Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lee Liang Hoon (Bukit Brown)

What caught my attention was the inverted heart shaped marble headstone (or tear drop shape stone) of a baby boy by the name of Lee Liang Hoon who was the fourth son of Dr & Mrs. Lee Lian Hoe. Baby Lee Liang Hoon was born on March 1929 and passed away on February 1931. He was barely 2 years old when he passed away. Another important observation was that although this simple tomb is located high up on Hill 3, someone obviously made the difficult trip up hill and paid respects during Qing Ming. I decided to research further.

Lee Liang Hoon,  barely 2 years old when he passed away in 1929
996 [plot no]
In loving memory of
Lee Liang Hoon 
Beloved Fourth Son of Dr. & Mrs Lee Lian Hoe
Born: 16th March 1929
Died: 1st February 1931

Father, a field doctor during the 1915 Singapore Mutiny 
His father, Lee Lian Hoe was a student at St Joseph's and did well in his Cambridge Local exams to study medicine. He was also in the Straits Voluntary Corps and in 1915 during the Singapore Mutiny were native Indian soldiers of the 5th Light Infantry revolted against their British masters and killed more than 40 British officers, European and local residents before the revolt was finally quelled. Corporal Lee Lian Hoe was part of the Singapore Field Ambulance Company that rendered assistance during the Mutiny. 
Lee Lian Hoe and his company
Doctor and Sportsman
Lee Lian Hoe graduated from King Edward VII Medical school in 1916. Dr. Lee Lian Hoe was a secretary of the Chinese Recreational Club in 1917 and played billards competitively. 

Lee Liang Hoe's siblings

Brother: Lee Liang Hye
Mr. Lee Liang Hye, third son of Dr and Mrs Lee Lian Hoe got engaged to Miss Tan Poey Kim, second daughter of Mr and Mrs Tan Chong Gark on February 3, 1954. Tan Chong Gark is one of Mr and Mrs Tan Kheam Hock's children. Lee Liang Hye became a Collector of Land Revenue, after being appointed by the Yang Di-pertuan Negera in 1963.

Mrs Lee nee Tan Poey Kim passed away at the age of 81 on January 6, 2003. She is survived by her husband, Mr. Lee Liang Hye, sons: Dennis Ong Chin Lock, Richard Lee Kim Guan, Vincent Lee Kim San and 1 daughter-in-law: Lucy Teo Pheik Hia;  daughter: Rosemarie Lee Mei Hua and son-in-law; David Warnock and grandchildren. Listed in the obituary are also Madam Tan Poey Kim's brothers: Tan Huck Eng, Tan Huck Chye (deceased). Sister-in-law: Gan Leng Neo, Tso Huei Na. Sister: Tan Poey Imm.

Mr. Lee Liang Hye passed away at the age of 83 on September 4, 2007.

References
King Edward VII Medical school. (1916, April 8). The Straits Times
How Singapore was betrayed. (1934, March 25). The Straits Times
Engagement. (1954, February 5) The Singapore Free Press
Obituary. (2003, January 7). The Straits Times


Friday, April 11, 2014

Teo Soon Kim (pioneer female lawyer)

Teo Soon Kim (1904-1978) was a pioneer female lawyer, becoming the first Singapore woman to be admitted to the bar of the Straits Settlements in 1929 and the first woman barrister in Hong Kong. She studied in London and was the second Malayan Chinese woman to qualify as a barrister in England. Her female contemporary during the same period was Miss Lim Beng Hong ( Mrs B. H. Oon ) of Penang, who won the honors as the first Chinese Malayan woman admitted to the English bar and the first woman qualified to practice law in Malaya in 1927. After her came Miss Lucy See (daughter of See Tiong Wah) and Miss Teo Soon Kim, both from Singapore and finally Miss Lim Beng Teik (younger sister of  Miss Lim Beng Hong).

Miss Teo Soon Kim went to England in 1926 and for 3 years she studied and was mentored by Dr H. H Bellot, Secretary of the International Law Association and Grotius Society and finally called to the Bar in the Inner Temple. She even found time to travel to America and China.

