Tan Ean Kiam (Bukit Brown)

Tan Ean Kiam (陈延谦)( Tan Eang Khiam / Tan Ean Khiam) was a successful rubber magnate and banker. He together with Khoo Koh Wah established the Overseas Chinese Bank (OCB) in 1919 and became the Managing Director. The Chairman of the Bank at that time was Mr Lim Nee Soon.  Banks in the past were very much run by community leaders and "towkay's" of their respective dialect groups. As a way to strengthen the economic fundamentals of banks after a major recession and also to reflect the growing commonality of a unified "Chinese" identity not based on dialect groupings, Overseas Chinese Bank later merged with Ho Hong Bank and Chinese Commercial Bank on 31 October 1932 to form the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation or OCBC Bank. Tan Ean Kiam was its Managing Director until his death in 1943.

Tan Ean Kiam was nominated as a member of the Chinese Advisory Board by Sir Shenton Thomas in November 1937. Tan Ean Kiam was a member of the Tung Meng Hui (Chinese Revolutionary League founded by Dr. Sun Yat Sen) and contributed financially to it. In 1937, Tan Ean Kiam, together with five others, namely Lee Kong Chian, Lee Chin Tian, Lee Choon Seng, Chew Hean Swee and Yeo Kiat Tiow  acquired the Sun Yat Sen villa that Dr Sun Yat Sen stayed while he was in Singapore. When the Sultan of Kelantan and his entourage visited Singapore and was entertained by Mr and Mrs Pang Cheng Yean, among the guest that received them were Tan Ean Kiam together with Lee Kong Chian, Ong Kia Peng,Wee Kheng Chiang, Lim Kian Beng, Tan Lak Sai (Tan Lark Sye), Chee Guan Chiang, Chionh Ke HuChua Keh Hai and Lim Bok Kee.

Tan Ean Kiam
Tan Ean Kiam 

Overseas Chinese Bank (OCB)

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC)

The below group photograph was taken in 1932 during founding of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), which merger's three banks - Chinese Commercial Bank Limited (1912), Ho Hong Bank Limited (1917) and Oversea-Chinese Bank Limited (1919). Standing in the front row are: Mr Tan Chin Tuan (fourth from left), General Manager Ong Piah Teng (fifth from right), Tan Ean Kiam (sixth from right) and Assistant Manager Khoo Soo Hong (second from left). Back Row: Yap Peng Gek (left), Kwa Siew Tee (third from left), Chew Hock Leong (sixth from left) and a Mr. Teo (right).

Group photo taken in 1932 during the founding of OCBC

OCBC (source:PictureSG)

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd (OCBC).
The amalgamation of the Chinese Commercial Bank, Overseas Chinese Bank and Ho Hong was approved by their respective shareholders on 31 October 1932 and The OCBC was incorporated with a nominal capital of $40 million and a paid-up capital of $10 million was incorporated to take over the business of the 3 banks. The OCBC started business on 2 January 1933 and its first directors of the new bank were:

Nominated by the Chinese Commercial Bank : Messrs. Cheok Cheng Kee, Yap Twee, Wong Siew Qui (S.Q. Wong), Lee Kong Chian, Gan Say Hong and Lim Keng Lian

Nominated by the Ho Hong Bank: Messrs. Chee Swee Cheng, Chan Kang Swi, Tan Cheng Lock, Tan Swee Hoe, Lee Choon Seng, Aw Boon Par

Nominated by the Oversea-Chinese Bank Limited: Messrs, Chua Ka Cheong, Yin Suat Chuan, Hiap Tock Wee, Lim Liat Boon, Oh Sian Guan and Tan Ean Kiam 

Group photo of Directors and Staff of Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC) in 1933

Close up of some of the OCBC Pioneer Directors that i recognise so far

Japanese Occupation and Death 

In Singapore, on the day of following its surrender, the Japanese Kempeitai rounded up all the officers of all the chinese banks and some of the directors and senior management of the banks were taken into custody. They were threatened upon release with orders to reopen the banks for business. 
During the Japanese occupation, Tan Ean Kiam continued as Managing Director of the bank and was for a short period, the Vice-President of the Syonan Overseas Chinese Association before he had an heart attack and passed away on 30 March 1943. Lee Choon Seng succeeded Tan Ean Kiam and took the difficulty responsibility of working as "collaboraters" to support the Japanese Military rule which included the $50 million compensation demanded by the Japanese occupiers from all chinese in Singapore and Malaya. 

