Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Sie Yok Swie (victim of 1954 airplane crash in Kallang Airport)

While exploring the Hokkien Cemetery at the fringe of Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery and the Toa Payoh Cemetery (in an area what i call Greater Bukit Brown), we came across the tomb of Mr. Sie Yok Swie, age 28, who died on 13th March 1954. His name and date of death matches one of the 33 victims of the airplane crash of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Lockheed L-749A Constellation that happened in Kallang airport (the first plane crash in Kallang airport). Mr Sie Yok Siew was listed as a Jakarta Businessman and in one of the Australian papers, his occupation was listed as an Indonesian cattle handler. However as i was browsing further the online newspaper archives i found out that Sie Yok Siew was actually the youngest brother of cattle millionaire, Sie Yok Kie, who owns one of the biggest cattle trading company in Singapore, the Bali Cattle Trading, Cecil Street. Mr Sie Yok Swie leaves behind a young wife and 2 children.
Sie Yok Swie (source: NewspaperSG)

Sie Yok Swie

Sie Yok Swie, died 13th March 1954, age 28

The Constellation Crash - First Air Crash in Kallang Airport 

A British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Lockheed L-749A Constellation carrying 40 crashed and caught fire as it attempted to land at Singapore-Kallang Airport on 13 March 1954 at 3:04 pm resulting in 33 fatalities (all 31 of its passengers died and 2 out of 9 of its crew members were killed). Details of how the airplane crashed and flipped over and the rescue attempts that took place and finally the public enquiry and investigation that took place can be found online at various sources, [Infopedia, Wikipedia], so i will not repeat them.

Headlines [source: NewspaperSG]

Mass funeral at Bidadari Christian Cemetery

On 15th March 1954, a mass funeral was held for 24 of the crash victims. Of the 24 crash victims, 14 of them were yet to be identified when the cortege left the mortuary. The cortege of 3 Royal Air Force (RAF) trailers with motorcycle escort proceeded to Bidadari cemetery along Outram Road, Kim Seng Road, Irwell Bank, Paterson Road, Scotts, Road, Newtown Circus, Moulmenin Road, Balestier Road and Serangoon Road.  I do not know for sure the names of all 24, but with access to the burial registrar of Bidadari, one might be able get the complete name list. Another way is of course derived the other 9 victims who were not buried in Bidadari. So far, i manage to identify 6 names, other than Sie Yok Swie, whose tomb was rediscovered, the other crash victims that were claimed by friends and relatives include the body of Mr. G.F Olson, an American whoese remains were flown to his family at Fort Madison, Iowa. 3 other Indian victims were cremated (J.P Sen Gupta, Amir Chand Chandra and M.C.T.M Chidambaram Chettiar). R. Bintang Soedibbie remains were returned to his hometown in Semarang.

source: NewspaperSG

Stories of the other victims 

While researching on Sie Yok Swie, i uncovered and revisited some of the stories of the other victims. This article is still a work in progress but below are some of the stories i found.

Mrs. Lim Siang Hin (Madam Teo Siew Keng)
The other Chinese passenger onboard the plane, Madam Teo Siew Keng, 23 years old is the spouse of Mr. Lim Siang Hin of Singapore. Her father in law, Mr. Lim Choon Lay is the proprietor of Hiap Lee and Company, a Boat Quay import-export firm.

Mr. R. Bintang Soedbibbio 
The only Indonesian passenger, Mr. R. Bintang Soedibbie, millionaire and father of several daughters in Jakarta. He celebrated his 52nd birthday in Singapore on Feb 24 and flew back Jakarta on a business trip. Mr. Soedibbie had many firms bearing his name in Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya and Amsterdam. An Indonesia businessman from Semarang, his remains was flown back to his hometown in Semarang for burial. He was an importer of Opel cars.
Bintang Soedibbie

Mr. J.P Sen Gupta
Mr. Jagdis Prasanna Sen Gupta, Regional Manager of the United Commercial Bank Ltd (South-East Asia Branch), he was cremated at Bidadari Hindu Cemetery on 15th March 1954.
J.P. Sen Gupta
Michael Shathin
Michael Shathin was the Far East Supervisor of Warners Bro. Ltd.

