Saturday, 22 December 2012

China and her Overseas People

The Chinese Consulates 

The formation of the Chinese Consulates in Singapore and Penang in 1877 and 1890 respectively, was primarily to serve as communication platform between the Chinese Government and the overseas Chinese. Apart from that, it was also the Chinese Government's initiative to gain support and loyalty from her wealthy overseas members. 

The office of the Vice-Consul functions in various aspects and capacities. The diplomatic rule of the Chinese Vice-Consul was based in demography and geography of British Malaya. For instance, the Penang branch engaged with the Chinese affairs in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kedah and Perlis. Whereas, the Singapore branch concerned in the area such as Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu. 

The primitive role of the Vice-Consul was also concerned in protecting the Chinese and their business interests. However, in the early 1900s, other Chinese organisations such as the Chinese Advisory Board (1890), Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Po Leung Kuk (1885) as well as other Chinese clan associations had surged in all major towns in the British Malaya, thus the importance of the Vice-Consul had apparently ceased.

In 1891, the Vice-Consul of Singapore was promoted to the rank of Consul General for Southeast Asia. And in 1933, a Chinese Consulate was established in Kuala Lumpur and dealt with the Chinese affairs in the Federated Malay States, the engagements were mostly in civil, commercial and political affairs. In subsequent to this newly formed Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, thus, the functions of the Consuls in Singapore and Penang were ceased. 

Although the function of the Chinese Consulate had relinquished many of its concerns. However, the issuance of visiting passports to the overseas Chinese still evident. These passports were permission granted to the overseas Chinese for returning to their home districts in China. In 1939, the Chinese Consul in Kuala Lumpur, Shih Shao-tseng made a new policy, by having the local Chinese associations to stand as witnesses to the applicants of passport.

List of Chinese Vice-Consuls in Penang
1890 - 1894 - Cheong Fatt Tze 張弼士 (Chang Pi-shih/Thio Tiauw Siat)
1894 - 1895 - Chang Yu Nan 張煜南 (Thio Chee Non/Chong Yit Nam/Chong Chee Non)
1895 - 1901 - Cheah Choon Seng 謝春生 (Tjia Tioen Sen)
1901 - 1907 - Leong Fee 梁輝 (Liang Pi-joo)
1907 - 1912 - Tye Kee Yoon 戴喜云 (Tai Hsin-jan)
1912 - 1930 - Tye Phey Yuen (Tai Shu-yuan)
1930 - 1931 - Yang Hsiao-tang 楊念祖
1931 - 1933 - Lu Tzu-chin 呂子勤
1933 - 1941 - Huan Yen-kai

In the first five appointed Chinese Vice-Consul in Penang, the office was held by the Hakka-origin Chinese with business interests in Southeast Asia. Most of these men were illiterate, and their connections were through family-link and business collaborations. Cheong Fatt Tze and Chang Yu Nan were cousins, and Cheah Choon Seng was a business partner with Cheong Fatt Tze, whereas Leong Fee was his son-in-law. Ironically, these leaders were not Straits Chinese or British subjects but Chinese from the Dutch East Indies and they were pro-Qing government's policies in China. Their representative in the Chinese Consulate could suggest unpopular and feudal, as most Straits Chinese were then received Western education and some had been influenced by Dr Sun Yat Sen's uprising movement against the Qing Government. In fact, there were already formed the silent community in resisting the Qing Government. Early pioneers such as Goh Say Eng, Ooi Kim Kheng, Loh Chong Huo were founders of Tongmenghui in Penang, which fight against the corrupted Qing Government.  On 17 August 1900, Tan Jiak Kim, Seah Liang Seah, Dr Lim Boon Keng and Song Ong Siang founded the Straits Chinese British Association in Singapore. Two months later, a similar branch was set up in Malacca. The Penang wing was established in 1920. This association was a pro-British movement led by the Hokkien-origin Chinese, many of their members held high government positions and recognized by the British as local Chinese leaders. They represented the Chinese in the Straits Settlements and British Malaya in the local Legislative Council and State Councils. Following with the fall of Qing Dynasty Government in 1912, the appointment of the Vice-Consul in Penang by the Republic of China were more selective-based in term of education and experience backgrounds. For instance,Yang Hsiao-tang was educated at the Kiangsu Provincial College in Suzhou and prior his appointment he had held various government positions in China. And Lu Tze-chin who acted for a short term was a capable young man graduated from the Peking Academy in 1922 and Nankai University, Tianjin in 1926. He was later appointed as the first Chinese Consul in Kuala Lumpur. 

