Thursday, March 28, 2013

My first temple dinner (Mun San Fook Tuck Chee)

I was invited to a temple dinner on March 13, 2013 and i gladly accepted the invitation having never attended a temple dinner before. The Mun San Fook Tuck Chee (萬山福德祠) is one of the oldest cantonese temple in Singapore with an history over 140 years and is located at No 124, Sims Drive, Singapore 387379. I believe it also known as Sar Kong Temple (named after the village that used to be in Sims Drive).

Other than being known as one of the oldest cantonese temple, it is also well known for its Fire Dragon, which is made from rice straw woven together tightly and firmly so that joss sticks can be stuck on it. I managed to witness the burning of the fire dragon during a ceremony last year as well as , in this very temple. Below are some of the pictures of the activities that took place during the temple dinner cum auction festivities. I decided not to post up any food pictures because I am not really a food blogger, although i might consider doing so in the future (one should never say never!).

Temple entrance and devotees making offerings

Drum and bell after temple entrance
Cantonese Opera (Wayang) 
Straw dragon kept in temple compounds

My artistic rendition of the dragon

The temple dinner itself was your typical eight course dinner with fund raising activities via auction of various objects including lanterns. The guest of honour that graced the event was Dr Yaccob Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Information. Below are some pictures from 2012, February 23 of the fire dragon event that took place at Mun San Fook Tuck Chee.

Smoking fire dragon by the joss sticks stuck into the straw body

The fire dragon on fire 
A Boon Returned-The Mun San Fook Tuck Chee.[website].Selat Society-Publications
About Us. [website].Sar Kong Mun San Fook Tuck Chee Lion Dance Troupe
 Mun Sun Fook Tuck Chee, 1876, needs conservation. [website]. Historic Chinese Architecture in Singapore

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tan Joo Khoon (Bukit Brown)

Tan Joo Khoon was in the government service in the Marine Department for 26 years and is the Chief Clerk of the Master Attendant's Office and an Chinese interpreter for the shipping community. His house is at No. 393, Beach Road. Tan Joo Khoon passed away at the age of 44 on July 31, 1926. This happened while he was holidaying with some friends in Beting Kusa, Changi, he had a heart attack. He died while in transit to General Hospital.

He is the brother-in-law of Seah Eng Lim. He is remembered by a widow (Ng Joo Tian), 4 sons (Tan Lye Sia, Tan Lye Quee, Tan Lye Wah, Tan Lye Mok), two daughters, (Tan Meow Luang, Tan Meow Gek), 1 daughter-in-law.
Memorial stone of Tan Joo Khoon
Tan Joo Khoon is also survived by 5 brothers: Tan Joo Seng, Tan Joo Sung, Tan Joo Eng, Tan Koon Yam, Tan Joo Kee. ( Seah Eng Lim's father is Seah Peck Seah and grandfather is Seah Eu Chin).

His wife who is in the tomb beside him is Madam Ng Joo Tian, who died on April 30, 1960 at the age of 74. There is another wife listed in the tomb, a Madam Lee.
Madam Ng Joo Thian

Marble stone of Madam Ng Joo 

Death of Mr. Tan Joo Khoon. (1926, August 3). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
The late Mr Tan Joo Khoon. (1926, August 4). The Singapore Free Press, page 8

Friday, March 15, 2013

Madam Tan Teck Ghee (Bukit Brown)

Nestled in Hill 3 in an area heavily pegged, an indicator that the highway will pass there and soon to be forcibly exhumed is the tomb of Madam Tan Teck Ghee. Her peg number is 2097. One of her daughters married Mr. Ong Peng Hock.

Japanese Koki / Imperial Calender
The tomb of Madam Tan Teck Ghee (Mrs Lim Soon Liang) is unique, as if you look closely at Madam Tan's date of death it states: Died on the 27th December 2603, age 88.