The couplets on Tan Ean Kiam tomb contains a poem written by him which wisely says: 
No need to bury me in my hometown
For the same quilt will have the same dream
just bury me and let have a deep sleep
for when you close the coffin lid, that will be my abode

Tan Ean Kiam is survived by his wife, Madam Ng Hoon and his sons: Tan Tock Seng, Tan Tock Sin, Tan Tock San, Tan Tock Kheng, Tan Tock Peng, Tan Tock Wah, Tan Tock Boon, Tan Tock Beng and daughters: Tan Ai Lay, Daisy Tan Ai Guat, Tan Ai Geok.

Tomb of Tan Ean Kiam in Bukit Brown

Wife: Madam Ng Hoon 
Mrs Tan Ean Kiam nee Ng Hoon died at the age of 87 on October 24, 1997.

Madam Ng Hoon
Son: Tan Tock San 
A student at St. Andrew's School, Tan Tock San was the Chairman of Bank of Singapore and a OCBC director. He started from bottom up (despite the fact his father was the managing director), working has a remittance clerk during the Japanese occupation and climb up the ranks till finally he was the Chairman of Bank of Singapore (a OCBC subsidiary) in 1983. He also served as the director of OCBC from 1969-1995. He chaired the Tan Kah Kee foundation which donates money to charitable causes especially education and was also the chairman of the Thong Chai Medical Institution which offers free consultation and medicine to the elderly. He also sat on the board of Chinese High School.
Tan Tock San 
Daughter: Tan Ai Guat 
Tan Ai Guat (daughter of Mr & Mrs Tan Eng Khiam) married Ho Cheng Hin (youngest son of Mrs. Ho Eng Watt and the late Mr. Ho Eng Watt and grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Koh Liang Ghee). The marriage took place on 2 June 1936 at 23 Amber Road.

Brother: Tan Ean Teck
Tan Ean Teck was a prominent merchant and brother of Tan Ean Kiam. He was also a shareholder of the OCBC Bank. I don't have much information of what he did as a merchant, but during the Japanese occupation, he played an important role in keeping the local Chinese community who were resettled out of Singapore into a new settlement called Endau. Unfortunately, this involvement lead to his eventual demise as well  on April 19, 1944 at the age of 42. He is buried in Bukit Brown.
Tan Ean Teck

Brother: Tan Ean Long 
Tan Ean Long passed away at the age of 46 on 16th February 1946. The last address that i could gather was from a notice for the deceased estate issued in 1951 by Tan, Rajah and Cheah, Solictors for Chinese Bankers Trust. Tan Ean Long passed away intestate and his last address was listed as No 20 North Boat Quay.

Tan Ean Kiam's legacy

Tan Ean Kiam's lasting legacy continues to-this-date in the form of a foundation named after him, providing scholarships to deserving recipients as well as donations to charities and needy causes.

Variant names
Tan Ean Kiam also refers to: Tan Eng Khiam / Tan Eang Khiam / Tan Ean Khiam

Rangoon Branch of The Oversea-Chinese Bank, Ltd (1931, April 4). The Malayan Saturday Post, page 26Sultan of Kelantan. (1936, October 20). The Straits Times, page 13
Acknowledgements. (1997, October 29). The Straits Times, page 54
Former OCBC director dies. (2008, February 1). The Straits Times
Sim, V. (Ed.). (1950). Biographies of prominent Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Nan Kok Pub
Tan Ean Kiam Postgraduate Scholarship. [website]. Tan Kah Kee Foundation.
Tan Ean Kiam. [website]. Infopedia


  1. Simon Tan (b. 1972 Bournemouth, United Kingdom) is the grandson of Tan Tock Seng and great grandson of Tan Eng Kiam.


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