Saturday, June 13, 2020

Kiong Kong Tuan and family (Kopi Sua)

Kiong Kong Tuan (龚光传) (1790-1854) was a merchant from Penang and he came to established himself in Singapore. He married a daughter of Choa Chong Long, and from the marriage they had 1 son, Kiong Seok Wee and several daughters (one of whom became the wife of Wee Bin of the steamship firm Wee Bin & Co). In the 1840's, Kiong Kong Tuan planted about 50 acres of coffee near Jurong but that venture failed. He owned Opium Farm license but his business profits from it was low due to huge smuggling (which impacted opium prices) and his poor speculation of the movement of opium prices and the high rental he had to pay to acquire the opium license. Kiong Kong Tuan was also a Spirit Farmer whose factory was at Pearl's Hill. It was colloquially known for many years among the Chinese community as Chiu-long-san (spirit factory hill). Kiong Kong Tuan was one of the prominent Chinese leaders of the time and this is reflected in an article date 1851 to Colonel Butterworth, then Governor of Prince of Wales Island, Singapore and Malacca. Representing the Chinese community were Tan Kim Seng, Seah Eu Chin, Tan Kim Ching, Yeo Hoot Seng, Ang Choon Seng, Chee Teang Whye, Cheang Sam Teo and Kiong Kong Tuan in the article called Address from the Inhabitants.Kiong Kong Tuan died at the age of 64 on 16th January 1854.

Kiong Kong Tuan's tomb
Kiong Kong Tuan's tomb

In a public auction in the same year of his death, you can get a glimpse of his wealth and his other enterprise of nutmeg plantations in Sungai Jurong, Bukit Timah Road and nutmeg, pepper and gambier in Toa Payoh.
Plantations of Kiong Kong Tuan

Wife: Choa Liong Neo 
Choa Liong Neo was the daughter of Chao Chong Long. From Raymond's blog article, i found out Choa Liong Neo wrote a will in 1841 lunar 5th month 5th day. According to Choa Liong Neo's will, she said she was the eldest daughter and together with 3 younger sisters inherited Chong Long properties. As she was then ill and may die in the near future, she has named her husband executor of her estate.

Son: Kiong Seok Wee
Kiong Seok Wee went into business with his brother-in-law, Wee Bin but it was short-lived. He was also at one time, one of the proprietors of the Singapore Daily Free Press and Merchantile Advertiser. In 1865 along with Wee Leong Hin, the firm of Leong Hin, Seok Wee & Co, chop Aik Ho, ship-handlers, was established at Boat Quay and another under the chop Joo Chin & Co, as General Merchants. Aik Ho suffered a fire and as it was not covered by insurance, Kiong Seok Wee suffered loses. This loses further worsen with the failure of Joo Chin & Co. In 1869, his financial difficulties lead to his insolvency. Kiong Seok Wee died in 1888 at the age of 49, leaving behind 6 sons and 2 daughters. The elder daughter became a daughter-in-law of Mr. Tan Kim Ching. The youngest son, Mr. Kiong Chin Eng was a chief clerk and cashier at the General Hospital.

Father-in-law: Choa Chong Long
Choa Chong Long was born around 1788 in Malacca and his father was a Capitan China there during Dutch control Malacca.  In 1826, Choa Chong Long secured land title in Commercial Square (present Raffles Place) and built his house. He was famous among the local circles and often entertained British merchants. There was a hill near Tanjong Pagar that was known as Bukit Chong Long and a road called Chong Long Road but renamed as Canning Lane (after Earl Canning, Governor of India, in which a road, hill and rise were name after him).In 1836, Choa Cheng Long put up an article on the newspapers that he will be leaving for China and likely be there for a few years. He never did return for Choa Chong Long was murdered in Macao in 1838. 

There was a baba-malay pantun reminding people not to take advantage of his kindness:-
Tinggi-tinggi rumah Chek Long,  (Very high is Mr. Chong Long's house)
Di-bawahnya buat kedai kain        (Below it are the cloth shops)
Alang-nya bisa ular tedong           (When venom is in the strike of the cobra's hood)
Boleh-kah tangkap buat main        (Can you catch and play with it)

The executor of Choa Chong Long estate was William Spottiswoode (W. Spottiswoode). In 1869, Choa Choon Neo, a descendant of Chao Chong Long successfully contested the will of Choa Chong Long that allows reserving of properties in Malacca and Singapore in perpetuity for "Sinchew rites (ancestral worship of Choa Chong Long and his wifes) in favor for partible  inheritance.

Location of tomb 
Malcom Road /Whitley Road Cemetery is know "colloquially" as Kopi Sua, is a large cemetery system with parts of it cut of due to the construction of the Pan Island Expressway. The tomb of Kiong Kong Tuan is at the section of Kopi Sua area that was cut of by the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) (the entrance to this section of cemetery complex is via the long staircase just before St.Joseph Institution).

The state of Mr and Mrs Kiong Kong Tuan's tomb after cleaning up

Kiong Kong Tuan headstone was the only we managed to raise up

Advertisement. (1854, September 15). Singapore Free Press, page 1
Trocki, C. A. (1990). Opium and empire: Chinese society in Colonial Singapore, 1800-1910. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press
Song, O. S. One Hundred Years' History of the Chinese in Singapore.
Kiong Kong Tuan 龔光傳 and Choa Liong Neo 蔡良娘. (website).Singapore Tombstones Epigraphic Materials 新加坡墓碑铭集录

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