Sunday, 5 August 2012

Choong Cheng Kean 庄清建


Choong Cheng Kean was born on 16 June 1857 in Xianglu Village, Amoy to Choong Chuo. Being the only son of a poor family, he first came to Tongkah in 1875 and worked at a provision shop. It was shortly afterwards he moved to Kedah and worked at a provision shop. It was in Kedah he married his employer’s daughter Lim Gek Kee in 1881, and was also known as Lim Cheng Kean. Though he first married a wife in China named Teoh Kuan Neo, but the couple had no issue and lived all her life in China had adopted several children. And when Choong Cheng Kean died in 1916 she was disgraced for not named in the Will of Choong Cheng Kean’s Estate. Choong Cheng Kean’s success was through the help from his father-in-law in Kedah. Choong Cheng Kean first started his own provision shop at Alor Star, and had then befriended with the Regent of Kedah, Tunku Abdul Aziz who often stopped by his place for drinking and gambling habits. It was through this friendship ties with the Kedah Royalties, Choong Cheng Kean enjoyed a long term paddy rice monopoly in the state, including held the opium, liquor and gambling syndicates. When his career thrived, he adopted several secondary wives distributing over Penang, Kedah and Thailand. Following with his successful career, in 1894 he built the Choong Mansion in his ancestral village. And 13 years later he funded the construction of the Choong Clan Temple. Choong Cheng Kean was a shareholder of Eastern Shipping Company and several other Chinese companies in Penang and Kedah. His sons were Choong Lye Hock , Choong Lye Hin and Choong Lye Teong. Eldest son, Choong Lye Hock married Lim Liew Saik (1884 – 1936) and they had two sons and four daughters. One of Choong Lye Hock’s sons, Choong Soo Ghee was the appointed trustee of his Estate and in 1940 one of his daughters, Choong Sim Gay married to Chua Keat Siew eldest son of Chua Lye Hock. When Choon Cheng Kean died on 23 June 1916, he was then a well-established millionaire in Penang, where his amassed wealth was able to pass down five generations after him.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Choo Hu Seong


Choo Hu Seong was born in 1863 in Fujian, China to Choo Geok Han. He received Chinese education in Amoy, before preceded to British Malaya in 1880. Choo Hu Seong first came to Taiping, Perak and worked in tin mines for some time, before commenced on his own account. His business life in Perak lasted for only 13 years, as he then moved to Kuala Lumpur in 1893 and established a tin ore trading firm, Chop Seng Eng Guan. In partnership with other miners in Selangor, he formed the Eng Ann Mining Company, where he was the mine manager. His mine was equipped with modern machinery had employed more than 300 workers. Choo Hu Seong was a member of the Merchants Club in Penang and Selangor. He married daughter of Taoh Kim Leong and had one son and three daughters.

Choo Cheeng Khay 朱睛溪

Choo Cheeng Khay was born in 1868 in Penang to Choo Hoon Siew. Choo Hoon Siew who was born in China, was then a successful trader plying from Penang to Kedah thence to Aceh. In 1888, Choo Cheeng Khay left Penang for Kuala Lumpur and commenced business in partnership with his old schoolmate. His business thrived and few years later the partnership was dissolved. Choo Cheeng Khay later joined Loke Yew as a manager of the Attap Farm, leased from the government. When the farm lease was superseded by the government, he became assistant manager of Loke Yew’s infamous firm, Tong Hing Loong (Kuala Lumpur branch). At the same time, he acquired lime-kilns at Kuala Lumpur and later in partnership he ventured into tin mining at Kajang. His two-year experiment in mining business was a success, where he acquired more mining lands at Sungei Besi. He named his mines as Old Blondin, as a mark of the use of Blondin apparatus into mining activity. Where, he was among the first miners in the Malay States to use that quarry equipment. In order to manage his mining interest, he founded a company named after him with an estimated capital $40,000. The company capital value was too trifling to attract investors, and due to Choo Cheeng Khay’s insistence, the capital remained at that meagre value. Thus, Choo Cheeng Khay was left to run the business on his own expense. Nothing daunted, he acquired another mine at Sungei Krayong, Cheras known as the New Blondin, this time instead of using the Blondin apparatus, he applied the open-cast system to cast tin ore. With this new mine, he approached back the old shareholders, with the hope they would invest in his new mine, despite all the persuasions, they refused his offer. The Sungei Krayong mine was later closed down in 1913. By the age of 40 years, Choo Cheeng Khay was already a well-established businessman in Kuala Lumpur. In 1907, he was unanimously elected as the honorary secretary of the Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce. However, shortly afterwards he vacated his post in order to go for a business trip in China and Japan, where he planned to venture in timber business in Manchuria. In his later life, Choo Cheeng Khay became a contractor and founded the Choo Cheeng Khay & Sons Limited, a property developer firm at Birch Road, Kuala Lumpur. Choo Cheeng Khay was famed for being a staunch supporter of the anti-opium movement. On 3 November 1906, he co- founded the Selangor Anti-Opium Society, and had been generously helped the opium addicts to eradicate their smoking habits by giving free anti-opium decoctions. His devotion to the movement was further proved when he leased his house at 8 Weld Road to the Anti-Opium Society. In 1907, there were more than 400 patients cured of the habit of opium smoking and following with the success, it was reported that more than 2,000 patients seek treatment at the Society per day. Choo Cheeng Khay was also active in promoting education, where he had financially helped the establishment of several schools in Kuala Lumpur including being a co-founder of a prominent Chinese girls’ school, where many rich Chinese families in Kuala Lumpur sent their daughters to have Chinese education. In 1914, he retired from business affairs, and three years later he made a world-tour. It was in England, Choo Cheeng Khay thought that he will die soon, so he bought a special oak coffin which cost him £50. The coffin was kept in a room of his home in Gurney Drive, Penang. It was only after 42 years the coffin was made to use, when he died in June 1959 in Kuala Lumpur. He was buried at Mount Erskine, Penang. Choo Cheeng Khay lived most of his life in Kuala Lumpur and returned to Penang in his final two and a half years of life. In 1917, he built a spacious bungalow for his family at Birch Road, Kuala Lumpur. Choo Cheeng Khay was the Vice-President of the Selangor Anti-Opium Society, and member of Yin Han Club, Penang, Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce and many other clubs and associations in Selangor and Penang. One of his sons, Choo Thiam Khin was a Managing Director of Choo Cheeng Khay & Sons Ltd in 1964, he married Rosalind Wong Yuet Hing and they had one son (Choo Kook Yin) and two daughters (Choo Hooi Peng & Choo Hooi Sim). The family residence was then shifted to 104 Choo Cheeng Khay Road, Kuala Lumpur.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Chee Yam Chuan 徐炎泉


