Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tan Hee Thye (Bukit Brown)

While exploring Bukit Brown Hill 3 Division D, the picture of a nyonya ( a Straits Settlement lady) with 3 kerongsang (brooch) on her dress caught my eye. The tomb needed to be cleared before i can make out her name. After clearing her tomb of the bird nest fern that was growing on its altar table and chalking the words, it was revealed to me that it is the tomb of Madam Ong Mui Gek, wife of the late Mr. Tan Hee Thye, died 31-10-1935. Unfortunately, i do not have any information about Madam Ong, but her late husband, Tan Hee Thye gave me insights of a robbery which lead to his untimely demised.
Mrs Tan Hee Thye nee Madam Ong Mui Gek 

Mr. Tan Hee Thye, a young Straits Chinese man was killed by a shot in the head by a gang of robbers who robbed his family house in No. 50 or 56 Neil Road on August 2, 1926. As he was returning home, a gunshot rang out and he was found lying mortally wounded by his sister at the doorsteps with a wound in his head. He died that very night.

Dr. Hannah Tan ( the sister of Tan Hee Thye) recounted that she was sitting in the hall of the house at around 8:10 pm on August 2, 1926, when a group of Cantonese speaking men broke in. They ransacked all the rooms including upstairs and robbed the inhabitants while one man remained downstairs. The hall was lighted with electric lights allowing Dr. Hannah to clearly see him. He was armed with a pistol and told Dr. Hannah Tan to not be afraid. After half an hour, the men came down. As the man with the revolver was about to leave, he heard someone approaching the gates. He went to the door, and fired a shot (which killed Tan Hee Thye) and the gang of robbers ran off after that with $851 worth of goods.

Ho Kuen, was eventually caught and after photo identification and a identification parade of 16 men, the accused was sentence to death for the murder of Tan Hee Thye. When the accused was caught by a Malay detective in Tanjong Pagar Road who wrestled him down and found on his person, a pistol and some of the bullets match the one that was discharged and found lodged behind the head of Tan Hee Thye. Murderer Ho Kuen was dragged to court again in September 22, this time for the armed robbery of house in Rowell Road. He was sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for that crime.

Pioneer female doctor
During the trial of the robbery and murder of his brother in 1926, Dr. (Miss) Hannah Tan was said to be a doctor working for Kandang Kerbau Hospital. She was a pupil in Raffles Girls' School. Miss Hannah Tan received her Diploma of L.M.S from the King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1925.

Lee Choo Neo (graduated 1919), Soo Kim Lan (graduated 1925), Hannah Tan (graduated 1925) were pioneer Chinese female doctors of that time. Dr Soo Kim Lan went to Kuala Lumpur to set up her practice and had the honor of being the first Malaysian Chinese female doctor. She passed away at the age of 87 in 1981.
Dr Hannah Tan 
Dr. Hannah Tan passed away at the age of 77 on December 11, 1977. She is survived by her sister, Tan Soh Khew, brother-in-law; Ho Boon Liat ; 5 daughters: Margaret, Sylvia, Heng Lan, Siew Leng and Josephine. 3 son-in-laws:  Bong Lip Look, Sim Cheng Soon, Colin Chan. The funeral service was held at 20 Fort Road before burial at Choa Chu Kang.
Back to Mr. Tan Hee Thye
Where is Mr Tan Hee Thye's final resting place? This is yet unknown to me.

The College of Medicine. (1925, Match 31). The Straits Times.
Neil Road Murder. (1926, September 2). The Straits Times
Neil Road Murder. (1926, September 3). The Singapore Free Press
The Assizes. Neil Road Murder Sentence. (1926, September 16). The Straits Times
Neil Road Murder. (1926, September 16). The Singapore Free Press
An occasional note. (1926, September 17). The Straits Times
Chinese Topics in Malaya.(1932, February 4). The Straits Times
Deaths. (1977, December 13). The Straits Times
Pioneer Doctor dies. (1981, November 16). The Straits Times.

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