Leow Chia Heng (Bukit Brown)

Leow Chia Heng / Liao Chia Heng (1870-1931) was a merchant under the company chop Buan Teck Heng (86/87 Circular Road) dealing in cloth and silk in the 1900's till its eventual winding up in 1926. During his career he expanded to become an estate owner and finally a wealthy banker.
Leow Chia Heng
Leow Chia Heng 

He was the Managing Director of the The Sze Hai Tong Banking and Insurance Ltd (registered office at No 57 / 58 Kling Street), Board of Director in The Chinese Commercial Bank Ltd and had shares in Eastern United Assurance.
Sze Hai Tong Bank

He contributed socially and was also a  Justice of Peace, Committee Member of Chinese Advisory Board, Committee Member of Po Leung Kuk (Society for the Protection of Woman and Children), President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and recipient of the Certificate of Honor. He was one of the founding members of the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan and was also the first President of the Straits Confucian Association (later renamed as Nanyang Confucian Association).
"Our Day" celebration fund(1916), Lifeboat Fund (1918),Zeebrugge Memorial Fund(1921),  Swabue Famine Relief Fund(1924), Nan Hua Girls' School Fund (1926), Clifford Fund for Raffles College (1929).

It was reported in 1922 that he bought 999 year leasehold land and houses at 253, 254a -254h and 255,  South Bridge Road totalling 10,277 sq feet for $96,000. That was only a small number and only the tip of an iceberg. An auction advertisement of his estate shows the extend of estate accumulated by him.
Huge number of properties
The Straits Times, September 20, 1933
(source: NewspaperSG)
More properties for auction
The Straits Times, May 19, 1939
(source: NewspaperSG) 
Leow Chia Heng died at the age of 61 on February 28, 1931 at No 23 Pasir Panjang Road. It was reported that his body left from his home at No 5 Cumming Street for internment on March 29th, 1931 for a Chinese Cemetery in Balestier Road. This means the tomb in Bukit Brown is a reburial.

He left behind 3 sons, Leow Yong Moey (Yong Mui) , Leow Yong Seng (died two months after his father at the young age of 21 due to tuberculosis, leaving behind his wife and 4 children ) and Leow Yong Chuan,  2 daughter-in-laws, 4 daughters, 5 son-in-laws (Ng Kheng Siang, Lim Siew Siam, Chew Peng Huat, Tan Siak Kew and Tay Peng Siong).
Leow Chia Heng
Tomb of Leow Chia Heng 

Leow Chia Heng headstone
Second Rank Imperial Title from Qing government 

The tomb of Mr Leow Chia Heng has an indication of a 2nd rank imperial ranking by the Qing Dynasty. Imperial titles by Qing were commonly sold prior 1889 in exchange for monetary "contributions to various causes" for China. In 1889 this titles were even offered with a price list ! The headstone also indicates that his second son, Yong Seng (who died two months after his father) is buried with Leow Chia Heng.

When Leow Yong Mui passed away sometime in 1972, his estate was also sold off in an auction including the family home in No 5 and 6 Cumming Street.
(source: NewspaperSG)

One of his daughter, Ms Leow Mui Cheng (Madam Tan Siak Kew) who died at the age of 25 is also buried nearby. She married Mr Tan Siak Kew, a prominent Teochew leader, President of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore Chinese Produce Exchange, Chairman of the Nanyang University Council and first Ambassador to Thailand (1966).

Leow Chia Heng Prize 
There was residue amount left behind from the estate of the late Mr Leow Chia Heng. The High Court of the State of Singapore asked National University of Singapore to create a fund called the 'Leow Chia Heng Prize'  that provide's an annual cash prize to undergraduates or graduates of the Faculty of Law. Some of the former recipients of this award included Mr Tommy Koh (1961) and Mr S. Jayakumar (1963).

Advertisement. (1905, August 23). The Straits Times, page 6
Advertisement. (1913, February 24). The Singapore Free Press, page 9
Untitled.(1914,May 15). The Singapore Free Press, page 6
Advertisement. (1914, January 17). The Singapore Free Press, page 2
Untitled. (1922, July 26). The Straits Times, page 8
Advertisement. (1922, January 18). The Straits Times, page 16
Death. (1931, March 3). The Singapore Free Press, page 10
Domestic Occurences. (1931, March 27). The Singapore Free Press, page 10
Advertisement. (1933, September 20). The Straits Times, page 4
Over 100 law books reference. (1933, May 11). The Straits Times, page 5
Advertisement. (1939, May 19). The Straits Times, page 2
Advertisements. (1972, May 16). The Straits Times, page 21
Edwin Lee. (1991). The British as rulers: governing multiracial Singapore, 1867-1914. Singapore University Press, National University of Singapore, pp 185
Correspondence with great grand-daughter of Leow Chia Heng. 2012, May 17 [Email].


  1. Hi!

    You mentioned: "In 1889 this titles were even offered with a price list!" in the article on Leow Chia Heng.

    Can you share this source of information or can you indicate the list on your blog?

    Thank you

  2. Hi limsoonhoe, it was from a snapshot of a page from a chinese book someone posted on the facebook group of Bkt Brown sometime back. Unfortunately for some reason, i can't find it anymore.

  3. Hi,

    I am currently looking into the life and times of Tan Siak Kew and stumbled upon this entry. I wonder if you have further information about Leow Mui Heng? Particularly her Chinese name and her date of death if possible.

    Thank you!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.


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