Teo Soon Kim (Mrs Lo Teo Soon Kim)
Miss Teo Soon Kim married Dr Lo Lung Chi / Lo Long Chi in December 1928 at Wesley Church, Singapore. Mrs Lo Teo Soon Kim took oath in June 19, 1929 before Mr. Justice Deane and was admitted to practice as the first lady advocate and solicitor in the Courts of the Straits Settlement. She then head off to China in 1929. She returned to Singapore in 1931 after a two year absence to practice

Miss Teo Soon Kim and Dr. Lo Lung Chi solemised
by Rev Goh Hood Keng at Wesley Church 

Miss Teo Soon Kim and Dr. Lo Lung Chi 
In 1932, Mrs. Lo Teo made local history when she was assigned as defense lawyer for a murder case. The court was crowded packed to standing room with among those present were many interested womanfolk. She won the case after managing in securing acquittal for the accused. She moved to Hong Kong and was admitted to Bar there, a first for that colony as well.

I have no further information on her subsequently, but Madam Teo Soon Kim passed away at the age of 74 in April 23, 1978 and is interned in the Choa Chu Kang Christian Garden of Remembrance.

Teo Soon Kim's niche in Choa Chu Kang 

Revolutionary father and Rubber King, Teo Eng Hock
Born in Singapore, Mr. Teo Eng Hock was a prominent Teochew leader. He went on to take a post in the Chinese Affairs Committee in Nanking and eventually settled in Hong Kong. During the 1930's he was known as the rubber king and his competitor was  Mr. Tan Kah Kee. Mr. Tan Kah Kee took over reign as the Rubber King, when Mr. Teo's business declined. Mr. Teo Eng Hock was a staunch supporter of Dr. Sun Yat Sen during the Chinese revolution and acknowledged pioneer in the Tung Meng Hui (United League), precursor to the Kuomintang movement. He passed away after a short illness in 1959. 

Miss Teo Soon Kim together with her father, Teo Eng Hock in Nanjing, China.
Teo Eng Hock with Tan Chor Nam and Dr Sun Yat Sen

References
Untitled. ( 1928, November 24). Malay Saturday Post
The wedding of Singapore's first lady lawyer. (1928, December 22). Malay Saturday Post.
Our first lady Barrister. (1929, June 19). The Singapore Free Press
Social and Personal. (1931, June 27). The Straits Times
Woman assigned for the defence. (1932, January 8). The Straits Times
Mrs. Lo talks of her triumph. (1932, January 10). The Straits Times
Memorial at Nanking to Lim Nee Soon. ( April 19, 1936). The Straits Times
Woman called to bar. (1948, February 19). The Straits Times
Former rubber king dies in Hong Kong. ( 1959, April 11).The Straits Times

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Woodneuk House - a palace in ruins

Forgotten to many is an abandoned house, a palace or Istana of sorts to the Sultan of Johore. The house is known as simply Woodneuk house. There was another house or palace that resided in the grounds previously. It was called Tyersall house or Istana Tyersall and people often confused Tyersall house vs Woodneuk house because of its proximity. Hopefully my article below helps clear this confusion and also help share what i have learned (or in my case, still learning) about the heritage value of this building and it's rich historical past. 

Tyersall House ( Istana Tyersall)
Originally a country house, it was owned by Mr. William Napier and built in 1854. Sitting on 67 acres of land, it was put up for sale in 1857 and ownership transferred to the Sultan of Johore. It was rebuilt on a larger scale by 1892. Sultan Abu Bakar threw a party or ball, marking its reopening on January 15, 1895. The roof of the new house was said to have a distinct red tiled roof. The map below provides concrete evidence that they were different buildings based on maps that date as far back as 1907 by Rev. G.M. Reith.
Handbook to Singapore c. 1907
indicating location of both houses
1895 marked also the death of Sultan Abu Bakar, and Sultan Ibrahim who succeeded as Sultan of Johore preferred Woodneuk house when he came to Singapore. The Tyersall house suffered a major fire in September 10, 1905 which damage the central portion including its ballroom. The cause given was faulty wiring and damages was estimated to be $40,000-$50,000. It suffered another fire in 1932 and from what i gathered, the building cease to exist by 1947.
Tyersall  photo circa 1929 
Tyersall House (picture taken from the lake)
(source: National Archives ) 
Tyersall House and first motor meet in June 1907
(source:NewspaperSG)
Woodneuk House (Istana Woodneuk)
In an article dated 1865, there was already mentioned of a Woodneuk house in the vicinity of Botanic Gardens for rent. A similar article putting out the place for rent appeared in 1883. In 1892, there was an auction of its furniture and furnishings of a person named D. Brandt in August 1892. When did the Sultan of Johore took ownership of Woodneuk?

