Chew Joo Chiat (Bukit Brown)

Chew Joo Chiat, (周如切 ) a hokkien from Amoy, came to Singapore as a penniless boy, but through a mixture of sheer hard work, business acumen and marriage to a peranakan family, he went on to be a plantation owner of coconuts and rubber in the area called Confederate Estate where Joo Chiat is and expanded to be property tycoon leaving behind properties and houses (mostly) in the East Coast District of Joo Chiat estimated to be worth a million dollars in 1926 and it another article dated 1930, 4 million dollars.What started with plantation grew into streets with buildings. The streets were named after him as when the colonial government wanted to build roads expanding to the east, Chew Joo Chiat gave it away without seeking compensation. It is believed that his business acumen came to play, predicting that with government building roads and infrastructure, he could make even more money renting or selling houses in this area as well as to transport his copra and rubber easier. Indeed a shrewd man and aptly nicknamed as the "King of Katong".

Chew Joo Chiat

Chew Joo Chiat passed away at the age of 69 on February, 5, 1926 at the family residence in 246 Joo Chiat Road. He left behind two sons, Chew Cheng Yam (Chew Cheng Liam)  and Chew Cheng Swee.

source: NewspaperSG


Wife: Lim Heon Neo 林香娘, from China. 
First wife of Chew Joo Chiat. She had 3 sons Chew Cheng Liam 周清廉, Chew Cheng Swee周清水, Chew Cheng Hao, 周清浩 and 3 daughters Chew Sian Nian周羡娘 ,Chew Lan Nian周兰娘 and Chew Sit Nian周舌娘 . She died in 1896. 

Wife: Tan Quan Neo (Tan Kwan Neo / Tan Guan Neo)
Tan Guan Neo was a Peranakan and was the second wife of Chew Joo Chiat. When Chew Joo Chiat left China and came over to Singapore, he married Tan Quan Neo. Their daughter is Chew Quee Neo.

Tan Quan Neo passed away at the age of 59 on April 19, 1927.
Tan Quan Neo (before and after)
Tan Quan Neo (Mrs. Chew Joo Chiat)
Son: Chew Cheng Yam /Chew Cheng Liam  ( 周清廉 )
Mrs Chew Cheng Liam (nee Yap Kin Neo) passed away at the age of 81 on May 28, 1962. She was the first daughter-in-law of the late Chew Joo Chiat. She left behind 2 sons, Chew Ann Siong, Chew Ann Hoo and 2 daughters, Chew Poon Neo and Chew Hian Neo.

Chew Poon Neo (left) with Lee Kuan Yew (1963)
Chew Poon Neo is the grand daughter of Chew Joo Chiat
(source: a2o)

Son: Chew Cheng Swee (周请水)
In a court case, stretching from 1930-1932, Chew Cheng Swee put a defence plea to court that he was heavily indebted (due to unpaid promissory notes worth $82,000) was the reason he was unable to pay his second wife, Madam Chan Chye Neo and children the $150 monthly maintenance. It was also mentioned that Chew Cheng Swee bought a third wife for $600 after an accident to Madam Chan that led to her left hand being crippled. The court ruled for the complainant, Madam Chan and ask the defendant, Mr Chew Cheng Swee to pay the $450 maintenance in arrears.

Daughter: Chew Quee Neo (Mrs Lee Tian Seck) 周桂娘
Madam Chew Quee Neo ( listed in the papers as the only daughter of Chew Joo Chiat and nickname the Grand old lady of Joo Chiat) is the wife of Mr Lee Tian Seck (campradore of Batu Pahat Bank). She passed away at the age of 71 years old on December 12, 1962.  She played an important role in 1960 by being one of the principal donor in the Buddhist Temple, Mangala Vihara (Shrine of Blessing) Temple in No 38 Jalan Eunos.

Chew Quee Neo
Chew Quee Neo (source: NewspaperSG)

Deaths. (1926, February 8). The Straits Times, page 8
Untitled. (1926, February 11). The Straits Times, page 8
Advertisements. (1929, January 22). The Straits Times, page 13
Advertisements. (1929, May 17). The Singapore Free Press, page 7
Second wife to be paid $450. (1932, August 5). The Straits Times, page 12
Madam Chew made a vow to build a temple home for the dead...and does it. (1960, May 13). The Singapore Free Press, page 7
Death. (1962, May 30). The Straits Times, page 10
"Grand old lady dies". (1962, December 12). The Straits Times, page 13
Micellanous.(1984, July 25). Singapore Monitor, page 20


  1. For your info, Chew Joo Chiat had 2 other daughters Chew Xian Neo 周羡娘 and Chew Su Lan周素蘭 from his first wife。
    His son Chew Cheng Liam also had 2daughters. The daughter you missed out was Chew Hian Neo.

  2. Chew quee Neo had three sons

    My grandpa is lee Beow Chiang her second son


    "The tombstone showed Joo Chiat first wife’s name was Lim Heon Neo 林香娘
    She had 3 sons Chew Cheng Liam 周清廉, Chew Cheng Swee周清水, Chew Cheng Hao, 周清浩 and 3 daughters Chew Sian Nian周羡娘 ,Chew Lan Nian周兰娘 and Chew Sit Nian周舌娘 . Her date of death was based on the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor. According Raymond she died in 1896. A friend said she died on the third lunar month.

    Finally I am able to fill up Chew Joo Chiat's family tree with his six children's names instead of four as shown on his tombstone. It is assumed that two of his children Chew Cheng Hao, 周清浩 and Chew Cheng Sit周清舌 died before him."


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