The year 2603 seems strange, but with further insight, this year follows the Japanese Koki Calender or the Japanese Imperial Calender which was said to have begun in 660 BC. In short 2603 would have been 1943 which corresponds with the period where Singapore was occupied by the Japan.

If you observed carefully there are a number of tombs that uses this calender, the most notable one is Mr Lee Hoon Leong (grandfather of Mr Lee Kuan Yew).
Madam Tan Teck Ghee (Madam Lim Soo Liang)
Madam Tan Teck Ghee's husband is Mr Lim Soon Liang. Mr. Lim Soon Liang passed away on May 28, 1926 at his residence in No. 7 Martin Lane at the age of 81. He left behind his widow (Madam Tan Teck Ghee), 4 sons, (Lim Tiam Ek, Lim Tiam Hock, Lim Tiam Siew and Lim Tiam Seng ) , 4 daughters, (Mrs Lee Keng Lin, Mrs Ong Peng Hock, Mrs Chua Yew Hoe and Miss Lim Yeok Sian).  

Ong family connection
Miss Lim Yeok Quan (second daughter) married Mr. Ong Peng Hock (brother of Ong Boon Tat), son of Ong Sam Leong. All of the above mentioned are buried in Bukit Brown.

Deaths. (1926, May 28). The Straits Times, page 8

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tan Chin Boon (Bukit Brown)

Mr Tan Chin Boon is the grandson of the prominent pepper and gambier merchant, Tan Yeok Nee (1827-1902), Major China of Johor. Mr. Tan Chin Boon died in June 7, 1931. His wife is Madam Ng Meow Lang who passed away at the age of 93 on November 18, 1981. The cortege left from No. 32 Dublin Road (the family home of the late Mr Tan Chin Boon). She is survived by two sons, Tan Peng Yong and Tan Peng Siang and a daughter Tan Sock Cheng, 2 son-in-laws, 4 daughter-in-laws and many grand and great grandchildren.
Tan Chin Boon
(photo taken at Peranakan Museum)

Mrs Tan Chin Boon nee Madam Ng Meow Lang 
Tan Chin Boon (Hill 3 Division D)

Mr and Mrs Tan Chin Boon 
Daughter: Tan Sock Cheng
Their youngest daughter, Miss Tan Sock Cheng (daughter of  the late Mr. Tan Chin Boon and Mrs. Tan Chin Boon of 32 Dublin Road) married Mr Ooi Ah Leng in 1937.

Sons: Tan Peng Yong and Tan Peng Siang
I am unable to find detailed information on Tan Peng Yong and Tan Peng Siang. However the picture below is Tan Peng Siang who donated the carved and gilded altar of Tan Chin Boon to the the museum
Tan Peng Siang (great grandson of Tan Yeok Nee) 
Grandfather: Tan Yeok Nee ( Tan Hiok Nee) 
Born 1827 in Jin Sha village in Shang Pu (present day Caitang) of Chaozhou, he came down from China at an early age and became a cloth pedlar plying his trade in Telok Blangah, where the Temenggong's family became a regular. He became friends with Temenggong Abu Bakar (eventually the Sultan or Maharaja of Johor). By 1866, Tan Yeok Nee was already a rich gambier and pepper merchant in Boat Quay under the chop Kwang Hong and managed to obtain extensive kang-chu  (Kangchu) rights in Johore. He was appointed Major China of Johor around 1870 and also went into partnership with Cheang Hong Lim and Tan Seng Poh in the Singapore and Johor Opium and Spirit Farms. He became a prominent Teochew leader in both Singapore and Johore. There is a street in Johore named after him.
Tan Yeok Nee (or better known as Tan Hiok Nee in Johore)
His influence in Johore waned on what could possibly other influential Chinese leaders band together and had him removed, forcing him to consolidate his power back in Singapore. In an article dated 1883, there was also mentioned of a Mr. Tan Ah Choo (head of the Ghi Hin / Ghee Hin) and Tan Eng Cheng (manager of Gambier and Pepper Society) who were arrested while been entertained at Tan Yeok Nee's residence and eventually deported out of the colony for what is to be believed to be opium smuggling.

