Monday, October 29, 2012

Wee Theam Tew and family

Wee Theam Tew was one of Singapore's leading Chinese pioneer in the legal practice. He comes from a family who have resided in Singapore for three generations. His grandfather, Mr Wee Theam Soo came from China and together with Mr Lim Boon Keng's father and Cheang Hong Lim's father, acquired the first opium farm in Singapore.

Wee Theam Tew

Dr. Lim Boon Keng and Gan Eng Seng connection

Educated locally and a former student of Raffles Institution where he excelled in English and Chinese literature. It was also documented, Wee Theam Tew gave much encouragement and help to a student by the name of Lim Boon Keng. While at Raffles Institution, he met Wee Theam Tew, who owned a large collection of English books. The young Lim Boon Keng would often go over to Wee's house after school where he was given free run of the Wee family library. His regular visits to the Wee family home and his own voracious reading turned Dr. Lim Boon Keng into an outstanding student and Singapore's leading leader. (and that is another interesting story in itself)

Wee Theam Tew joined a commercial firm and rapidly progressed from a shipping clerk and after that a storekeeper to Messrs. MacAlister and Co. Attracted to the legal profession, and through the financial generosity from his benefactor, Mr Gan Eng Seng made it possible for him to be enrolled into Lincoln's Inn and called to Bar in 1897.

The rise and fall of the Prominent Lawyer

Returning from London, he worked he work for a short stint as an Advocate and Soliciter before taking up the position as Secretary for the Prince of Su, Military Governor of Peking and Minister to the Emperor in 1904. That stint was short and the following year, he returned to Singapore as a Barrister. He repaid Gan Eng Seng back in kind by working hard in the Board of Trustees of Gan Eng Seng School to encourage the Straits Settlement Chinese to support the school. He was also a Municipal Commissioner that served in the Municipal Board as elected member of Rochore Ward in 1901. His office was at No 1 Change Alley. Mr Seow Poh Leng once worked as a clerk in his firm before moving to becoming the General Manager of Ho Hong Bank.

He was very sociable and was a member of the Singapore Chinese Weekly Entertainment Club during the time when Mr Lee Choon Guan was president and Dr Lim Boon Keng and Sir Song Ong Siang were members. He was also a committee member of the Straits Chinese British Association in 1901 during the time when the President was Mr Tan Jiak Kim. He was also a Sergeant in the Singapore Voluntary Infantry prior to leaving for Peking. Wee Theam Tew used to own the house in No 17 Armenian Street which was bought in 1910 by the "Sugar King", millionaire Oei Tiong Ham of Semarang for $11,000 who then donated the land for the building of Toa Nan School (and later Peranakan Museum).

In 1910, he was charged with perjury and criminal breach of trust with false statement in a 1909 case involved Tan Lian Chye (Tan Chor Lam) during the time when Wee Theam Tew was acting for the trustees of the estate of the late Tan Tye and criminal breach of trust with regards to $25,000 land transactions (No 390 and 391) at Tiong Bahru.

Debarred and struck off the roll after being found guilty of 2 charges of perjury and sentenced to 2 years of rigorous imprisonment for the first offence. While being imprisoned, he stood trial for his second offence. He was found guilty and further sentenced another 2 years.


Failing health and illness eventually led to Wee Theam Tew's death in January 19, 1918 at the age of 52 ( he died a few months after being admitted to the lunatic asylum ). Wee Theam Tew is buried in Lao Sua. On his tomb, are the name of his sons. Wee Chye Hin, Wee Chye Huat, Wee Chye Hoe
Three daughters: Wee Guat Lian, Wee Guat Choon, Wee Guat Mui.

Wee Theam Tew


Wife: Madam Tan Bee Choo/Tan Buay Choo
His wife, Mrs Wee Theam Tew (Madam Tan Bee Choo / Madam Tan Buay Choo) died on December 13, 1939 at the age of 68 (tomb list her age as 72) at 49-A Emerald Hill. She left behind two sons, ( Wee Chye Hin, Wee Chye Hoe ) 4 daughters, 18 grandchildren (including Tan Hock Chuan), 1 son-in-law, 2 daughter-in laws. Her tomb is located in Hill 4 Section C, plot 1787
Madam Tan Bee Choo (Mrs Wee Theam Tew)
So far from the readings of past articles, especially this article where Wee Theam Tew's brothers were called to be witness to the case, gave me some insight on Wee Theam Tew's family. If any of you reading this article have further insights, feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Mother: Goh Tek Neo
(No details).

