James Foo Wha Cheng (St. Michael's Catholic Church Ipoh Cemetery)

The distinguished looking ceramic photograph of James Foo Wha Cheng at St. Michael's Catholic Church Ipoh Cemetery grounds caught my eye. He was also wearing a medal and a neck ribbon of a medal that was caught off. The beautiful marble stone reads;

In Loving Memory of 
James Foo Wha Cheng 
Born 15th Septmember 1878
Died 11th March 1946
"To Live In Hearts You Leave Behind is Not To Die"

Mr. Foo Wha Cheng, J.P., M.C.H. was born in Penang. He was a pioneer in Tin Mining and Plantation. Starting with Sungei Besi Mines ( where he graduated as a student of the Institute of Accounants and Book-keepers), he went to be involve in both business and civic society and was a prominent person in Perak. He was a member of the Chinese Advisory Board since 1922 and the Senior Unofficial Member of the Kinta Sanitary Board. He was the President of the Perak Mining and Planting Association and Senior Partner in the Federal Rubber Stamp Company. He was also a volunteer in the Perak Battalion of the Malayan Volunteer Infantry. Foo Wha Cheong was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Perak in 1927 and was awarded the Certificate of Honour in 1934. James Foo Wha Cheng was  Hon. Secretary of the British Chinese Association of Malaya, representative of the Anti-Opium Society (Perak) and resident of the Kinta Swimming Club, Trustee of the Chinese Widows and Orphans Institution, Perak. Foo Wha Cheng also advocated the local consumption of tin such as articles made from tin (pewter ware), 

Foo Wha Cheng
James Fo Wha Cheng / Foo Wha Cheng

Cutting of Towchang / Queue 

An article dated 9 June 1904 documents the year that Foo Wha Cheng cut off his queue or towchang in front of many present during a Chinese Literary and Debating Society held at the Capitan China's garden at Kuala Lumpur. The President of the Society presiding the debate on "the first steps towards reform lies in the cutting of the queue" was Dr. Gnoh Lean Tuck (also known as Dr. Wu Lien-teh). Foo Wha Cheng debated supporting the cutting of the queue shared that the act did not imply foregoing of their race - Chinese will be always be Chinese and surprised everyone by agreeing to do the deed and let action speak louder then words. 

Dr. Gnoh Lean Tuck / Dr. Wu Lien Teh in a formal ceremony assisted to cut Foo Wha Cheng 's queue and has a mark of his great respect, knelt before Mr. Foo Wha Cheng after doing the deed and giving a moving speech;

"In the name of reform and all that is best and noblest in mankind and in the Chinese, I, the President of this Society, have pleasure, honour and pride in severing this queue. I admit Mr. Foo as the champion of the brave Chinese who have the courage of their convictions and of carrying out what they think right and best for the countrymen." 

That showed how forward looking Foo Wha Cheng was (he was 26 years old in 1904), willing to cut his queue and be a forward reformist when many were still hesitating. The debate ended with a ballot with 18 voted for (cutting of queue) and 17 (against the motion). You can see that many were still hesitant still to do so.  


Mother: Madam Cheah Fook Koo (Mrs. Foo Sean)
On 17 January 1916, Mrs. Foo Sean nee Cheah Fook Koo passed away at the age of 73 at 10 Bertam Lane, Penang. She is the mother of Foo Nan Kin, Foo Nan Choon and Foo Wha Cheng. She is buried in Mount Erskine Cemetery. 

Wife: Madam Lim Kim Eng 
An announcement of marriage (6 December 1907) to take place between Mr. Foo Wha Cheng (assistant accountant of the Sungei Besi Mines owned by Towkay Foo Choo Choon) and Miss Lim Kim Eng (daughter of Mr. Lim Teow Chong of Kuala Lumpur). Madam Lim Kim Eng was an English Scholar and speaks fluent French. 

Madam Lim Keng Eng (source: Geni.com) 

Brother: Foo Nan Kin
Foo Nan Kin passed away on February 1930 at Batu Road, Kuala Lumpur at the age of 73. He is the brother of Mr. Foo Wha Cheng, J.P. of Ipoh and father of Mr. Foo Win Poe of Kuala Lumpur. He leaves a son, a daughter-in-law, a brother and 7 grandchildren.  Foo Na Kin was once one of the oldest schoolmasters of the Penang Free School before resigning his position to become Cashier of the Tronoh Mines. His son, Foo Win Poe was once the Proprietor of the George Town Cinematograph. 

Sister-in-law: Madam Lim Kim Kee 
Madam Lim Kim Kee got engage to Mr. P.J. Mor Singh (headmaster of St. Michael's School Ipoh). She is a teacher in the same school and sister-in-law of Mr. Foo Wha Cheng of the Federal Rubber Stamp. Co., Ipoh.  