Tan Yeok Nee eventually returned to his home town and died in May 21, 1902 at the age of 75.
All his sons died earlier than him. His wealth was devised to his 8 grandsons (Tan Chin Boon, Tan Chin Teat, Tan Chin Toon, Tan Chin Yeow, Tan Chin Boo, Tan Chin Wee and Tan Chin Ngoh), of whom Tan Chin Boon, Tan Chin Teat and Tan Chin Yeow by the time they were adults already well known within the Teochew community.

House of Tan Yeok Nee at 101 Penang Road /Tank Road
Tan Yeok Nee wealth grew as his business and influence grew and he stayed in various residences, but the residence he will be most remembered for his mansion at Tank Road, constructed in 1882 that survived till this day. It was acquired for the building of the railway during the colonial rule and became the station masters house before it changed hands to became the St. Mary's Home for Eurasian girls. Later it became the Salvation Army's Headquarters in 1938 and for a short spell occupied by the Japanese army. Gazetted a National Monument in 1974, it has changed hands several times since then.

House of Tan Yeok Nee
(source: NewspaperSG)
House of Tan Yeok Nee
(source: NewspaperSG)
House of Tan Yeok Nee (Tank Road)

The traditonal Chinese Courtyard house was said to be one of four ever build in Singapore highlighted in various newspaper articles as well as Sir Song's book. The other 3 houses included:
  1. Tan Seng Poh house in Hill Street, erected in 1869 and for many years used as the Chinese Consulate.
  2. Seah Cheo Seah's house in Boat Quay, built in 1872 and occupied by family of the late Seah Eu Chin
  3. Wee Ah Hood's house in Hill Street, built in 1878, owned and occupied by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. 
His other house was the one in Clark Quay, now known as River House.
River House,Clark Quay

[research still on-going]

Untitled. (1883, February 20 ). The Straits Times, page 2
Domestic occurence announcement. (1937, December 9). The Straits Times, page 2
Untitled. (1981, November 18). The Straits Times, page 33
A home of their own. (1982, September 22). The Straits Times, page 11
Mansions from the past. (2002, March 28). Today Afternoon Edition, page 33
House of Tan Yeok Nee. [website]. Preservation of Monuments Board.
River House at Clark Quay.[website].URA
Tan Hiok Nee (Tan Yeok Nee). [website].Infopedia
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Changi Point Coastal Walk (Changi Village)

Most of my visits to Changi Village are to enjoy its food at the hawker centre or laze over a cup of coffee or as a stop over before visiting Ubin Island. Last Saturday, (March 2) i decided to change my usual routine and walk the coastal walk or what i call the board walk. I also wanted to check out the commando barracks and the old changi hospital to see what developments have been taking place since i last paid visit over a year ago.

Getting there
By MRT, nearest one is Tanah Merah. Transfer to SBS Bus No. 2  at Bus stop No 85091.This will bring you to Changi Village interchange. Other buses that goes to Changi Village include SBS Bus No. 29, 59, 109.
My route from Changi Village 
On a beautiful morning or evening, you will get to enjoy the lovely sea breeze and if your timing is right, during a low tide, be mesmerised by the amazing diversity of shore life that calls Changi coast its home. Below are some of the pictures i took on the Saturday morning i was there.

View of Ubin from Changi Sailing Club 

Granite rocks giving the shore line its character

View of Ubin from the Changi Sailing Club 
Changi Coastal Walk

At "Kelong Walk"

Board walk 

Almost white sandy beaches. 
A stroll along Hendon Road 
After taking a nice stroll i wanted to take a look at what was happening to the 1930's houses along Hendon Road which was once the Headquarters of British Royal Engineers and the Far East Air Forces (and after war, Headquarters for the Royal Air Force of Malaya and Singapore). When i arrived i noticed a number of changes have taken place. The one that caught my eye immediately was a recently chopped tree with a huge girth (maybe Albizia) lying by the side of the road.

