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


  1. Dear Mr Eugene Khoo, thank you for creating this interesting blog featuring the history of prominent Chinese in Malaya & Singapore.

    Your entry on Chan Koon Cheng is of particular interest to me as my father and I have been researching on our family tree thus far and we have not been able to trace further than Chan Koon Cheng. He is my great-great grandfather from my paternal grandmother's lineage.

    However if I may correct some inconsistencies in the biography as follows - these have been gleamed from oral history of surviving relatives and also documents such as wills, death certificates etc:

    1. Yeo (not Yep) Chiang Hoe is actually the alias of Chan Soo Chin, who is my grandmother's father, and he died in 1935. Why he was given the alias is not clear, but in the past Peranakan families used to 'adopt' their close siblings' children by way of giving another name, or to ward off certain numerological ill-matching of birth dates and times. Incidentally his grandmother was a Yeo.

    2. The Chan Koon Cheng Bridge was, in fact, built with a handsome donation of $10,000 by Chan Koon Cheng to the people of Malacca (cf: The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 29 October 1912, Page 6, and also family oral history.)

    3. Chan Koon Cheng Hall was built on Wolferstan Road as one of Malacca's earliest cinema, not as a residence. It was demolished in the 1980s.

    Would you, in the course of research, chance upon a photograph of Chan Koon Cheng? My family has numerous old family photographs dating to the 19th century but we are unable to ascertain with accuracy which of them is of him as older relatives who may have been able to identify have passed on since.


    Dexter Y.P. Koh

    1. Hi Dexter,

      Thanks for your input. This entry will be corrected.

      Unfortunately, I didn't come across any of Chan Koon Cheng portrait during my early research. Any further updates will be made as soon as possible.

  2. Hi Dexter and Eugene, I've just chance upon this blog.
    I may still have access to an old photograph of Chan Koon Cheng (I think). It is with my mother and she is the granddaughter of CKC. Would this be of interest to either of you?

    1. Hi Molly,

      Thanks for your offer. We really appreciate to have a copy of CKC photo. Please email to me and I will share in this article and credit to you. My email

  3. Hi Molly,

    That would be greatly appreciated! I have quite a few old family photographs dating to the turn of last century but as they are without notations we have been unable to identify CKC positively in those photographs.

    My late grandmother too was a granddaughter of CKC. Perhaps you could identify from which son or daughter your mother was descended from? My dad and I have been working on a family tree project and any information you or your mother could share with regards to the Chan family would be useful for me to fill in the blanks. If you are keen you can contact me on to discuss further?


    Dexter Y.P. Koh

  4. Dear Mr.Khoo,

    Appreciate your valuable and educative materials here.

    I come across a person by the Name of Mr.Chan Koon Pong who is the owner of also a great and beautiful mansion in the state of Johor. The mansion was built in the year 1927.

    Any ideas who is this Mr.Chan Koon Pong. Is Mr.Chan Koon Pong a close relative of CKC?

    Thank you for reply.