Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lim Chek Yong (Bukit Brown)

Lim Chek Yong (Lin Zhe Yang)

Lim Chek Yong / Lin Zhe Yang (died 1948) was the second son born into a family with the surname Yeoh (Yang). His mother's family name was Lim and with no male offspring in her family to carry the name, he was given the surname. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as plan as Lim Chek Yong passed away a bachelor given his tireless devotion to his students and school.

Lim Chek Yong was gifted that he was able read and write from the early age of 4 and further encouraged by his mother. His father died when he was 13 and despite financial hardship, graduated from the Hokkien Teachers' College. He served in a few primary schools before he came to Singapore in 1911 before becoming the principal of Chinese Industrial and Commercial Continuation School. He was the principal from 1911 until 1948, when he died due to ill health.



Under his leadership as principal, the school was able to avert financial crisis twice. Lim Chek Yong was the one that enabled the school to expand to the site in York Hill (Outram Road). He also modernised the school in line with the changing legislation, increased its enrolment and made it a co-ed school.

Fund raising
(source: NewspaperSG)

History of the School 
The Chinese Industrial and Commercial Continuation School started as a night school in a rented shophouse at 267 Tanjong Pagar Road, in 1910. It catered and provided education to the needs of the young working migrants from the Hokkien community from China, who need to work at day time, hence it's name.

In 1920, the school moved to 30 Enggor Street and a day school was initiated to expand to children of this new migrants. In 1929 it transferred to York Hill, a site along York Hill. Architectural wise, the school was built terrace style- there are classrooms all the way uphill, with playgrounds adjacent at interval levels. It also boast something unique that no other schools have, a museum and a zoo. The museum itself as an interesting exhibit which was the skeletal remains of a monkey by the name of "Ah Chye" who used to be a pet in the zoo for the past 5 years. The miniature zoo had other animals such as deers, rabbits and even crocodiles. The school also had a 2 storey clock tower. The cost for the new school was $40,000.

In 1949, the school boasted an enrolment of 1700 students, 400 of them girls. It had 27 morning classes and 10 evening classes. The school also prided itself of giving free education to children from very poor family. At its peak it had 3,000 students.

In the early 80's, faced with urban development and dwindling enrolment, plans were made to move to its current site at Tampines Street 42 was put in place and in 1986 the school was renamed "Gongshang Primary School" and in 1989 officially reopened by Dr Tay Eng Soon. Senior Minister of State (Education). Lim Chek Yong for his tireless contribution was given the honour as "Father of Gongshang".

Chinese Industrial and Commercial Continuation School (Outram Road)
(source: NewspaperSG) 

Tan Tock Seng connection 
The land in York Hill, Outram Road was brought from Tan Kwee Wah, a descendant of Tan Kim Ching (grandfather) and Tan Tock Seng (great grandfather) at a discounted price of $11,000 because it was for a school. An interesting thing to note is Tan Kwee Wah and Lim Chek Yong are buried in Bukit Brown, while Tan Tock Seng and Chua Seah Neo (Tan Kim Ching's wife) and Wuing Yi Ho (Tan Kim Ching's daughter-in-law/Tan Soon Toh's wife) are buried at the slopes of York Hill.

Death of the "Father of Gongshang"
Lim Chek Yong died on 1948 and is buried in Hill 4 Section C, plot 1584. His mother is buried behind him.
Lim Chek Yong (before clean up)


Lim Chek Yong (after clean up)



References
Advertisements. (1922, February 2). The Straits Times, page 7
The chinese school with an unsual history. (1978, August 25). The Straits Times, page 32
Dr Tay looks forward to improvements in quality of education. (1989, June 1). The Straits Times, page 19
Our History. [website] from Gongshang Primary School, Singapore

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