Brother: Wee Theam Seng
Mr Wee Theam Seng is a well known personality. He was the oldest Straits Chinese Christian and Manager of the Chinese Commercial Bank. He died on April 11, 1950 at the age of 82, leaving behind:
1 son and 1 daughter-in-law,  Mr and Mrs Wee Chye Hin,
6 daughters:
Miss Wee Yew Neo ( Mrs Kwa Siew Tee )
Miss Wee Swee Neo (Mrs Yeo Chiang Swee)
Miss Wee Inn Neo (Mrs. Gaw Khek Siew)
Miss Wee Ek Neo (Mrs Gaw Khek Chiew)
Miss Wee Kim Sian ( Mrs Lauw Pek Tjin )
Miss Helene Wee (Mrs Tan Chin Tuan).

His only son, Mr. Wee Chye Sin by name bears similarity to the name listed on Mrs Wee Theam Tew's obituary and the tomb as well. I wonder if they are the same individual and possibly Wee Theam Tew's son adopted by Wee Theam Seng.

Half brother: Wee Theam Beng

[still researching]

Prince Chun. (1901, July 31). The Straits Times, page 2
Mr Wee Theam Tew. (1902, August 14). The Straits Times, page 4
S.V.I orders. (1902, August 22). The Straits Times, page 2
Help for educators. (1910, January 12). The Straits Times, page 6
Alleged Perjury. (1910, March 4). The Straits Times, page 7
Barrister Charged. (1910, March 4). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Wee Theam Tew case. (1910, March 31). The Straits Times, page 10
Wee Theam Tew case. (1910, April 1). The Straits Times, page 7
A mysterious mortgage. (1910, October 15). The Straits Times, page 7
The Assizes. (1910, November 2). The Singapore Free Press, page 5
Wee Theam Tew case. (1910, November 3). The Straits Times, page 7
The assizes. (1910, November 3). The Straits Times, page 8
Wee Theam Tew sentenced. (1910, November 5). Weekly Sun, page4
Monday. January 21, 1918. (1918, January 21). The Singapore Free Press, page 58
Death. (1934, December 14). The Straits Times, page 2
Articled men who became lawyers. (January 22, 1935). The Straits Times, page 7
Death. (1950, April 12). The Singapore Free Press, page 12
A Life to Remember (Education) [website] Lim Boon Keng: A Life to Remember
Wright, Arnold (1908). Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources. Graham Brash, pages 634
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pages

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gan Teong Tat (Bukit Brown)

Mr Gan Teong Tat (1878- Nov 5, 1969) was a well known merchant, a Municipal Commissioner in Penang and served on the Committee of the Chinese Recreational Club and member of the Turf Club, Cycling Club and the Penang Mutal Improvement Association.

Born 1878 in Penang, Gan Teong Tat was educated at the Penang Free School and St. Xavier's Institution where he distinguished himself by winning numerous medals and even the Centenary Scholarship in 1896. He married Miss Kam Chooi Lean, fourth daughter of Mr Kam Beng Chan in 1897. For 2 years after leaving school,  he worked in the Chartered Bank and after that joined Mr. Gan Ngoh Bee as an assistant in the the Pinang Farm (Penang Opium and Spirits Farm). In 1901, he was the managing partner of the Singapore Opium and Spirit Farm and from 1904-1906, similar positions for the Pinang Farm. He also held a commission as 2nd lieutenant in No 2 Penang Volunteer Corps up to 1916.

Gan Teong Tat and family 

His residence in Penang was called "Roseland" at Farquhar Street.

Gan Teong Tat's residence 
He was also one of the solicitors for the Eastern Trading Company, Ltd in 1907. In 1908, it was reported that Gan Teong Tat strike it rich in his mine in Jelapang, three miles out of Ipoh.

From Opium and Spirits to Diamonds 
Gan Teong Tat subsequently rooted himself in Singapore and quickly established himself in Singapore as a well known diamond merchant representative of the famous firm Henri Adler of Antwerp, Amsterdam and New York.

In a well known story that happened in 1928, Gan Teong Tat walked into an office in Ipoh carrying over $100,000 worth of diamonds of the finest quality in an attache case that he wanted to sell to the rich folks of Ipoh. (Kinta Valley and Ipoh were full of rich towkays who made it big via tin mining at that time).

Gan Teong Tat passed away on November 5, 1969 at the age of 91.

Madam Kam Chooi Lian (stake: 1191) and Mr Gan Teong Tat (stake: 1190) 


Mrs. Gan Teong Tat nee Kam Chooi Lian, passed away at the age of 62 in 1941 at No 25, Lorong M, Teluk Kurau, leaving behind her husband, 2 sons, Gan Hock Hye and Gan Hock Huat, 3 daughters (Gan Keng Looi, Gan Keng Wah and Gan Keng Eam) and 3 sons-in-laws ( Messrs. Khoo Soon Keong, Khaw Bian Hoe and Dr. K.C. Cheam ).

