Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Khoo Hun Yeang 邱汉阳

Khoo Hun Yeang
Khoo Hun Yeang was born in Penang in 1860 to Khoo Thean Teik. His father was a prominent figure in Penang and Perak. Khoo Hun Yeang was educated in Penang and joined his father's business in coconut plantation in Province Wellesley.  He managed the business successfully for 10 years and returned to Penang to assist her father's interest in the Penang Opium and Spirit Farm in which he remained for another 6 years. 

Khoo Hun Yeang later commenced business on his own account in Penang under the firm chop Chin Lee & Co., trading in tin and general trades. In 1899 he joined the Singapore Opium and Spirit Farm, and was appointed managing director of the farm from 1902 until 1906. He relinquished his interest in the Singapore farm and went to Kuching to venture in the construction industry. 

Khoo Hun Yeang was the Vice-Chairman of the Penang Chinese Town Hall, a Board Member of the Kek Lok Si Temple and the Cheng Hoon Giam Temple (Snake Temple). The main street, Khoo Hun Yeang Road, in which he built in Kuching was named after him. He died in Medan in 1917 and was buried in Kampung Bahru, Penang, at his family burial ground. He was survived by a principal wife Ong Gek Chai (王玉钗), 8 sons, his two elder sons Khoo Siew Jin (b. 1884) and Khoo Siew Ghee were prominent merchants in Singapore.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Chan Chew Koon 曾秋坤

Baron Chan, FRCPCH, MBE
© Gary Lee; Universal Pictorial Press and Agency Ltd
Chan Chew Koon was the first Chinese Lord appointed to the House of Lords in Great Britain. Chan Chew Koon or Michael Chan was born on 6 March 1940 in Singapore. He was educated at Raffles Institution, Singapore and studied medicine at Guy's Hospital.

Michael first served as lecturer and pediatrician at the University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore). Shortly after his return to Singapore, in 1974 he continued his studies in Von Willebrand's disease (a study on the symptoms similar to hemophilia) under the supervision of Professor Roger Michael Hardisty at the University of London's Institute of Child Health. In 1976, Michael then posted as lecturer and pediatrician at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (University of Liverpool). He remained for almost 18 years before appointed as the director of Ethnic Health Unit in National Health Service. 

Michael was an active social activist concerning the rights of minorities in Great Britain. He was an advisor to the Secretary of State for the Home Department and a commissioner of Commission for Racial Equality, a non-departmental public organisation in the UK which aimed to solve racial discrimination and promote racial equality. Michael also held various important positions in the field of race relations in the UK, and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1991. 

In 2001, he was appointed member of the peerage and became Lord Chan of Oxton in the County of Merseyside. Michael married Irene Chee Wei Len in 1965 and has a son, Stephen Chan and daughter, Ruth Chan. He died on 21 January 2006. 

A Pictorial History of the Overseas Chinese: Song Ong Siang Chinese Portraits Collection

One Hundred Years' History of the Chinese in Singapore 
One of the highly sought after reference materials in Chinese studies in the Straits Settlements would be the classical One Hundred Years' History of the Chinese in Singapore compiled by Song Ong Siang (later Sir). This 602-page book was first published in 1923 by John Murray, London and later reprinted by the University Malaya Press (1967) and Oxford University Press (1984). 

The objective of the compilation is to document all influential Chinese in Singapore since its inception as a British Colony in 1819. Hundred of Chinese community leaders, merchants, politicians, etc. are discussed in an anecdotal flow beginning with the history of Singapore as a British Colony. The stories of the Singapore Chinese business interests and contributions to the development of early Singapore are embodied in this book. There are over 100 Chinese individual portraits and family photographs featured in this hard-bound book.