Chee Yam Chuan also known as Chee Yean Chuan was born on 24 May 1818 in Malacca to Chee Kim Guan (died on 13 January 1839). Chee Yam Chuan’s family had long settled in Malacca, with his great grandfather, Chee Soo Sum first came in around 1750s. The family lineage then passed down from one generation to the other, with Chee Yam Chuan as the fourth generation of the early Chinese settlers.

Chee Yam Chuan’s father and grandfather, Chee Tiow Seng (died on 16 December 1832) were already well-established trading in the British Colony. And by the time of Chee Yam Chuan, he had no difficulty to commence business on his own account.

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 co-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, where both were business partners in tin mining.

Chee Yam Chuan was a good example in forging friendship bonds and partnership with the Malay community, he was an ally of Raja Jumaat, the son of a Riau prince in Selangor. 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.

Chee Yam Chuan died on 28 July 1862, leaving behind his wife Tan Lian Kian, ten sons and two daughters, and also bequeathing a large estate in Malacca and Singapore. His sons were, Cheah Jin Siew (also Chee Gin Siew), Chee Him Bong, Chee Pee Bong, Chee Teck Bong,Chee Hoon Bong, Chee Lim Bong, Chee Hee Bong, Chee Quee Bong, Chee Beck Bong (also Chee Peck Bong) and Chee Siang Bong.

Chee Swee Cheng 徐垂青

Chee Swee Cheng was born on 13 December 1866 in Malacca to Chee Hoon Bong. His family was well-known in the Malacca for being among the earliest Chinese settlers, where he could trace his direct lineage to five generations before him.

Chee Swee Cheng was educated at the Malacca High School and at the age of 16, he was employed at Lim Tiang Wah & Co. in Singapore and remained there until 1886. He then joined Leack Chin Seng & Co., a firm where his grandfather founded, in which he remained for four years. Chee Swee Cheng was later became the manager of Soon Tye & Co. and served for ten years, before ventured into the Opium and Liquor Farm in British North Borneo in 1900.

In 1890, Chee Swee Cheng was appointed as secretary of the Widows and Orphans’ Fund of Singapore and Malacca. Six years later he became a Visiting Justice of Prisons and was a committee member of the Chinese Weekly Entertainment Club of Singapore. Apart from that, he became the Chairman of Ho Hong Bank Ltd, Singapore founded in 1917, and also expanded his business to rubber, coconut and tapioca plantations.

 In 1906, Chee Swee Cheng and his brother Chee Sim Cheng leased the General Spirit and Opium Farms for British North Borneo and Labuan. He was also the principal shareholder in the Straits Industrial Syndicate, Singapore. Chee Swee Cheng also had an ice factory known as Atlas Ice Company, which able to produce five to twenty tons a day. This factory who recognised that the price of ice was expensive and as an outcome of his generous venture, the price of the commodity had been reduced to such an extent that even the poor can afford to buy it. Today the company is still owned by the family, and is run by the Chee members.

Being a generous philanthropist, he endowed a ward to the Medical Mission Hospital in Malacca, and a sum of $10,000 was donated to build a hall for the Chinese High School in Singapore.

Chee Swee Cheng had been married twice, by his first wife he had one daughter, and through his second wife who was daughter of Lee Keng Leat he had one son. His son, Chee Guan Chiang (3 April 1896 – 29 March 1959) had two sons, Chee Bay Hoon (b. 16 June 1924) and Chee Swee Hoon (b. 24 July 1943; d. 9 May 1972). Chee Swee Cheng's biggest contribution to his family was building the Chee family temple at 117 Heeren Street, Malacca, dedicated to his father, Chee Yam Chuan. Chee Swee Cheng died in 1938. 

