Bukit Brown

Bukit Brown

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tay Koh Yat (Bukit Brown)


Tay Koh Yat (1880-1957) C.H., O.B.E,  was born in Kinmen in 1880 and came down to Singapore in 1902 at the age of 22 as a poor immigrant and got a job as a $2-a-month clerk in a Chinese shop were his duties include sweeping floors. He then joined Chop Guan Seng Hin as a partner.At the age of 32, he established Guan Soon (branches in Indonesia and Penang), followed by Aik Seng Hin and finally Chin Joo Seng and Co. His name (to a much older generation of Singaporeans) is linked to his namesake bus company called Tay Koh Yat Bus Company. Starting from just 2 buses in 1921, it went on to become one of the largest in the colony.


He was also a director of the Chung Shin Jit Poh, a Chinese newspaper and committee member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Hokkien Huay Kuan. Tay Koh Yat was also a chairman of the Thong Chai Hospital at Eu Tong Sen Street.

Tay Koh Yat (montage)

1951 advertisement (source: NewspaperSG)

War Hero 
A lesser known fact was Tay Koh Yat's involvement and contributions in the war effort and post war claims making him a war hero in every sense. He was an important personality involved in War Fund collection and assisted in the war resistance against the Japanese. He, together with other prominent leaders helped mobilised the Singapore Chinese civil defence force in the critical months before the fall of Singapore in February 15, 1942. The numbers were estimated about 10,000. When the Japanese invaded Singapore, it made him a wanted person. He, however managed to evade capture by going into hiding in Indonesia.

Post-war
He was the Chairman of the Singapore Appeal Committee during the trials of Japanese war criminals. He together with the committee of prominent Chinese men were tasked to provide and gather eyewitness in the proper prosecution of the war criminals. In a Singapore War Crimes court ruling in 1947, two war criminals were sentenced to hang for being directly responsible for the massacre of 5,000 Chinese after the fall of Singapore. (what is better known as the Sook Ching massacre). They were Lieutenant-General Kawamura and Lieutenant-Colonel Oishi. Five other japanese officers served life imprisonment. Tay Koh Yat was allowed to witness the hanging.


Turbulent 50's
The 50's was also difficult years for Singapore with the growing threats of anti-colonialism, communist sentiments and labour unrest. The article below dated 1951 describes Mr Tay Koh Yat, then already at his 70's rushing to the site where 4 arsonist from attempting to burn his bus and shouting "Tangkap!" which is Malay for Catch!

(source: NewspaperSG)
1951 article
(source: NewspaperSG)
A Tay Koh Yat bus that was destroyed by arsonist
(source: NewspaperSG)
In 1951, a group of prominent chinese leaders led by Lee Kong Chian, Tan Chin Tuan, Tan Siak Kew, Lien Yin Chiew, Tay Koh Yat and Lee Wee Nam formed a special committee to draw a memorandum to seek the colonial government support to grant citizenship rights to over 250,000 china-born chinese currently reciding in the colony. Spoke person of the committee, Mr Tan Siak Kew (vice-president of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce) was quoted to saying; " Times have changed and our hearts are no longer with a China dominated by Chinese Communist".

(Unfortunately for us with more historical hindsight this was not the exact truth).

Honours
Tay Koh Yat received the Certificate of Honour in 1950 for his outstanding duties as a citizen of Singapore and for being a great benefactor of various charities. He was conferred the Order of the British Empire in 1952 for his courage in keeping the bus service in operation despite Communist threats and repeated arsons.

Death
Tay Koh Yat passed away at midnight, January 29, 1957 (Chinese New Year eve) at his home at No 58 Tras Street. He is survived by his wife, seven sons and 3 daughters. On Sunday, February 3, a huge procession of 100 buses,cars, lorries followed his hearse.

(source: NewspaperSG) 
Mr Tay Soo Yong (son) is the managing director of the company.

Miss Tay Suat Eng (third daughter) married Mr. Ong Say Yeo (eldest son of Mr and Mrs Ong Choon Kew ) on November 27, 1938. The dinner was held at the bridegroom's house in no 103, Pasir Panjang Road.

