Saturday, July 23, 2016

Song Ong Siang and family (All Saints Memorial)

Sir Song Ong Siang was the the eldest son of Song Hoot Kiam and Phan Fung Lean. He served as a voluntary preacher and succeeded his father Song Hoot Kiam (when he died in 1900), as an elder of the church. He also served as Chairman of the Chinese Christian Association for many years and was a strong advocate for educational reform, helping in the formation of the Singapore Chinese Girls' School and becoming one of the members on the Board of Governors and its Vice-president.

Sir Song Ong Siang achieved many first. He was as earlier mentioned, the first Chinese to be Knighted. As a young boy, he was a brilliant student. He excelled in his studies and was the first recipient of the Queen's  Scholar but was disqualified due to the fact he was underage. The honor instead went to another distingushed person, Dr. Lim Boon Keng. He did eventually became a Queens Scholar in 1888 and was the first Queens Scholar to study law. He went on to establish the law firm, Aitken and Ong Siang. He was the first Chinese Captain in the Straits Chinese Volunteer Corp. Sir Song Ong Siang, to me epitomised the model colonial resident that the British sought to nuture and groom as British subject; a loyal and contributing member of the British Empire,
Captain Song Ong Siang and  Mrs Song Ong Siang (source: a20)

Sir Song Ong Siang and  Lady Helen Song Ong Siang (source: a20)


Sir Song Ong Siang passed away on September 29, 1941 at the age of 70 and his wife, Helen Yeo Hee Neo passed away on February 28, 1951 at the age of 65. Both were buried in Bidadari. When Bidadari cemetery was claimed for further development, they were moved. The niche can now be found in All Saints Memorial.

Sir Song Ong Siang and Lady Helen 

Tomb of Sir and Mrs Song Ong Siang in Bidadari
(source: National Archives Online )


Wife: Yeo Hee Neo
Miss Yeo Hee Neo, second daughter of the late Yeo Poon Seng and Mrs Yeo Poon Seng of No. 2 Stanley Road married Mr. Song Ong Siang on 28 September 1907 at the Presbysterian Church in Orchard Road.  The reception was held at the "Hollandia", No 4 Llyod Road.

Daughter: Grace Margaret Song
Grace Margaret passed away at the age of 14 on February 17, 1908 at 4, Lloyd Road. She was interred in Bidadari Cemetery.  

Adopted Daughter: Lily Nancy Song 
Their adopted daughter Lily Nancy Song passed away on April 14, 1944. 

Lily Nancy Song

Father: Song Hoot Kiam (1830-1900)
Song Hoot Kiam, (1830-1900) was a Straits born Chinese originally from Malacca. He was one of the first 6 Chinese converts of the Protestant mission and a pupil of Dr James Legge (later a Professor of Chinese Studies in Oxford University). Song Hoot Kiam was brought to Scotland to be educated and was baptised in 1847. Upon returning, he served with Reverand Benjamin Keasberry as a voluntary preacher and as the Treasurer of the Church. After his first wife's (Yeo Choon Neo) death, Song Hoot Kiam married Phan Fung Lean from a Penang Christian family in 1870. Their eldest child was Song Ong Siang. Song Hoot Khiam was to marry a third time leaving behind a total of five sons and nine daughters when he passed away in October 1900.
Song Hoot Kiam 

Aunt: Song Oon Leang 
Song Oon Leang (aunt of Song Ong Siang) passed away on November 14, 1917 at the age of 85. She was interned in Bidadari Cemetery.

Sister: Song Kee Nee
Miss Song Kee Nee passed away on November 8, 1919 at the age of 47.

Brother: Song Ong Joo
Song Ong Joo married Miss Lim Hian Neo (daughter of Mr Lim Koon Yong of Messrs. Braddell Brothers in April 1913. (Madam Lim Hian Neo is also known as Cissy Lim ). Song Ong Joo passed away on May 26, 1962 while Madam Lim Hian Neo passed away on January 28, 1972.

Sister-in-law: Yeo Yam Neo (Mrs Tan Soo Bin)
Born 3 November, 1896, Yeo Yam Neo passed away on 23 December 1944. Yeo Yam Neo married Tan Soo Bin (the second son of Tan Jiak Kim).  In a Strait's Times article dated May 11, 1936, Mrs. Tan Soo Bin was identified as the first Singapore Chinese woman to fly from Europe (she flew from Amsterdam with the K.L.M ).
Mrs Tan Soo Bin 

Sister-in-law: Dolly Yeo Lim Neo 
Dolly Yeo Lim Neo is the youngest sister of Yeo Hee Neo and Yeo Yam Neo. She passed away on 31 October 1947
Dolly Yeo Lim Neo 


Prinsep Street Church
On the front facade of the beautiful red brick building of Prinsep Street Church is a marble stone that marks that the church was built in 1843 and rebuilt in 1930. The stone to commemorate the rebuilding of the church was laid by Song Ong Siang, Esq, C.B.E , V.D. , M.A., L.L.M, on March 5, 1930. Six years later he was knighted the K.B.E, becoming the first Straits Chinese to reach knighthood.
Commemorative Stone at Prinsep Street Church 
One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore
Sir Song is  the famed author of the book, "One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore", a book that captures the contributions of local chinese spanning across 1819-1919 and a book that many researcher still use today, including amateur history enthusiast like me.


An interesting wedding. (1907, September 30). The Singapore Free Press, page 10
Death. (1908, February 18). The Straits Times, page 6
Straits Chinese Wedding. (1913, April 26). The Weekly Sun, page 6
Death. (1917, November 15). The Straits Times, page 6
Acknowledgement. (1919, November 11). The Singapore Free Press, page 6
Death of Sir Song Ong Siang in Singapore (1941, September 29). The Straits Times, page 8

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