Below is a list of the individual portraits from the book. To retrieve the these photographs, kindly send me a request.
  1. Boey Ah Sam 
  2. Chan Kim Boon 
  3. Chan Sze Jin 
  4. Chan Sze Onn 
  5. Chao Kim Keat 
  6. Cheang Hong Lim 
  7. Cheong Ann Bee 
  8. Cheong Chun Tin 
  9. Cheong Swee Whatt 
  10. Chia Ann Siang 
  11. Chia Guan Eng 
  12. Chia Hood Theam 
  13. Ching Keng Lee 
  14. Chao Chuan Ghiok 
  15. Chao Giang Thye 
  16. Eu Tong Sen 
  17. Foo Teng Quee 
  18. Gan Eng Seng 
  19. Gaw Boon Chan 
  20. Goh Hood Keng 
  21. Goh Lai Hee 
  22. Hoo Ah Kay 
  23. Hoo Ah Yip 
  24. Hoo Keng Tuck 
  25. Kiong Chin Eng 
  26. Koh Eng Hoon 
  27. Koh San Hin 
  28. Kow Soon Kim 
  29. Kum Cheng Soo 
  30. Kung Tuan Cheng 
  31. K.Y. Doo 
  32. Lee Cheng Yan 
  33. Lee Choo Neo 
  34. Lee Choon Guan 
  35. Lee Hoon Leong 
  36. Lew Yuk Lin 
  37. Lim Boon Keng 
  38. Lim Chwee Leong 
  39. Lim Han Hoe 
  40. Lim Ho Puah 
  41. Lim Keng Kiat 
  42. Lim Koon Yang 
  43. Lim Kwee Eng 
  44. Lim Leack 
  45. Lim Nee Soon 
  46. Lim Peng Siang 
  47. Low Ah Jit 
  48. Low Boon Pin 
  49. Low Cheang Yee 
  50. Low Kway Soo 
  51. Low Peng Yam 
  52. Michael Seet 
  53. Ng Sing Phang 
  54. Oei Tiong Ham 
  55. Ong Ewe Hai 
  56. Ong Sam Leong 
  57. Ong Tek Lim 
  58. S.C. Yin 
  59. Seah Cheng Joo 
  60. Seah Chiam Yeow 
  61. Seah Eng Choe 
  62. Seah Eu Chin 
  63. Seah Liang Seah 
  64. Seow Poh Leng 
  65. Song Hoot Kiam 
  66. Song Ong Joo 
  67. Song Ong Siang 
  68. Song Tiang Kay 
  69. Tan Beng Gum 
  70. Tan Beng Swee 
  71. Tan Boon Chin 
  72. Tan Chay Yan 
  73. Tan Cheng Tuan 
  74. Tan Chin Hoon 
  75. Tan Choon Bock 
  76. Tan Jiak Kim 
  77. Tan Jiak Ngoh 
  78. Tan Keong Saik 
  79. Tan Kheam Hock 
  80. Tan Kim Ching 
  81. Tan Kim Wah 
  82. Tan Kong Wee 
  83. Tan Poh Neo 
  84. Tan Soo Bin 
  85. Tan Soo Guan 
  86. Tan Soo Jin 
  87. Tan Teck Guan 
  88. Tan Yeok Nee 
  89. Tan Yong Siak 
  90. Tay Geok Teat 
  91. Tay Ho Swee 
  92. Tay Sek Tin 
  93. Tchan Chun Fook 
  94. Teo Hoo Lye 
  95. Teo Lee 
  96. Teo Teow Peng 
  97. Thong Siong Lim 
  98. Wan Eng Kiat 
  99. Wee Ah Hood 
  100. Wee Bin 
  101. Wee Boon Teck 
  102. Wee Guat Kim 
  103. Wee Kim Yam 
  104. Wee Swee Teow 
  105. Wong Ah Fook 
  106. Wong Siew Qui 
  107. Wong Tuan Keng 
  108. Yeo Swee Hee 
  109. Yow Ngan Pan

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Lim Leack 林烈

Lim Leack



Lim Leack or Lim Liak was born in 1804 in China with ancestry in Jingli (鏡里). He migrated to Straits Settlements in 1825. In his early time he commenced general trading under the firm Chop Hiap Chin, in which engaged principally in tin and tapioca.

