son, S.C. Chan was a lawyer, and his third son, Chan Seng Kee married Tan Kim Tin, the eldest daughter of Tan Cheng Lock in 1935. While his eldest daughter, Chan Gek Cheow was married to Dr Ho Pao Jin, a prominent economist and financial banker.

In 1937, Chan Kang Swi opined that Malaya should have a university, as the domiciled population was ready to subscribe finally, provided the government met part of the concurrent expenditure form its surplus funds. He died on 4 June 1942.

Chan Kang Choon


Chan Kang Choon was born in Guangdong, China. In 1872, he arrived at Penang and ventured business partnership and had known Leong Fee, who was later the Chinese Vice-Consul in Penang and had great tin mining interests in Perak.

At the end of 1882, Chan Kang Choon was a well-established merchant. Besides being a partner in the Penang Opium and Spirit Farm, he had tin mining interests in Perak. Where, later he lived in Kinta valley, Perak and had his children there.

Chan Kang Choon owned large property in Penang, Hong Kong and Guangdong, China. His son, Chan Kye Choo was a lawyer and his daughter, Chan Peik Kwan was the wife of Wang Jingwei (1883 –1944), the President of the pro-Japanese Nanjing government. One of Chan Kang Choon’s nephews was Leong Yew Koh, the first and the only Chinese Governor of Malacca.

Cheong Fatt Tze 張弼士


Cheong Fatt Tze as he is known today was born in 1840 in Dapu, Guangdong. He was a Hakka, with birth name Chang Chin Hsun, and when he lived in Batavia and Penang, he was then known by his Hokkien name, Thio Tiauw Siat. His Cantonese name, Cheong Fatt Tze is much popular in today’s history.

Cheong Fatt Tze was born to a very poor family in China, at the age of 17, he left his native and lived in several places under the Dutch East Indies empire. He did some odd jobs before landed at Batavia and worked at a provision shop. As time passed, he married his employer’s daughter, Choo Neo (b. 1867). It was through the marriage, he was given financial support by his father-in-law to commence business on his own account and used Thio Tiauw Siat as his signature. His name Thio Tiauw Siat was spelled in a Dutch way, and was used in the Dutch and British colonies throughout his entire business life. However, he was commonly known in China as Chang Chin Hsun. 

In 1859, he secured a government contract in supplying food and daily provisions to the Dutch army and navy forces in Batavia. Through these contracts, he was then a well-known figure in the Dutch East Indies, and from Batavia he moved to Aceh when he was 35 years old, where he secured another contract in in supplying food and daily provisions to the Dutch army and navy forces in Aceh. Because of his articulate social life with the Dutch elites, he successful obtained the Opium, Liquor and Pawnbroker Farm in Aceh and by 1877, his farming interest had extended to half of the northern region of Sumatra, with vast interest in Government Farms in Edi, Temiang, Deli and Bengkalis, and in 1893 expanded to Rhio and Indragiri. In May 1893, he became the Honorary Vice-Consul of China in Penang. 

Followed by his business success in the Dutch colonies, in 1875, he commenced business in Penang in partnership with Lee Ah Ghee (Captain of Batavia) and Wong Boon Sin, under the name Chop Thio Joo Hoe at 15 Pitt Street. And ten years later he managed to obtain the Penang Pawnbroker Farm and became the Chinese Consul-General in Singapore, where another three years later he secured the Opium and Liquor Farm of Penang and Singapore. The onerous duties of this responsible Chinese diplomat position he fulfilled for five years and in return for his services was created a Mandarin of the Highest Order (First Rank Officer). In 1886, he established the Ban Joo Hin in Penang, and took great interest in steamship, tin mining, coconut, sago, fruit and pepper plantations, all distributed over Province Wellesley, Perak and Selangor. During his stay in Singapore when he was the Chinese Consul, his business was left to his attorneys and agents who were Cheah Chen Eok and Lee Ah Kam, with headquarters at Penang. 

It was not known why Cheong Fatt Tze drastically shifted his interest from the Dutch colonies to the British ones. He also owned a settlement called Karatan near Batavia, the place with a population of 8,000 with the length about 10 miles and width about 8 miles. This place was planted with paddy and fish was amongst the products. In partnership with a Dutch company, he owned various farms in Tjebaraosa, Tjelengsa, Klapa Moengal, Kongbong and Boyoung. The total area of all these districts was 60 miles in length and 305 miles in width and had over 100,000 populations. Where the principal produce was rice, birds’ nests and coffee. In 1879, he purchased a steamer, the Raja Kongsi Aceh, which plied between Penang and Aceh. In 1883, he acquired another steamer, the Hock Canton, which also had the same route as the former. After 14 years of experience in running the steamship business, in 1893 he established a steamship company at Penang, known as Kong Hock Kiok Limited Company and had nine steamers running to Perak, Tongkah, Klang, Asahan, and Deli. 