Woodneuk : Past and Present
The new Woodneuk House was completed in 1935 in time for the celebration of the Sultan of Johor's 62nd birthday and his 40 years of reign. Sultan Ibrahim or H.R.H. Paduka Sri Sultan Al-Haj Sir Ibrahim al-Mashur ibni al-Marhum Sultan Sir Abu Bakar (born 17th September 1873 and ruled from 4th June 1895 - 8th May 1959) ruled during this period. It was said this house was built for Sultan Ibrahim and his English wife Helen Bartholomew. They married in 1930, and she was crowned Sultanah Helen Ibrahim in 1931.
Sultan Ibrahim and Sultanah Helen Ibrahim
Woodneuk was a beautiful place and was described one built with bricks and stones. The building is colored dark cream and grey with a roof of lovely blue shimmering Devonshire tiles. The doors are made to fold back fully and at the blue lounge where the 2 staircase are located, the main coloring is a soft shade of pastel blue. The panels you see behind the column in between the staircase are beautiful screens made of light wood with panels of old chinese carvings. This panels were originally from Tyersall. The parquet flooring has persian rugs with the central rug being of beautiful soft blue with brocade and china themes. The article goes on to describe even the second floor. What i have done below is to illustrate what it looked like in the past and its current state. 
Past and Present (Staircase)
Past and Present (Dinning area)
Past and Present (upstairs lounge) 

Past and Present (bedroom) 
An advertisement for a House keeper
Pre and Post War
In 1940, the Sultan of Johore allowed for part of the Tyersall Park to be used by the Indian Troops HQ to be stationed and converted as a military camp area with many vehicles in a mechanisation effort of the Indian Army. The field hospital was also built here. It was the Australian Field HQ of Gen. Bennett during WW2 during the Japanese invasion, as well as the Indian Regiments Field Hospital.

After Singapore was liberated, it was occupied by Sir Miles Dempsey, followed by Commander-in-Chief Sir Montagu Stopford and in January 16, 1947, Governor-General Mr. Malcolm MacDonald occupied the place. In 1948, Woodneuk was returned to the Sultan of Johore for his official use.

There was an article on the Johore Government allocating $14,500 in 1954 to re-roof Istana Besar, Johore Bahru and the Istana Woodneuk, Singapore. After Sultan Ibrahim passed away in 1959, Woodneuk seem to have finally lost its lustre with hardly any articles mentioning invites, visitation or even for its maintenance, was mentioned. At some point, Woodneuk was unoccupied and a fire in 2006 caused further damage to the place. A heritage building, it is now in a sad state waiting for a slim hope that it can be saved before total collapse.
Woodneuk before the fire that cause it's beautiful blue roof
to collapse. circa 2006 (credit: Positive Image Photography)
Woodneuk in 2014 (the roofing gone as a result of a fire in 2006) 
Woodneuk in 2014 (the roofing gone as a result of a fire in 2006)
Beautiful dual staircase

Ownership
The land where Woodneuk sits on, according to the land query is still a private land. This land i assume still belongs to the Johore Royalty.  A portion of the original land was however acquired in 2004 by the state and part of this land is now is part of NParks future Botanic Garden expansion.
Private land (source:one map) 
Part of Tyserall land acquired by State and part of NParks
[research still on-going] 

References
Advertisement. (1865, September 18). The Straits Times
Advertisement. (1883, May 29). The Straits Times
Advertisement. (1892, August 27). The Straits Times
Heart of the lion city. (1930, December 20). The Strais Times
The Home beautiful built for Sultan of Johore. (1935, September 12). The Straits Times
Singapore's Indian soldiers live in Sultan's Park. (1940, May 2). The Straits Times
Advertisement. (1941, March 13). The Straits Times
First motor meeting. (1947. April 19). The Straits Times.
New roofs. (1951, December 20). The Singapore Free Press
The story of Tyersall house. [website]. API
Reith, George Murray. Handbook to Singapore with Map, Second edition 1907. [website] access via Southeast Asia Visions
Woodneuk pictures  [website] Positive Image Photography, Synapseman

Friday, April 04, 2014

Miss Oh Twa Koh and Madam Wee Cheng Neo (Bukit Brown)

If you happen to be in Bukit Brown, Hill 4 Division A, you will come across 2 unique tomb with sikh guards side by side. They belong to Miss Oh Twa Koh and her daughter-in-law, Madam Wee Cheng Neo. If you look closely at Madam Wee's tomb, her tomb is one of the rare tomb's with her ceramic picture in color, a rarity for a tomb during 1936 period.