NOTE: Yang Hsiao-tang was educated at the Kiangsu Provincial College in Suzhou born in Shanghai in 1890. He was educated at the Kiangsu Provincial College in Soochow. He joined the diplomatic service as a secretary in the Bureau of Foreign Affairs at Shanghai in 1911, and later became the chief secretary and director of the Land Office of the Bureau. In 1926, he was promoted Superintendent of Customs and concurrently Commissioner of Foreign Affairs at Nanking. He was appointed Chinese Consul-general at Penang in 1930 and transferred to Shanghai as Director of Shanghai Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1931. He was also in the Land Bureau of the City Government of Shanghai Municipality. 

Lu Tze-chin or Lu Tzu-chin was born in Hanyang, Hubei in 1904. He graduated from the Peking Academy in 1922 and Nankai University, Tientsin in 1926. In 1928 he passed the Diplomatic and Consular Service Examinations held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Lu Tze-chin had held the office of Chancellor of the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver, Canada (1929), Deputy Consul in Penang (1930), Deputy Consul in Singapore (1932), and acting Vice Consul in Penang (1933). 

Qing Dynasty Titles and Honours 

After the collapsed of the Ming Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty Government followed the Ming's ruling structure and system. The Emperor headed the six ministries (六部), each ministry was assisted by two chancellors (尚書) and four assistant-chancellors (侍郎). The only difference in the Qing's court is the ethnic classification. Each position in the Qing's court was filled by a Manchurian (the royal family member) and a Han Chinese official whom passed the state examinations. The Manchurian functions as an overseer to his Han Chinese counterpart in performing the duty. Despite the same ranking, both wore a different official attire. In which, the Manchurians will have a small round emblem on the robes and a square emblem for the Han officials. 

The Qing official attire design came with the identification of hierarchy known as the Mandarin Square (補子). This Mandarin Square distinguishes into the division of military and civilian with nine rankings (九品), each ranking has a unique emblem, the first class rank being the highest and the ninth class rank being the lowest. The Mandarin Square was first used during the Mongol rule in Yuan Dynasty, after the fall of the Yuan Dynasty, the Ming's court then adopted this official ranking system. In 1391, Emperor Hongwu decreed bird patterns on the squares should be restricted to civil officials, and animal patterns reserved for military officials. However, the Qing's court started to use this system in 1652, during the rule of Emperor Shunzhi. Below are the emblem patterns used in the division of military and civil officials: 

1. Qilin
2. Lion
3. Tiger - Leopard (after 1644)
4. Leopard - Tiger (after 1644)
5. Bear
6. Panther
7. Panther - Rhinoceros (after 1759) 
8. Rhinoceros
9. Sea Horse

1. Crane
2. Golden Pheasant
3. Peacock
4. Wild Goose
5. Silver Pheasant
6. Egret
7. Mandarin Duck
8. Quail
9. Paradise Flycatcher

The Mandarin square for the Han officials has two identical pieces, one for the chest and the other for the back, each measures 12 inches square. The Qing's official attire came in a set of dark robe, red floss-silk fringes headgear and beads. There are two type of headgear used according to the season. The summer headgear has a conical shape woven from strips of bamboo and edged with silk brocade and the winter headgear usually a black skull cap with upturned fur brim. There is also a peacock feather (hua ling) attached on the headgear, this plume is a special distinction conferred by the Emperor. A single-eye plume was conferred upon nobles and officials down to the sixth class official. On the top of the headgear there is a knob that identifies the ranking of the official. The colours of the knob also distinguish the ranks, as show in the following: 