Michael Shathin

Mr. Amir Chand Chandra
Mr. Amir Chand Chandra from Fiji was also cremated at Bidadari Hindu Cemetery on 15th March 1954.

Crash Bodies Mix-up

M. Ct. M. Chidambaram Chettair
Mr. Chettair was 46 years old when he died. A Millionaire, he was the founder and Chairman of Indian Overseas Bank Ltd, United India Life and has many other connections with industrial and commercial firms in South India. Mr. Chettair was cremated at the Bidadari Hindu Cemetery on 14th March 1954 and his ashes brought back by to India and scattered at the Ganges River. However this was not the end of the story, as during investigation,they found a mix-up whereby the body of Chidambaram Chettair was incorrectly unidentified as Mr. Eric Moller by the Singapore Coroner and ended up being buried at the Bidadari Christian Cemetery.

Eric Moller
Eric Moller Senior was a British Shipowner millionaire, who at the time of his retirement in 1940s. was one of the largest single shipowner in the world.

[research on-going]

32 are killed in Kallang air disaster. (1954, March 14). The Straits Times, page 1
Magnate loses brother. (1954, March 15). The Straits Times, page 1
No heir to fortune of millionaire. (1954, March 16). The Straits Times, page 5
Mass Funeral for Crash Victims. (1954, March 16). The Straits Times, page 7
Their's was silent grief. (1954, March 16).The Straits Times, page 7
Disaster at Singapore-Company issues list of dead. (1954, March 15). The Sydney Morning Herald, page 4

Monday, November 05, 2018

Loo Boon Kwee and family (Greater Bukit Brown)

Loo Boon Kwee passed away at the age of 53 on 17th June 1954 at 150-P, East Coast Road, Singapore, leaving behind 1 son, 2 daughters, 2 son-in-laws and 3 grandchildren. From the tomb, we know that the name of his son is Loo Teck Hai and his 2 daughters are Nancy Loo and Lucy Loo. The tomb is located at the boundaries between Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery and Toa Payoh Cemetery. What is also an interesting insight is from a Singapore Free Press article dated 18th June 1954, the funeral of Loo Boon Kwee was to be held at the Buddhist Burial Ground, Bidadari. In short, from the discovery below, Loo Boon Kwee resting place was not at Bidadari as reported in the papers of that time. How the location was changed to the Hokkien Cemetery adjacent to Bukit Brown remains a mystery, but from the simple all English tomb of Loo Boon Kwee reveals an interesting story of a Straits Chinese pioneer who helped spread Theravada Buddhism among the Straits Chinese Community.
Loo Boon Kwee's tomb in Greater Bukit Brown 

Papers mention Buddhist Burial Ground, Bidadari
(source: NewspaperSG)

A Pioneer of Mangala Vihara (Theravada Buddhism)

It is from an article from the Peranakan Magazine, Issue 1, 2007 titled "Buddhist Legacy of a Grand Nyonya" by Cynthia Wee-Hoefer, i got to know that other than Madam Chew Quee Neo (benefactor of the temple of Mangala Vihara in Eunos),  Wee Tin Guan (father of the author of the article), Loo Boon Kwee and Tan Seng Chye (a Straits Chinese from Penang residing in Singapore) were mentioned to be the Straits Chinese pioneers in helping spread this form of Buddhism that started with the local Sinhalese Community under the spiritual guidance of Monk MM Mahaweera. This corresponds with newspaper articles in 1948, where Wee Tin Guan was instrumental in helping translate Sinhalese text into Malay and Loo Boon Kwee and Wee Tin Guan assisted in the Sunday Classes.
(source: NewspaperSG) 

(source: The Peranakan) 