His tomb is in Block 5 Division D (from the main gate, turn left and walk about 50 meters)


References
Advertisement. (1920, August 19). The Straits Times, page 10
Day and Night working for coronation procession. (1937, April 16). The Singapore Free Press, page 11
Massacre trial sentences to stand; 2 to die . (1947, June 14). The Straits Times, page 1
Four women watch hangings request to see face. (1947, June 26). The Straits Times, page 1
Hospital Seek Aid. (1949, September 6). The Straits Times, page 5
Honours for 16 People. (1950, November 21). The Straits Times, page 5
Owner 71, beats bus arson bid. (1950, December 28). The Straits Times, page 1
Mr Tay Koh Yat. (1951, January 4). The Straits Times, page 6
Give Franchise to China-born Chinese in Singapore' Plea. (1951, January 6). The Straits Times, page 5
Advertisement.(1951, November 17). The Straits Times, page 2
Traders Honor Tay Koh Yat. (1952, January 23). The Straits Times, page 8
Untitled. (1952, December 21). The Straits Times, page 9
Leaders of business in Malaya. (1953, April 14). The Straits Times, page 10
Estimate of Malaya war dead fair, correct. (1955, March 7). The Straits Times, page 5
100 cars in bus owner's funeral procession. (1957, February 4). The Strait Times, page 7
Death. (1957, February 1). The Straits Times, page 7
Pioneer Bus Company Chief Dies Aged 79. (1957, January 31). The Straits Times, page 5

Cheang Hong Lim (Bukit Brown)

Cheang Hong Lim  章芳琳 ( 1841-1893),  J.P. was born in Singapore and is the eldest of 4 sons of Mr Cheang Sam Teo  who migrated from China and started his business in partnership with Mr. Tay Hong Long (father of Mr. Tay Ho Swee) under the name of chop Teang Wat, located at Telok Ayer Street. The main business were Opium and Sirih (Betel nut farm). After Cheang Sam Teo passed away in 1920, the company became Cheang Hong Lim and Co. or chop Teang Wat Wan Kee and later chop Wan Seng.
Cheang Hong Lim

Opium and Spirit
Cheang Hong Lim, like his father Cheang Sam Teo and his brother Cheang Hong Guan, were leading licensed Spirits merchant. Cheang Hong Lim expanded his Spirit license to eventually Opium as well. Cheang Hong Lim together with his competitors, Tan Seng Poh and Tan Hiok Nee (Tan Yeok Nee) held tight control of this in the 1870's . They were coined as the Great Syndicate, holding licenses in Singapore, Johor, Melaka, Riau Opium and Spirit Farms and were fierce competitors as well.
source: Singapore and Straits Directory 1881

Contributions 
In 1876, Cheang Hong Lim donated $3,000 in the creation of a public garden, thereafter named Hong Lim Green . He erected a temple in Havelock Road named "Geok Hong Tian" and maintained a private market on the site of Hong Lim Market (Cheang Hong Lim Market 1882). He was known for his generosity in advancing loans to poor stall holders and fisherman who in a number of instance, did not pay him back. When he died, it was found that he loaned a total of $400,000 to his "friends" and this loans were statute-barred (i.e. unable to take legal claim or action).
Hong Lim Green
Designed by H.D. Richards, the Singapore Chinese Recreational Club (octagonal pavilion) was officially opened on 2 July 1887. In 1960, this clubhouse was demolished when Hong Lim Green was converted into Hong Lim Park. The French-style Police Court that stands behind the clubhouse was built in 1885 and demolished in 1975

Geok Hong Tian 
Cheang Hong Lim donated to all despite differing religious beliefs. He generously donated to the Portugese Church of St. Joseph the sum of $900 to purchase gas chandlers for the Church in 1876. Cheang Hong Lim founded a school called Cheang Hong Lim Free School in Telok Ayer. In 1876, the school had a daily attendance of 90 students. He donated a sum of $3,000 to the Penang Free School.

Cheang Hong Lim was made a Justice of Peace in March 28, 1873 , a member of the Legislative Council and for many years sat in the Committee of the Po Leong Kuk. He was recognised by the Government as the head of the Hokkien Chinese Community in 1892.

Cheang Hong Lim Fire Brigade
In 1886, Cheang Hong Lim started his own Fire Brigade in Havelock Road for the protection of the district (this is in part to his interest, has he has numerous properties in that area). There was also a documented instance when Cheang Hong Lim's fire engine even arrived on scene earlier ! Cheang Hong Lim's fire engine is manned by 37 persons working by turns, dressed in uniform and wearing caps bearing the Chinese name "Wan Seng".