Gan Teong Tat was the eldest son of Mr. Gan Hong Kee, himself a native of Penang having born there in 1856. Mr Gan Hong Kee was educated at James school and later St. Xavier's Institution. Gan Hong Kee went on to partner Mr Gan Kim Swee as general and produce merchants under the name of Eng Joo and Co, Penang as well as Eng Joo and Co, Calcutta. For more than 5 years, Gan Hong Kee represented the Calcutta branch before returning to Penang to become the managing farmer of the Opium and Spirit Farm. He passed away in 1895.

Family of the late Mr Gan Hong Kee

Gan Teong Tat has also a brother named Mr. Gan Teong Teik, who was born in Calcutta in 1881, educated in Penang Free School and St Xavier's Institution as well. After passing his Cambridge Junior Local examination, Gan Teong Teik join Chartered Bank before becoming a managing partner of a pepper firm called Messers. Ban Eng Seng & Co, of Presgrave Street. He was also the hon. secretary of the Chinese Recreation club and member of the Turf Club.

Gan Teong Teik and family

"Moved House" 
Both Gan Teong Tat and Kam Chooi Lian's tomb located at Hill 5 Division B are affected by the 8-lane highway and their stake no's are 1190 and 1191.The tombs have recently been exhumed and  i was given the permission by their descendant to witness the pre-exhumation ceremony. It is my first time witnessing such a ceremony in person.

Offerings to the earth deity 

Offerings at Madam Kam Chooi Lian's tomb
Offerings at Mr Gan Teong Tat's tomb

In Memory of Mr and Mrs Gan Teong Tat, whose resting place have "moved house". 

Advertisements. (1907, May 8). The Singapore Free Press, page 4
Untitled. (1908, September 28). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Local and Personal. (1916, May 13). The Straits Times
Comment of the Week. (1928, October 8). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Deaths. (1941, May 3). The Straits Times, page 2
Wright, Arnold (1908). Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources. Graham Brash, pages 777,779

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ubin nature walk (October 13 )

I am back in Ubin after a long hiatus. It is the start of the migratory season and I was hoping to spot some migratory birds in Ubin. Arrived at Ubin jetty at 8 am and immediately was greeted by a flock of glossy starlings perched on top of the Perepat mangrove trees.

Glossy Starlings
 Right in front of the NParks Information Kiosk, the common Eurasian Sparrow sparked my curiosity as it was pecking on the flower buds of a bougainvillea shrub. I have never seen a Sparrow do this before. I wondered why ! Our luck continued when a Crimson Sunbird perched on the fencing of a house and gave us an enthusiastic chirp.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow with a flower bud in its beak

Crimson Sunbird
Checking the tower for raptor's proved rewarding when i spotted a raptor perched on almost the top of it. It shifted to next tower after chasing away a curious /pesky crow and there it stood perched for a long time resting and preening itself. We believe its a Peregrine Falcon, a migratory bird from North Asia, that is commonly seen in this region during the October to April period.

While trying to find the Oriental Pied Hornbill that i heard via its call, i sighted a huge bee nest. I was told later it was the nest of  Giant honeybee (Apis dorsata). The sighting of bee nest to me is not something to be feared but rather a good sign that the woodlands in Ubin  are healthy and pollination is facilitated by this bees.

Other birds that i managed to catch sight of other than the Oriental Pied Hornbills are a pair of Lesser Flameback woodpeckers on a coconut tree and finally what i think is a Juvenile Magpie Robin.

A pair of Lesser Flameback Woodpecker
A juvenile magpie robin ? 
It's been a great outing in Ubin, we caught sight of Grey Herons, Brahminy Kite (2 in flight), White-bellied sea eagle,  a glimpse of a Coucal darting away into a undergrowth among others. A final interesting sight is to see a female jungle fowl ( geek speak for wild chicken ) taking flight after being spooked by us ! Always amazing to see this wild chicken in flight and they sure can fly high and far compared to the domesticated one.

What i wanted to share also is that its durian season in Ubin, with most of the durian trees in Ubin bearing fruits which look like they will ripen and fall anytime in the coming weeks....So bird lovers, durian lovers.....what you waiting for ? Head on down !

Durians beckon you !