Chee Sim Cheng


Chee Sim Cheng was born in 1873 in Malacca to Chee Hoon Bong, and a grandson to Chee Yam Chuan. He was educated at the Malacca High School. In 1905, he was a business partner in the Batam Paya Rumput Rubber Estate with his brother Chee Swee Cheng and brother-in-law, Chan Cheng Siew. The 1000-acre rubber estate was well-maintained under Chee Sim Cheng. and had interest in Opium and Liquor Farm in Malacca, Singapore and Labuan. He married daughter of Chan Kung Swee and had four sons.

Chee Lim Bong


Chee Lim Bong was born in 1849 in Malacca to Chee Yam Chuan, a prominent Chinese family in the Colony who had settled for generations. His family was well-known and highly respected among the Chinese community section in Malacca. At the age of 21, Chee Lim Bong was elected head of the Hokkien community in Malacca. He and Chee Eng Chen were partners in the Malacca Opium and Liquor Farm. Chee Lim Bong had two wives, Lee Seck Loon and Lee Seck Keng, both were daughters of Lee Cheng Yan. Chee Lim Bong was a business partner in the firm Lim Tiang Wah & Co. (Chop Swee Hong). He had one son and two daughters, eldest daughter Chee Siok Goh was married to Lee Chim Teck and the second one Chee Suat Goh was married to Lee Pang Seng son of Lee Choon Guan. Chee Lim Bong died on 18 December 1907.

Chee Kang Cheng


Chee Kang Cheng was born in 1876 in Malacca to Chee Lim Bong. He was educated at the Malacca High School, and at the age of 19, he joined his father’s business. Shortly afterwards, Chee Kang Cheng purchased the Diamond Jubilee Estate and commenced in planting tapioca and rubber, the estate was well-managed. In 1904, Chee Kang Cheng participated in the Agri-Horticultural Show at Kuala Lumpur, its tapioca products secured the first prize. In all his life, Chee Kang Cheng took an active role in the Malacca Chinese welfare, he was a Municipal Commissioner of Malacca, the Vice-President of Chinese Malacca Club and had profound interest in the Malacca Chinese Football and Malacca Union Club, as well as several other clubs and associations. He died on 19 October 1918 at his residence at Cheng Rubber Estate. His second daughter, Chee Lang Eng was married to Tan Eng Seng, eldest son of Tan Soo Ghi in 1929.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Chee Hoon Bong


Chee Hoon Bong was born in Malacca to Chee Yam Chuan. His family had lived in Malacca for up to four generations before him. Chee Hoon Bong was the owner of the City Saw Mills and Bukit Beruang Estate in Malacca, where he planted tapioca, and numerous fertile lands in Malacca. He was a director of his father’s owned firm, Leack Chin Seng & Co. and also a partner in the firm Lim Tiang Wah & Co. (Chop Swee Hong). Chee Hoon Bong was a headman for the Hokkien community in Malacca, and was appointed Justice of Peace for six years. In 1883, when the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements passed the Ordinance X of 1883, in order to prevent encroachments upon the Crown Colony lands, he immediately called for a meeting among people of interest in their estates in Malacca for solving their problems of illegal lands. The Chee Hoon Bong Scholarship named after him was created and endowed to St Francis’ Institution, Malacca for the best-excelled students in term of academic achievements. He died on 28 September 1903, leaving four sons and three daughters. His sons were Chee Tye Cheng (1860 – 1921), Chee Swee Cheng (1866 – 1935) and Chee Sim Cheng (1873). His family residence was at Heeren Street.

Cheang Jim Chuan 章壬全


Cheang Jim Chuan was born in 1878 in Singapore to Cheang Hong Lim. He inherited considerable amount of his father’s estate and became a millionaire at a very young age. Cheang Jim Chuan took minor interest in business affairs, but he was a member of the Singapore Opium and Liquor Farm. He married Chan Kim Hong (1876 – 1934) and had two sons and two daughters. His sons were Cheang Theam Chu and Cheang Theam Kee. Cheang Jim Chuan’s eldest son, Cheang Theam Chu married Khoo Giang Neo daughter of Khoo Heng Wan, his second son Cheang Theam Kee married Cheong Tuan Neo, second daughter of Cheong Keong Chye of Singapore on 1 July 1931. His eldest daughter was married to Dr Cheong Chee Hai, the eldest son of Cheong Choon Beng. Cheang Jim Chuan’s second daughter, Emily Cheang Seok Cheng was married to Woon Chow Tat, fifth son of Woon Hong Heng of Kuala Lumpur on 27 September 1930. Cheang Jim Chuan and family first lived at the family house at Havelock Road (in 1931 the house was sold to the Scheut Missions), his family then moved to several places including the Maidstone at 42 Cairnhill Road and lastly, the Riviera at 112 Pasir Panjang Road and 10 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore. Cheang Jim Chuan died in 1940.