Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wee Eng Cheng and Family (Bukit Brown)

Wee Eng Cheng (黄永清) was a Straits born Chinese from the prominent Wee family. He is the great grandson of Wee Bin of Wee Bin & Co , merchant and shipowners. Wee Eng Cheng was a Director in the Ho Hong Bank and Chinese Commercial Bank. He held partnership in the Eng Hoe Kongsi of No 19 Church Street which dealt with Sago manufacturers and dealers before he sold it to his managing partner in 1920 and was the Vice-President of the Jin Hua Kok Association (1923)
Wee Eng Cheng (source: NUS Museum-Dressing the Baba)
Wee Eng Cheng passed away on May 3, 1928 at the age of 34. Lim Peng Mau and Madam Goh Boh Tan (mother of Wee Eng Cheng ) were appointed the joint trustees of the estate in 1928. Wee Eng Cheng left behind valuable landed property in Singapore and cash in the sum of $97, 252 in Ho Hong Co and in the bank. His wife, Madam Ang Peng Neo passed away on May 1929.

His son, Wee Seck Hock was a beneficiary of the estate and took to court to remove Lim Peng Mau and Madam Goh Boh Tan as trustees and to appoint a new trustee. What exactly happen to the case is not known to me. Wee Seck Hock passed away January 12, 1972 at the age of 54. He is survived by his widow, 2 sons and mother. The cortege left from 157 Neil Road. His two sons, Wee Lin and Wee Sun later agreed to sell the family home to National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2005. With a memorial gift from Agnes Tan (the daughter of Tan Cheng Lock ) , NUS was able to purchase, restore and turn it to a museum today known as The Baba House.

Wee Eng Cheng (黄永清) (peg 1497) and Ang Peng Neo (洪平娘) (peg 1496) tombs have already been exhumed.
Wee Eng Cheng (Bukit Brown)
Ang Peng Neo 
Great Grandfather: Wee Bin
Wee Bin was born in China in 1823 and began trading with various houses in Bali (under Dutch control) and became the biggest importer of products from that port that included all kind of earthware. It went on to built a substantial fleet vessel of over 20 for the Chinese and Dutch trade, and the merchant and shipowners business grew to become Wee Bin & Co, chop Hong Guan,located at Market Street. Wee Bin was twice married, once to the daughter of Kiong Kong Tuan.

He died in 1868 at the age of 45, leaving behind one son, Wee Boon Teck and one daughter, Mrs Lim Ho Phuah.
Wee Bin and Wee Boon Teck  
Grandfather: Wee Boon Teck
Wee Boon Teck continued to improved the business of Wee Bin & Co. and yet found time to contribute to society by being on the Committee of the Po Leung Kuk (Society of Protection of Women and Girls) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He generously donated $4,000 and had a ward in Tan Tock Seng Hospital named after him by the Colonial Government. He died on September 22, 1888 at the age of 38.

Mrs. Wee Boon Teck passed away at the age of 68 on January 18, 1920 at No. 56-13 Neil Road. She is buried at Alexandra Road Cemetery. Among those mourning her lost are her son-in-law's; Lee Choon Guan (married Wee Guat Kim )  and Lim Peng Siang (married Wee Guat Choo), grandsons ; Lee Pang Seng, Lim Seow Kiew and Wee Eng Cheng (son of the late Wee Siang Tat).

Father: Wee Siang Tat
Wee Siang Tat (son of Wee Boon Teck) continued the business together with Lim Ho Puah. It was said that Wee Siang Tat was the one responsible for building the Wee family home that is now No 157 Neil Road in 1895, that eventually became the Baba House.

Wee Siang Tat was fond of music and was one of the original members of the Chinese Philomathic Society, who consists of Straits born Chinese who practiced regularly under Mr. Salzmann at "Siam House", North Bridge Road, the house of the late Mr. Tan Kim Ching. Wee Siang Tat died at the age of 26 in the year 1901. His only son, Wee Eng Cheng was 7 years only when Wee Siang Tat passed away.