No 34 and 35 Hendon Road are going through retrofitting to become training centres for its future owner, a bank called BNP Paribas (Singapore branch). No 35 used to be one of HQ for the Far East Air Forces.

Commando barracks at Hendon 

Tree with a huge girth chopped down 
Construction underway

The project taking place in No 34 & 35 Hendon Road
With the pace of construction taking place, the only unused building seem to the Old Changi Hospital and the Old HQ of the Royal British Engineers. It is really amazing the speed of development that ha already taken place here.
Old Changi Hospital fenced up 

Overlooking at the residential houses at the foothill

Previous post
Changi Village revisited - posted on October 1, 2005
The end of the Old Changi Hospital-posted June 6, 2006. 
Changi Hospital I-posted on November 6, 2006
The Old Commando building revisited- posted on June 22, 2007

Sunday, March 10, 2013


We make memories everyday in the things we do. Some memories, we want to forget as fast as possible and for others, we will like to hold on for many many more years to come. Some are stored as a photograph or video we take, others in print in the book or blog article we write. This memories can also be memories "stored" by other people, for example our parents, our loved ones, our children and/or our friends.

Who are we also creating this memories for? For most of us is the simple memories of our parents, our love ones and our children and vice versa their simple and nice memories of us. Most of us do not even dare dream of great lofty, contributions to society or start thinking of a good legacy we want to leave behind.

In our busy work life, we don't pay much attention to this, but of course where possible, may each and every of us find our passion in life and enjoy doing what you do. If possible,contribute back to your family, community or society when you can to make it a much better place.

Have a great Sunday. I hope you had some good memories of today !

Photo taken at Bukit Brown Cemetery

"May we not be just be a memory but be someone who left a lasting impact to society”

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Lee Kim Soo (Bukit Brown)

Mr Lee Kim Soo (May 8, 1888-December 13, 1933) was an industrialist and proprietor of Elkayes. The company name was derived from the first initials of his name, L.K.S.  The company has factories in Singapore, Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Port Swettenham. He had his early education in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. He worked for the Singapore Association of Engineers before finally striking out on his own in 1910 as a merchant providing estate supplies. Mr Lee Kim Soo's company, Elkayes Work started producing latex cups and pottery products on large scale in line with the rubber plantation boom in Singapore and Malaya, and in no time became the largest. He became a packing manufacturer, producing the wooden cases in which rubber was stored. An industrialist and a man full of ideas, he expanded and pioneered the match manufacturing industry in Singapore. The Elkayes Match factory is modern in design, using modern equipment and operated by a European manager with over 400 Chinese employees.

Lee Kim Soo 

Latex cups sold by Lee Kim Soo
In 1931 /1932 period, Mr Lee Kim Soo's match factory, moved to Johor after facing pressure from dumping of cheap matches from Japanese based companies that gave fierce competition and the lack of protective tariff made it difficult for Lee Kim Soo. In replacement, the former match factory in MacNair Road started producing nails as he felt his factory was able to produce them cheaper that those made in Europe and Japan. In a 1932 Manufacturers Business Exhibition, Lee Kim Soo's steel chairs were popular with one of her first clients been Lady Clementi. At its prime, its office in High Street sold china clay manufactured goods, flooring's, roofing's, garden furniture, ornamental pottery, pipping, etc.
The factory itself adopted an art deco look

Lee Kim Soo and the range of products he sold
(source: NewspaperSG)

Community Contribution

Lee Kim Soo contributed to the community as well, by been a Municipal Commissioner representing the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, board member of Tan Tock Seng Hospital and a member of the Chinese Advisory Board. A Teochew, he was an official of several Teochew schools and clubs.


