Tan Jiak Kim, J.P. C.M.G. / 陈若锦 was born in Singapore on 29 April 1859 and came from an old and respected family. His grandfather was Tan Kim Seng, the founder of Kim Seng and Co, and a well known public benefactor. When he passed away in 1863, his son, Tan Beng Swee (Tan Jiak Kim's father) succeeded as head of the firm and was also a well known public figure in Singapore and Malacca. Educated privately, he entered the firm of Kim Seng and Co, as apprentice at the age of 18 where he gain business experience. After the death of his father, Mr. Tan Beng Swee in 1884, he was taken into partnership by his uncle, Mr. Tan Beng Gum. Tan Jiak Kim was also one of the founders of the Straits Steamships Company Ltd, a Director of the United Singapore Rubber Estates Ltd.
In 1886, Tan Jiak Kim was elected a Municipal Commissioner and 1889 appointed as a member of the Legislative Council until he resigned in May 1915 when he resigned due to health reasons. On 1st January 1912 he was presented the Order of C.M.G. ( Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George). Another interesting note was that it was reported in Straits Echo on 13 January 1912, The Hon. Tan Jiak Kim, C.M.G, has discarded his cue soon after.
Tan Jiak Kim passed away at his residence, Dingwall, Pasir Panjang due to heart attack at the age of 59 on 22 October 1917. He leaves behind a widow, a son, 2 daughters, 3 grandsons and 4 granddaughters. Tan Soo Bin, Tan Jiak Kim was buried in Alexandra Cemetery. When the government acquired the land, it was moved to Choa Chu Kang
|Tan Jiak Kim|
Tan Jiak Kim was in the Committee of the Po Leung Kuk, Hokkien representative of the Chinese Advisory Board, member of the Committee of Management of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital, trustee of Raffles Institution, founding member of the King Edward VII Medical School. He contributed to the Prince of Wales Relief Fund and also donated $19,200 for a fighter that bears his name. Tan Jiak Kim was one the founders of the Straits Chinese British Association and was its first President. Tan Jiak Kim was instrumental in promoting the creation Straits Chinese volunteer division and gave generously to the British military.
The Clock tower in Malacca was erected by Tan Jiak Kim in 1896 to complete the "Kim Seng" bridge donated by his late father, Tan Kim Seng in 1862.
The funeral took place on 28 October 1917 and was attended by H.E. the Governor (Sir. Arthur Young, G.C.M.G)., the Hon. Mr. F.S. James, the Hon, Mr. C.W. Durbishire, the Hon. Mr. W.W. Cook, Hon. Mr. F.M. Elliot, the Hon. Dr. Lim Boon Keng and other chinese notables such as Tan Kheam Hock, See Tiong Wah were also present. Members of the Chinese Advisory Board, Po Leung Keuk and Chinese Chambers of Commerce, the Chinese Consul General (Mr. Hoo Wei Yan), Chinese merchants and boys from the Chui Eng Si E 翠英书院 (Academy of Flourishing Talent) or Chinese Free School in Amoy Street, Chong Boon Hokien Hoay Kuan were among the many that attended.
The ceremony was simple and the usual Chinese banners, scrolls and music were absent. It took place after 11 am. The coffin which was covered with a black pall with white embroidery was put in an elaborately carved black hearse with ropes drawn by a number of men. Only 1 brass band (Selangor State Band0 was engaged and there was an absence of the usual chinese banners, scrolls and music. There were however numerous wreaths which had to be carried on poles. The Chinese Company SVI about 100 strong were present under Capt. Song Ong Siang with Second Lieutenants Tan Kwee Wah, Seah Cheng Joo, Tan Cheow Kim and Teo Keong Hee. The remains were interred at the Alexandra family burial ground.
|Funeral hearse of Tan Jiak Kim (source: Roots.sg)|
|Tan Jiak Kim tomb when it was relocated to Choa Chu Kang|
There is a street and even a bridge named after Tan Jiak Kim.
Wife 1 : Ang Geok Hoe
Ang Geok Ho is the daughter of Ang Kim Tee and from their union, sons; Tan Soo Wan and Tan Soo Bin. The body of Mrs. Tan Jiak Kim is lying at Mr. Tan Jiak Kim's house, "Panglima Prang", River Valley. The coffin and its coverings are said to be valued at nearly $20,000 (decorated with silk, gold and precious and one of the most costly coffin constructed at that time. She is buried at the family private cemetery at Alexandra on 17 November 1898 in a funeral procession attended by hundreds.
After Madam Ang Geok Ho passed away, Tan Jiak Kim married the sister of Ang Geok Ho, Ang Geok Hean.
|Ang Geok Ho|
Wife 2 : Madam Ang Geok Hean
Mrs. Tan Jiak Kim nee Ang Geok Hean (fourth daughter of the late Ang Kim Tee and sister of Ang Geok Hoe) was the second wife of Mr. Tan Jiak Kim. While on a visit for the Coronation Ceremonies in London, she passed away at Hotel Metropole due to heart failure as a result of uraemia. She was 33 years old when she died on 11 August 1911. She was buried in Brookwood Cemetery.