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lim Loh (Bukit Brown)

Lim Loh (also known as Lim Chee Gee), born in Nan Ann, Fujian Province, was a famous architect, building contractor and brick-maker that was responsible for the building of Victoria Memorial Hall, Parliament House (old Parliament House) and Goodwood Park Hotel. He had offices in 31,Upper Macau Street and a business called Chop Teng Seng Hin at No 4 Telok Ayer Street. He owned a rubber plantation where he built 3 bungalows for his family to stay and owned Royal Johore Tin Mining Co. shares as well as Godowns in Raffles Square. In summary, he was famous in his own right for being a "towkay" and an industrialist responsible for iconic buildings of Singapore, but people today remember more the deeds of his son, Lim Boh Seng.
Lim Loh

Lim Loh vs "Daily Advertiser"
In a very well known libel case, Lim Loh successfully sued Daily Advertiser for $5000 and retraction and apology in 1894 for an article the Daily Advertiser wrote in March 30th about an incident involving him buying a mistress from a brothel and also for abusing her. Lim Loh felt that the article has sullied his good name and reputation.  In that article, Daily Advertiser reported that Lim Loh went to a brothel in 67 Upper Hokkien Street to collect his "concubine" by the name of Ghok Seng that he paid for $600 and when the woman refused to follow him as she said that he has already 6 concubines at home, Lim Loh was said to have abused her with his slipper and also demanded the $600 back.

The court case shed light on a time where opium smoking and acquiring concubines by wealthy man were common. If the woman were not acquired directly from China, they were acquired by brothels. Hence, the formation of the Po Leung Kuk (Society for the Protection of Women and Children) that you might have read in my other post was a timely one.

Nye Rai (Primoon) vs Lim Loh 
In a long and complex case, where Nyre Rai claimed that a property in Raffles Place belong to his father, Prah Primoon Sombat and therefore rightfully him, the High Court of Appeals squashed Nye Rai's appeal, and that the land and subsequently property was bought in a rightful manner by Lim Loh from Khoo Tiong Poh (at a public auction of the decease's property). When Khoo Tiong Poh was alive, he made a sworn declaration that the said property actually belonged to Phya Wichit, the Rajah of Tongkah, in the name of Primoon, his secretary at that time. Khoo Tiong Poh further said that he bought the property from Phya Wichit. What i found more interesting, is not the case itself but rather the amount of problems it caused for the British courts and lawyers having to pronounce the Siamese and Chinese names as mentioned in a Straits Times newspaper article dated December 27, 1901.

Nightmare to Judges and Lawyers alike in pronouncing names
(source: NewspaperSG) 

Lim Loh contributed to various funds including the Diamond Jubilee Memorial (1897) and King Edward Memorial Fund (1911). Another lesser known contribution was of his donation in the building of the Hong San See Temple in Jalan Mohammed Sultan, in which he was not only one of key benefactors but was also the contractor of this Heritage Temple.

Hong San See Temple
Death and Remembrance 
Lim Loh died in November 1, 1929 at the age of 78. Five of his wives are said to be buried with him although a recent article listed him with six wives and 28 children (19 sons and 9 daughters).

Close-up of the tomb picture
Descendants of Lim Loh recently reunited in 2008 to commemorate the memory of their patriarch by donating a oil-on-canvas portrait of Lim Loh to the Singapore Art Museum, painted by renowned Master painter, Xu Beihong. One of the surviving children, the 6th daughter (Madam Grace Soon) shed more insights about her father, Lim Loh physique: that he was tall and thin (just like the picture) and insights to an industrial accident in a brick factory that led to his right hand being crushed and eventually replaced. The picture however showed him holding a fan with his right hand. She also remembered that they lived in a comfortable and big bungalow in their rubber estate and were driven around by chauffeurs and had their own personal chef. Because of the large number of children, Lim Loh even bought a bus to to shuttle them to school.
Lim Loh
(source: NewspaperSG)
Xu Beihong (1895-1935) was in 1927 commissioned to paint pictures of prominent personalities and being not well off then, he did his best to do has many works including Lim Loh and Tan Ean Kiam. The medium was oil on canvas and its size 116x77cm. An interesting note was that Xu Beihong sign the painting using his English signature "Poen". Another interesting fact was that Xu Beihong and Lim Loh's son, build a bond of friendship as it was Lim Bo Seng that helped organised an art exhibition in 1939 with sale proceeds for the China War relief.

The Potrait of Lim Loh
(source: NewspaperSG)
Raymond Goh's blog has also shed light that Lim Loh and his 5 wives was already exhumed from Bukit Brown Cemetery and currently interned in Bishan Pek San Teng Columbarium.

Son: Lim Bo Seng 
Lim Bo Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)
Lim Loh's son, Lim Bo Seng took over the business after his father's death. Lim Boh Seng was born on April 27,1909 in Nan-An, Fujian, China and came to Singapore at the age of 16. He studied in Raffles Institution before going to Hong Kong to attend Hong Kong University. After taking over the family business, he went on to found the Singapore Chinese Contractors Association in 1937 and with the founding members build its headquarters in  No 150 Neil Road.

It was during this period, Lim Boh Seng became very active in the anti-Japanese activities and when Singapore fell in 1942, he fled to Chungking, China and join the resistance forces that returned to Malaya called Force 136. Arrested in March 1944 and tortured and imprisoned by the Kempetai in Batu Gajah where he eventually died in June 1944 at the age of 35. He was posthumously awarded the rank of Major-General.