Son: Foo Eng Keng
The engagement was announced on 25 March 1940 at "Kimington", Jalan Abdul Jalil, Greentown of Miss Ong Say Ghim, (4th daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ong Huck Eng of Penang) and Mr. Foo Eng Keng (eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Foo Wha Cheng of Ipoh). Mr. Foo Eng Keng is a lecturer at the Technical School at Kuala Lumpur.  Foo Eng Heng (eldest son of Mr. Foo Wha Cheng, J.P, Ipoh) studied engineering at the Hong Kong University (1928). The marriage took place on 10 March 1941 at Ipoh Town Hall and it was officiated by Mr. A.W. Hay, Protector of Chinese, Perak as Registrar of Marriages. The bridesmaid were Miss Molly Foo and Miss Lee Gim Lian. 

Son: Foo Eng Ling / Foo Eng Lin 
Foo Eng Ling (staff of Messrs. Henry Waugh and Co. Ltd and son of Mr. Foo Wha Cheng of Ipoh) married Miss Leong Chee Yoong (daughter of Mr. Leong Chee Yoong) on December 1938. The gathering was attended by over 200 friends and later a tea party held at the ne Celestial Dance Hall. 

Daughter: Foo Leng Joo 
A wedding in the reformed style held at the Hokkien Kong Hoey, Ipoh between Mr. Tan Poh Jin ( the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Tan Cheng Kee) and Miss Foo Leng Joo (eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Foo Wha Cheng of Ipoh). The bridegroom is the honorary secretary and treasurer of the Perak Badminton Association).  December 1937.

Tomb of James Foo Wha Cheng 

British Chinese Association of Malaya

The inaugural British Chinese Association of States and Straits-born Chinese was held in July 1923 in Ipoh at the residence of Kapitan China. Kapitan Chung Thye Phin presided with over 160 members. The Office Bearers were as follows;
President: Capitan Chung Thye Phin, M.S.C., J.P.
Vice-President: Mr. Cheah Cheang Lim
Hon. Secretary: Mr. Foo Wha Cheng 
Council Members: Messrs. Lee Swee Hoe, Goh Swee Toon, S.Y. Wong, Toh Eng Hoe, Ng Aun Thye, Law Yew Guan, Leong Yew Koh, K.S. Khong, Khoo Khoon Huat, Drs. Saw Ah Choy, Wu Chang Yueh and Cheong Tak Nam. 

Kinta Swimming Club. 

The site is on a piece of land comprising 2 and a half acres issued to Mr. Foo Wha Cheng. It borders the Sungei Pari thus affording convenient drainage and road frontage and will within town limits. Mr. Foo Wha Cheng was the person who was the driver for its creation and was the Chairman and later President of the Kinta Swimming Club. The pool and premises were expected to cost about $10,000. The general committee was first made up of;
Patrons: Towkay Foo Choong Yit, the Hon. Mr. Lai Tet Loke, Mr. Leong Sin Nam
Chairman: Foo Wha Cheng
The opening ceremony was held on 11 April 1936 by the Sultan of Perak.

The Failure of Federal Rubber Stamp Co. 

In a court case in 1936, i gotten insight that the debtors of the company are Saw Ghee Hong, Foo Wha Cheng and Foo Kim Gaik (niece) . The failure or bankruptcy of the company was likely to mismanagement of accounts. In 31 July 1936 , the Kuala Supreme Court declared all of them as bankrupts. 

J.P. Charged for using the term "tiu ahmah" in a letter published 

This 23 June  1932 article is so interesting as it is my first encounter of a person being charged but later acquitted for using the term "tiu ahmah" in a publication letter in The Times of Malaya (a common expression in Cantonese and did not denote obscenity as defined by the defence)

[research on-going] 


Foo Wha Cheng. (Geni.com)
Lim Kim Eng. (Geni.com)
Towchang Question. (1904, June 9). Straits Budget, page 9
A marriage. (1907, December 6). Straits Echo
Untitled. (1916, January 17). Straits Echo, page 6
British Chinese. Enthusiastic Public Meeting In Ipoh. (1923, July 24). Malaya Tribune, page 7 
Two Honoured Men. (1927, March 7). Malaya Tribune, page 12 
J.P. Charged. (1932, June 23). The Singapore Free Press, page 8 
Certificates of honur. (1934, June 6). The Singapore Free Press, page 3
Birthday Honours. (1934, June 5). Malaya Tribune, page 13
Kinta Swimming Club Premises Under Construction. (1935, August 12). Pinang Gazette and Straits Chronicle, page 7
Ipoh Register Office Wedding. (1938, December 28). Pinang Gazette and Straits Chronicle. page 2 



Show more