|KAPITAN KHOO CHEOW TEONG, JP|
Khoo Cheow Teong was born in 1840 in Penang to Khoo Cheng Lim (b. 1808) and Koh Keng Yean (辜輕煙) daughter of Koh Kee Jin. His mother was a granddaughter of Koh Lay Huan (Chinese Kapitan of Penang), a prominent figure in Penang. Khoo Cheow Teong’s grandfather Khoo Wat Seng was a prominent leader in Penang and was a founder of Ee Kok Tong (later Leong San Tong), a family clan temple.
Khoo Cheow Teong was educated in Chinese and began his career in a Chinese firm as an assistant. After served for some time, he went to Perak and commenced business on his own account. Khoo Cheow Teong later moved to Asahan, Sumatra to venture into food provision business. It was for his strong determination and hard work that made Khoo Cheow Teong became a successful general merchant. Eventually in 1878, he was appointed as the Chinese Kapitan Titular of Asahan. By then Khoo Cheow Teong was known to be able to speak fluent Dutch and English.
In 1874 he married the eldest daughter of Lim Cheoh, a popular rice merchant in Malacca. The marriage was arranged by him within six months, in which he had conscientiously selecting his wife. During this time, Khoo Cheow Teong was well established in Perak and had the interest in the government revenue farms in Deli, Asahan, Bengkalis and Penang.
After 26 years serving as the Kapitan, in 1904 he relinquished the post and spent his time in Asahan taking care of his business affairs assisted by his son Khoo Sian Wei. When it was reaching to a time where Khoo Cheow Teong thought he should spend his remaining time in a much peaceful place, in 1909 he returned to his birth place, Penang with his family, leaving his eldest son to in charge the business in Asahan.
Khoo Cheow Teong was well-known for his generosity in supporting the education institutions in Penang. He was the benefactor of the St Xavier’s Institution, Anglo-Chinese School and the Penang Free School. In August 1908, he presented all boys’ schools in Penang each $1,500 for scholarships. Khoo Cheow Teong was also less known for his monetary contribution to a Muslim mosque in Asahan. Besides, the effort in assisting local schools in Penang, he also donated $2,000 to the King Edward VII Medical College in Singapore. During World War I, Khoo Cheow Teong and Gan Goh Bee donated a reconnaissance plane to Britain and the plane was named “Malaya No. 15 ~ Khoo Cheow Teong – Gan Goh Bee”
In recognition for his contributions in Penang, he was made a Justice of Peace and Khoo Cheow Teong Court, a cul-de-sac off Fish Lane in Penang was named after him. Khoo Cheow Teong also became a trustee in Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi (his family clan temple), where he was belonged to Cheng Pang, a sub-lineage of his family clan and could trace his lineage for being the 20th generation descendant of the family progenitor, Khoo Chian Eng.
Khoo Cheow Teong died on 1 September 1916 in his mansion Sunbean Hall (opposite the Penang Supreme Court). He had three sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Khoo Sian Wei married daughter of Goh Khuan Leong. His second son, Khoo Sian Ewe first married Lee Sim Neoh, and later Lee Gaik Thye both were daughters of Lee Bian Tiong of Penang. His second daughter, Khoo Chooi Lian married Yeoh Guan Seok, a lawyer in 1908. Khoo Cheow Teong's another wife, Cheah Geok Swan was the mother of Khoo Sian Wei and Khoo Sian Ewe and two daughters.