Cheang Hong Lim and Dr Lim Boon Keng
Dr Lim Boon Keng is the second son of Mr Lim Thean Geow and grandson of Mr. Lim Mah Peng. Mr Lim Mah Peng was the manager of Cheang Hong Lim's Spirit Farm and his son, Mr Lim Thean Geow the Assistant. When Mr Lim Thean Geow passed away, a young Lim Boon Keng was a brilliant student studying in Raffles Institution (born September 5, 1869) and the recipient of the Higher Scholarship. The principal, Mr. Hullet approached Cheang Hong Lim to be the sponsor. Lim Boon Keng went on to distinguish himself. (that is another story on its own)

Streets and Places 
Places named after him include Hong Lim Park, Hong Lim Market, Cheang Wan Seng Place, Cheang Hong Lim Street . Grave list his official Qing Dynasty Imperial title.

Cheang Hong Lim 
Cheang Hong Lim was said to be the first prominent Chinese leader and leading merchant in Singapore to be granted a Qing title in 1869 that bear the title Tao-yuan in recognition for his generous contributions in the defence of the Fukien Province.

Death
Cheang Hong Lim passed away on February 11, 1893 leaving behind a large amount of property for distribution among his many children. An interesting item to note that probate of his will was given to his eldest daughter, Cheang Cheow Lian Neo ( Mrs. Lim Kwee Eng) to be trustee in executing his will. It was rare that a woman was appointed trustee at that time, especially for the Chinese.

He was reburied in Block 4 Division C on December 26, 1961 with a special permit. The original family grave located off Alexandra Rd -Mei Ling St. His parents, wives, children are buried here (but not next to him).

Sons: Cheang Jim Hean, Cheang Jim Chuan, Cheang Jim Kheng, Cheang Jim Khean, Cheang Jim Siew, Cheang Jim Ho, Cheang Jim Seong, Cheang Jim Eng, Cheang Jim Kwan, Cheang Jim Kong and Cheang Jim Khoon.


References
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

Ch'ing's Sale of Honours and the Chinese Leadership in Singapore and Malaya (1877-1912)
Yen Ching-Hwang .Journal of Southeast Asian Studies , Vol. 1, No. 2 (Sep., 1970) , pp. 20-32
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of Department of History, National University of Singapore. Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20069870

The Rise of Singapore's Great Opium Syndicate, 1840-86. Carl A. Trocki.Journal of Southeast Asian Studies , Vol. 18, No. 1 (Mar., 1987) , pp. 58-80
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of Department of History, National University of Singapore.Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20070942

The Singapore and Straits directory for 1881, containing also directories of Sarawak, Labuan, Siam, Johore and the Protected Native States of the Malay Peninsula and an appendix. [website] BookSG

Tan Boo Liat (Bukit Brown)

Tan Boo Liat (1875-1934) was born into a well known and established family in Singapore. He is the son of Tan Soon Toh, the grandson of Tan Kim Ching, and great grandson of Tan Tock Seng.

Tan Boo Liat was one of the pioneer members of the Straits Chinese British Association when it was first formed in 1900. The President of the Association was Tan Jiak Kim and Vice President, Seah Liang Seah. He was the owner of the mansion called Golden Bell Mansion (named after his grandfather, Tan Kim Ching) in Mount. Faber. On December 15, 1911, Chinese revolutionary leader Dr Sun Yat Sen, stayed the night here, immediately after his arrival from Europe.
Tan Boo Liat
(source: a2o)
Tan Boo Liat was instrumental in the formation of the Singapore Chinese Girl School (Sing Po Chung Kwo Hsio Tang) located at Hill Street in 1899.  The President then was Lew Yuk Lin (Chinese Consul) and Vice Presidents; Khoo Seok Wan and Tan Hap Seng, Treasurer; Tan Boo Liat, Secretary; Ong Soo Tee.

A famous horse called Vanitas

Tan Boo Liat became a instant celebrity among the race horse community when his horse, "Vanitas" won the Viceroy Cup on December 26, 1898 at Calcutta, India making it the first horse from Malaya to do so. Along  with the trophy is the princely sum of $100,000.  Vanitas continued its racing career after its return to Singapore and won in 1899, the Singapore Derby for the third successful time. By 1900, age caught up with the champion and Vanitas was retired at Tan Boo Liat's house, "Mafeking" at Confederate Estate.
Vanitas

Unique Gravestone

Tan Boo Liat gravestone depicts a ray of light & on its side two bells.The ray of light indicates his staunch support of the Kuomintang Movement, while the bells are symbols of his mansion. The gravestone also indicates his given title awarded by the King of Siam - Phra Anakul Sayamkitch. This is because he and his family (especially his grandfather, Tan Kim Ching) has close relationship to the King of Siam due to the business dealings they have.

Tan Boo Liat died in Shanghai in 1934, his body was embalmed and return to Singapore via a ship called "President Johnson". The cortege left 117, Emerald Hill Road for Bukit Brown.


