Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lim Nee Soon and family (Bukit Brown)

Mr. Lim Nee Soon's wife (Wee Pek Hay) and two of  his son's ( Lim Chong Kuo and Lim Chong Pang) tomb can be found in Bukit Brown, Block 4 Division B, while Mr Lim Nee Soon is not buried there but in China. It is however difficult to write a story about the Lim Nee Soon family members tomb cluster in Bukit Brown, without first introducing Mr. Lim Nee Soon first.

Pineapple King and Patriot
Mr. Lim Nee Soon (1879-1936) is the son of Mr Lim Peng Guan  and was born in Kampong Glam, Beach Road in 1879. His father died when he was 8 and he was left in the care of his maternal grandfather -Mr. Teo Lee (Mr Teo Eng Hock's father). Lim Chong Pang received his early education in both St. Joseph Institution and Anglo-Chinese School and therefore proficient in both English and Chinese languages. A Teochew, Lim Nee Soon started from scratch, working as a shopkeeper assistant at the age of 18 and from there he climbed the rungs by next working for timber merchant Tan Thye and his son Tan Chor Nam.  At 28 years of age, he was the Manager of United Singapore Rubber Estates and later Sembawang Estates (a company formed by Dr. Lim Boon Keng and Mr. Lee Choon Guan).

With enough savings and experience, he struck it on his own to form Thong Aik Shop and eventually became a rubber baron and a "pineapple king" with over 6000 acres in Singapore and 20,000 acres in Malaya. He was also a landbroker, rubber factory owner, merchant and propertier of Lim Nee Soon and Co.  He, together with other prominent Chinese pioneers had a hand in the founding of the following banks: Eastern United Assurance Co., Chinese Commercial Bank, Oversea-Chinese Bank and Oversea Assurance Co.
Lim Nee Soon
Mr Lim Nee Soon, together with Mr Teo Eng Hock and Mr Tan Chor Lam were the founders of the Tung Meng Hui (Chinese Revolutionary League), Singapore branch. This was a society created to fund the revolt against the Qing Dynasty and create a free Republic of China with democratic ideals. T'ung Meng Hui was also the precursor to the Kuomintang branch or Movement of Malaya.

Sun Yat-Sen with the members of Tung Meng Hui. A young Nee Soon is seated on the right.
Teo Eng Hock is seated 2nd from the left. Tan Chor Nam is 3rd from the left.
(source: a20)
His business declined with the Great Depressions of the 30's with rubber prices hitting rock bottom. However some of his wealth did manage to be passed on to his sons. Lim Nee Soon passed away at the age of 57 in Shanghai in 1936. He was recognised for his efforts and support for the Republic of China revolutionary causes. A memorial in Nanking, China was also erected for him close to where one of Sun Yat-Sen's memorial is. Unfortunately with the chaos of war, the actual location of his tomb is forgotten and 
State funeral of Mr Lim Nee Soon in Nanking, China.
picture shows Mr Lim Nee Soon's silver casket and inscriptions on the side that highlights his
contribution to China.
(source: NewspaperSG)
Special Committee formed in China to arrange for the State funeral.
Lim Chong Kuo, the eldest son is in the centre (with bow tie)
(source: NewspaperSG)

Family and the Bukit Brown Connection
Lim Nee Soon is survived by his wife, three sons ( Lim Chong Kuo, Lim Chong Pang, Lim Chong Min) and 6 daughters(Lim Chit Geck, Lim Kheng Geck, Lim Soo Geck, Lim Mui Geck, Lim Leok Geck, Lim Seck Geck).

However during my research of the tomb, a fourth name was listed. The son's listed on Mrs Lim tomb but not mentioned in the papers was a Mr. Lim Chong Hsien. I wonder why? Further checks on Singapore Infopedia did not even list his name there. Did i uncover something new here? Further research uncovered that Lim Chong Hsien is the son from Lim Nee Soon's second wife.
Mrs Lim Nee Soon nee Wi Pek Hay (Wee Pek Hay)
Wife
Mrs Lim Nee Soon nee Wi Pek Hay's (Wee Pek Hay) tomb is at Bukit Brown, but if you look careful, there is no date of death inscribed, indicating she was not buried there. Where was then she buried? Read further to uncover that story.

