Oh Sian Guan (Bukit Brown)

Oh Sian Guan / 胡善甫 (1874 - 1943) was a Banker, whose ancestral place was Fujian, Tong Ann. He came to Singapore in 1907 and set up Chop Chin Keat with Tan Tiong Sin at Telok Ayer No 52, importing from Sarawak and Batavia various produce such as betel nut, coffee, pepper and birdnest. He later ventured into property. When Tan Tiong Sin joined the banking industry, Oh Sian Guan managed Chop Chin Keat alone. Oh Sian Guan later sent two of his sons to Batavia to manage the business.
Oh Sian Guan
(photo courtesy of Jack Lee Tsen-Ta)

In 1919, when Overseas Chinese Bank was formed, Oh Sian Guan became a Director under the recommendation of Tan Ean Kiam. In December 1932, when Chinese Commercial Bank, Ho Hong Bank and Overseas Chinese Bank merged to form Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), he remained a Director until the Japanese invasion in 1942.

He was also once the Chairman of Goh Loo Club.

source: NewspaperSG


Mr Oh Sian Guan passed away at his residence in 52 Telok Ayer Street at the age of 70 on June 7, 2603 (1943). He is survived by his wife, two sons; Mr. Oh Hoon Boh and Dr William Oh,  three son-in-laws;  Dr. Kwan Pah Chien, Teo Boon Kai and Ng Peng Lim, 3 daughters, 2 daughter-in-laws, 8 grandsons, 4 great grandchildren.  Mrs Oh Sian Guan nee Madam Yap Suan Neo passed away on February 1, 1950. The cortege left from 38 Newton Road. The papers mention she is the mother of Dr. William Oh and Mrs P. C. Kwan.

The tomb of Mr and Mrs Oh Sian Guan is located at Block 3 , Division D , plot 880.and 878. The tombstone carvings are one of the more beautiful ones with decorative carvings that features stories from the Three Kingdom (on the left panel) featuring General Guan Yu's heroic exploits.
Oh Sian Guan


The family of Oh Sian Guan are very closely interlinked with the families of Hu and Kwan. If you research further, you will find out that Arthur Kwan's sister, Margaret Kwan married Hu Tsai Kuen and one of the children of that union is Richard Hu (former Minister of Finance). A cousin of Margaret Kwan is the well know film star, Nancy Kwan. If you go through the list of Egan's grandchildren, another familiar name might strike you, Kevin Kwan (author of Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, etc,). This article will not deal on the relationships but will focus on the Oh family.

Oh Sian Guan with family and friends. Photo circa 1924
(Photo courtesy of Jack Lee Tsen-Ta)

Son: Oh Hoon Khway
There was an engagement notice in June 27, 1930 between Miss Lim Gek Neo (youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs. Lim Siew Liat) to Mr. Oh Hoon Khway (son of Mr. and Mrs. Oh Sian Guan ). The marriage was to take place at No 51 Veerasamy Road on July 15, 1930.  When Oh Sian Guan passed away in 1943, there was no mention of Oh Hoon Khway. Reading the blog of Singapore Revisited, i found out that Oh Hoon Khway passed away in 1931 ( a year after his engagement /marriage).

Oh Hoon Khway
(photo courtesy of Jack Lee Tsen-Ta)

Son: Dr William Oh 
Dr. William Oh studied in Anglo Chinese School, He went on to qualified for an MBBS degree in 1940 from Hong Kong University and returned to Singapore and joined the government medical practice. In 1946, he started his own medical practice. Dr. William Oh became a director of the Overseas Assurance Corporation in 1965 and later helm as its Chairman. He was also a director of Bank of Singapore Ltd.

source: NewspaperSG

Dr. William Oh passed away at the age of 85 on October 15, 2000. The obituary notice mentions his family members including his wife, Olive Hu (deceased) , sons and daughters: Dr. Gordon Oh, Dr. Winston Oh, Cynthia Oh, Dr. Shenton Oh and Dr. Vernon Oh.

source: NewspaperSG

Daughter: Egan Oh nee Egan Hu
Egan Oh married Dr. Kwan Pah Chien ( Dr. P.C. Kwan  / Dr. Arthur P.C. Kwan) in  September 1931.
Egan Oh passed away on 29 April 1993 at 88 years of age. From the obituary notice the name of her brother and sister-in-law is mentioned (Dr. Willam Oh and Mrs. Olive) , Son and daughter-in-law (Samuel Kwan Tse-Cheng and Elizabeth Hang Lay Hua)
3 daughters ( May Kwan Tse-Tuan. Mary Kwan Tse-Chwing, Ann Sarah Kwan Tse-Ai ) and 2 sons-in-laws (Dr. David S Phanchet , Lee Song Chong).
The names of the grandchildren included; Stanley Kwan Pen-Huo, Edmund Kwan Pen-Peng, Kevin Kwan Pen-Aun, Michael Phanchet, Andrew Phanchet, James Phanchet, Jack Lee Tsen-Ta, Lyn Lee Tsen-yi

source: NewspaperSG

Egan Oh and William Oh
(photo courtesy of Jack Lee Tsen-Ta)

Paying respects to Oh Sian Guan

Mystery from Kopi Sua
There is a large tomb in Kopi Sua that Raymond showed me many years ago and one of theories of how that tomb and the tomb of Oh Sian Guan could be possibly linked is via the couplets as shared by Raymond which are similar.

Oh Sian Guan's tomb couplets - 
His writings are outstanding,
His garden materials (legacy) help to spur his followers/descendants to flourish

Kopi Sua big tomb -
His essays are akin to those of top scholars
His gardening skills (expertise) help to spread an industry

Is the tomb in Kopi Sua, the tomb of Oh Hoon Kway ? There is no mention of name on that tomb but only oral accounts by tombkeeper there that the tomb belongs to a son of a banker.

Tomb of Oh Hoon Kway ? 

Death. (1943, June 9 ). Syonan Times, page 2
Death. (1950, February 2). The Straits Times
Oh Sian Guan (taken from Who's Who in the Chinese community of Singapore)
Board consist of leading personalities. (1971, July 17). The Straits Times
Obituaries. (2000, October 16). The Straits Times, page 55
Family Photos with thanks from Jack Lee Tsen-Ta (grandson of Egan Oh)


Popular Post

Brothers Lim Kim Siew and Lim Kim Hock (Bukit Brown)

Remembering Mary Chua (Qing Ming 2021)

Chua Kiat Neo nee Mrs. Lim Siew San (Bukit Brown)

Eddie Chan Sin Chuan (Bukit Brown)

Tan Soon Leong (Kopi Sua)

Tan Pheck Hong nee Mrs. Wee Aik Leng and family (Kopi Sua)

South Bridge Road - Lim Teck Lee (Images from the Past)


Show more