The demise of Wee Bin & Co
The death of Wee Siang Tat in 1901 marks the transfer of the company to Wee Bin's son-in-law, Lim Ho Puah,( who was born in Amoy in 1841 and join Wee Bin & Co at a young age. His business acumen attracted the attention of his Towkay, Wee Bin who made him in son-in-law and eventual partner )  the sole surviving partner. Wee Bin & Co was liquidated in 1911 when majority of the business and large steamers were transferred to the able hands of Lim Peng Siang, the son of Lim Ho Puah who founded the Ho Hong Company, which included The Ho Hong Steamship Co. Ltd, The Ho Hong Oil Mills Co. Ltd, The Ho Hong Bank Ltd, The Ho Hong Portlands Cement Works Ltd, etc.

Lim Ho Puah and Lim Peng Siang 
Death. (1921, January 21). The Straits Times
Ho Hong Bank Ltd. (1924, April 16). The Singapore Free Press
Chinese Will Beneficiary Wants two new Trustees. (1936, April 15). The Singapore Press
Deaths. (1972, January 14). The Straits Times
Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore. E. Lee (Ed.). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
Knapp, R. (2013). Chinese Houses of Southeast Asia: The Eclectic Architecture of Sojourners and Settlers. Tuttle Publishing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Khung Ngien Chew (Bukit Brown)

In Hill 2 D, plot 8, is a simple tomb with the inscription that when translated says simply "Here lies a poet by the name of Khung Ngien Chew".
Khung Ngien Chew the Poet 

Who is Khung Ngien Chew and what poetry did he wrote ? I am not sure as i am unable to research from Chinese resources, but from what i gathered from the death acknowledgements, he was a member of the Foochow Guild and Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Khung Ngien Chew of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce passed away on January 5, 1927 at 21-6, Geylang Lorong 16, at the age of 58. He is survived by a widow, a younger brother, 2 sons, 1 daughter and many grandchildren. The widow of the late Mr Khung Ngien Chew and Messrs. Khung Siang Chew, Khung Yu Chang, Khung Choo Sik, Khung Choo Chuak and Lee Shan Ming of Batavia thanked the Foochow Guild, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Sam San School, Lam Chong Association, Yew Aik Seah and friends for the wreaths, scrolls, banners, telegrams and letters of condolences as well as their kind attendances at the funeral of Mr. Khung Ngien Chew.

From the names above, the only lead i found out was of  Lee Shan Ming, who was a branch manager of the Ho Hong Bank who came from the Palembang branch (Sumatra, Indonesia) to set up the Seremban branch in Malaya in 1925 before being transferred to Singapore in 1926 before proceeding to Batavia. Lee Shan Ming who spoke good English was educated in Anglo Chinese School and a church speaker (possibly an elder ?).

Death. (1927, January 6).
Acknowledgements. (1927, January 18). The Straits Times.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Aerial view of Bukit Brown in 1948 - Yap Gek Song's tomb

Yap Geok Song's tomb was in the Chinese papers recently after the descendants paid a visit after renovating the tomb and paying respects. The tomb is located in Greater Bukit Brown in an area that is now a Woodlands. After going through the aerial photograph of Bukit Brown taken in 1948 by the British Royal Air Force 81 Squadron, i found the location of the tomb and it confirms that it is one the larger tomb in an area surrounded by smaller ones.

Aerial photo of Bukit Brown, location of Yap Geok Song tomb

Bukit Brown road on the top, Mount Pleasant Road below

Lianhe Zaobao (September 22, 2014)

About Yap Geok Song
Yap Geok Song was a land property owner, pineapple and rubber planter merchant. His rubber estate was privately owned and was called Kuan Tian or Yap Geok Song's estate. He was also a shareholder / director of Eastern United Assurance and Oversea Chinese Bank.Yap Geok Song passed away in March 1928 due to heart failure. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A visit to The Intan Museum

I was fortunate to be invited by the Bukit Brown community to visit Alvin Yapp's private living museum, The Intan. The story goes that Alvin paid his maiden visit to Bukit Brown recently and was guided by the Bukit Brown volunteers. He was so impressed by the rich heritage stories shared and wanted in turn to share his story with the Bukit Brown volunteers and thus invited us to visit his private museum to view his collection and have tea with him.