Lim Bo Seng memorial 

Local Libel Case. (1894, June 13). Daily Advertiser, page 3
Supreme Court. (1894, June 14). Daily Advertiser, page 3
Supreme Court. (1894, June 19). The Straits Times, page 2
Advertisements. (1897, December 13). The Straits Times, page 4
Lim Loh Case. (1902, January 21). The Straits Times, page 3
Advertisements. (1912, June 14). The Straits Times, page 12
Advertisements. (1912, March 5). The Straits Times, page 16
Contractors pay tribute to father figure Lim Bo Seng. (1988, January 15). The Straits Times, page 11
Art donation turns into family reunion. (2008, August 16). The Straits Times, page 42
Rare gift for Museum. (2008, August 14). The Straits Times, page 8

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lim Chek Yong (Bukit Brown)

Lim Chek Yong / Lin Zhe Yang (died 1948) was the second son born into a family with the surname Yeoh (Yang). His mother's family name was Lim and with no male offspring in her family to carry the name, he was given the surname. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as plan as Lim Chek Yong passed away a bachelor given his tireless devotion to his students and school. Lim Chek Yong was gifted that he was able read and write from the early age of 4 and further encouraged by his mother. His father died when he was 13 and despite financial hardship, graduated from the Hokkien Teachers' College. He served in a few primary schools before he came to Singapore in 1911 before becoming the principal of Chinese Industrial and Commercial Continuation School. He was the principal from 1911 until 1948, when he died due to ill health.

Under his leadership as principal, the school was able to avert financial crisis twice. Lim Chek Yong was the one that enabled the school to expand to the site in York Hill (Outram Road). He also modernised the school in line with the changing legislation, increased its enrolment and made it a co-ed school.

Lim Chek Yong (Lin Zhe Yang)

Fund raising
(source: NewspaperSG)

History of the School 
The Chinese Industrial and Commercial Continuation School started as a night school in a rented shophouse at 267 Tanjong Pagar Road, in 1910. It catered and provided education to the needs of the young working migrants from the Hokkien community from China, who need to work at day time, hence it's name.

In 1920, the school moved to 30 Enggor Street and a day school was initiated to expand to children of this new migrants. In 1929 it transferred to York Hill, a site along York Hill. Architectural wise, the school was built terrace style- there are classrooms all the way uphill, with playgrounds adjacent at interval levels. It also boast something unique that no other schools have, a museum and a zoo. The museum itself as an interesting exhibit which was the skeletal remains of a monkey by the name of "Ah Chye" who used to be a pet in the zoo for the past 5 years. The miniature zoo had other animals such as deers, rabbits and even crocodiles. The school also had a 2 storey clock tower. The cost for the new school was $40,000.

In 1949, the school boasted an enrolment of 1700 students, 400 of them girls. It had 27 morning classes and 10 evening classes. The school also prided itself of giving free education to children from very poor family. At its peak it had 3,000 students.

In the early 80's, faced with urban development and dwindling enrolment, plans were made to move to its current site at Tampines Street 42 was put in place and in 1986 the school was renamed "Gongshang Primary School" and in 1989 officially reopened by Dr Tay Eng Soon. Senior Minister of State (Education). Lim Chek Yong for his tireless contribution was given the honour as "Father of Gongshang".

Chinese Industrial and Commercial Continuation School (Outram Road)
(source: NewspaperSG) 

Tan Tock Seng connection 
The land in York Hill, Outram Road was brought from Tan Kwee Wah, a descendant of Tan Kim Ching (grandfather) and Tan Tock Seng (great grandfather) at a discounted price of $11,000 because it was for a school. An interesting thing to note is Tan Kwee Wah and Lim Chek Yong are buried in Bukit Brown, while Tan Tock Seng and Chua Seah Neo (Tan Kim Ching's wife) and Wuing Yi Ho (Tan Kim Ching's daughter-in-law/Tan Soon Toh's wife) are buried at the slopes of York Hill.

Death of the "Father of Gongshang"
Lim Chek Yong died on 1948 and is buried in Hill 4 Section C, plot 1584. His mother is buried behind him.
Lim Chek Yong (before clean up)

Lim Chek Yong (after clean up)

Advertisements. (1922, February 2). The Straits Times, page 7
The chinese school with an unsual history. (1978, August 25). The Straits Times, page 32
Dr Tay looks forward to improvements in quality of education. (1989, June 1). The Straits Times, page 19
Our History. [website] from Gongshang Primary School, Singapore

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chua Keh Hai (Bukit Brown)