Grandmother: Mrs. Loo Tian nee Cheong Pin Neo
Mrs. Loo Tian nee Cheong Pin Neo passed away at the age of 68 on 4th May 1936 at 150-P, East Coast Road. She is survived by her brother, Mr. Cheong Swee Teck and a grandson, Loo Boon Kwee. Mrs. Loo Tian is buried in Bukit Brown.(Block 3 Section C, plot 368)

Wife: Soh Wee Neo alias Nya Nya
Mrs. Loo Boon Kwee nee Soh Wee Neo (alias Nya Nya) passed away on 5th July 1941. She leaves behind her husband, 2 daughters, 1 son. Funeral from 150-P East Coast Road to Bukit Brown on July 6, 1941. In the burial registrar she was listed as 38 years of age and is buried in Block 5, Section A, plot 142

Son: Loo Teck Hai 
Loo Teck Hai (the only son of the late Mr and Mrs. Loo Boon Kwee) married Lucy Lee (the youngest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Lee Eng Khoon on 1st January 1958.

Daughter: Lucy Loo
Lucy Loo (youngest daughter of Mr Loo Boon Kwee and the late Mrs Loo Boon Kwee) married Mr. Wee Choon Lim (youngest son of the late Mr and Mrs Wee Koon Poey). The marriage took place at 72 Emerald Hill Road on 15th September 1943.

[research on-going]

Domestic Occurrences. (1936, May 7). Malayan Tribune, page 12
Domestic Occurrences. (1941, July 5). Malayan Tribune, page 8
Advertisement. (1943, September 15). Syonan Shimbun, page 2
"Great Revival of Buddhism". (1948, March 24). The Singapore Free Press, page 5
Advertisement. (1958, January 1). The Straits Times, page 6
The Peranakan. (April-June 2007. The Peranakan Association, article title: Buddhist Legacy of a Grand Nyonya, page 23

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Kwik Tiang Boon and family (Bukit Brown)

Kwik Tiang Boon (1897-1960) was the Compradore of Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij N.V. (Netherlands Trading Society). Born in Semarang, Indonesia, Kwik Tiang Boon was educated in St. Joseph's Institution, Singapore. He then join in 1927, the Netherlands Trading Society as a bank clerk and rose to the position of Compradore.  For Kwik Tiang Boon's outstanding years of service, he was awarded the decoration of Chevalier in the Order of Orange-Nassau by Queen Juliana of Netherlands in conjunction with the centennial anniversary of the Netherlands Trading Society in 1958.  He was a familiar figure in the Singapore Turf Club, having own many race horses and the owner of the Kwik Stables.  He served the Bank for over thirty years before he passed away in 16th March 1960 due to an heart attack at the General Hospital. He is survived by his widow,11 daughters and 6 sons. The article went on to mentioned that the eldest son was studying law in London, while 2 of his daughters were living in Australia. Kwik Tiang Boon is buried in Hill 4 Division A, 390 and 398.

Tomb of  Kwik Tiang Boon at Bukit Brown 

Obituary notice from Netherlands Trading Society

Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij N.V. (Netherlands Trading Society)

Netherlands Trading Society was founded by King William I by Royal Decree in 1824 to curb the decline of trading especially in the Far East after the East India Company cease to exist. The Singapore branch of Netherlands Trading Society was established in 1857. Initially more of a trading enterprise, it move to banking but the name somehow continue to be use as such. Netherlands Trading Society and Twentsche Bank merger was on October 3, 1964 and the new organisation began trading under the name of Algemene Bank Nederland (ABN Bank) of Amsterdam.

Netherlands Trading Society (1910-1929) , source: National Archives
I don't have much information for now about the building pre-1940's but post 1940's the five-storey bank building at the junction of Cecil Street and D'Almedia Street took 18 months to build and cost $500,000. It was built by Messrs. Swan & McLaren.
Netherlands Trading Society Bank Building (1940s)
source: National Archives


I am not able to find much information on his sons, but the rest of the family members are listed below:

Mother-in-law: Madam Chia Buck Nee
Madam Chia Buck Nee passed away at the age of 81 at 62 Tras Street on 14th February 1955. She is survived by 1 son, Lim Kee Seng, 2 son-in-laws; Chua Choon Leong, Kwik Tiang Boon,  5 daughters, 10 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren.

