Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book launch : A penniless boy: Chew Joo Chiat

It started out with misinformation published on a mainstream print media that Chew Joo Chiat had only 1 daughter jolted Philip Chew, now 82 years of age and a great grandson of Chew Joo Chiat on his journey to correct this and other misinformation online about Chew Joo Chiat. The book launched today is not just about Chew Joo Chiat, but is a testimonial and drive of Philip Chew in what was initially a fact-finding mission became a search for his roots and reconnection of family ties and bonds. Philip Chew to me stands as an inspiration to others for his drive to learn, picking up skills like blogging at the age of 73 back in 2008. He is a role model for both young and old. The book is available for purchase from the book publisher, Ethos.

Philip Chew sharing about his book

A penniless Boy: Chew Joo Chiat 
One of the guest speakers for the launch was Raymond Goh who helped Philip Chew in the rediscovery of the tomb of Chew Joo Chiat's two wives ( Lim Heon Neo (died 1896) and Tan Quan Neo (died 19th April 1927) ). He shared on how he helped Philip Chew in this rediscovery from the Bukit Brown and greater Bukit Brown Cemetery.
Raymond Goh sharing on his discovery to a captivated audience

About Chew Joo Chiat 

Chew Joo Chiat, (周如切 ) a Hokkien from Amoy, came to Singapore as a penniless boy, but through a mixture of sheer hard work, business acumen and marriage to a peranakan family, he went on to be a plantation owner of coconuts and rubber in the area called Confederate Estate where Joo Chiat is and expanded to be Property Tycoon leaving behind properties and houses (mostly) in the East Coast District of Joo Chiat estimated to be worth a million dollars in 1926 and it another article dated 1930, 4 million dollars. What started with plantation grew into streets with buildings. The streets were named after him as when the colonial government wanted to build roads expanding to the east, Chew Joo Chiat gave it away without seeking compensation. It is believed that his business acumen came to play, predicting that with government building roads and infrastructure, he could make even more money renting or selling houses in this area as well  as to transport his copra and rubber easier. Indeed a shrewed man and aptly nicknamed as the "King of Katong".
Chew Joo Chiat
The book contains other rich "inside" stories on the family of Chew Joo Chiat which include stories of Chew Joo Chiat role in the Tong Meng Hui, what happen to Chew Joo Chiat's wealth and the story of good karma repaid during Japanese Occupation by her daughter, Chew Quee Neo when a Japanese Major knock on her door.

About the author

Philip Chew was born in Joo Chiat Road in 1935 and went to Raffles Institution and obtained a school certificate in 1954. He was a clerk in Singapore City Council and later, a Health Inspector in Ministry of Health. Philip retired in 1993 and spent his senior years volunteering. As earlier highlighted it was through his passion to get out the correct information online,  Philip Chew at the age of 73, learned how to blog from his cousin and since 2008, is the author of two blogs. My Golden Years and My Chew Joo Chiat Story. His dedication and labour of love for close to 10 years accumulated with the launch of his first book, "A Penniless Boy, Chew Joo Chiat" which sets straight the story of of his great grandfather, an early pioneer of Singapore whose name is remembered as a street name.

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