Chua Keh Hai (1889-1939) was born in Singapore and studied in Raffles Institution. He came from a distinguished family and one of his early ancestors was Prime Minister in China during the Chung dynasty. He entered into Government Service and with the Land Office for about 15 years. He then left and joined the Ho Hong Bank Group. He later joined the Overseas Chinese Bank as Exchange Manager for many years including a stint in Hong Kong. He returned to Singapore and joined the United Chinese Bank.  Chua Keh Wai was a secretary of Ho Hong Bank and a shareholder of United Chinese Bank  (precursor of United Overseas Bank). He also held various positions such as:
  • Honorary Secretary of Straits Chinese British Association in 1924
  • President of Lion City Club (clubhouse at 54 Nelson Road), 1927,1929
  • Chinese Chamber of Commerce
  • Committee Member, Singapore Chinese Girls School
  • Vice-President, Chinese Association Committee, 1938
  • President, Singapore Badminton Association, 1938
  • Sehnh Chua (Surname Chua) of the Hokkien Community in charge of the Sehnh Chua burial ground in Silat Road.
He was a Municipal Commissioner (1935) and during his time as Commissioner, he was involved in many of the early nation development changes. An example, in 1936, he made a earnest plea for cheaper piped water as this was a basic necessity for all. He was appointed a Justice of Peace in 1937 and received the Coronation Medal in 1937.

Lee Swee Har and Chua Keh Hai


Mr. Chua Keh Hai, J.P, M.C. passed away on January 28, 1939 at his residence in No 13 Adam Road off 4th Mile Dunearn Road at 3:30 pm. The cause of death was believe to be heart failure. He leaves behind his wife, Madam Lee Swe Har (alias Annie Lee), one son, Edward Chua Cheng Hoe, 3 daughters, Chua Poh Neo (Polly), Chua Poh Luan (Dolly) and Poh Ai (Alice). In the tomb, another son was mentioned: Chua Jin Tee. He is also survived by his brother, Dr Chua Chow Teck (son-in law of Mr & Mrs Lim Peng Siang) and a sister Mrs Low Chew Kee /Lau Chew Kee.

Wife: Madam Lee Swee Har (1907-1952)
Madam Lee Swee Har is the daughter of Mr Lee Peck Hock, M.B.E. and Madam Yeo Kim Neo. Madam Lee Swee Har passed away at the age of 45 at her residence in No. 13 Adam Road on 24th September 1952. She is the sister-in-law of Dr. Chua Chow Teck and leaves behind 2 sons (Edward and Jeen Tee) and 4 daughters (Polly, Dolly, Alice and Jessie) and grandchildren.

Wife: Madam Lee Swee Neo 
In an article dated 3 December 1920, there was a mention of another Mrs. Chua Keh Hai nee Lee Swee Neo who died 28th November 1920. Her funeral took place on the 30th and the cortege left from 98-1 Orchard Road and she was buried in Alexandra Road Burial Ground. (Sang Kow Tian).

Unique Tomb Panel

Chua Keh Hai's tomb was one of the rare few if not the only one in Bukit Brown, in which the side panels are inscribed the condolence message from the British Colonial Government, the Secretary for Chinese Affairs, A.B. Jordan and on another corner, the Municipal Secretary, J.H. Goldie. His tomb is located in Hill 4, Section C.

Secretary for Chinese Affairs, Malaya (A.B. Jordan)

Municipal Secretary, J.H. Goldie 

Mr and Mrs Chua Keh Hai (pictures faded) tomb prior to clean up
Mr and Mrs Chua Keh Hai's tomb (picture changed) after clean up 


Father: Chua Low Cheak
Chua Low Cheak passed away at the age of 71 on 25th July 1925 (5th day of 6th Moon Chinese Republic 14th year) at 5am at No. 497 Kampong Bahru Road. He is survived by his sons, Chua Keh Hai and Chua Chow Teck, 4 daughters, 1 son-in-law. He is buried in "Siang-Kow Tian", Alexandra Road.

Brother: Dr. Chua Chow Teck
Dr. Chua Chow Teck (younger brother of Chua Keh Hai) married Miss Lim Siew Leng ( second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lim Peng Siang) on 27 November 1931.

Untitled.(1924, October 29). The Straits Times, page 8
Death. (1925, July 31). The Singapore Free Pres, page 6
Deaths. (1927, January 28). The Singapore Fress Press, page 8
Municipal Boards.  (1935, November, 9).The Straits Times, page 13
Coronation Medals for Malayans. (1937, May 26). The Singapore Fress Press, page 6
New J.P's for the Colony. (1937, June 10). The Singapore Fress Press, page 6
Chinese Association Committee.(1938, March 13). The Straits Times, page 10
Death.(1939, February 1). The Straits Times, page 2
Death of Mr. Chua Keh Hai. (1939. January 29). Sunday Tribune, page 22

Friday, October 05, 2012

Lee Pek Hoon and family (Bukit Brown)

Lee Pek Hoon / Lee Peck Hoon (died 1934) was born in Singapore and educated in St. Joseph's Institution in both English and Chinese. He speaks several dialects as well as some Japanese. He first joined Messrs. Harris, Goodwin and Co before taking up in 1888, an appointment to act as an agent for Hong Kong, Amoy and Swatow for Llyods' Khw Tiong Po Bun Hin & Co. line of steam ships (founded by prominent shipping merchant, Khoo Tiong Poh) and for 10 years managed it from China before moving back to Singapore in 1898, becoming the Assistant Manager of the Straits Steamship Co.

