Sunday, December 04, 2011

Ong Sam Leong (Bukit Brown)

Ong Sam Leong
Ong Sam Leong (王三龙) (1857 -1918) was the owner of Sam Leong and Company that provided and supplied manpower (indentured labourers) for the mining of phosphate to Christmas Island and businessman and owner of substantial properties, rubber plantations or estates and even a brick works in Batam known as the Batam Brick Works. Among the Chinese community, he was influential as well, being once the head of the Ban Chye Hoe Club. Even up to 1967, a Straits Time article dated March 27, 1967 mentions that Ong Sam Leong's wealth existed with a government announcement of urban renewal in Rochor area in which Sam Leong's estate was affected. I wonder if any of his estate  and wealth still exist today among his grand or great grand children?
Strait Times, Mar 27, 1967
Ong Sam Leong passed away in his residence at Bukit Rose, located at Bukit Timah Road at the age of 60. The cause of death was heart failure.
Death notice on Straits Times 
Unfortunately in my research i could not find any more information with regards to his funeral, however i did find substantial write-up and picture(s) in the papers of his wife with his two sons, Ong Boon Tat and Ong Peng Hock. It was said that their sons loved their mom dearly and this can be seen by the lavish birthday celebrations they threw for her in 1932 for her 69th birthday (She passed away 3 years later at the age of 72). I love the tuxedo outfits of the Ong brothers along with the peranakan style of Mrs Ong Sam Leong. Another interesting fact is that Mrs Ong Sam Leong was one of the first pupils of Miss Sophia Blackmore of the Methodist Mission (Methodist Girl's School) in 1887.
Ong Peng Hock, Mrs Ong Sam Leong, Ong Boon Tat
(source: NewspaperSG) 
During Mrs. Ong Sam Leong passing, the Sultan of Johor extended the Johore State Band to play during her funeral procession. That was how influential the Ong's were during that time.
Mourners and hearse in front of Bukit Rose 
Funeral Procession of Mrs. Ong Sam Leong 

His sons, Ong Boon Tat and Ong Peng Hock were also the proprietors of the New World Amusement Park. When they eventually passed away, they were buried near their parents. His daughter, Ong Boey Neo who married Khoo Peck Lock (son of rice merchant and shipowner, Khoo Phee Soon), is also buried nearby. The  Ong Sam Leong tomb is touted to be largest in Bukit Brown and at the time of his death, the burial place was exclusively for the Seh Ong's only before it eventually became a municipal cemetery subject to size restrictions. Located up a hill, it's security is provided by two lions and two sikh guards. Other than its sheer size, what makes it unique is the huge earth diety it has (the size of a normal tomb), a huge moat that was according to stories used by the local village children and cemetery workers as their "swimming pool".

What is also beautiful is the complete 24 stories of filial piety, that graced their tomb. Some of the stories can be found here:

Mr and Mrs Ong Sam Leong 
Sikh Guard 

Mrs Ong Sam Leong. (1935, May 27). The Singapore Free Press, page 7

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