CHAN KANG SWI, CH, JP
Chan Kang Swi was born in 1875 to Chan Tiew. Chan Tiew was born in China and arrived in Malacca in 1853, at the age of 13. He first worked as a servant for the wealthy Chinese family. At the end of 14 years old, he had managed to save a little money and with this he commenced business as a rice merchant. He was very successful and eight years later he became a tapioca planter. He had built up a large fortune, prior to his death in 1892. His estate descended to his only son; Chan Kang Swi. The estate comprised 8,000 acres of land, where 3500 acres were planted with tapioca by Chan Tiew.
In 1902, Chan Kang Swi commenced inter-planting para rubber with the tapioca, putting in 180,000 of these trees and 1,000 ficus elastica. In 1907, there were 7,000 acres planted with tapioca and rubber, where coconuts and pepper were also cultivated. Chan Kang Swi owned a wholesale dealer business in First Cross Street, Malacca.
Chan Kang Swi was educated at the Malacca High School, and married Ng Teh daughter of Ng Gong Kow. He was the President of the Malacca Hokkien Association, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Straits Chinese British Association, President of the Chinese Malacca Club and member of Chinese Advisory Board, Po Leung Kuk, Chinese Lawn Tennis Club and was one of the four trustees of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple.
In 1916, he was appointed a Commissioner of the Peace. In order to honour Chan Kang Swi’s meritorious services to the community, a life size portrait of him was unveiled by Sir Shenton Thomas at the Stadthuys in 1935. In 1934 he was conferred with a Certificate of Honour by King George VI.
Chang Kang Swi was a great supporter to education institutions, he donated $150,000 for the maintenance of the Amoy University Library and helped to establish the Nanyang Normal School in Singapore.
Chan Kang Swi’s eldest son, S.C. Chan was a lawyer, and his third son, Chan Seng Kee married Tan Kim Tin, the eldest daughter of Tan Cheng Lock in 1935. While his eldest daughter, Chan Gek Cheow was married to Dr Ho Pao Jin, a prominent economist and financial banker.
In 1937, Chan Kang Swi opined that Malaya should have a university, as the domiciled population was ready to subscribe finally, provided the government met part of the concurrent expenditure form its surplus funds. He died on 4 June 1942.