Friday, April 20, 2012

Teo Hoo Lye (Bukit Brown)

Teo Hoo Lye (1853-1933)
Teo Hoo Lye (Oct 18, 1853- Nov 16, 1933) was born in China and came to Singapore when he was 18. Like many stories of rags to riches of the early pioneers, Teo Hoo Lye worked from ground up, starting as a manual labourer, saving money to open a small grocer business called chop Soon Bee in Rochore Road. At the age of 25 he went to the Natuna and Anambas Islands and got into the copra (extracted for its coconut oil) business which was a valuable commercial product then. This then led him to expand and become a steamship owner (Aing Hong, Flevo, Batavier, Benuit, etc) and he became a consignee of ships for the export of copra, sago, rubber, etc from Natuna to Singapore and also to Sarawak.

His company, Teo Hoo Lye S.S. Co. (or Soon Bee Steamship Co.) was eventually liquidated in 1935, for half a million  dollars (by his trustees after his death) and  12 steamships such as Willy o' the Wisp, Massima, Huat Chiang among others bought up by Heap Eng Moh Steamship Co. Ltd

In Singapore he owned many property and was also the owner of two sago factories named Hock Soon Guan (in Havelok Road) and Hock Bee Guan (in Geylang) and a shareholder of Sze Hai Tong Bank. In 1900 he became a naturalised British subject and was a committee member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Teo Hoo Lye School (Institution)
Teo Hoo Lye Institution was established in 1925 in joint partnership with Rev. Chanan Singh. Mr Teo Hoo Lye provided the premises at a rental and Rev. Chanan Singh ran the operations of the school. It was a popular institution at that time located at Dhoby Ghaut.

Teo Hoo Lye residence was at No 13 Dhoby Ghaut. It was bought over in 1934 by Loke Yew and eventually demolished in 1939 to make way for the Cathay Building.
Front elevation of a building for Teo Hoo Lye at Dhoby Ghaut

Teo Hoo Lye's house in postcard circa 1920 
His wife is Madam Kaw Tak Poh and she passed away on November 9, 1933. Mr Teo Hoo Lye died a week later at the age of 80 on November 16, 1933. His funeral procession was mentioned by the papers to be one of the longest procession, starting from 11 am from Dhoby Ghaut, Selegie Road, Middle Road, Rochore and Rochore Canal Road, Bukit Timah Road and finally Bukit Brown. The whole procession ended past 4pm.
Funeral Procession of Mr Teo Hoo Lye

Teo Hoo Lye's tomb 
He left behind 3 sons, Teo Teow Peng, Teo Teow Gim, Teo Teow Geok, Mrs. See Cheng Ann ( Miss Teo Hong Eng) and Mrs Chin Hock Chye( Teo Nya Chwee). There was mentioned of a daughter by the name of  Teo Choon Neo, who celebrated her 24th birthday in 1951. This means she was 6 year old at the time of his death.

His second wife, Madam Tan Chee Neo died in July 6, 1940 at the age of 77 at No 119 Beach Road. She is buried in front of Mr Teo Hoo Lye.
Madam Tan Chee Neo 

Prior to his death, he removed the power of attorney from his eldest son, Teo Teow Peng.

Power of attorney dropped for Teo Teow Peng (the eldest)
a year after Mr Teo Hoo Lye's death 
Son: Teo Teow Peng 
His eldest son, Teo Teow Peng, born 1882 in Singapore and educated in Raffles Institution is effectively bilingual in English and Chinese and was in the board of directors of the Sze Hai Tong Bank and the Ho Aik Steamship Co. He was also the patron of the Tiang Ho Kok Association. His wife Madam Tan Kim Lian passed away at the age of 56 on July 29, 1936.

Teo Teow Peng 

(source: NewspaperSG)
Son: Teo Teow Gim 
Teo Teow Gim went on to be a committee member in 1939 representing the Hokkien section of the Malayan Patrotic Fund (Chinese Relief Fund), whose chairman was Lee Kong Chian.

Side track note
The iron steamship Willy o' the Wisp has a long history of sailing in Singapore waters. It was once owned by the Wee Brothers Steamship until 1917. This was the same ship that accompanied the remains of Wee Leong Tan, father of Capitan China of Bengkalis, Wee Chin Yean. The ship came to Malaya in 1886 and eventually after being bought over by Heap Eng Moh Steamship Co. Ltd in 1935, it was put for sale for breaking up in an age where steel ships rule the seas.

King Edward VII Memorial Fund. (1911, September 9). The Singapore Free Press, page 7
Funeral Announcements. (1933, November 24). The Straits Times, page 10
Mr Teo Hoo Lye. (1933,November 28). The Straits Times, page 2
Untitled. (1935, August 23). The Singapore Free Press, page 6
Local Fleet Sold.  (1935, August 2). The Straits Times, page 12
Half-million dollar sale for Soon Bee Steamship Company.  (1935, August 3). The Singapore Free Press, page 2
Domestic occurrence death. (1936,July 29). The Straits Times, page 2
Chinese Donations to war fund now total $67,575. (1938, September 26). The Straits Times, page 11
Death (1940, July 7). The Straits Times, page 7
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press

Teo Hoo Lye : Hill 3 Division D plot 888

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