Madam Wee Cheng Neo alias Nonek
Madam Wee Cheng Neo alias Nonek
Madam Wee Cheng Neo alias Nonek, the wife of Mr Oh Wee Poh passed away at the age of 39 leaving behind 3 sons and 2 daughters on December 7,1936 at her residence in 149 Onan Road. Her husband is therefore the adopted son of Miss Oh Twa Koh. She passed away earlier than her mother-in-law. 
On her tomb are listed: 
Sons: Oh Boo Eng, Oh Boo Teck, Oh Boo Tat
Daughters: Lily Oh, Elsie Oh  
Tomb of  Madam  Wee Cheng Neo alias Nonek

Sikh guards of Nonek
Miss Oh Twa Koh alias Miss Mah Ang Chew alias Oh Ang Tew
Miss Oh Twa Koh alias Miss Mah Ang Chew alias Oh Ang Tew passed away peacefully on December 26, 1939 at the age of 77 at 153 Onan Road. One of Miss Oh Twa Koh adopted son married Madam Wee Cheng Neo.
She is survived by:
3 adopted sons : Mr Oh Wee Poh of Sam Hup Teng Kee, Puloe Samboe, Messrs. Oh Wee Seng, Oh Wee Moh of Harper, Gilfillan and Co.Ltd, Singapore.
1 adopted daughter: Lim Nia Chee ( Mrs. Tan Choon Tiam)
3 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and many grandchildren.

Tomb of Miss Oh Twa Koh 
Miss Oh Twa Koh
Sikh guards of Miss Oh Wee Poh 
Mr.Oh Wee Poh used to be in the employment of Imperial Chemicals,Industries (Malaya) Ltd as a clerk or bill collector up to 1931. After that he was listed as with Sam Hup Teng Kee, Puloe Samboe. Puloe /Pulau Samboe was a Dutch control island off Singapore (close to Batam) set-up as an oil storage facility and for ship berthing.
Mother-in-law and daughter
151 and 153 Onan Road
(source: PictureSG)

References
Advertisement. (1931, October 8).The Straits Times
Death. (1936, December 8).The Straits Times
Untitled. (1939, December 28). The Straits Times


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Tan Lian Boh (Bukit Brown)

Tan Lian Boh (also known as Tan Cha Boh , 陳連畝) was the son of the late Mr Tan Tye, a native from Amoy, China. Mr Tan Tye came to Singapore in the the 1860's and established himself as a timber merchant and pineapple packer in River Valley. When Tan Tye passed away, his two sons, Tan Lian Boh and Tan Lian Chye alias Tan Chor Lam, sold the timber business and focused on the pineapple packing business and leased the lands in Sembawang Road. The pineapples grown are then send to Tan Lian Boh's factory. It was said that as many as 6000 pineapples are send everyday from the fields to his factory to be processed (clean, cut) and canned. The can pineapples are either sold locally or exported to places like London, United States, Shanghai and Hong Kong. 
Tan Tye (father of Tan Liah Boh and Tan Lian Chye)
Annual output is said to be 60,000 cases in all containing some 3 million pineapples ! The senior managing partner of this factory called Hin Choon & Co is of course Tan Lian Boh. He was a member of the Straits Chinese British Subjects' Association and president of the Teong Hong Koh Association, a kind of mutual support club for widows and families of deceased members.
Hin Choon & Co at Sembawang Road 
Istana Brand can pineapples of Tan Tye & Sons

Hin Choon & Co, Squirrel Brand
Tan Liah Boh's pineapple factory (circa 1906)
source: a2o
Death
Located in Hill 2 Division D, plot no 209 , Mr Tan Lian Boh (also known as Tan Cha Boh) passed away on January 23, 1927 age 46. His tomb no longer exist as he was already exhumed.
Tomb of Tan Lian Boh
His brother, Tan Lian Chye alias Tan Chor Lam was the first President of the Tung Meng Hui and his buried in Bukit Brown. 
Tan Lian Chye alias Tan Chor Lam 
Mr. Tan Tye died on July 22, 1898 leaving behind an extensive property and complex will.
Mr Tan Tye (source: a2o)
Mrs Tan Tye passed away in November 1918 and her remains was moved from her residence in No 328 Beach Road to Toa Payoh Cemetery on November 24, 1918.
Mrs Tan Tye 
References
Wright, A., & Cartwright, H. A. (1989). Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources. Graham Brash, page 657
Let my legacy continue beyond 3 generations. [website] Bukit Brown.org
Tan Lian Boh.[website]. The Bukit Brown Documentation Project