Founded in 2003, Intan, which means rose cut diamond in Malay, is a reflection of the multi-faceted aspects of Peranakan heritage and culture which is reflected in the artifacts and stories Alvin shared about being peranakan. His private museum tours is what he does part-time and he is a Director of Corporate Affairs for BusAds Pte Ltd, a family run business specialising in ads for buses, trains, aeroplanes and outdoor advertising.

Alvin Yapp holding court 

Staircase to the loft filled with tiffins and spittoon 

Peranakan wares 

Intan Museum has a lot of artifacts !
It was not the first time i met Alvin Yapp. I met him during a tour led by him for the Peranakan Museum's exhibition titled Auspicious Designs - Batik for Peranakan Altars. Alvin Yapp had over 7 years, accumulated 72 unique batik cloth (mostly from Java, Indonesia) that are used in Peranakan Altars and bequested this entire collection to the Peranakan Museum and named the Primary Donors as his parents, Matthew and Alice Yapp.  

How to book a visit
Intan is a private museum and its owner, Alvin Yapp supports charitable causes and conducts private tours to his house at 69 Joo Chiat Terrace during his free time subject to his availability.He can be reached via . The museum won the 2011 Inaugural Museum Roundtable award for Overall Best Experience beating other bigger and more established museums. It's collection has also been showcase overseas.

Me and Alvin Yapp in front of his house

Monday, October 06, 2014

A morning in Ubin (October 6, 2014)

It was the Hari Raya Public Holiday and since i haven't been to Ubin Island as regularly as i used too, I decided to spent my Monday morning there. I believe a lot of us has noticed that Ubin is visibly more crowded now with more local and foreign visitors alike. Crowd management aside, this to me is a great indicator that Ubin can be a sustainable eco-tourism destination if managed well, as many people love to see this aspect of Singapore that is rustic and relatively untouched.

That been said, Ubin has changed ! Over the past 15 years i have seen the local residents slowly vacating the place and moved back to mainland Singapore for various reasons such as for better work opportunities. The hallowing out effect as taken away some aspects of realism of the Island as a living one and more of a concern was when it announced last year in major media that the remaining leases of the Ubin residents may not be renewed leading to the perception that Ubin will be turned into an Adventure Park. I am one of those who hope this will not be the outcome for Ubin and am glad to hear and observe that Government is engaging with various stakeholders (e.g. Nature Society) and most importantly Ubin's original residents to find a balance and preserve it's biodiversity and its rustic state for years to come.

There is also a survey being conducted by the Ministry of National Development to "collect more suggestions on how we can preserve the rustic charm and heritage of Pulau Ubin, so that it will continue to be a special place for our future generations". Do participate to voice out your opinions. For me, i will like to see more dedicated hiking and walking trails made available for bird and nature lovers.
Feels like i have taken a time machine back to Singapore's past

Here are some pictures of this morning's walk, in which i got to see various birds (white rump Sharma, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Olive back Bulbul, Scaly Breasted Munia, Dollar bird) and wildlife that makes me want to come back for more.

Clouded Monitor Lizard high up a Durian Tree

Cropped Picture of Clouded Monitor Lizard

Golden Orb Spider 

Scaly Breasted Munia

White rumped Sharma

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Olive winged Bulbul 
Malay Viscount / Malay Baron (?)
More are visiting Ubin: the Singapore destination
A final word on crowds, as i was heading back to Changi Village at noon, this is what i saw at the Changi Village Jetty, crowds of people queuing to go to Ubin. This queue snaked all the way to outside the jetty !!! Amazing.. is the word i can think off !
The crowds that greeted me when we arrived back at Changi Village

Before the Immigration

The queue snaked outside the building !

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Inaugural Orchard Road Pedestrian Night.

It was announced on mainstream media that starting October 4 or the first Saturday of every month, a section of Orchard Road ( from Orchard Ion to Ngee Ann City ) will be closed to vehicles from 6 -11 pm, so that pedestrians can walk the streets and join in the activities in hope of making Orchard a more vibrant place. This 6 month trial dubbed "Pedestrian Night" was organised by the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA).  I decided to pay a visit to this inaugural event to experience first hand what it feels like.

