The Chee family is noted as one of the oldest Chinese families in Malacca. The arrival of the Chees were dated during the early time of the Malacca establishment. Hitherto, the family's presence is still eminent in Malacca, where more than 12 generations have been passed down.
The Chee was originated from Zhangzhou Prefecture in Fujian Province of China. The first Chee who migrated to Malacca was Chee Soo Sum (1689 - 1752), who was a scholar and General of Ming Dynasty. Chee Soo Sum came to Malacca during the second half of the eighteenth century. The reason for his migration was partly due to his refusal to serve the newly founded Qing Dynasty under the Manchurian's tenure. Chee Soo Sum died in Malacca and was buried at the Bukit Cina Cemetery. One of his sons, Chee Tiow Seng also died in Malacca on 16 December 1832 and was buried at the Bukit Cina Cemetery. Chee Tiow Seng's son Chee Kim Guan died on 13 January 1839 and his grave could not be found until today.
Chee Kim Guan's son Chee Yam Chuan (1819 - 1862), who was later flourished the family's name and restored it to its former glory. Chee Yam Chuan was an exemplary in forging business partnerships with the local Malays. His far business sight had gained him a popular merchant with the local Malay leaders, thus caused jealousy from people with interest. Chee Yam Chuan was assassinated in 1862 during attending a wedding dinner in Malacca.
When the British took over Singapore and founded a colony there, Chee Yam Chuan and his parents (Chee Kim Guan and Goh Him Neo) were among the early settlers. It was in Singapore he met Lim Leack and Tan Chin Seng son of Tan Oh Lee, and established the Leack, Chin Seng & Co., a general store selling food stuffs and etc. The business in Singapore could not make him rich but able to meet the end of the day. He then moved back to Malacca and his life changed when he came to know Raja Jumaat, the son of a Riau prince in Selangor, where both were business partners in tin mining and close ally in monopoly tin mining in Selangor. In 1851, Chee Yam Chuan established a branch of Leack, Chin Seng & Co. in Malacca. The company was initially a food provision store selling tin and tapioca, but later ventured into logistic and steamship. The firm was under the management of his son, Chee Hoon Bong.
When Raja Jumaat was granted the Lukut district by Sultan of Selangor in 1846, where he and Chee Yam Chuan were the main partners in developing tin mines at there. Raja Jumaat's son Raja Bot, lived with Chee Yam Chuan in Malacca for some time, where he acted as Chee's business intermediary with the Malays. In 1849, Raja Jumaat's brother, Raja Abdullah also borrowed large sums of money from Chee Yam Chuan to open up mines in Klang.
After 37 years of Chee Yam Chuan's demise, in 1925 his grandson, Chee Swee Cheng built a family temple at Heeren Street and named in honour of Chee Yam Chuan. The management of this temple is under the Chee Yam Chuan Temple Trust. Despite the tremendous surge of modernization in the Chinese culture today, the Chee family still keeping a tradition of electing the head of the Chee clan and its trustees. And the presence of male dominance in the family is still strong, as only male descendants are allowed to join the committee members and also have the rights to vote, elect and appoint the Chee patriarch and trustees. Today, the elegant Chee Yam Chuan Temple at 117 Heeren Street, Malacca functions as the family hall of meeting and celebrating family festivals.
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- The Sunday Times, 13 Dec 1991, Chee Yam Chuan Temple Notice of Meeting: NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN That a General Meeting of the Members consisting of the Male descendants (aged 21 years or above and professing the Buddhist Religion) of:- (1) Chee Jin Siew @ Chee Kiat Bong; (2) Chee Him Bong; (3) Chee Pee Bong; (4) Chee Teck Bong (5) Chee Hoon Bong @ Chee Hun Bong; (6) Chee Lim Bong; (7) Chee Hee Bong; (8) Chee Peck Bong; (9) Chee Quee Bong @ Chee Kwi Bong; (10) Chee Siang Bong; the lawful sons of Chee Yam Chuan deceased, late of No. 117, Heeren Street (now known as Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock) 75200 Melaka (hereinafter called "the Members of Chee Family") will be held on the 28th day of December, 1991 at 2.30 p.m. at Aman Damai Room, Level 5, The City Bayview Hotel, Jalan Bendahara, 75100 Melaka, for the purpose of passing proper Resolutions:- (i) To elect and appoint Ten (10) members of Chee Family as "the Committee members" to represent the members of Chee Family"; (ii) To elect and appoint Seven (7) members of Chee Family as the New Trustees of "The Chee Yam Chuan Temple trust" of the movable and immovable properties of the said trust in place of the existing trustees; (iii) To approve the draft of the Trust Deed; (iv) To empower and authorise the Committee Members to execute the said Deed of trust thereby appointing the said New Trustees of the Chee Yam Chuan Temple trust to the intent that the title to and possession and management and control of all the movable and immovable properties of Chee Yam Chuan Temple Trust be vested in the said new Trustees to be held upon Trusts declared in the said Trust Deed; (v) To authorise and empower the New Trustees to execute the said Trust Deed and to apply to the High Court of Malaya in Malacca for the approval of the said trust Deed and for an Order vesting all the said properties to be held by them as the Trustees of the said Chee Yam Chuan Temple Trust; (vi) To approve, confirm and ratify all the acts, deed and things done or made by the existing Trustees from time to time of the said Chee Yam Chuan Temple Trust (formerly known as "the Chee Yam Chuan Temple") and to discharge and release them absolutely from any liability in respect of their management and/or administration of the said Trust until the date of appointment of the said new Trustees; and (vii) To approve, confirm and pass the Audited Accounts of the Existing Trustees' management and/or administration of the said Chee Yam Chuan Temple Trust (formerly known as "the Chee Yam Chuan Temple") up to the 31st day of December, 1990). dates this 14th day of December, 1991. By Order of the Trustees of Chee Yam Chuan Temple TAN SWI CHAY & CO. SDN. BHD. Secretaries SECRETARIES OFFICE: TAN SWI CHAY & CO. SDN. BHD. No. 22 (Upper Floor of No. 20) Jalan Hang Jebat 75200 Melaka Malaysia Notes:- i) A member entitled to attend and vote at the said Meeting has to be present in person, upon notifying the Secretaries in writing of his intention to attend and vote aforesaid not less than forty-eight (48) hours before the time of the meeting. ii) Draft copies of the trust Deed are available for inspection by any member during normal office hours on any day which is not a public holiday at the Secretaries office at No. 22 (Upper floor of No. 20), Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia.