Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Tan Chian and family (Kopi Sua)

The tomb of Tan Chian (alias Tan Kwee Chian) was identified by Raymond Goh while we were exploring an area of the Hokkien Cemetery near Mount Pleasant colloquially known as Kopi Sua. While searching through the newspapers archives, we can slowly piece together the story of Tan Chian (1876-1944) and his family. Tan Chian (alias Tan Kwee Chian) passed away at his residence at No. 19 Scotts Road at the age of 68 on November 3, 2604 (the Japanese koki calender for 1944). He is survived by 7 sons, ( Messrs. Tan Beng Kee, Tan Beng Thong, Tan Beng Wah, Tan Beng Teck, Tan Beng Guan, Tan Beng Ghee and Tan Beng Hui), 4 daughters, 1 son-in-law and 14 grandchildren.

Tan Kwee Chian 

Tan Chian alias Tan Kwee Chian 

Tan Chiam alias Tan Kwee Chian 

Tan Chian  (alias Tan Kwee Chian) was a timber merchant and sawmill propertier with company under the name of Chop Chye Hin, Beach Road. He was also a shareholder in the Chinese Commercial Bank. Mr. Tan Chian was granted a certificate of naturalization by the British Colonial Government in 1919. This means he was granted naturalization at the age of 43. From the article, this could also mean he came from China at the age of 19. Tan Chian was also mentioned in a 1936 article to be one of 3 well-known Straits Chinese (the other being Mr. Teo Soo Piah and Mr. Ong Hock Thye).  who went on a world tour, starting on a ship called President Adams for Europe, and from there tour Europe for 40 days before crossing to New York on the Queen Mary. After a tour of Canada and US, they will set sail from San Francisco to China. 

When Tan Kah Kee fled Singapore from the advancing Japanese invasion (he was targeted man for being the Nanyang leader responsible for the China Relief Fund ), he and many other anti-Japan activist fled Singapore to first Sumatra on motor launches that belong to Tan Kwee Chian.

19 Scotts Road "Lochaber"

Tan Chian's residence was in No 19 Scotts Road and the name of its house, "Lochaber" which is likely named after an area in the Scottish Highlands. Why was it named so and how the house looked like on picture would have been interesting. Other properties purchase that i could make out includes a 99 years old leasehold land and house at 91 Upper Nankin-Street, 1,120 square feet for $10,500 in 1920. He bought land and a business premise, 2,365 sq feet at 215 South Bridge Road for $49,000 in 1922
source: National Archives


Son: Tan Beng Kee
Tan Beng Kee (eldest son Mr and Mrs Tan Chian of 36 Cairn hill Road) engaged Miss Chua Bee Neo (youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chua Hong Ing) of No.96 Owen Road. The marriage took place on December 2, 1924. 

Son: Tan Beng Thong
The marriage of Tan Beng Thong (second son of Mr and Mrs Tan Chian) to Miss Cheok Sye Huay (second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cheok Cheng Kee) took place on 16 June 1926 at "Lochaber", 19 Scotts Road. 

Grandson: Tan Hock Seng
Tan Hock Seng (eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Tan Beng Kee and eldest grandson of the late Mr. Tan Chian and Mrs. Tan Chian of 19, Scotts Road) engaged Miss Happy Lim Keng Wah (second daughter of Mr. Lim Seow Eng and the late Madam Tay Keng Guan and grand daughter of the late Mr. Lim Peng Siang and Mrs. Lim Peng Siang of No. 10 Bukit Pasoh Road on 24th December 2604.

[research on-going]

Gazette Items. (1919, May 5). Malayan Tribune, page 7
Chinese Commercial Bank. (1923, December 28). The Singapore Free Press, page 12 
Births, Marriages, Deaths.(1924, November 29). Malayan Tribune, page 6
Domestic Occurrences. (1926, June 14). Malayan Tribune, page 8
Start of Opium Enquiry. (1929, October 23). The Straits Times, page 11
World Tour. (1936, July 26). Morning Tribune, page 2
Death. (1944, November 8). Syonan Shimbun, page 2
Domestic Occurrences. (1944, December 25). Syonan Shimbun, page 2
Tan Kah-kee: The Making of an Overseas Chinese Legend.By Ching Fatt Yong, Julio Antonio Gonzalo, Manuel Maria Carreira

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Sie Yok Swie (victim of 1954 airplane crash in Kallang Airport)