Tan Boo Liat is buried Block 3. Division D. His plot no is 520. The tomb is located just behind the iconic colorful sikh guard of Mr Chew Geok Leong.

The funeral of Madam Kwok Kim Neo (the wife of Tan Boo Liat) was reported to took place in Bukit Brown on June 1, 1932.





References
Straits Chinese British Association. (1900, August 18). The Singapore Free Press, page 3
When a horse was given a red carpet reception. (1956, August 12). The Straits Times, page 20
When the red carpet was laid for the conquering hero. ( 1970, December 6). The Straits Times, page 22

Tan Kim Ching (Bukit Brown)

Tan Kim Ching (1829-1892) was the eldest son of the late Tan Tock Seng, a philanthropist and merchant. The name of Tan Tock Seng is immortalised because of his contributions to the hospital which bears his namesake today; Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Tan Kim Ching, inherited his father's business acumen and was also a wealthy chinese towkay and was the Consul General and Special Commissioner for Siam. A property owner, with businesses in plantations, tin mining in Southern Siam (Thailand) and rice-mills in Bangkok. He was also a steamship owner, the ships christian as "Siam" and "Singapore". He has also a large track of mining concessions not explored yet in Mount Ophir, Kampong Rusa, Patani among others.

He had cultivated good relationship with the King of Siam  and among the Chinese community, he was well respected- once a head of the Seh Tan's especially in the states bordering Siam. Tan Kim Ching was instrumental in helping the British resolve the succession conflict in Perak and also the mining concession wars between the two major secret societies of Hai San and Ghee Hin. Tan Kim Ching was a prominent member of the Ghee Hin Secret Society.

Family
He has two brothers, Tan Swee Lim and Tan Teck Guan. Tan Kim Ching had 3 sons; Tan Sen Kek, Tan Soon Tee and Tan Keh Jiang. All 3 son's predeceased him.

Death 
The remains of Tan Kim Ching moved from his town residence in North Bridge Road (junction of Coleman and North Bridge Road -formerly Hotel Hamburg) for his private burial ground in Changi. The funeral procession was a mile long starting from North Bridge Road, passed by Rochore Police Station and the Gas Works until finally arriving at the thirteen milestone in Changi Road.

Tan Kim Ching (1829 – 1892) was re-interned in Block 4 Division C. On his gravestone, it highlights his title of Consul of Siam ( Phya Anukul Siamketch Upanick Sit Siam Rath) , Chinese Kapitan and Qing Dynasty Imperial ranking. He was also a commander of the third class Order of the Rising Sun of Japan.

Tan Kim Ching's tomb at a private burial ground in Changi
before relocation to Bukit Brown (source: a20)

Tan Kim Ching's tomb at Bukit Brown
Anna and the King connection
If you are familiar with Anna and the King, he had a part in making the connections. It was because of him & his close ties with King Mongkut, King of Siam and the British, that he recommended Anna Leonowens to the King.

References
Tan Kim Ching. from Wikipedia.
Picturesque and Busy Singapore. (1886, December 13). Straits Times Weekly Issue.
Death of Tan Kim Ching. (1892, February 29). The Singapore Free Press
The late Mr Tan Kim Ching. (1892, April 20).The Singapore Free Press

Tai Thean Khew Circus - Mr Sun Si Ting (Bukit Brown)

Located at Block 4 Division B (behind the tall Sikh guards) is the tomb of Mr Sun Si Ting who died in 1944, age 61.What caught my eye was the inscription in english that states that he was the owner of Tai Thian Kew Circus, Nanking China.
Sun Si Ting
On the tomb are inscribed the following:
Tombstone of Mr. Sun Si Ting, Proprietor of Tai Thian Kew Circus. Nangking China.
Erected by his sorrowful sons, Thian Chok and San Keng.  Daughters, San Pow and  See Eng
sons-in laws, Peng Sang, Su Pai and Grandsons, Ming Chuan and Ming Lee 
Year died 10th day of the 4th moon 33 year of the Chinese Republic. 
Mr Sun Si Ting 
Circus in Singapore 
While skimming through the old paper archives i discovered, interestingly enough, that this circus donated a lion to the "new Johore zoo" in 1965 indicating probably its shows traveled beyond Singapore and covered Malaysia as well. In fact after reading through various sources, this circus troupe has traveled widely beyond this shores to include China, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