Daughter: Kwik Poh Swan
Engagement notice was announced between Kwik Poh Swan (eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Kwik Tiang Boon) and Mr. Tan Hin Yam (third son of Mr. and Mrs. Tan Chin Wah) on 23 June 1941. In 1960, Kwik Poh Swan was granted a decree nisi by the Singapore Courts after she sued for divorce on grounds of cruelty.

Daughter: Kwik Poh Luan
Miss Kwik Poh Luan married Mr. Sim Jui Kim (son of Mr and Mrs. Sim Kwang Tow) in November 1957. Sim Jui Kim was with Ace Advertising and the wedding reception was held at Sea View Hotel. Sim Jui Kim passed away in 2008 at the age of 2008 at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife,
children, Leslie Sim Sian Poon, Leslie Sim Hong Lam, Lyn Sim Choon Li, Lisa Sim Hua-Li, their children spouses and granchildren.
Kwik Poh Luan and Sim Jui Kim (source: NewspaperSG)

Daughter: Kwik Poh Lian
Miss Kwik Poh Lian (third daughter) married Mr. Yong Nam Seng (son of Mr. Yong Yit Lin, J.P. former President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and contractor for many iconic buildings such as Clifford Pier, Changi Prison and Clifford Pier).  The wedding reception was suppose to be held at Cathay Restaurant on 26th May 1950 but was cancelled due to the brutal murder of  her father-in-law, Mr. Yong Yit Lin who was gunned down at his club. Madam Kwik Poh Lian passed away at the age of 67 on 31st July 1995. The obituary list that she is survived by her husband, Yong Nam Seng, sons (Yong Tiam Yoon, Yong Kon Yoon, Yong Khim Yoon) daughter (Yong Mei Hsien), son-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

Obituary notice: Madam Kwik Poh Lian (source: NewspaperSG)

Singapore Newest Building. (1939, November 2). Malayan Tribune, page 3
Yong Yit Lin Killed at his Club. (1950, May 26). The Straits Times, page 1
Advertisement. (1955, February 15). The Singapore Free Press, page 16
AD man weds in colony. (1957, November 27). The Singapore Standard, page 4
Queen Juliana's Award for Local Bank Men. (1958, May 11). Sunday Standard, page 2
Advertisement. (1960, March 16). The Straits Times, page 10
Mr. Kwik,63 dies of a heart attack in hospital. (1960, March 18). The Singapore Free Press, page 5
Obituaries. (1995, August 1). The Straits Times. page 36

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mrs. Chia Eng Wah (Bukit Brown)

Mrs Chia Eng Wah nee Tan Teck Neo passed away at the age of 39 on 15th December 1932. Her tomb lies at the top of the ridge of Hill . What is also unique of the tomb of Tan Teck Neo is its modern european style and featuring sunray in a style very similar to what i seen at Tan Boo Liat's tomb. No name of children was listed on the tomb. She is buried in Hill 3 Division C, plot 867.

Mrs Chia Eng Wah nee Tan Teck Neo

From a newspaper article, i know that Mrs. Chia Eng Wah nee Tan Teck Neo funeral cortege left from No. 28 Sandy Lane, Katong for Bukit Brown on 16th December 1932. I have no concrete information of Chia Eng Wah as of yet.