While exploring the Hokkien Cemetery at the fringe of Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery and the Toa Payoh Cemetery (in an area what i call Greater Bukit Brown), we came across the tomb of Mr. Sie Yok Swie, age 28, who died on 13th March 1954. His name and date of death matches one of the 33 victims of the airplane crash of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Lockheed L-749A Constellation that happened in Kallang airport (the first plane crash in Kallang airport). Mr Sie Yok Siew was listed as a Jakarta Businessman and in one of the Australian papers, his occupation was listed as an Indonesian cattle handler. However as i was browsing further the online newspaper archives i found out that Sie Yok Siew was actually the youngest brother of cattle millionaire, Sie Yok Kie, who owns one of the biggest cattle trading company in Singapore, the Bali Cattle Trading, Cecil Street. Mr Sie Yok Swie leaves behind a young wife and 2 children.
Sie Yok Swie (source: NewspaperSG)

Sie Yok Swie

Sie Yok Swie, died 13th March 1954, age 28

The Constellation Crash - First Air Crash in Kallang Airport 
A British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Lockheed L-749A Constellation carrying 40 crashed and caught fire as it attempted to land at Singapore-Kallang Airport on 13 March 1954 at 3:04 pm resulting in 33 fatalities (all 31 of its passengers died and 2 out of 9 of its crew members were killed). Details of how the airplane crashed and flipped over and the rescue attempts that took place and finally the public enquiry and investigation that took place can be found online at various sources, [Infopedia, Wikipedia], so i will not repeat them.

Headlines [source: NewspaperSG]
Mass funeral at Bidadari Christian Cemetery
On 15th March 1954, a mass funeral was held for 24 of the crash victims. Of the 24 crash victims, 14 of them were yet to be identified when the cortege left the mortuary. The cortege of 3 Royal Air Force (RAF) trailers with motorcycle escort proceeded to Bidadari cemetery along Outram Road, Kim Seng Road, Irwell Bank, Paterson Road, Scotts, Road, Newtown Circus, Moulmenin Road, Balestier Road and Serangoon Road.  I do not know for sure the names of all 24, but with access to the burial registrar of Bidadari, one might be able get the complete name list. Another way is of course derived the other 9 victims who were not buried in Bidadari. So far, i manage to identify 6 names, other than Sie Yok Swie, whose tomb was rediscovered, the other crash victims that were claimed by friends and relatives include the body of Mr. G.F Olson, an American whose remains were flown to his family at Fort Madison, Iowa. 3 other Indian victims were cremated (J.P Sen Gupta, Amir Chand Chandra and M.C.T.M Chidambaram Chettiar). R. Bintang Soedibbie remains were returned to his hometown in Semarang.

source: NewspaperSG
Stories of the other victims 
While researching on Sie Yok Swie, i uncovered and revisited some of the stories of the other victims. This article is still a work in progress but below are some of the stories i found.

Mrs. Lim Siang Hin (Madam Teo Siew Keng)
The other Chinese passenger onboard the plane, Madam Teo Siew Keng, 23 years old is the spouse of Mr. Lim Siang Hin of Singapore. Her father in law, Mr. Lim Choon Lay is the proprietor of Hiap Lee and Company, a Boat Quay import-export firm.

Mr. R. Bintang Soedbibbio 
The only Indonesian passenger, Mr. R. Bintang Soedibbie, millionaire and father of several daughters in Jakarta. He celebrated his 52nd birthday in Singapore on Feb 24 and flew back Jakarta on a business trip. Mr. Soedibbie had many firms bearing his name in Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya and Amsterdam. An Indonesia businessman from Semarang, his remains was flown back to his hometown in Semarang for burial. He was an importer of Opel cars.
Bintang Soedibbie

Mr. J.P Sen Gupta
Mr. Jagdis Prasanna Sen Gupta, Regional Manager of the United Commercial Bank Ltd (South-East Asia Branch), he was cremated at Bidadari Hindu Cemetery on 15th March 1954.
J.P. Sen Gupta
Michael Shathin
Michael Shathin was the Far East Supervisor of Warners Bro. Ltd.

Michael Shathin

Mr. Amir Chand Chandra
Mr. Amir Chand Chandra from Fiji was also cremated at Bidadari Hindu Cemetery on 15th March 1954.

Crash Bodies Mix-up

M. Ct. M. Chidambaram Chettair
Mr. Chettair was 46 years old when he died. A Millionaire, he was the founder and Chairman of Indian Overseas Bank Ltd, United India Life and has many other connections with industrial and commercial firms in South India. Mr. Chettair was cremated at the Bidadari Hindu Cemetery on 14th March 1954 and his ashes brought back by to India and scattered at the Ganges River. However this was not the end of the story, as during investigation,they found a mix-up whereby the body of Chidambaram Chettair was incorrectly unidentified as Mr. Eric Moller by the Singapore Coroner and ended up being buried at the Bidadari Christian Cemetery.

Eric Moller
Eric Moller Senior was a British Shipowner millionaire, who at the time of his retirement in 1940s. was one of the largest single shipowner in the world.

[research on-going]

32 are killed in Kallang air disaster. (1954, March 14). The Straits Times, page 1
Magnate loses brother. (1954, March 15). The Straits Times, page 1
No heir to fortune of millionaire. (1954, March 16). The Straits Times, page 5
Mass Funeral for Crash Victims. (1954, March 16). The Straits Times, page 7
Their's was silent grief. (1954, March 16).The Straits Times, page 7
Disaster at Singapore-Company issues list of dead. (1954, March 15). The Sydney Morning Herald, page 4

Monday, November 05, 2018

Loo Boon Kwee and family (Greater Bukit Brown)

Loo Boon Kwee passed away at the age of 53 on 17th June 1954 at 150-P, East Coast Road, Singapore, leaving behind 1 son, 2 daughters, 2 son-in-laws and 3 grandchildren. From the tomb, we know that the name of his son is Loo Teck Hai and his 2 daughters are Nancy Loo and Lucy Loo. The tomb is located at the boundaries between Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery and Toa Payoh Cemetery. What is also an interesting insight is from a Singapore Free Press article dated 18th June 1954, the funeral of Loo Boon Kwee was to be held at the Buddhist Burial Ground, Bidadari. In short, from the discovery below, Loo Boon Kwee resting place was not at Bidadari as reported in the papers of that time. How the location was changed to the Hokkien Cemetery adjacent to Bukit Brown remains a mystery, but from the simple all English tomb of Loo Boon Kwee reveals an interesting story of a Straits Chinese pioneer who helped spread Theravada Buddhism among the Straits Chinese Community.
Loo Boon Kwee's tomb in Greater Bukit Brown 

Papers mention Buddhist Burial Ground, Bidadari
(source: NewspaperSG)

A Pioneer of Mangala Vihara (Theravada Buddhism)

It is from an article from the Peranakan Magazine, Issue 1, 2007 titled "Buddhist Legacy of a Grand Nyonya" by Cynthia Wee-Hoefer, i got to know that other than Madam Chew Quee Neo (benefactor of the temple of Mangala Vihara in Eunos),  Wee Tin Guan (father of the author of the article), Loo Boon Kwee and Tan Seng Chye (a Straits Chinese from Penang residing in Singapore) were mentioned to be the Straits Chinese pioneers in helping spread this form of Buddhism that started with the local Sinhalese Community under the spiritual guidance of Monk MM Mahaweera. This corresponds with newspaper articles in 1948, where Wee Tin Guan was instrumental in helping translate Sinhalese text into Malay and Loo Boon Kwee and Wee Tin Guan assisted in the Sunday Classes.
(source: NewspaperSG) 

(source: The Peranakan) 


Grandmother: Mrs. Loo Tian nee Cheong Pin Neo
Mrs. Loo Tian nee Cheong Pin Neo passed away at the age of 68 on 4th May 1936 at 150-P, East Coast Road. She is survived by her brother, Mr. Cheong Swee Teck and a grandson, Loo Boon Kwee. Mrs. Loo Tian is buried in Bukit Brown.(Block 3 Section C, plot 368)

Wife: Soh Wee Neo alias Nya Nya
Mrs. Loo Boon Kwee nee Soh Wee Neo (alias Nya Nya) passed away on 5th July 1941. She leaves behind her husband, 2 daughters, 1 son. Funeral from 150-P East Coast Road to Bukit Brown on July 6, 1941. In the burial registrar she was listed as 38 years of age and is buried in Block 5, Section A, plot 142

Son: Loo Teck Hai 
Loo Teck Hai (the only son of the late Mr and Mrs. Loo Boon Kwee) married Lucy Lee (the youngest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Lee Eng Khoon on 1st January 1958.

Daughter: Lucy Loo
Lucy Loo (youngest daughter of Mr Loo Boon Kwee and the late Mrs Loo Boon Kwee) married Mr. Wee Choon Lim (youngest son of the late Mr and Mrs Wee Koon Poey). The marriage took place at 72 Emerald Hill Road on 15th September 1943.

[research on-going]

Domestic Occurrences. (1936, May 7). Malayan Tribune, page 12
Domestic Occurrences. (1941, July 5). Malayan Tribune, page 8
Advertisement. (1943, September 15). Syonan Shimbun, page 2
"Great Revival of Buddhism". (1948, March 24). The Singapore Free Press, page 5
Advertisement. (1958, January 1). The Straits Times, page 6
The Peranakan. (April-June 2007. The Peranakan Association, article title: Buddhist Legacy of a Grand Nyonya, page 23

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Kwik Tiang Boon and family (Bukit Brown)

Kwik Tiang Boon (1897-1960) was the Compradore of Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij N.V. (Netherlands Trading Society). Born in Semarang, Indonesia, Kwik Tiang Boon was educated in St. Joseph's Institution, Singapore. He then join in 1927, the Netherlands Trading Society as a bank clerk and rose to the position of Compradore.  For Kwik Tiang Boon's outstanding years of service, he was awarded the decoration of Chevalier in the Order of Orange-Nassau by Queen Juliana of Netherlands in conjunction with the centennial anniversary of the Netherlands Trading Society in 1958.  He was a familiar figure in the Singapore Turf Club, having own many race horses and the owner of the Kwik Stables.  He served the Bank for over thirty years before he passed away in 16th March 1960 due to an heart attack at the General Hospital. He is survived by his widow,11 daughters and 6 sons. The article went on to mentioned that the eldest son was studying law in London, while 2 of his daughters were living in Australia. Kwik Tiang Boon is buried in Hill 4 Division A, 390 and 398.

Tomb of  Kwik Tiang Boon at Bukit Brown 

Obituary notice from Netherlands Trading Society

Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij N.V. (Netherlands Trading Society)

Netherlands Trading Society was founded by King William I by Royal Decree in 1824 to curb the decline of trading especially in the Far East after the East India Company cease to exist. The Singapore branch of Netherlands Trading Society was established in 1857. Initially more of a trading enterprise, it move to banking but the name somehow continue to be use as such. Netherlands Trading Society and Twentsche Bank merger was on October 3, 1964 and the new organisation began trading under the name of Algemene Bank Nederland (ABN Bank) of Amsterdam.

Netherlands Trading Society (1910-1929) , source: National Archives
I don't have much information for now about the building pre-1940's but post 1940's the five-storey bank building at the junction of Cecil Street and D'Almedia Street took 18 months to build and cost $500,000. It was built by Messrs. Swan & McLaren.
Netherlands Trading Society Bank Building (1940s)
source: National Archives


I am not able to find much information on his sons, but the rest of the family members are listed below:

Mother-in-law: Madam Chia Buck Nee
Madam Chia Buck Nee passed away at the age of 81 at 62 Tras Street on 14th February 1955. She is survived by 1 son, Lim Kee Seng, 2 son-in-laws; Chua Choon Leong, Kwik Tiang Boon,  5 daughters, 10 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren.

Daughter: Kwik Poh Swan
Engagement notice was announced between Kwik Poh Swan (eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Kwik Tiang Boon) and Mr. Tan Hin Yam (third son of Mr. and Mrs. Tan Chin Wah) on 23 June 1941. In 1960, Kwik Poh Swan was granted a decree nisi by the Singapore Courts after she sued for divorce on grounds of cruelty.

Daughter: Kwik Poh Luan
Miss Kwik Poh Luan married Mr. Sim Jui Kim (son of Mr and Mrs. Sim Kwang Tow) in November 1957. Sim Jui Kim was with Ace Advertising and the wedding reception was held at Sea View Hotel. Sim Jui Kim passed away in 2008 at the age of 2008 at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife,
children, Leslie Sim Sian Poon, Leslie Sim Hong Lam, Lyn Sim Choon Li, Lisa Sim Hua-Li, their children spouses and granchildren.
Kwik Poh Luan and Sim Jui Kim (source: NewspaperSG)

Daughter: Kwik Poh Lian
Miss Kwik Poh Lian (third daughter) married Mr. Yong Nam Seng (son of Mr. Yong Yit Lin, J.P. former President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and contractor for many iconic buildings such as Clifford Pier, Changi Prison and Clifford Pier).  The wedding reception was suppose to be held at Cathay Restaurant on 26th May 1950 but was cancelled due to the brutal murder of  her father-in-law, Mr. Yong Yit Lin who was gunned down at his club. Madam Kwik Poh Lian passed away at the age of 67 on 31st July 1995. The obituary list that she is survived by her husband, Yong Nam Seng, sons (Yong Tiam Yoon, Yong Kon Yoon, Yong Khim Yoon) daughter (Yong Mei Hsien), son-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

Obituary notice: Madam Kwik Poh Lian (source: NewspaperSG)

Singapore Newest Building. (1939, November 2). Malayan Tribune, page 3
Yong Yit Lin Killed at his Club. (1950, May 26). The Straits Times, page 1
Advertisement. (1955, February 15). The Singapore Free Press, page 16
AD man weds in colony. (1957, November 27). The Singapore Standard, page 4
Queen Juliana's Award for Local Bank Men. (1958, May 11). Sunday Standard, page 2
Advertisement. (1960, March 16). The Straits Times, page 10
Mr. Kwik,63 dies of a heart attack in hospital. (1960, March 18). The Singapore Free Press, page 5
Obituaries. (1995, August 1). The Straits Times. page 36