Mr Lee Kim Soo passed away at the age of 46 on December 13, 1933 at his residence in No 34 Newton Road. He leaves behind an aged mother and a large family. Sons: Lee Meng Kwang, Lee Meng Hwee, Lee Meng Khum, Lee Meng Cheow. Daughters: Lee Meng Siew, Lee Meng Lee, Lee Meng Sock, Lee Meng Ngee.
Lee Kim Soo's tomb 
Wife: Madam Quek Ah Nia
Madam Quek Ah Nia (Mrs Lee Kim Soo ) passed away at the age of 95 on June 17, 1993, leaving behind two sons, Lee Meng Hwee, Richard and Lee Yaw Song; two daughter-in-laws, Chua Geok Hoe, Maggie, Dorine Tay, two daughters, Lee Mui Eng, Lee Mui Choo, two son-in-laws, Dennis Tan and Quek Seow Quee. The cortege left from No 4 Happy Avenue Central.
Madam Quek Ah Nia

Wife: Madam Neo Bah Tak
Madam Neo Bah Tak passed away on November 8, 1998 at the age of 87. Based on the obituary notice, she remarried to Mr. Tan Peng Chuan after Mr Lee Kim Soo passed away. Her son's are Teddy Lee Meng Kum, Jimmy Lee Meng Chio and daughters; Peggy Lee Meng Lee, Lee Meng Siok, Lee Meng Ngie, Lee Meng Im.
Madam Neo Bah Tak

Daughter: Lee Meng Siew
Lee Meng Siew (daughter of Mrs Lee Kim Soo and the late Mr. Lee Kim Soo) married Lim Koon Hock (second son of Mr and Mrs Lim Boon Seng) in November 1935. The wedding took place at the bride's residence at 39 Newton Road.

Unique Teochew Art Deco tomb 

Lee Kim Soo's tomb is one of the most unique and impressive tomb in terms of size and its modern Teochew Art deco structure in Bukit Brown, befitting of a modern forward looking industrialist.
Lee Kim Soo's art deco tomb

Nail Making. (1932, January 2). The Straits Times, page 19
Exhibition Business. (1932, January 5). The Straits Times, page 8
Early death of Mr. Lim Kim Soo. (1933, December 14). The Straits Times. page 9
60 years ago. (1993, December 17). The Straits Times, page 43
Deaths.(1993, June 19). The Straits Times, page 40
Deaths.(1998, November 9). The Straits Times, page 36

Monday, March 04, 2013

Tan Seng Chong (Bukit Brown)

Tan Seng Chong 
Tan Seng Chong is an Architect and proprietor of Tan Seng Chong and Co. with business at 14 Raffles Quay as architects and general contractors, under European supervision. Prior to this he was a student of the I.C.S. and Municipal Surveyor and Daughtsman with 14 years of experience before deciding to start his own business as an architect and estimator in 1910 initially in his residence in No 189 Queen Street and subsequently in 14 Raffles Quay. He was the first Chinese to start his own architectural practice.
Phones were only 4 digits then
(source: NewspaperSG) 
He was also in the business of retrofitting houses and renting them out. An example was an advertisement renting out a bungalow by the name of "Fairydale" at 379 Paya Lebar Road.

Tan Seng Chong, passed away on August 20, 1927  in his residence at No 189 Queen Street. He was 53 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Madam Au Swee Hai , one adopted son, Mr. Tan Teng Kee (also known as Battling Key), one son, Mr. Tan Chui Guan , 2 daughters, Miss Tan Eng Keow, Tan Hong Keow, 1 daughter-in-law, Tay Kim Swee Neo.

Picture of Tan Seng Chong funeral, hearse and accompanying group
taken in front of his office ( photo courtesy of Mervin Tan, great grandson)

Mr. Tan Seng Chong marble inscription. 
Madam Au Swee Hai passed away on August 5, 1937 at the age of 62.
Madam Au Swee Hai marble inscription 
Son: Tan Teng Kee (Battling Key)
The story goes that although Battling Key was a handsome man and had a throng of female admirers, he never married.  He loved boxing too much and was heard saying, "I love boxing and I am prepared to die fighting in the ring". He fought in Singapore, Malaya, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Hong Kong. In Singapore, many fights took place in the Moonlight Hall, New World.