Lee Pek Hoon also owned a theatre named "Lee Peck Soon Theatre" at 499 North Bridge Road which performed Malay and Indian theatre performances. He was a shareholder of Soon Keck, Ltd and Nyalas Rubber Estate.
Lee Pek Hoon

A member of the Straits Chinese British Association, Lee Pek Hoon has a wide range of interest throughout his life, ranging from rearing prized poultry (chickens), an avid orchid cultivator (his orchid's have won prizes) and finally a race horse owner. He was one of the principal member's of the "Chinese Riding Party", a group of avid horse riders which included Dr Lim Boon Keng, Tan Boo Liat, Tan Chew Kim, Tan Hup Leong and Phua Choon Hiang. He owned many racehorses under the name of P.H. Lee. He won the Penang Derby with his horse Pawnbroker. Lee Pek Hoon married a daughter of Mr Tan Kung Hoe.

His father is also a merchant by the name of Lee Cheng Tee. Another interesting fact is that Lee Pek Hoon's mother is Tan Hay Neo, one of Tan Tock Seng's daughters.

Lee Pek Hoon 
Recent photo of Lee Pek Hoon to capture names cleaerer


Halifax Relief Fund (1918) "Our Day" (1917) Tientsin Relief Fund (1918)  China Famine Fund (1920), Swatow Relief Fund (1922) Singapore Chinese Girls School New Building Fund (1925)


Lee Pek Hoon passed away on December 4, 1934 and is buried in Hill 3 Division D, plot 1002. His age of death listed in burial registrar is 68 years. Listed on his tomb are the name of 2 sons (however my chalking was not clear) and 3 daughters (Mary Lee, Polly Lee and Iris Lee). Will try to visit again to confirm the names. His residence in his early years was at Syed Ali Road and later on 40 Newton Road.

After re-chalking, you can see clearer:
In Loving Memory of Lee Pek Hoon,
born October 5th, 1868,  died December 4th 1934, age 66 years.
Sons: John Lee, Henry Lee
Daughters: Mary Lee, Polly Lee, Iris Lee
Son-in-law: Oh Jitt Siang
Daughter-in-law: Teo Ghek Khee
Grandson: Hugh Lee, Harry Lee, Harold Lee, Hubert Lee
                  Oh Joo Lian, Oh Cheng Lian, Oh Boon Lian
Grand-daughter: Ivy Oh, Mavis Oh, Vivien Oh


Father: Lee Cheng Tee
Lee Cheng Tee (once partner of Cheng-tee, Watt-Seng & Co, shipowners) was born in Malacca in 1833 and in his early years traded with Labuan and Brunei. Together with his partner, Wee Watt Seng, their company traded in Java ports for many years. He also owned a steamship called Telegraph which sailed to Malacca and Penang. He partnered with Mr. Tan Seng Poh and owned a gunpowder magazine at Tanah Merah Kechil. Retiring at an early age from business, Lee Cheng Tee built a large house at Victoria Street until it was acquired by Mr. A. Frankel  when he expanded his furniture business.

A tall and well built man, Mr. Lee Cheng Tee passed away at the age of 68 (he embraced Christianity in his twilight years) on March 12, 1901 and is buried in the Christian Cemetery in Bukit Timah Road.

Mother: Tan Hay Neo
Tan Hay Neo (daughter of Tan Tock Seng and Lee See Neo and younger sister of Tan Kim Cheng). Madam Tan Hay Neo passed away in August 1892 in her residence in Victoria Street and is buried in Bukit Timah Road, 5th mile.

Brothers: Lee Pek Swee and Lee Pek Hock, O.B.E.
Sister: Lee Hong Neo  

Brother: Lee Pek Hock 
Lee Pek Hock is married to Yeo Kim Neo (died January 26, 1927) and have 2 sons (Lee Boon Chuan and Lee Kim Poh) and 1 daughter (Lee Swe Har who married Chua Keh Hai) and resides in No 360 Orchard Road. A businessman, Lee Pek Hock's O.B.E ( Order of the British Empire) given to him on June 1923 was annulled and cancelled in 1929 after he faced civil conviction for his bankruptcies.
Lee Pek Hock
(source: NewspaperSG)

Son: Johnnie Lee
Lee Boon Kong, Johnnie married Miss Teo Geok Kee, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Teo Thiam Swee.

