Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wee Swee Teow and family (Bukit Brown)

The impetus of this story started with the rediscovery of the tomb of Madam Tan Tim Neo (the widow of the late Mr Wee Kim Chuan) located in Bukit Brown, Hill 3 Division A. She is the mother of Mr. Wee Swee Teow whose namesake is linked to Singapore's oldest law firm that was established and founded by an Asian.

Wee Swee Teow, O.B.E. , J.P was born in Singapore on March 26, 1880 and is the eldest son of Mr Wee Kim Chuan and Madam Tan Tim Neo. Wee Seow Teow was first educated at the Kampong Glam Government School and later, Raffles Institution where he remained until the age of 20. Wee Swee Teow then joined a commercial firm for a few months before joining the teaching staff of Raffles Institution at the request of Mr R.W. Hullett until 1908 when he left for England to pursue a law degree. Before departing, Wee Swee Teow discarded his queue (braided pig tail). He received a Second Class Honors and was called to Bar from Gray's Inn in 1911. Returning to Singapore the following year, he was admitted to local bar in January 1912 and opened a practice, in partnership with Mr Chan Sze Jin under the style of Chan & Swee Teow in 1911. That partnership lasted less then a year before he ventured on his own as Wee Swee Teow & Co.
Wee Seow Teow
Wee Seow Teow in 1935 and 1954
(source: NewspaperSG)
1913 : Vice-President, Board of Trustee of the Anglo-Chinese Free School, Telok Ayer.
1926-1930 : President of the Straits Chinese British Association
1927-1929: Municipal Commissioner
1931 : Legislative Council of the Straits Settlement
1931: Chinese Advisory Board
1932 : Executive Council of the Straits Settlement (first Chinese to be appointed)

In 1935, Wee Swee Teow was in the Malayan Honor list and bestow the title Order of the British Empire by the King. In 1950, Wee Swee Teow was appointed as committee member of the first officially founded Public Services Commission of Singapore, a body which controls all appointments and promotions in the Government Services.
Wee Seow Teow title (1935)
Death
Wee Swee Teow passed away the age of 75 at his home in No 37. Stevens Road on June 3, 1954. The cortege left for Thomson Road Crematorium. He is survived by one son and several daughters.

Family
Father: Wee Kim Chuan
Wee Kim Chuan was for many years, senior dispenser for The Dispensary before starting a dispensary of his own in partnership with Dr. Moore.

Mother: Tan Tim Neo
Madam Tan Tim Neo (the widow of the late Mr Wee Kim Chuan) passed away at the age of  72 on 21st December 1929 at her residence in No 37, Stevens Road. She is survived by 2 sons; Wee Swee Teow and Wee Swee Cheng and 2 daughters; Wee Seok Choo and Wee Seok Yan.
English inscription in lead etching of Madam Tan T
Madam Tan Tim Neo who is buried in Bukit Brown Hill 3 Division A is the mother of Wee Swee Teow whose namesake is linked to Singapore's oldest law firm that is established and founded by an Asian.
Madam Tan Tim Neo
Son: Wee Eng Lock
Wee Eng Lock followed in his father's footsteps, studied in Cambridge and was called to bar in 1938. He married Miss Lim Phaik Gan, daughter of Mr. Lim Cheng Han, former member of the Legislative Council and Police Magistrate in Penang. Miss Lim Phaik Gan was the first Chinese girl who represented Cambridge in fencing and was an adept fencer. An article dated February 2, 1947 gives insight to Miss Lim Phaik Gan as the former Mrs Wee Eng Lock. She was residing with her young son, Wilfred in England. The two might have separated before 1947.
Mr Wee Eng Lock and Miss Lim Phaik Gan (1938).
They are flanked by Miss Lim's sisters, Iris and Doris.
(source: NewspaperSG)
Wee Eng Lock married Miss Yeo, daughter of Mr and Mrs Yeo Piok Kew at Bethesda Church on May 7, 1949.
Wee Eng Lock  and Miss Yeo, daughter of Mr and Mrs Yeo Piok Kew
(source: NewspaperSG) 
After the death of Wee Swee Teow, Wee Eng Lock took leadership of Wee Swee Teow & Co. Wee Eng Lock passed away at the age of 62 at his house in First Avenue, Bukit Timah on December 4, 1971

