Teo Kim Eng (Bukit Brown)

The large tomb and jovial picture of Mr Teo Kim Eng got me curious about him. His story is an interesting one. Teo Kim Eng (张金荣), a Hokkien businessman from Lam Ann, first came to Singapore at age of 12 and started working as a labourer and eventually earned enough to start in his own stall at the age of 17. By 20,  he was the owner of a thriving business and is the owner of Chop Guan Choon (源春号), a big tobacco wholesaler firm. He is the owner of a chain of rubber estates and houses.

Mr and Mrs Teo Kim Eng 

Philanthropist and "Kepala"
Prior to war, Teo Kim Eng contributed to the Malayan Patriotic Fund, London Air Raid Relief Fund and China Relief Fund. He is a millionaire but prefers to be known as a "kepala" of his 100-acre holiday resort in Tampenis (now spelled as Tampines). Mr. Teo Kim Eng was observed to be working with his labourers in his estate and was seen during weekends spending hours working under the hot sun, shirtless and armed with a changkol (hoe).  When a journalist who went down to his estate to interview Teo Kim Eng, the millionaire, he introduced himself as the kepala here.

Mr. Teo's estate of bungalows consist of various amenities such as a swimming pool and a dance hall and he opens it up freely to friends and picnic parties. It was reported in 1947 that he refused an offer of $14,400 a year to rent his bungalows in the estate.There are many articles of different groups (e.g Chinese YMCA, Eclipse B.P. , ) holding their events in Teo Kim Eng Villa in Punggol and Teo Guan Choon Villa in 10 mile off Tampenis Road.

Guan Choon & Co. 
Teo Kim Eng company is Guan Choo & Co. located at 149 Cross Street. There were many articles of his company renting out various seaside bungalows own by him. In 1956, 1 year after his death, Guan Choon & Co is associated with Teo Song Lian. If i follow the thread of Teo Song Lian and the company, there was an article in the Business Times 1988, where Teo Song Lian as Chairman of Guan Choon & Company Pte Ltd sought for the company to be winded up voluntarily. 

There was an acknowledgement notice in February 1942 by Teo Kim Eng of Chop Guan Choon, 149 Cross Street, thanking relatives and friends who attended the funeral of his wife. However the name of the wife was not mentioned.  Teo Kim Eng passed away in 12 April 1955 at the age of 63 and is buried in Bukit Brown Hill 3 Division A. Next to him is Madam Tan Bee Hoon (daughter of Mr and Mrs.Tan Gim Wee) who passed away on 12 August 1959 at the age of 54.

Tomb of Mr and Mrs Teo Kim Eng 

Tomb of Teo Kim Eng and Tan Bee Hoon (April 2018)

There are roads named after him and his company, Teo Kim Eng Road and Jalan Guan Choon (expunged)
Jalan Guan Choon (Pasir Ris) -expunged

Teo Kim Eng Road 

Location of tomb
Teo Kim Eng and Madam Tan Bee Hoon are buried in Hill 3 Division A, plot 285 and 305 in a family cluster of tombs. Madam Tan Bee Hoon's parents,  Mr and Mrs.Tan Gim Wee tomb are just behind them and Tan Beng Chye tomb. Nearby the cluster are the tombs of Oh Hoon KwayTan Siang Keong.

Family Cluster of Teo Kim Eng at Bukit Brown

(research on-going)


Acknowledgment. (1927, February 160. The Straits Times
This millionaire prefers to be known as a "Kepala". (1947). Sunday Tribune.


  1. Please correct the spelling error. It Tampines not Tampeins.

  2. From Tampines Heritage Trail booklet:

    Like many millionaires during the colonial era, tobacco businessman Teo Kim Eng owned large swathes of land especially in the Punggol and Tampines areas. However, his behaviour was less typical of wealthy landowners as he regularly tended to the land on his 100-acre estate in Tampines alongside his workers, and freely offered his villas and bungalows for community use.

    Having arrived in Malaya at the age of 12, Teo later founded Chop Guan Choon, a tobacco wholesale business. He steadily acquired land in Tampines and Punggol, and eventually owned a string of rubber plantations.

    Teo is perhaps best known for opening up the facilities on his estates (which included 10 bungalows and villas, a swimming pool and a dance hall) for use by community groups and local residents. In 1950, it was also reported that Teo owned one of the few private air-raid shelters in Singapore, which proved useful when Japanese bombs landed near his home during World War II.

    A visit by a reporter to his estate off the 10th milestone of Tampines Road in 1947 found Teo labouring with a changkol alongside his workers, and it was said that hundreds of people visited his bungalows each weekend. Baey Lian Peck, who lived in Tampines in the 1940s, recalled:

    “The fi rst time I went to Teo Kim Eng’s mansion was with my brother. A man in a singlet was sweeping the fl oor. So we said, ‘Ah Pek (‘uncle’ in Hokkien), we want to meet the owner.’

    “He asked, ‘What do you want with him?’ We replied that wanted to swim in the pool, and he told us to go ahead. Later on we found out that he was the towkay (‘business owner’ in Hokkien), sweeping the fl oor. He was always very kind to allow us to swim there.”

    In recognition of his prominence in the community and his land ownership, Teo Kim Eng Road in Eunos and Jalan Guan Choon (a now expunged road that led to Kampong Tampines) were named after Teo who passed away in 1955.


  3. it is not an error. In the past Tampines was spelt as Tampenis.

  4. Oh wow...thank you for doing research and sharing this. Please update more.

  5. Someone said the sign on the gate to the villa at Jalan Guan Choon said "Teo Guan Choon Villa". Was Teo Guan Choon Teo Kim Eng's other name? The company name Guan Choon & Co. also seems to suggest it was someone's name.

  6. For verification on Mr Teo Kim Eng's name, he does NOT have another name as Teo Guan Choon. He named his shop as Guan Choon which is derived from the street, Choon Guan Street, which is just around the corner beside his house in Peck Seah Street. His house was just beside the Seng Wong Beo Temple in Peck Seah Street.


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