Sunday, June 03, 2012

Low Peng Soy (Bukit Brown)

Low Peng Soy (1886-1938) was a merchant, rubber plantation owner and eventually a property tycoon. His company, Low Peng Soy and Co was located at 57, Boat Quay. The company he shared with Poey Keng Seng was totally dissolved in 1918. A rubber factory (The Sungei Batoe Rubber Factory) that they jointly owned was sold back to his former partner. He leased out unfurnished bungalows at 494, 522 Pasir Panjang Road and bought land and houses. He was reported to have sold of his rubber estate for $300,000 in 1925.

Low Peng Soy was the Auditor and shareholder of Sze Hai Tong Bank. (during the time where Leow Chia Heng was managing director). He was also the proprietor of Roxy Theatre, Katong and the Amalgamated Theatres Ltd.  He was appointed member of Chinese Advisory Board in 1934 (after Lee Kim Soo died) and a pioneer of the Ngee Ann Kongsi.
Roxy Theatre
(source: a2o)
Our day fund (1916), China Famine Relief (1920), Provided free use of his theatres for over 3,000 children in a Christmas event organised by the Singapore Rotary Club(1932), Singapore Jubilee Fund (1935)

Low Peng Soy at various time, bought numerous properties.
Freehold land between Pasir Panjang and sea about 20 acres for $8,500
999 years leasehold land and house at No 15,16,17,18 Angus Street, No 32 Cummings Street, No 11, 12 Fischer Street (totalling 7,594 sq ft) for $30,000
999 years leasehold land and house at No 2 Arab Street (599 sq ft) for $6,300
99 year leasehold land and house at No 47 and 48 Merchant Road (892 and 843 sq ft) for $7,900
99 year leasehold land and house at No 33 North Canal Road (1,785 sq ft) for $2,600
99 year leasehold land and house at No 42 Hong Kong Street (1,732 sq ft) for $5,500
999 year leasehold vacant land at Lavender Street (1,600 sq ft and 1,547 sq ft) for $1,500
Freehold land and house at No 48 Dickson Road (4,634 sq ft) for $8,500

Low family story
Low Peng Soy parents are Mr and Mrs Low Koon Yee. Mr Low Cheang Yee was his paternal uncle and finally his grandfather is a Mr Low Ah Jit.

Let's start with Mr Low Ah Jit who came from China at the age of 30.Through hard work he was the founder of Low Ah Jit & Co. He was merchant of produce such as gutta percha (Isonandra gutta), rubber and general merchant. When he passed away in Swatow around May 16, 1884, he left it to his two sons, Low Cheang Yee and Low Koon Yee, who renamed it Low Ah Jit & Sons, chop Yong Hong. They went on to establish chops Yong Lee and Yong Hiap.

Low Cheang Yee was born in Singapore and educated in Raffles Institution at same time as Tan Kong Wee, Seow Cue Mee and Lim Thean Geow (Dr Lim Boon Keng's father). A prominent Teochew leader, Low Cheang Yee was in the Chinese Advisory Board (1897) and Po Leung Kuk. His respected business dealings with the Europeans made him to be selected as a committee member of the Straits Chinese British Association in 1900. Low Cheang Yee died at the age of 67 in Swatow China in 1915.

His third son, Low Peng Yam continued his business from 57, Boat Quay. Low Peng Yam is also a director in Sze Hai Tong Bank and is married to the daughter of General Fang of Kwantung (Pung Tai Jing). This means Low Peng Soy and Low Peng Yam are in fact cousins !
Low Ah Jit and Low Cheang Yee
Left- Low Ah Jit [grandfather]
Right- Low Cheang Yee[paternal uncle]

Low Peng Yam (cousin) 

Low Koon Yee, (died around 1936) was a committee member of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The partnership of Low Ah Jit and sons ( chops Yong Hong, Yong Ngiap and Yong Ngiap Yee Kee )was finally dissolved in 1920. Low Koon Yee took over as sole proprieter of the business that used to be under Low Ah Jit & Sons or Chop Yong Hong - 53 Boat Quay, 3,4,5,6 and 7 Lorong Telok, 24,25,26,27 Magazine Road.

The shops under Chops Yong Ngiap and Yong Ngiap Yee Kee -57 Boat Quay, 1 and 2 Lorong Telok, 19,20 and 21-1 Angus Street, 95,96,97, 98, 99 and 100 Robertson Quay were taken over Low Peng Yam, Low Peng Hong and Low Peng Kiah under the name of Low Peng Yam Brothers

Low and Seah Connection
One of Low Peng Soy's wife (Seah Hoh Ngoh) is the daughter of Mr and Mrs. Seah Peck Seah. Seah Peck Seah is the son of Seah Eu Chin. Seah Eu Chin was a prominent Teochew merchant who made his wealth from the cultivation of gambier and pepper, the "King of Pepper and Gambier".

The Seah family was a prominent Teochew family that had a monopoly on the leadership the Ngee Ann Kongsi for many years. This cause some resentment and another group of prominent Teochew's including Lim Nee Soon and Lee Wee Nam founded Teochew Poi Ip Huay Kwan to break the monopoly of influence. Leow Chia Heng and Low Peng Soy joined the Teochew Poi Ip Huay Kwan also after its formation.

Low Peng Soy died at the age of 52 on February 7, 1938 at his home in No. 73 Emerald Hill and was buried in Bukit Brown Hill 3 Division B plot no 263, on March 27, 1938. Low Peng Soy had 8 eight sons and 1 daughter. One of his sons, Low Kee Pow, a retired school Principal and a great sportsman in his time, it said to be still staying or occupying the house in Emerald Hill.
Tomb of Mr Low Peng Soy
Low Peng Soy, Leow Chia Heng and some of the Seah family are all buried nearby in a area with a number of beautiful Teochew tombs.
Low Peng Soy
Tomb and tomb mount of Mr Low Peng Soy

Property Sale. (1914, May 27).The Singapore Free Press, page 6
Advertisements. (1917, June 25). The Straits Times, page 16
Advertisements. (1918, January 12). The Straits Times, page 16
Advertisements. (1920, September 29). The Straits Times, page 12
Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce. (1921, March 5). The Straits Times, page 14
Local Property Auction. (1922, October 27).The Singapore Free Press, page 12
Matters Chinese. (1925, June 29).The Singapore Free Press, page 4
Acknowledgment. (1927, June 6). The Straits Times, page 8
Property Sale. (1932, January 9). The Straits Times, page 16
Free Cinema Shows for Kiddies. (1932, December 24). The Straits Times, page 17
Property Sale. (1933, July 6). The Singapore Free Press, page 2
Deaths. (1933, July 26). The Straits Times, page 10
From Day to Day. (1934, March 10). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Lee Kip Lin. (1984) Emerald Hill, The Story of a Street in Words and Pictures. National Museum, Singapore, page 19.

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