The main activity for the Inaugural Orchard Road Pedestrian Night was a tennis mass clinic dubbed "Tennis Pops Up@Orchard Road with lots of children and adults playing tennis. If you are like me and not a fan of tennis, fret not as there were other activities as well, such as local musicians performing on a stage, set-up right on Orchard Road ! As i was passing there, i recognised the musicians playing on stage as the dual group called Jack and Rai. If you are not familiar with their music, you can find some of their songs on National Library Board's MusicSG.

I spotted also Nila, the Official Mascot of the 2015 South East Asian Games that will be held in Singapore. There was a queue of children and even young adults to take a picture with Nila. Below are some of the pictures i took of the inaugural Orchard Road Pedestrian Night 2014. Do also look for my next article post on the Singapore Teochew Festival which was held in front of Ngee Ann City. I took the opportunity to visit the festival after the Orchard Road walk.
No ERP charges and of course no vehicles

Childrenin tennis clinics playing in the middle of Orchard Road 

Performances by local talent: Jack and Rai. 

Nila all deck out to promote 2015 South East Asian Games

Performances continuing to the night

Suggestions for Improvements
I enjoyed yesterday's event especially the free open air concert but mobility was an issue as most of the road areas were taken up by the tennis games or clinics going on which may not be something everyone is interested in and in fact created a bit of a squeeze or bottle neck for pedestrians who were out trying to walk the length of Orchard Road. A suggestion from me for future events would be to organise a food night where food vans can park there and dish out local delights and a heritage night where cultural performances of the various multi-racial groups and heritage troupes can get an airing. To me, the anchor of this monthly event will be the music performances especially if local bands and artist band are the center of it. This will be a nice platform for local artist to reach out to the masses who may not visit the Esplanade or participate in the local musical performances.

Part of Orchard Road to go car-free at selected times. The Straits Times Online.
From The Straits Times archives: Revitalising Orchard Road. The Straits Times Online.
Orchard Road's Pedestrian Night turns out to be an enjoyable squeeze. The Straits Times Online.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Boey Chuan Poh and family (Bukit Brown)

Boey Chuan Poh was born in Malacca. He is the sole proprietor of Union Times (a Singapore paper published in Chinese and English) and was the former proprietor of the Weekly Sun. He passed away at his residence at No 49 Devonshire Road, Singapore on August 19, 1926 at the age of 53. (the tomb indicated his age was 56) He is survived by his widow and 2 daughters. He is buried in Bukit Brown, Hill 2, Division D. 
Boey Chuan Poh 
Union Times vs Chong Shing Yat Pao 
Union Times ( a pro-loyalist paper ) and Chong Shing Yat Pao (pro-revolutionist paper) were often at logger heads, with each suing the other and counterclaim for libel. The Union Times Press was located at 126 Cross Street. Union Times was a paper associated with the pro-monarchist reformist movement, often associated with Kang Yu Wei and his Pao Huang Hui or Emperor Protection Society. Chong Shing Yat Pao (1907-1910) on the other hand was a paper which was the mouth piece of the Tung Meng Hui or United League. Dr Sun Yat Sen was one of it's contributors. The paper was founded by Tan Chor Nam, Teo Eng Hock and Lim Nee Soon.  There was an article of the Union Times Press being in liquidated in 1916, but from research, the paper was still in Boey Chuan Poh's hand till his death in 1926. The Union Times Press continued to exist until 1946.
Source: NewspaperSG
The Union Times by Boey Chuan Poh (source: NUS)

