Ng Boo Bee (1853-1921) 黄务美, was born and educated in Fujian, China before making his way to Malaya, first in Penang before eventually making a name for himself in the State of Perak. His father is Ng Koh Sung and mother, U Choot Kwah. He started out as a brick manufacturer and timber merchant under the name of Chop Swee Bee in Taiping, Ipoh and Teluk Anson. In Taiping, he acquired the tender contract as a railway contractor under Mr. C.R. Hanson, Resident Engineer for Perak Railways and was probably responsible for the building of the first railway in Malaya which connected Taiping to Port Weld. It was during this time he shrewdly acquired land around Kamunting.
|Ng Boo Bee|
The land purchases around Kamunting made Ng Boo Bee a millionaire and with that he acquired also various houses in Taiping and also Penang. The Governor of the Straits Settlement, Sir John Anderson visited Ng Boo Bee tin mine in 1908 which had at that time, employed 4,500 men in his tin mines.
|Sir John Anderson and Ng Boo Bee at his mines|
|Ng Boo Bee's open cast mine|
|Ng Boo Bee's mine|
In a 1905, a tender by the Perak government for the lease of the Perak General Farm for 1906-1908 to replace the ones held by Loke Yew was issued. It was won by Ng Boo Bee who after mediation from the Perak Resident E.W. Birch, a syndicate (Perak Coast Chandu Farm) was form by Ng Boo Bee with Chung Thye Phin becoming his partner. Ng Boo Bee paid $12,000 a month for the lease. Ng Boo Bee had his sights on bigger things, as he went on to acquire the leases of the Revenue Farm of Selangor and Pahang, acquiring the Revenue Farms of three states by 1907 !
Ng Boo Bee is a member of the Taiping Sanitary Board, a Visiting Justice and a prominent leader in the Hokkien community. He was one of the Directors of the Eastern Smelting Company Limited. Other directors included Eu Tong Seng, Chung Thye Pin, Lim Kek Chuan, Khaw Joo Tok, Chu Shu Ming and Loke Chow Thye. When a massive fire burnt down the entire town in 1880, it was said that he rebuilt almost half of Taiping.
Ng Boo Bee passed away on September 24, 1921.
Listed on his tomb are:
His sons: Ng Ann Thye, Ng Ann Tang, Ng Ann Cheng, Ng Ann Chong, Ng Ann Chuan and Ng Ann Aik
His daughters: Ng Ceak Loo, Ng Ceak Choo
His grandsons: Ng Say Phuan, Ng Say Thuan, Ng Say Kek, Ng Say Tee, Ng Say Choon
His grand daughters: Ng Hoe Sim, Ng Hoe Chim, Ng Hoe Yean, Ng Hoe Kin, Ng Hoe Tee, Ng Hoe See
Wife: Madam Ewe Keoh Neoh
Ng Boo Bee married Ewe Keoh Neoh, a nyonya from Penang. In 1928, a grand celebration was held for Madam Ewe Keoh Neoh ( wife of the late Ng Boo Bee) in conjunction with her 60th birthday. The celebration was held from January 12-15th and large gatherings and several functions were organised by her 5 surviving sons ; Ng Ann Thye, Ng Ann Cheng, Ng Ann Chong, Ng Ann Chuan and Ng Ann Aik. On the eve of her birthday, performances by the Taiping Chinese Amateur Dramatic Association whose President is Ng Ann Chong.
The theatre was temporarily erected in the grounds of their family home in Upper Museum Road and it attracted one of the biggest audiences, Taiping as ever seen. For her birthday celebration itself, over 500 guest were invited including Mr. Lim Sum Kip, J.P. President of the Hokkien association, Mr. C.C. Brown (Secretary to Resident, Perak), Messrs. C.E. Cummings and many other prominent Perakians. Several thousands of dollars were spent during the duration of the birthday celebration events.
|Ng Boo Bee and family|
(source: Returning Taiping)
Ng Ann Thye was a famous Perak sportsman and frequently took the Taiping soccer team to play in Penang. He was a member of the Taiping Sanitary Board and a committee member of the Taiping Turf Club. He served in various public bodies as well. Ng Ann Thye passed away in 1936.
In 1931, Ng Ann Thye sued his mother, Madam Ewe Keoh Neoh for the administration of accounts in connection with the estate of his father. The estate of the late Ng Boo Bee is said to be worth well over a million dollars and spread over Taiping, Ipoh and Teluk Anson. In his statement in the Supreme Court, Ng Boo Bee said that his mother was negligent in the performance of duties undertaken in agreements. The judge ruled for the defendant and Madam Ewe Keoh Neoh maintained trusteeship of the estate.
Tomb and Legacy
Ng Boo Bee's tomb is located at the Taiping Hokkien Cemetery, Taman Tupai Mas, Jalan Taman Tasik. There is a road name after him as well as many houses that are associated with Ng Boo Bee. There is a fountain in Taiping Lake that was donated by him, among many other contributions to Taiping.
|Tomb of Ng Boo Bee|
|Tomb of Ng Boo Bee|
|A road name after Ng Boo Bee|
|81 Jalan Kota (backdoor)|
One of the many houses of Ng Boo Bee
along Jalan Kelab Cina / Jalan Kota
Ho, Tak Ming. Ipoh: When Tin was King. Perak Academy, 2009.
Returning Taiping: the town of tin, rain, commerce, leisure and heritage. Centre of Advanced Studies in Architecture (CASA), Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, 2010.
Wright, Arnold, and Henry Adolphus Cartwright, eds. Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources. Lloyd's Greater Britain publishing Company, limited, 1908.
Madam Ewe Keoh Neoh Entertains. (1928, February 28). Malayan Saturday Post
Millionaire's Estate. (1931, July 16) The Straits Times
Mr. Ng Ann Thye Death of Well-Known Perak Sportsman. ( 1936, May 3). The Straits Times.
Ng Boo Bee [website] Overseas Chinese in the British Empire