Sandy Lane off Katong Road (1931-1934 period) from Crown Survey map

28 Sandy Lane (close up )

Domestic Occurrences. (1932, December 16). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Singapore. Gelang Mukim (Geylang Mukim), and Kalang Mukim (Kallang Mukim).(1934).Maps and Building Plans.National Archives of Singapore.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Bukit Brown highway opens on 28th October 2018

The day has finally arrived and the dual four lane road will be opened soon after several delays. If you have read the papers recently, the word dual four lane road was no longer used and instead most major local media (e.g. The Straits Times, Channel Newsasia) call it for what it was all along, a "HIGHWAY"(coined now as Lornie Highway). But wait a moment, people's memory may be short, but the press releases published by the authorities back in 2011 don't lie, as the road project back then downplayed the use of the word "highway" and avoided the use of it, instead called it a dual four lane road (in which most of the civic society that spoke against its construction and wanted to put a stop against what was essentially a highway that will leave a permanent scar on this valuable heritage park). As well know, the exhumation and the highway continued and if no further changes in mindset by the stakeholders and decision makers of heritage and nature of Singapore, Bukit Brown's future looks even more bleak as The Strait Times (18 October 2018) article highlighted and reinforced what was already mentioned in the past and i quote; "Lornie Highway is meant to cater to growth in future traffic demand arising from redevelopment of the Bukit Brown area".With the Toa Payoh extension development already underway and the Bukit Brown MRT infrastructure in place, the count down to the demise of a place that has potential to be a UNESCO World Heritage site is drawing closer.

The new Bukit Brown/ Lornie Highway 

Latest headlines calling it what we all knew it is was all along- a highway

The early years when it was labelled as a dual four lane road 

Bukit Brown / Lornie Highway 

Kheam Hock Road looking different


Bukit Brown road project hit by another delay. (2017, November 13) The Straits Times (online).
Completion of Lornie Highway postponed to early 2019. (2017. November 17). Channel Newasia (online)
1st phase of Lornie Highway opens on Oct 28. (2018, October 12) The Straits Times (online).

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Goh Sin Choon and family (Lao Sua)

Goh Sin Choon (1856-1914) died on 8th March 1914. He is survived by 2 sons; Goh Tiang Lee, Goh Tiang Keng, 2 daughters; Goh Sock Lim, Goh Sock Kim, 2 grandsons, Goh Sian Kay, Goh Sian Poh, granddaughters, Goh Chwee Bee, Goh Chwee Luan.

Goh Sin Choon 

Goh Sin Choon tomb in Lao Sua

Decorative tiles
The tomb is adorned with beautiful decorative tiles, an indication of wealth and along with the carvings in English, i wondered who was Goh Sin Choon. The first article i found was one in 1883 / 1884 where Goh Sin Choon and Tan Hood were listed as executors of the last will and testament of the late Khoo Boon Seng who died on 5th November 1883.
source: NewspaperSG

Son: Goh Tiang Lee (Goh Tiang Lie)
From a creditor who requested a court listing at the Supreme Court of Johore on 5th December 1935 ,i got to find out that the late Goh Tiang Lee was last listed as residing in Mensanak, Rhio (under Netherland East Indies). The article also requested the presence of Goh Sian Khay and and Goh Choon Chwee Bee (two persons who attained the age of 21 and have an interest in the estate).
[Note: Goh Sian Kay name was listed as grandson in the tomb of Goh Sin Choon providing a probable match on the relationship that Goh Tiang Lee mentioned in the article is the son of Goh Sin Choon)

Son: Goh Tiang Keng
A student of Raffles Institution, he went to study at Straits Medical School. I have no more information after that.

Advertisement. (1884, January 3). The Straits Times, page 2
Advertisement. (1935, December 5). Malayan Tribune, page 5

Monday, October 01, 2018

Lee Kim Chye and family (Bukit Brown)

There was a posting where Mr. Lee Kim Chye and Bros. thank their friends and staff of Messrs. Graham & Co. Ltd. who attended the funeral of their mother Madam Ngo Buay Neo in 1920.Lee Kim Chye was the proprietor of the Straits Hiring Company and also a shareholder for the Sze Hai Tong Bank. Lee Kim Chye passed away at his residence at No. 101 Pasir Panjang Road on 8 May 1930 at the age of 58. He is survived by his widow, 4 sons; Lee Chuan Teck, Lee Chuan Chiang, Lee Chuan Heng, Lee Chuan Guan, 7 daughters, 3 son-in-laws; Oh Chin Siew, Tan Peng Juay and Lim Tiang Chan and 6 grandchildren. 101 Pasir Panjang was known as "Chantek Villa". He is buried in Hill 3 Division A, plot 158.