After Madam Ang Geok Hean passed away, Tan Jiak Kim married another sister of Ang Geok Hean, Ang Geok Lan.
Wife: Ang Geok Lan
Ang Geok Lan was a daughter of Ang Kim Tee. Mrs. Tan Jiak Kim passed away at the age of about 50 on 1 October 1925 at Panglima Prang, River Valley.
|Ang Geok Lan (left)|
Daughter: Tan Suat Neo
Tan Jiak Kim's eldest daughter married Mr. Ong Hood Hin (son of Mr. Ong Tiang Soon). Madam Ran Suat Neo passed away at the age of 26 on 7 April 1909.
Daughter: Tan Peng Neo
Tan Peng Neo married Chia Teck Kim
Daughter : Annie Tan Sun Neo
Miss Annie Tan, youngest daughter of the Hon. Tan Jiak Kim, C.M.G was reported to be recovering from malarial fever on 11 January 1913. The marriage took place at Panglima Prang on 24 July 1917 of the youngest daughter of Mr. Tan Jiak Kim, C.M.G. and Mrs. Tan Jiak Kim) with Mr. Lim Kian Beng (second son of the late Mr. Lim Teow Chuan).
Son: Tan Soo Wan
Son: Tan Soo Bin (1882–1939)
Tan Soo Bin, J.P. (the second son of the late Mr. Tan Jiak Kim) was born in Singapore on 15 December 1882. After been initially home schooled in Chinese and English at home, he was sent at the age of 12 to Anglo-Chinese School and later Raffles Institution. He enrolled as one of the original members of the Chinese Company, S.V.I and won many accolades (1904 Singapore Bisley, 1905 General Cup and Tan Soo Bin was also one the volunteers together with Song Ong Siang, Tan Chow Him and Tan Piah Eng that won the Warren Shield). He held the rank of Colour-Sergeant until he resigned in 1911. Tan Soo Bin was later given the honorary rank of Major when he retired after coming back to be the first Chinese to lead the Chinese Company that was reconstituted. He was in the Council of King Edwards VII Medical School and Vice-Chairman of the Singapore Chinese Girls School.
Tan Soo Bin was a director of the Kim Seng Land Co. Ltd, Hong Soon Choe Choo Ltd, director of the Straits Steamship Co. Ltd. and many other companies. Tan Soo Bin passed away on 11 August 1939 at his residence, "Dingwall", in Pasir Panjang at the age of 57 and was buried at the private family burial ground at Alexandra Road Cemetery.
“Panglima Prang” means “war admiral” in Malay and possibly the name originated from the land being once a burial ground of an officer of the Sultan of Singapore. The mansion was built around 1860 by Tan Kim Seng after he bought the land from William Renshaw George (a bookkeeper and proprietor of the Singapore Free Press). The mansion, on a 10.5-acre plot of land, was located at Jalan Kuala, off River Valley Road. The architectural style was a combination of east and west and comprised one main building and two wings. The main hall was in the middle, and there were 16 bedrooms altogether as well as quarters for domestic helpers and a large storeroom. The grounds around the mansion were vast with many fruit trees including rambutan, durian and mango. From the NAS map below, you can get a sense that 116 River Valley Road (Panglima Prang) was the largest mansion along River Valley. For size you can also check my article on Bonny Grass. It is interesting to note, that on its ground there is also a Malay burial ground.
Six generations of Tan Kim Seng’s descendants called this mansion home before it was eventually sold to a private developer and demolished in 1982. Yong An Park now sits on its former site.
|Panglima Prang (source: PictureSG)|
|Panglima Prang (source: PictureSG)|
|Panglima Prang (source: National Archives Online, Singapore)|
Location of tomb
The photo of this cluster of tombs related to Tan Kim Seng descendants was taken when it was located at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery. However in 18 July 2017, a jointly issued statement by MND, NEA and SLA required the exhumation of 45,500 Chinese and 35,000 Muslim graves for the Tengah Air Base expansion. This cluster of tombs no longer exist. The remains are likely now at Choa Chu Kang Columbarium.
|Choa Chu Kang Cemetery where the cluster of relocated tombs was once located before being exhumed yet again due to Tengah Airbase expansion |
Panglima Prang(House). (website). Infopedia, National Library.
Funeral Hearse of Tan Jiak Kim. (website). Roots.sg
Negri Malaka Dhulu Dhulu. (1924, March 5). Kabar Slalu
Plan of Singapore Town Showing Topographical Detail and Municipal Numbers. (website). National Archives Online, Singapore. SP007293