1. Royalty and Nobility wore numerous pearls 
2. First class official = red ball (originally a ruby)
3. Second class official = solid red ball (originally coral)
4. Third class official = translucent blue ball (originally sapphire)
5. Fourth class official = solid blue ball
6. Fifth class official = translucent white ball (originally crystal)
7. Sixth class official = solid white ball (originally mother of pearl)
8. Seventh to Ninth class official = gold or clear amber balls of various designs

In the mid 19th and early 20th centuries, the Qing's court offered numerous official titles and honours to the wealthy overseas Chinese, this honour was known by the Europeans as Mandarin of the Blue Cotton. This was for the purpose in exchange of lucrative donations and investments to fund the government's expenditure in solving famine, natural catastrophe and major infrastructure investments (such as railways, factories, mining and banking). By then, many overseas Chinese had built considerable wealth and their purchase of these honorific titles was merely to enhance their social status. Most of the wealthy Chinese merchants purchased these titles under the category of Honorary, and had no absolute ruling power as of those officials in the same rank who had passed the state examinations in China.

For instance, Khoo Seok Wan (Singapore) received his Juren 举人 title in 1894 and Chan Yap Thong  (Perak) received his Xiucai 秀才 title, both lads had passed the provincial examinations in China. Unlike Cheang Hong Lim (Dao Yuan degree 道員) who had purchased numerous titles for his family in 1869 (including for his ancestors and his 11 sons), his father Cheong Sam Teow was given the title Jin Shi (进士), the highest scholar title. In between 1877 until 1912, there were 295 holders of Qing honour titles and ranks, of this figure, 5 obtained through the imperial examinations. These titles include civilian titles from First grade Guang Lu Da Fu to the lowest Ninth Grade Deng Shi Zuo Lang as listed below:

Qing's Court Civilian Degrees 
1st Class Official = Guanglu Dafu 光祿大夫
2nd Class Official = Jinshi Chushen 进士出身
3rd Class Official = Tong Jinshi Chushen 同进士出身
4th Class Official = Zhong Xian Dafu 中憲大夫
5th Class Official = Fengzheng Dafu 奉政大夫
6th Class Official = Chengde Lang 承德郎
7th Class Official = Zheng Shilang 征仕郎
8th Class Official = Xiuzhi Zuolang 修職佐郎
9th Class Official = Dengshi Zuolang 登仕佐郎

Cheng Hong Kok 清芳阁 in 1897, it was an elite merchants' club. Some of its members had purchased the Qing honours and showed off their mandarin robes.

Chinese community in Singapore presented the Queen Victoria statue to Sir Cecil Smith in 1889

Khoo Cheng Teow in his Mandarin attire

Low Kim Pong 劉金榜

Foo Choo Choon, 3rd Class Rank Civilian Official

Mei Quong Tat, 4th Class Rank Civilian Official in 1894
(Courtesy: State Library of Victoria)

  1. Chee, L.S. (1971). The Hakka Community in Malaya, with Special Reference to Their Associations, 1801-1968. Unpublished Dissertation (M.A.). Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya
  2. Khoo, S.N. (2008). Sun Yat Sen in Penang. Penang: Areca Books. page 22 - 23
  3. Tan, K.H. (2007). The Chinese in Penang: A Pictorial History. Penang: Areca Books. page 122
  4. Song, O.S. (1923). One Hundred Years' History of the Chinese in Singapore. London: John Murray
  5. Ramsay, C. (2007). Days Gone by: Growing Up in Penang. Penang: Areca Books. page 23
  6. The Straits Times, 4 October 1933, Page 12
  7. Ministry of Interior National Government of China. (1936). Who's Who in China: Biographies of Chinese Leaders 5th Edition. Shanghai: The China Weekly Review. page 181, 269 - 270
  8. Reynolds, D.R. (1995). China, 1895-1912 State Sponsored Reforms and China's Late-Qing Revolution, 28(3-4)
  9. Yen, C.H. (Sept. 1970). Ch'ing's Sale of Honours and the Chinese Leadership in Singapore and Malaya (1877-1912). Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 20-32