In 1904, he led a group of prominent Chinese leaders in Penang to establish the Chung Hwa Confucian School, and was claimed as the first modern Chinese school in Southeast Asia. Cheong Fatt Tze’s name had gained high reputation and recognition in the Imperial Chinese Palace, and was made a High Commissioner for Railways and Commerce in China in 1902, and later became the Special Commissioner for Trade in Southeast Asia in 1911. At one time he was given the opportunity to monopoly steamship business in China, but he declined as he was not able to run such a big venture. In 1905, he became a member of a commission to study the commercial affairs in Southeast Asia on behalf of the Chinese Board of Commerce. Upon his return to China, he had few audiences by the Emperor and Empress Dowager of China, their Majesties were satisfied with his reports. Little was known that, Cheong Fatt Tze had also established business affairs in his homeland, engaged in manufacturing bricks, textile, glass and salt farm by using modern machineries. In 1892, he founded the Chang Yu Winery in Shangtung, China, producing mainly fine Western wines with some traditional Chinese herbal wines. And in 1896 he founded various Chinese commercial banks and was a well-known banker in China and Dutch East Indies and was on the Board of Directors of the Canton Railway and the Bank of China. He was also a shareholder in the Sze Hai Tong Banking & Insurance Company Limited in Singapore. 

In 1912, together with Loke Yew, he personally endowed $50,000 to the University of Hong Kong's Faculty of Arts during its early establishment. In return for his generosity, the University conferred him Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa in 1916.

Cheong Fatt Tze had at least eight wives and was the father of eight sons and six daughters, all distributed over the Dutch and British Colonies in Southeast Asia. His mansion at 14 Leith Street, Penang was occupied by his third, sixth and seventh wives. All his sons were educated at the St Xavier’s Institution. He died in 1916 in Batavia due to pneumonia and as a mark of respect, the Dutch and British decreed to fly their flags at half-mast. 

His fourth son, Chang Kiam Hoe (Thio Nghean Leong) was a well-known figure in Penang and Perak. He had vast interest in tin mining business in Ipoh, Perak as well as large plantation estates in Province Wellesley and Kedah. He was appointed as a trustee in Cheong Fatt Tze’s Will. 

Cheong Fatt Tze had uncountable number of fine houses all over China, Dutch and British Colonies in Southeast Asia, among of all, he laid a legacy that remained forever by building the finest Chinese mansion in Southeast Asia, which was then known as Le’ Bleu Mansion. The double-story mansion built in between 1897 to 1904 was enough to accommodate his large extended families with 34 rooms. Where he expected the mansion shall live for nine generations after him. The most intriguing part of Cheong Fatt Tze’s Will, besides the inheritance of his estate to all his wives and children, he mentioned the future management of his favourite mansion in 14 Leith Street, Penang. In his will, he said that ordinary repairs of the mansion shall be paid for a monthly sum not exceeding $250. And the house was given to his seventh wife Tan Tay Po @ Chan Kim Po and his last son, Cheong Kam Long and must not be sold until the death of Cheong Kam Long. 

Cheong Fatt Tze’s business affairs in the Straits Settlements were under the management of his cousin Thio Chee Non also known by the name Chong Yit Nam and Chong Chee Non who was the Kapitan of Deli. While his Penang estate was managed by Thio Siow Kong at 5 Beach Street. Cheong Fatt Tze Estate first appointed Henry Haley Busfield, Choo Shou San and Soo Beng Lim as Executors and Trustees of his estate in Penang, and in 1937 under the Court’s order the positions were taken by Cheong Hock Chye and Wee Sin Choe. 

Throughout the time after his death, one by one Cheong Fatt Tze’s considerable property was sold out, and the most significant sale which almost ended up his entire estate was in 1939. And in 1988 the last call for the sale of old porcelain and Chinese furniture belonged to Cheong Fatt Tze at the family mansion at 14 Leith Street was auctioned by Dominion Victor & Morris of Singapore. Cheong Fatt Tze’s illustrious life ended with the death of his last son, Cheong Kam Long in 1989. Where the family sold the last property of Cheong Fatt Tze at 14 Leith Street, Penang to a corporate company by Cheong Kam Long’s wife Thong Siew Mee. One of Cheong Fatt Tze’s sons, Thio Phin Long who was also a trustee of his estate violated his capacity by defrauding the estate through illicit transaction involving the three wholesale and retail druggist businesses, and since then escaped to Hong Kong with his son Thio Chee Fook to avoid the warrant arrest on him in 1931. Today many of Cheong Fatt Tze’s descendants lived in Australia.