Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Cheong Koon Seng (Bukit Brown)

Cheong Koong Seng, J.P., M.C. was born in 1880 and educated in Anglo Chinese School. Cheong Koon Seng,  is the proprietor of Messrs. Cheong Koon Seng & Co. and holds the honor of being one of the best known pioneer local auctioneers and estate agents in Singapore. He was trained under the auctioneering firm Powell & Co for 20 years and was also the manager of Commercial Rubber Co. Ltd from 1918-1920, before striking it out on his own in January 1920, based initially at 80 Kling Street under the style of Messrs Cheong Koon Seng and Co. His partner was Ong Hong Guan who died 5 years later and Cheong Koon Seng's eldest son took over as partner.

One of two son's of Mr Cheong Ann Bee, a wealthy first generation Straits born merchant from Malacca, Cheong Koon Seng and his brother Cheong  Koon Hong were responsible for the building of Theatre Royal in North Bridge Road (former Blanco Court, now Raffles Hospital) and are the proprietors of the Star Opera Co. which performs opera every night (except Thursday's) in the Malay language. Performances include Shakespearean pieces such as Hamlet, stories such as Arabian Nights, Ali Baba to chinese classics such as Sam-pek Eng-Tai.
Cheong Koon Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)

Theatre Royal - Star Opera Co.
(source: a20 )
Partially demolished Theatre Royal circa 1977
(source: a20)
Mr Cheong Koon Seng contributed to the community and played a very active role in various colonial and association responsibilities. This included:

  • Justice of Peace (1926)
  • Municipal Commissioner (1931)
  • President of the Chinese Swimming Club
  • President of the Straits Junior Association
  • President of the Anglo Chinese Old Boys' Association.
  • President of the Singapore Funeral Association.
  • President of Chinese Association (1931)
  • Vice President of the Straits Chinese British Association
  • Chartered Member of the first Rotarian Club



Mr. Cheong Koon Seng and his staff
(source: NewspaperSG)
Cheong Koon Seng & Co at Kling Street

Lat Pau (April 24, 1920)
Cheong Kong Seng & Co at Chulia Street

Death

Cheong Koon Seng passed away peacefully at his residence, "Valley-side" in No 299 River Valley Road at 9 am on March 20, 1934 at the age of 55. He was not in good health for the last few months and 16 days prior to his passing, he was operated upon at General Hospital. He showed initial signs of recovery but then had a relapsed. He is survived by his wife (Chia Siew Tin), three sons ( Cheong Hock Chye, Cheong Hock Guan and Cheong Hock Leng), 4 daughters (Cheong Keong Poh,Cheong Keong Tee, Cheong Keong Tuan, Cheong Keong Hee, Cheong Keong Aik, Cheong Keong Heok)  and 4 grandchildren.

The funeral was well attended and 5 lorries were needed to ferry over 500 wreaths ! He is buried together with his mother and his wife (Madam Chia Siew Tin)

Funeral of Cheong Koon Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)
Funeral of Cheong Koon Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)

Funeral of Cheong Koon Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)

Cheong Koon Seng's tomb 

Mr. Cheong Koon Seng

Family


Wife: Chia Chye Hay Neo (died 1916)
Madam Chia Chye Hay Neo, wife of Cheong Koon Seng passed away on  May 16, 1916 at No 681 North Bridge Road at the age of 36. Madam Chia Chye Hay Neo is the daughter of Mr. Chia Ann Siang (this is my theory and not proven yet). She is buried together with her mother-in-law, Mrs. Cheong Ann Bee


Wife: Chia Siew Tin (died 1953)
Madam Chia Siew Tin is the sister of Mr. Chia Keng Tye or daughter of Mr. Chia Hood Theam. She passed away on March 17, 1953.
Madam Chia Siew Tin
Madam Chia Siew Tin 
Grandfather: Cheong Koe Boon
Cheong Koe Boon was born in China and migrated to Malacca where he settled down as a trader.

Father: Cheong Ann Bee
Cheong Ann Bee was born in Malacca in 1833 and came to Singapore when he was 10 years old. He spoke no English as he attended Chinese school as a boy but nevertheless work in European firms such as Messrs. Dare & Co. and W. Mansfield & Co. He went on to venture into shipchandlery business  together with Tan Eng Siew under the name Ann-Bee, Eng-Siew & Co. In 1878, they parted ways and Cheong Ann Bee eventually partner Syed Mohamed Alsagoff and Lim Eng Keng in the firm Ann Bee & Co until it was eventually wound up in 1898. Cheong Ann Bee was known for his charitable disposition in providing eye salve (ointment) to those in need, especially coolies.

Cheong Ann Bee died on March 9, 1896.

Mother: Mrs Cheong Ann Bee
Mrs Cheong Ann Bee passed away on April 2, 1927 at No 95-5 River Valley Road. She was 75 years old. She is survived by 2 sons, 7 daughters, 7 son-in-laws, 43 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren.

Funeral of Mrs Cheong Ann Bee, April 1927
(source: NewspaperSG)
Mrs Cheong Ann Bee's tomb

Brother: Cheong Koon Hong
Mr. Cheong Koon Hong passed away at the age of 81 in October 1964. He is survived by a widow, 4 sons ( Cheong Hock Quee, Cheong Hock Siew, Cheong Hock Lock, 6 daughters, 5 daughter-in-laws, six son-in-laws, many grandchildren. Funeral service was held at Church of Holy Family, Katong.

Mrs Cheong Koon Hong (nee Madam Yeo Kim Yan ) passed away peacefully at her residence in no 75 Koon Seng Road on March 8, 1941 at 9:30 pm. She is survived by her husband,  5 sons, 6 daughters, 1 daughter-in-law, 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughter. She is buried in Bukit Brown.

Son: Cheong Hock Chye
Cheong Hock Chye, started his own auction firm, Cheong Hock Chue and Co, Ltd at 1-A, Raffles Place in 1940. He died at the age of 49 in 1949.

Legacy

Today there is a house name after Cheong Koon Seng in Anglo-Chinese School and a road called Koon Seng Road in the east of Singapore. It was formerly known as Lorong E East Coast Road before it was renamed in 1934.Finally, the company he founded is still around. It is called CKS Property Consultants Pte Ltd.


References

Deaths. (1916, May 20 ). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1926, February 6). The Straits Times
Deaths. (1927, April 9). The Straits Times
New Municipal Commissioner entertained. (1931, March 14). Malayan Saturday Post
Anglo Chinese Old Boys Association. (1931, May 2). Malayan Saturday Post
Departure of Mr. Cheong Koon Seng. (1932, April 23). Malayan Saturday Post.
Funeral of Mr Cheong Koon Seng. (1934, March 27). The Straits Times
Death of Mr Cheong Koon Seng. (1934, March 20). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1934, March 27). The Straits Times
Auctioneering Company. (1940, March 30). The Singapore Free Press
Untitled. (1941, March 10). The Straits Times
Deaths. (1964, October 11). The Straits Times

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