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Kao Kuen 高錕

Sir Charles Kao
KBE, GBM (Hong Kong), PhD (London) 

Kao Kuen or Charles Kao was born on 4 November 1933 in Shanghai to Kao Chun-hsiang 高君湘, a Professor of Law at Soochow University. Charles' grandfather, Kao Sit 高燮 was a notable Chinese scholar. In 1959, Charles married Wong May Wan 黄美芸 in London, and has a son and a daughter. Charles is belonged to a well-educated family, his brother, Kao Wu 高鋙 or Timothy Kao was a Professor Emeritus in Civil Engineering at the Catholic University of America. And his uncle, Kao Ping-tse 高平子 was a notable astronomer, Kao Crater on the moon was named after him.  

Charles received his early education at home, studying Chinese classics together with his brother. He also attended an international school in Shanghai, and studied French and English. In 1948, his family migrated to Hong Kong, and Charles was enrolled to St. Joseph's College and completed his study in 1952. He then furthers his study at Woolwich Polytechnic and obtained a degree in electrical engineering. 

In 1965 he completed his doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University College London under the supervision of Professor Harold Barlow. He was then an engineer for the Standard Telephones & Cables working as a researcher at the Standard Telecommunication Laboratories in Harlow.  It was during this time, he developed the transmission of light in fibre optic in telecommunications and was notably honoured with the Noble Prize in Physics in 2009. Today he is known in the modern science as the Father of Fiber Optic Communications.

In 1996, he endowed a research grant to the Yale University and founded the Charles Kao Fund Research Grant. Since early 2004, Charles suffered Alzheimer's disease and  has difficulty to talk. He is currently living with his children and grandchildren at Mountain View, California.

During his early time, Charles was awarded numerous accolades in recognition for his work and has received at least 17 honorary degrees  from the universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Italy. He also held various positions in public and private organisations, and was most notable for being honoured to be a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in the United States.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Khoo Siew Jin 邱守仁

Khoo Siew Jin

Khoo Siew Jin was born in 1884 in Penang to Khoo Hun Yeang. He was known as a young-business achiever. Khoo Siew Jin was first received Chinese education in Penang, and when his parents moved to Singapore in 1898 he enrolled to the Anglo Chinese School. After he finished his four-year studies in ACS, he went to Kuching, Sarawak and worked as an assistant in the Opium, Spirit & Gambling Farms, in which his father had the interest. Within two years’ time, he was promoted to General Manager of the Sawarak General Farm, a post in which he held for three years before commenced his own government farm. In partnership with his cousin, Khoo Sian Tan, they founded the Ban Hoe Kongsi in Rhio and Ban Lee Kongsi in Karimon, respectively. Both lads were well-known as strong tenderer for the Johore Opium & Sprit Farms on 3 November 1906. However shortly after that, the $90,000 worth contract was in dispute when they alleged the Johore Government had breached the contract. At a very young age, Khoo Siew Jin had built a considerable wealth, his property were distributed in Penang, Singapore and Sarawak. He was a member in the Sarawak Merchants’ Club, Honorary Secretary of the Penang Chinese Union and many other positions. Khoo Siew Jin married a daughter of Quah Mah Tek of Penang and had one son, Khoo Seng Kay (d. 20 November 1925). Khoo Siew Jin was belonged to an illustrious family, his grandfather Khoo Thean Tek was a well-known figure in the Straits Settlements, however, Khoo Siew Jin and his family remained a very low profile in public affairs.