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Cheang Jim Hoe (Bukit Brown)

Cheang Jim Hoe / Cheang Jim Ho is one of Cheang Hong Lim's son. In a court case in 1912, i got insight into a case where Mr. Cheong Kang Chuan, a hokkien was charged with the theft of 500 young rubber trees worth $200. The complainant was no other than Mr Cheang Jim Hoe who had planted over 10,000 rubber trees at Alexandra Road and one day found some missing. Cheang Jim Hoe residence was listed as 99-1 Annan's Bank, off River Valley Road.

Death
Cheang Jim Hoe died at 4:30 pm on October 20, 1935 at No. 362, River Valley Road, leaving behind his wife Madam Ho Bee Geok, a son; Mr Cheang Sunny, a daughter Madam Cheang Soon Wah, a son-in-law, Mr Teo Keng Teow and 2 grandchildren. Ho Bee Geok is the daughter of Ho Beng Chong.
Mr Cheang Jim Hoe 

Mr Cheang Jim Hoe 

Madam Ho Bee Geok 

Madam Ho Bee Geok 
References
Thursday. (1912, June 22). Weekly Sun
Deaths. (1935, October 23). The Straits Times

Last Qing Ming for some residents (Bukit Brown)

Qing Ming 2014 marks the year that many tombs will be forcibly moved to make way for the 8 lane highway and for many descendants is the last opportunity to pay respects in-situ to their ancestors before they move house. I took the opportunity also to capture some of the Qing Ming ceremonies still in practice for many generations as well as to show evidence the importance of Bukit Brown as a cultural place where this practices continue till today and the many tombs seemingly forgotten to the untrained eye, that are still visited till today.
An affected tomb, peg 3702 along Lornie Road
A tomb seemingly in disrepair but not forgotten
Flowers together with offerings to the ancestor and earth diety
Another tomb seemingly in disrepair but not forgotten 
Flowers are also a common sight 
Windmill 
Cultural Heritage Practices

1) Colored paper was placed underneath a stone on the grave to signify that someone had visited the grave and that it had not been abandoned or forgotten.

colored paper  with stone on headstone
2) Repainting of the red or guilt lettering on the tomb as symbol of reverence and tomb sweeping /cleaning.
Repainting of lettering
A family effort 
3) Paper Offerings to Lions. If anyone know the significance of this, do let me know. Leave a comment or email me. 

4) Offerings to the Earth Deity for taking care of the ancestor(s).
Offerings to Earth Deity 
Offerings to Earth Deity 
5) Participation by inter-generational family members that helps reaffirm the common bond or root despite living under separate roofs or geographical location in a peaceful and green setting. 
Remembering their ancestors among the peg graves
A celebration of burning paper offerings and the shouting of huat !
A celebration of being remembered
I leave you with two poignant images which perfectly symbolise what i feel and my parting words. 

First is an image of a simple headstone with the words weathered with time and elements. I am unable to make out who is buried here and when she/ he passed away. However the occupant is not forgotten as you can see from the picture below. 
Paper and food offerings on an unmarked tob 
Second is the image of a simple inverted heart shaped headstone of a young boy by the name of Lee Liang Hoon who was the fourth son of Dr & Mrs. Lee Lian Hoe. Baby Lee Liang Hoon was born on March 1929 and passed away on February 1931. He was barely 2 years old when he passed away. This simple tomb is located high up on Hill 3, but someone obviously made the difficult trip up hill and paid respects. 
Baby Lee Liang Hoon
(Hill 3 B plot 996)
Both images gave me time to reflect that no matter what we do, we are just but mere mortals that will eventually die. This is our predestined faith, no matter how wealthy, powerful or influential we are. I have seen tombs in Bukit Brown of influential pioneers whose achievement are written in historical text or name remembered by a Street name, but not been visited at all during Qing Ming and yet simple tombs that seemed weathered or worn or even  run down and in disrepair that are celebrated despite passing away 70 years ago or more.

Rather than make hasty pre-judgement that the rich tombs are not cared for which is untrue, i just wanted to say that don't discount those in disrepair. Many are remembered till today and this are captured by the pictures i took on Sunday, 30th March.

Related post
Bukit Brown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.(Rojak Librarian) posted on April 2, 2013
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