Tomb of Lee Kim Chye

Madam Chan Siew Choo alias Chan Siew Neo passed away on 30th January 1944 at the age of 57. She is survived by 2 sons; Lee Chuan Chiang, Lim Kim Chwee, 2 daughters; Nyonya Lee, Alice and 1 grandson, Lim Giap Lip. It is interesting to note that the calender year reflected on the tomb is 2604 (following the Japanese Koki Calender ). There was an article in the Syonan Shimbun which list her last address as No. 41 Craig Road. Her tomb at Hill 3 Division A, plot 150 is next to Lee Kim Chye's tomb.

Tomb of Chan Siew Choo 

Beautiful decorated tiles of Madam Chan Siew Choo

Secondary wife challenged legality of will

From a court case in 1935 contesting the legality of Lee Kim Chye's will, we get some insight into his family story. Lee Kim Chye's death and will was called to question when his secondary wife, Koh Gek Tiang (plaintiff ) brought the motion to challenge the legality of that said will (executed on 15 March 1923) to the Colony Supreme Court. Defending the claim was Chan Siew Choo (wife of Lim Kim Chye) and executrix of will. The courts noted that Lee Kim Chye was a Straits born Chinese who lived in 101 Pasir Panjang Road who died on 30th May 1930 at his residence. He died with a number of movable and immovable property.  Lee Kim Chye was said to have took on Koh Gek Tiang as his secondary wife on 9 November 1925 at the Chinese Temple in Telok Ayer. From their union, they had 3 children (a boy; Lee Chuang Heng and 2 girls; Lee Mee See, Lee Jay See). The plaintiff contended that the will should be revoked by this marriage and probate should be revoked, set aside, recalled or cancelled. It is from the legal proceedings, we know that Koh Gek Tiang (daughter of Koh San Tee) who at the age of 18 first got married and from that union had a son. Her husband then passed on and her parents made arrangement for her to remarry. Koh Gek Tiang was 31 years old when she married Lee Kim Chye. The marriage was witness by her mother and Gan Kim Bee (her eldest sister-in-law.) Other evidence was mentioned in the well documented case included the points that Lee Kim Chye had another concubine by the name of Tan Sin Wah (since 1916) and finally that Koh Gek Tiang was present during the funeral ceremony and there was even a photograph of her and children present during the wake. To summarise the final verdict, the Supreme Court Judge, Mr. Justice Mills gave the following affirmative answer on the following 3 points:
1.  Kok Gek Tiang is the lawful widow of Lee Kim Chye (deceased)
2. Kok Gek Tiang was the lawful wife of the said Lee Kim Chye subsequent to the making of the will, dated March 15, 1923.
3. The said will dated March 13, 1923 was thereby revoked.

Some of the evidence given during court 

Chantek Villa, No 101 Pasir Panjang Road

The residence of Lee Kim Chye was at 101 Pasir Panjang Road was coined as "Chantek Villa" (Chantek means Pretty in Malay). The advertisement date 1931 below by the auctioneers Ching Keng Lee & Co. Ltd showed the extend of wealth that Lee Kim Chye had which included teak wood furniture and 2 cars, ( a four seater Baby Austin and a 5 seater Standard Coventry).

Chantek Villa

Domestic Occurrences. (1930, May 13). Malayan Tribune, page 8
Advertisement. (1931, June 13). Malayan Tribune, page 14
Marriage Problem In Singapore Will Suit Interesting Point Of Law Raised. (1935, March 27). Malayan Tribune, page 12
Secondary Marriages by Chinese Man's former will made void. (1935, December 3). Malayan Tribune, page 15
Advertisement. (1944, September 8). Syonan Shimbun, page 2