Daughter: Mary Lee
In November 1912, Miss. Mary Lee was engaged to Tjong Coon Whie, son of Tjong Eng Hean, Mayor of Bali and a well known millionaire in Deli. (Medan was also called Deli in the past). This makes me wonder whether there is any relation to Tjong A Fie / Tjong Yiauw Hian or his brother Tjong Yong Hian of Medan. Tjong A Fie was the Kapitan Cina of Medan in 1911 after his brother, Tjong Yong Hian passed away.

In another article dated 1913 (one year after Mary's engagement) it mentions a Mrs Tjong Coon Whie (i am assuming Mary Lee), but what is more interesting is that it mentions Mr Tjong Coon Whie father as deceased and with a different spelling variant (Tjong Yoong Hean) and was the former Mayor of Deli which makes me more suspicious about the Medan connection.

source: NewspaperSG

Stories from No 40 Newton Road 
Servants rout robbers (1928)
In 1928, there was an attempted robbery by 4 chinese armed with knives at Lee Pek Hoon's house at 40 Newton Road, but thanks to bravery of his 2 Javanese gardener, his chinese gardener and a driver, the attempted daylight robbery at 11:30 am was routed.  A police reward of $50 and letter of commendation was given to 3 of them.

Weightlifting Competition (1928)
Lee Pek Hoon allowed his residence to be used as a venue for a weightlifting competition. His son, Johnnie Lee was the organiser.

Rice Distribution Depot (1920)
Lee Pek Hoon's house was one of the 42 depots used for rice distribution in 1920, at the time when the British Crown Colony was trying to control prices of rice, prevent hoarding and fair distribution through a rice rationing exercise via household coupons. Lee Pek Hoon was one of the many notable chinese pioneers (others include Lim Nee Soon, Khoo Kay Hian, Ong Boon Tat, See Tiong Wah, Tan Boo Liat) offered their premises for free to be such depots.

Lost Dog
Lost of "Sweep", Lee Pek Hoon's retriever dog
(source: NewspaperSG)

Local and General. (1892, August 10). Daily Advertiser, page 3
Social and Personal. (1912, November 25). The Straits Times, page 8
Advertisement. (1916, November 15). The Malayan Tribune, page 5
Food for the Poor. (1920, January 7). The Singapore Free Press, page 7
Rice Distribution. (1920, May 15). The Malayan Tribune, page 6
Untitled. (1927, June 6). The Straits Times, page 10
Deaths. (1927, January 28). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Servants rout robbers. (1928, August 25). The Straits Times, page 8
Weightlifting.(1928, March 26). The Straits Times, page 10
Social and Personal. (1929, September 30). The Straits Times, page 10
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pages 66, 154, 201,462,
Wright, A., & Cartwright, H. A. (1989). Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources. Graham Brash, page 577

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Ong Siow Sian (Bukit Brown)

Located near the gates of Bukit Brown and affected by the 8-lane highway (LTA peg number 1078), is the tomb of Mr and Mrs Ong Siow Sian. Both came from illustrious family.

Mr Ong Siow Sian is the eldest son's of Mr and Mrs Ong Soo Tee (also buried in Bukit Brown).  His grandfather is Mr Ong Ewe Hai, one of the 3 Ong clansman that bought the land that was eventually to become Bukit Brown Cemetery. Ong Siow Sian was an avid billiards, tennis player, and volunteered for the Singapore Volunteer Corps during the Great War (World War I).

Mr and Mrs Ong Siow Sian
Ong Siow Sian married Miss Chia Siew Lay, sixth daughter of Mr Chia Hood Theam. Mr Chia Hood Theam is the eldest son of Chia Leong Chuan, Camprador of the Mercantile Bank and when his father died, Chia Hood Theam became Camprador. He was also a firm believer of social education reform and like Mr Ong Soo Tee sat in the board for the Singapore Chinese Girls School as Honorary Treasurer.

Ong Siow Sian passed away at the General Hospital on April 24, 1964 at the age of 72. He left behind is wife (name not mentioned), son (Ong Choon Bee) and daughter (Mrs Wee Siew Hock nee Ong Cheng  Neo). His residence was at No 367 Racecourse Road. His wife, Chia Siew Lay died at the age of 45 on March 11, 1941. He is buried beside his first wife.

If you noticed, the tomb shoulder on the right has a cross engraved on its side. This could possibly mean he converted to Christianity.

Mr and Mrs Ong Siow Sian 

Tomb is pegged and affected by road

His son, Ong Choon Bee married Marguerite Chua Sui Gek, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Chua Ah Kow.

Local and General. (1918, March 1). The Malayan Tribune, page 4
Deaths. (1964, April 25). The Straits Times, page 24
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pages 308