Legacy
Wee Swee Teow & Co. is still in existence today. The company celebrated it's 100th anniversary on 2012. During Wee Eng Lock’s tenure as senior partner, Wee Chong Jin joined the firm as a partner. He practiced law with Wee Swee Teow & Co from 1940 to 1957. Wee Chong Jin left the firm to be a Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore. He was the first Asian lawyer to be appointed to the position of a judge at the Supreme Court of Singapore and first Asian Chief Justice of Singapore.

During the companies centenary celebration, a book titled Wee Swee Teow & Co: A Centenary Legacy by Kevin Y.L. Tan was launched. Will try to look out for that book !

Miss Lim Phaik Gan ( P.G. Lim )
Tan Sri Lim Phaik Gan (1915-2013) is a lawyer and diplomat. Her father, Mr. Lim Cheng Ean, was a noted barrister from Penang and her mother, Rosalind Ho-Lim from British Guyana, used to work at the Po Leung Kok rehabilitation centre in Hong Kong for Chinese prostitutes.

One of the first pioneer female lawyers in Malaysia, she was Malaysia's first  deputy permanent representative to the United Nations and ambassador to the former Yugoslavia, Austria, and the European Economic Community. In 1948, she acted as the defense attorney for Ms. Lee Meng, a communist guerrilla leader who was arrested during the Malayan Emergency in Perak. She had been sentenced to death for possessing a hand grenade.Ms Lee Meng's punishment was commuted to life imprisonment and eventually she was repatriated to China. Lim also assisted in securing government servant status for 14,000 daily-rated Malayan Railway employees in 1964. In 1968, she successfully defended 11 young people who had been sentenced to death for collaborating with Indonesian forces during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation or Konfrontasi, securing pardons for all 11 defendants from the Sultan of Johor and the Sultan of Perak.

In 2009 she was awarded the Merdeka Award. She passed away in Perth, Australia on 7 May 2013, aged 98, and is survived by 2 children, Wee Han Kim, and Caryn Lim. Wee Han Kim is the son from her first marriage to Wee Seow Teow. Caryn Lim or Alexandra Caryn Turnbull was from her second marriage to Mr. G.R.A. Turnbull.
Lim Phaik Gan (P.G. Lim)
[Research on-going]

References
Social and Personal. (1908, March 13). The Straits Times
Death. (1929, December 23).The Singapore Free Press
Acknowledgement. (1929, December 30). The Singapore Free Press.
Mr Wee Swee Teow, O.B.E.. (1935, January 3).The Straits Times
Malayans in the Honor List. (1935, January 2).The Straits Times
Well known Malayans who figure in the new year honors. (1935, January 2). The Singapore Free Press
Wee-Lim. (1938, October 9). The Straits Times
Spotlight on Malaya and Malayans. (1947, February 2). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1949, May 9) The Straits Times
Public Services Body Named. (1950, December 28).The Straits Times
A Chinese O.B.E dies, age 75. (1954, June 4). The Straits Times
Death of lawyer. (1971, December 4).The Straits Times
Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore (p. 427). Singapore: Oxford University Press
Our History. [website]. Wee Swee Teow & Co.
Lim Phaik Gan. [website]. Malaysian Factbook.
Honest memoirs from an extraordinary lady. [website]. Wikibeng
The woman that is P.G. Lim. [website].The Malaysian Bar



3 comments:

Colin said...

Lim Phaik Gan also known as PG Lim was a renowned lawyer and Malaysian Ambassador to the UN. She published her memoirs shortly before she died

Rojak Librarian said...

Dear Colin. Thanks for the insight to Ms Lim Phaik Gan

SuperPig said...

Think the last paragraph of this article on the name of Miss Lim first husband is not tally with the article statement of "An article dated February 2, 1947 gives insight to Miss Lim Phaik Gan as the former Mrs Wee Eng Lock".