Son: Lim Chong Kuo
Mr Lim Chong Kuo married Tan Lay Ho (second daughter of Mr and Mrs Tan Kah Kee). He passed away two years after his father on 23rd Feb 1938 at the age of 36. He is buried beside his mother in Bukit Brown. He left behind a son and a daughter.
Lim Chong Kuo's wedding with Tan Lai Ho in Garden Club, 1923 

Lim Chung Kuo (beside his mother's grave) 
Son: Lim Chong Pang 
Mr Lim Chong Pang was also a prominent leader among the Chinese community and was a well known horse owner. His horses won him over 100 races over the years. He also owned 3 cinemas - Garrick(formerly called Apollo), Sultan and Seletar and enjoys the game of tennis. He was appointed a Justice of Peace at the age of 35 in 1939, one of the youngest to be appointed so for Malaya and played important roles in various boards and committees (Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore Rural Board, St Andrew's Old Boy's, Cinema Exhibitors' Association,etc ). He established the Southeast Asian Film Co in 1945. During his service for the Rural Board, a village in Sembawang was even named after him.

Lim Chong Pang died at the age of 52 on 21st July 1956 and his wife Lee Poh Neo died 8th Aug 1968. Both are buried in Bukit Brown close by to each other. Lee Poh Neo is the daughter of the famous banker Lee Choon Guan (李浚源 ). Lee Choon Guan was the chairman of Chinese Commercial Bank and one of the properties he owned was Mandalay Villa (Amber Road). Chong Pang's second wife was Seow Meow Mui.

Wedding of Lim Chong Pang and Lee Poh Neo 

Graves of Lim Chong Pang and  Lee Poh Neo 

Son: Lim Chong Min
Lim Chong Min married Miss Chua Chit Nya, youngest daughter of Mr Chua Guan Chui and the late Mrs Chua Guan Chui on September 19, 1931 at the Garden Club, Tanah Merah. The bridge groom was Miss Lim Soo Geck (his sister) and the best man, Mr. Ong Seow Kee.



I don't have much information on  Lim Chong Hsien, but when i do, i will update this article accordingly.
Standing: Chong Min (right) Chong Pang (centre) Hu Mulan (Hu Han Min's daughter)
seating: Lim Nee Soon (left) Wu Hanming /Hu Han Min (right) a staff of former newspaper,
Zhong Xing  Ri Bao or Chung Shing Jit Pao
-picture taken in Hu Han Min's cabin in shipliner "Victoria" 
Daughter: Lim Chit Gek
On a recent visit to the National Museum (Jan 28, 2011), i came across pictures of Ms Lim Chit Geck in the gallery where the photos are located. Lim Chit Geck (Mrs Oei Tjong Tiong) is the eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Lim Nee Soon and her photos shows her stunning beauty as well.

Lim Chit Geck [Top left]With her Armenian friend,Mary c1930
[Bottom left]with her sisters and foster daughter, Eva See,
on board ship Conti Verde c1936

In May 1926, she married Oei Tjong Tiong son of Mr and Mrs Oei Tiong Ham, Mayor of Semarang, Indonesian and a "sugar king" and shipping mechant. (Tiong Ham died 2 years later in 1924, left behind an estate worth $1 million !)
[Top] Wedding picture of Lim Chit Geck
[Bottom] Mr and Mrs Lim  Nee Soon and family
(source: a20)
Daughter: Lim Mui Gek
Lim Mui Gek married Tan Huck Khong.(Tan Huck Khong is the son of Tan Chong Lay and grandson of Tan Kheam Hock).

Daughter: Lim Soo Geok
Lim Soo Geok married Tan Huck Thoe. (Tan Huck Thoe is the son of Tan Chong Khee and grandson of Tan Kheam Hock).

Lim Chong Pang's daughter as bridesmaid
(source: NewspaperSG)


War Stories and heroes
On Feb 13,1942, while at sea in is fishing boat, fisherman Mr Tay Ah Soey and his two brothers, braving bombs, pulled out 62 people from the sea. This were the survivors from boats sunked by Japanese planes of people trying to escape Singapore. Among the people he saved was Lim Chong Pang and his brother. Declared a war hero and awarded the King George V medal in 1952, Mr Tay passed away  in Aug 2011 at the age of 97. In that very ship that was sunk, one of the person that was lost at sea was Mrs Lim Nee Soon (Wi Pek Hay).

The Lim Nee Soon family cluster is not affected by the 8-lane highway proposed, but i thought of writing about them because of the rich amount of material available online that has already been uncovered and some, waiting to be uncovered further! It also goes to show the wealth of history in this place called Bukit Brown.

References
Death,  (1932, Dec 24)The Straits Times. (Death notice of Mrs Teo Lee nee Tan Poh Neo)
Memorial at Nanking to Lim Nee Soon.(1936, April 19) The Straits Times.
Mr Lim Nee Soon.(1936, March 23).The Singapore Free Press and Merchantile Advertiser.
Mr Lim Nee Soon.(1935, August 25).The Straits Times,
Man behind the old Nee Soon Village.(1987,November 24). The Straits Times,
Turf Man dies-his horses won 100 races. (1956, July 22 ).The Straits Times.
World War II hero Tay Ah Soey dies at age 97.(2011, August 10). The Straits Times.
Chinese Wedding. (1923, May 7). The Straits Times, page 10.