As a young boy, he learnt boxing through bare knuckle street fights against bigger bullies who threatened his friends and his neighbourhood. At school he was considered "unmanageable" by his teachers as his interest was always fighting.
Battling Key
(source: NewspaperSG)
Battling Key was described as a terror in the ring but a kind and charitable person, so much so that the wealth of $45,000 he amassed through boxing was gone to people who asked him for money because he couldn't turn them away.
Battling Key 
One of the most memorable bout of his career was when in August 4, 1922 Tan Seng Kee knocked out his opponent, Johnny Carvalho (Johore Tiger) in 95 seconds in round 1 of a 10 round bout. He became the lightweight champion of Malaya and booked a place in the history books. Battling Key fought his last bout when on March 20, 1935, in a match against Johnny Nelson in Seremban, he was tragically killed. It was the 7th round, when after several hits in the earlier rounds, he finally collapsed. Taken to the hospital, he never regained consciousness. Tan Teng Kee aka Battling Key died at the age of 37 and was buried in a Catholic cemetery in Seremban.
Battered trophies of Battling Key kept by his younger brother
(source: NewspaperSG) 
Son: Tan Chui Guan
Tan Chui Guan is a committee member and hon. public officer of the Union Sporting Association. He married Miss Tay Kim Siew Neo, only daughter of Mr and late Mrs Tay Yam Sock on January 13, 1926.
Mr Tan Chui Guan and Miss Tay Kim Neo
(photo courtesy of Mervin Tan)

Tan Chui Guan passed away in 1944 during the Japanese Occupation and he was buried at the cemetery along Duchess / Coronation Ave.  His grave was exhumed in the mid 1990s and his remains have been cremated and relocated to Mandai Columbarium. Tay Kim Swee Neo passed away in 1941 and is buried at Bukit Brown. (Tan Chui Guan is the paternal grandfather of Mervin Tan)

Mother: Madam Wee Yang Neo (Peg Number 1950)
Madam Wee Yang Neo is the mother of Tan Seng Chong. Tan Seng Chong's name is not listed on her tombstone because he passed away earlier than her mother (she passed away in November 22, 1928 at the age of 83.  Listed on her tomb were her surviving sons, Tan Seng Kiang, Tan Seng Watt, Tan Chye Liang and Soh Chye Watt. The connection to his son, Tan Seng Chong is through the name of his mother's grandchildren, Tan Chui Guan, Tan Eng Keow, Tan Hong Keow.
Madam Wee Yang Neo (mother of Tan Seng Chong)
Moving House
Mr and Mrs Tan Seng Chong are affected by the 8 lane highway. Their peg number's are 1945 (Tan Seng Chong) and 1946 (Au Swee Hai) and is located in Hill 2 Division B, in front of Tok Cheng Tuan's tomb. His mother, Madam Wee Yang Neo is also affected (peg 1950). Their tombs however have been claimed and will be remembered.
Mr and Mrs Tan Seng Chong

Advertisement. (1910, October 1). The Straits Times, page 8
Untitled. (1914, September 25). The Straits Times, page 8
Advertisement.(1925, December 16). The Straits Times, page 8
Advertisement.(1926, September 21). The Straits Times, page 8
Death. (1927, August 22). The Straits Times, page 8
Boxing in Singapore. (1929, July 20). Malayan Saturday Post, page 17
The Union Sporting Association. (1930, September 16). The Singapore Free Press, page 13
Tragedies of the Ring. (1938, December 18). The Straits Times, page 31
Battered cups that were once boxer's joy. (1953, May 17). The Straits Times, page 18
My Uncle, the Peranakan Boxing Champion. [website] Peranakan Newsleter December 1995.
Who's who in Malaya, (p. 173). (1925). [Microfilm: NL 6705].   Singapore: Fishers in conjunction with Mass Printers.
Email correspondence's with Mervin Tan and Wong Tin Hway