The circus troupe contain performances that incorporates humans and animals.
Tai Thean Kew Circus
(photo courtesy of George Hardington) 
Tai Thean Kew Circus in Sembawang
(photo courtesy of George Hardington)
Elephants of Tai Thean Kew Circus
 (photo courtesy of George Hardington) 
Animals of Tai Thean Kew Circus under tent
(photo courtesy of George Hardington)

Monkey on horse
(source: NewspaperSG)
Tai Thean Kew Circus in Ipoh 1964
(source: NewspaperSG)
Tiger rides circus horse
(source: NewspaperSG)

Tai Thean Kew Circus in town
(various articles from NewspaperSG)
Tai Thean Kew Circus in town
(various articles from NewspaperSG)
References
Untitled. (1964, February 2). The Straits Times
Some memories of this long gone circus in the comment section of this lovely blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

427 Pulau Ubin and the former village head

Here's a story of this house at no 427 Pulau Ubin. This is the house of former village head Mr Lim Chye Joo, who passed away at the age of 101 in Oct 2006. I believe the house is now currently owned by Mr Lim Chai Lai.

The house no: 427 is the title of my article and here are some the pictures that i compiled of this place and the story that comes with it.




In a Strait Times article dated April 27, 2005, Mr Lim Chye Joo's eldest son Lim Chu Zi spoke about his father who came to Ubin nearly 70 years ago and was instrumental in the island's development. He ran vegetable and prawn farms and later a provision shop. He also served as the chairman of the island's community centre management committee for 30 years.

Not surprisingly,while visiting his house, i saw certificates as well as pictures of Mr Lim with various political heads of Singapore.

Certificate of Long Service

Mr Lim Chye Joo with Mr Goh Chok Tong(left)
& Mr Abdullah Tarmugi (right)


Lim Chye Joo and his grandson Lim En En
(screen capture from Straits Times) 
Mr Lim celebrating his 100 year old birthday
(screen capture from Straits Times)
When he turned 100, over 50 family members and guest celebrated with him at his house. Mr Abdullah Tarmugi, MP of East Coast GRC and Speaker of Parliment graced the event as well. 

His house was also mentioned in the Strait Times article dated Feb 17,204  for the family pet ostrich that he kept in spite of Agri-Food Authority of Singapore (AVA) culling of chickens, ducks, etc from the island due to the fear of bird flu.


References
He does it by...keeping life simple. Straits Times, April 27, 2005.
Pulau Ubin headman celebrates turning 100. Straits Times, April 3, 2005
Big Bird stays on Ubin. Straits Times, Feb 17, 2004

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tampines Echo revisited

Red whiskered Bulbul


Decided to pay a visit back to Tampines Echo after a long spell away from it. It was a quiet day as it rained the whole day in the morning, but why not ! Not a bad run, as i was rewarded with the following spots

  1. Scaly breasted Munia
  2. Zebra dove
  3. Brahminy Kite
  4. Tiger Shrike
  5. Red whiskered Bulbul 
  6. White breasted Kingfisher
  7. Pink-neck pigeon
  8. Bee-eater (too far to id the details)
I know that's not much, but hey..i wasn't expecting many anyway. But it was the first time i saw a red whiskered Bulbul in Tampines Echo.


Sunday, November 06, 2011

Bukit Brown - more than just a cemetery

Bukit Brown(BB) cemetery is in the press more recently for its heritage and rediscovery of graves of pioneers and notable people of Singapore's past. My first experience of visiting BB was 3 years ago when i joined a organised nature walk by Nature Society (Singapore) and subsequently been visiting that place every year, but not as frequent as this year, 2011.

See blogs of past visit(s)
1) http://mymindisrojak.blogspot.com/2010/10/birding-in-bukit-brown-cemetery.html
2) http://mymindisrojak.blogspot.com/2010/10/reflections-in-bukit-brown-cemetery.html
3) http://mymindisrojak.blogspot.com/2011/05/goodbye-bukit-brown-cemetery.html

This year with more awareness of the richness of its "hidden" heritage, i also began to explore BB to find out more about the Chinese pioneers interned there. This is all thanks to efforts of a small group of people from API.sg creating the buzz and also self help DIY map of the place. In one of my visits i decided to follow this map and that got me hooked ! One unfortunate thing was i can't read chinese and hence unable to do my own discoveries but depended on people who could and share about it online.

I will blog about my discoveries on the heritage and people of BB in the coming months on top of my usual nature post.... Yes, its time to diversify into Heritage in addition to birding and nature trips ! lol..


In meantime, do enjoy this picture of a Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Grey-Headed Fish Eagle catching a thermal above me. Both pics taken at BB on 23th Oct 2011.
Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Male)

Grey-Faced Fish Eagle