20 comments:

Beng T said...

According to some reports, the last scion of the house of Nee Soon died without issue:
http://www.asiaone.com/Just%2BWoman/News/Women%2BIn%2BThe%2BNews/Story/A1Story20080728-79243.html

http://news.asiaone.com/News/The+New+Paper/Story/A1Story20091109-178790.html

But Raymond Goh said that Chong Pang married the daughter of the fisherman who saved him from being drowned by the Japs (but on the quiet because of his first wife) and she gave him a son who still lives, so he saved his posterity as well as his life.

Rojak Librarian said...

wow ! and that is indeed another great story indeed ! how did he manage to discover that? amazing !

Ivan Chew said...

The Rojak Librarian rises again. AWESOME! :) Nice post too. It got "iRemembered" at the iRememberSG FB page. :)

Rojak Librarian said...

Thanks Ivan ! just doing my part to create awareness and save this great place called Bukit Brown Heritage Park !! It is indeed a magical place with so many many stories waiting to be uncovered...

Nakrop said...

Hi! :) I'm not sure if you have already known this, but from what I know, Lee Poh Neo (first wife of Lim Chong Pang) is actually the daughter of the famous banker Lee Choon Guan 李浚源. So it's actually a marriage between two wealthy families :)

How did find out about the marriage between Lim Nee Soon family and Oei Tiong Ham's? I'm doing my thesis on BBC and would like to find out more :) Thanks!

-Wei Wu (can find me on the BBC FB page)

Rojak Librarian said...

dear Wei Wu,
sorry took me so long to reply yr comment. Thks for your insight, will add it in as well. Marriage between Lim Nee Soon and Oei Tiong Ham family found here..
http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article/straitstimes19230507.2.85.aspx

Nakrop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nakrop said...

Thanks! :) By the way, I can't see the picture of Chong Kuo and Tan Lai Ho's wedding clearly but I'm afraid it might not be the right picture. If we look carefully, the 'uncle' standing on the right is actually Oei Tiong Ham. This is probably the wedding picture of Lim Chit Geck and Oei Tjong Tiong. You can compare with the picture (of Oei Tiong Ham) you placed below that :) I would love to see the picture of Chong Kuo and Lai Ho, though :) Thanks for your many insightful articles!

- Wei Wu

Nakrop said...

Then again, please correct me if I am wrong :) (I really can't see clearly!) But the uncle really looked like Oei Tiong Ham... hmmm.

Rojak Librarian said...

Yes you are right !

Laura said...

Pek Hay died when she was escaping Singapore before the Japanese arrived. The ship she was on was heading to India when it was bombed by the Japanese. There were only two survivors, her two sons. Her youngest grandchild had been left in Singapore. I happen to know that grandchild's grandson.

Jaslyn Koh said...

And stories of mdm. Pek Hay and her family? I am very interested of knowing more about her.

Rojak Librarian said...

@Jaslyn Koh: me too,trying to find out more too...

Growtopian said...

@Laura What is the meaning of " I happen to know that grandchild's grandson"?

Jaslyn Koh said...

Dear all,
Someone claim that he found the tomb of Mdm. Peck Hay's Father. Mr. Wee Ju An. But there is something that I don't understand. Someone told me that her Father has 2 names. Wee Hock Xing aka Wee Ju An. But both are different person. Or is it possible that both of them are cousins?

Ee Hoon . 燕云 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ee Hoon . 燕云 said...

Mdm Wee Pek Hay's father is 阮居安 Wee Kee Ann. In pinyin, 居安 would be "Ju An"

http://www.bukitbrown.info/documentation/details.php?recordID=1035

We have documented the tomb of Mr Wee in Bukit Brown. The name of Mdm Wee Pek Hay is inscribed on Mr Wee's tomb.

星洲浪人 said...

I guess someone told you Wee Hock Seng but not "Xing", you need to check with someone for your confusion.
About Wee Peck Hay's story, i guess we had told her descendants, you should updated by them, unless you are one of them.

Jaslyn Koh said...

Hi, does anyone happens to know Mr. Wee Kee Ann's family? I am really interested to know more about their family. There is too many question in my mind.

WaiLeong P said...

What happened to Lim Chit Geck? One of the picture showed her with her adopted daughter, Eva See. Did she have any decendants with Wee Tjong Tiong?

Does anyone have a good site or blogsite on Wee Tiong Ham's family and their decendants?

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