Bin Chan House / Sun Yat Sen Villa  / Wan Qin Yuan
Bin Chan House located at 94 Balestier Road was a Bungalow with stables built by Boey Chuan Poh in 1880s. However, in a 1902 advertisement, it indicates that Bin Chan was built in 1902 or slightly before that. Boey Chuan Poh was an avid horse rider and he had a horse named Bin Chan as well. The house was sold to a timber merchant for $10,800 in 1902 and in 1905 acquired by Mr Teo Eng Hock for his mother. Teo Eng Hock was the one that opened the house for Dr Sun Yat Sen and Tung Meng Hui or Chinese Alliance members. 
Advertisement for rent of Bin Chan House 1902
Bin Chan House
Mr Boey's horse Bin Chan
Bin Chan House / Sun Yat Sen Villa
In 1937, five Chinese community leaders, Messrs Lee Kong Chian, Lee Choon Seng, Lee Chin Tian, Tan Ean Kiam, Chew Hean Swee and Yeo Kiat Tiow bought the house in No 12, Tai Jin Road, off Balestier. This was the historically important site where Dr. Sun Yat Sen visited, stayed and work with the local revolutionaries to plan and drum up support for the 1911 revolution that ended 267 years rule of the Qing dynasty.


Father: Boey Ah Sam
Boey Ah Sam
Boey Ah Sam was born in Canton on July 14, 1829. He came down to Singapore at the age of 14. A chance meeting and friendship with Mr. James Guthrie of Messrs Guthrie & Co. who through his help set up a bakery in which he operated for 10 years. He then went into partnership with his eldest brother, Boey Ah Soo and set up a Cantonese sundry shop at No 21 Market Street under the style of Boey Ah Soo & Co, chop Swee Wo, with branches in Canton, Hong Kong, Penang and Calcutta. In 1890, Boey Ah Soo was one of the pioneer member of the newly set up Chinese Advisory Board. He represented the Cantonese community. The Hokkien representatives were Tan Jiak Kim, Tan Beng Wan, Lim Eng Keng and Lee Cheng Yan. The Teochew representatives were Seah Liang Seah, Tan Yong Siak and Low Cheang Yee.

Around 1893, Boey Ah Sam wound up his business and settled in Batu Pahat as a plantation owner having gotten concessions there and grew gambier, pepper and rubber. On December 25, 1913 at the age of 84, he passed away at the residence of his son, Boey Chuan Poh at "Eng House House", No 46 Cairnhill Road. Boey Ah Sam is buried in Pek San Teng, the Cantonese Cemetery in Thomson Road.

Brother: Boey Kee Sang
Boey Kee Sang was the eldest son of Boey Ah Sam. He passed away at the age of 66 on May 1922, leaving behind one son, 2 daughters, Boey Siew Kuan (Mrs Wee Hean Boon) and Boey Piu Siong. The funeral left from 35 Owen Road to Pek San Teng Cantonese Cemetery.
The Union Times by Boey Kee Sang
Brother: Boey Siew Chong
Boey Siew Chong was a editor, publisher and director of the Union Times. He passed away at his residence in Damar Road on June 1913 at the age of 47. He is survived by a widow, a son, an aged father (Boey Ah Sam) and five brothers to mourn his lost. Two brothers mentioned in the article were: Boey Chuan Poh and  Boey Yeak Kum. The funeral took place at a Cantonese Cemetery located at 4th milestone, Thomson Road.
Union Times by Boey Siew Chong (1909) (source: NUS)
Brother: Boey Yeak Kum
Boey Yeak Kum was a planter in Batu Pahat. He together with Boey Siew Chong established Nam Yong Chai Wai Po or The Union Times Press at 83, Cross Street on May 28, 1908.

Brother: Boey Hong Ying
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Advertisement. (1902, March 6). The Straits Times
Stylish cruelty to horses. (1904, June 13). The Straits Times
For Sale. (1912, May 18). Weekly Sun
Death of Mr. Boey Siew Chong. (1913, June 28). Weekly Sun
Death. (1913, December 27). The Straits Times
Social and Personal. (1914, January 8). The Straits Times
Announcement. (1922, May 26). The Straits Times
Death. (1926, August 21). The Straits Times
Yong, Ching Fatt, and R. B. McKenna. The Kuomintang Movement in British Malaya, 1912-1949. NUS Press, 1990. pages 15,19
Lee, Lai To, and Hock Guan Lee, eds. Sun Yat-Sen, Nanyang and the 1911 Revolution. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011.pages 149
Song, Ong Siang. One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore. Ed. Edwin Lee. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984.