In 1824, Singapore was officially established as a British Crown Colony, eyeing on the business opportunity in the new colony, Lim Leack moved there and co-founded a well-known firm, Messrs. Leack, Chin Seng & Co. The company's early founders were Lim Leack and Tan Chin Seng (son of Tan Oh Lee). It was later joined by Chee Yam Chuan. The Messrs. Leack, Chin Seng & Co., supplied various Chinese food and stuffs to the early Chinese immigrants, and was then known in Singapore as the single largest importer of goods from China. In which, stood on par with Wee Bin & Co. and Yap Whatt & Co. The firm was located at No. 29 Market Street, Singapore. 

In 1851, in partnership with a prominent Straits Chinese merchant, Tan Chin Seng, they opened a branch of Leack, Chin Seng & Co. in Malacca engaged in  logistic and steamship. Apart from this, the firm in Malacca was also an exporter of tin and tapioca to China. However, in engaging the business in China, Leack, Chin Seng & Co., represented itself as a British trading company by raising the Union Jack in their vessels.

Lim Leack also had the interest in property investment, in 1828 he bought three land lots in Singapore. In 1855, he purchased a 9-acre land at Tiong Bahru from the British East India Company and left it for his descendants. The land was later claimed by the Singapore government for development in 1927.

Lim Leack's family was also known for their staunch support to Tengku Kudin during the civil war in Selangor (1867 - 1874). The relation between the Lim family with the local Malay elites is an exemplary of early social and political engagements of different ethnics in the then Malaya. However, this formation is mainly driven for the purpose of ensuring continuous economy monopolization. In which, the Lim family had the interest in tin mining concession in Selangor.   

When Lim Leack died on 22 August 1875 in Hong Kong, his eldest son Lim Tek Hee (also spelled as Lim Teck Ghee) took over his business interests and inherited a considerable amount of his wealth under the Estate of Lim Leack dated on 28 June 1863.

The contributions of Lim Leack towards the economy growth of early Singapore's foundation was considered invaluable. In 1941, Lim Liak Street in Tiong Bahru Estate, Singapore was named in honour of him. 

Wife:
1. Yeo Im Neo (d. 1887)

Sons:
1. Lim Teck Ghee (d. 1892) married Tan Poh Neo (1839 - 1910)
2. Lim Teck Whee (d. 1883) married Wee Watt Neo (1842-1924)
3. Lim Teck Chiang
4. Lim Tang Hun (adopted) married Wee Hoon Neo

Daughters:
1. Lim Lan Neo

Grandchildren:
1. Lim Chan Sin son of Lim Teck Whee
2. Lim Chan Siew (1877-1931) son of Lim Teck Whee

Great Grandchildren:
1. Lim Chin Chye (1896-1955) son of Lim Chan Siew
2. Lim Eng Chiang
3. Lim Eng Hock
4. Lim Eng Chye
5. Lim Ong Seng
6. Lim Teo Gek Neo

Great Great Grandchildren
1. Lim Bock Chwee


Revisions:
1st revision on 15 January 2013, with family information from Mr Lim Soon Hoe.
2nd revision on 23 January 2013 on Lim Leack's business sketch.
3rd revision on 18 August 2013 on the descendants. 

Note: This article is an ongoing research with S.H. Lim. The contents may be altered from time to time. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Khoo Cheng Lim 邱清林

Khoo Cheng Lim was born in 1808 in Fujian, China to Khoo Wat Seng. Khoo Wat Seng was among the early Chinese settlers in Penang and was the co-founders of the Khoo family clan temple, Ee Kok Tong in 1835 (later known as Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi). 

Khoo Cheng Lim who was Khoo Wat Seng's eldest son, was first married Lim Neo in China, in which he had two sons, Khoo Soo Chuan and Khoo Soo Teong. He later moved to Penang to join his father. In Penang, he married Koh Keng Yean (辜輕煙) daughter of Koh Kee Jin. The Koh family was a well established member in Penang and its patriarch Koh Lay Huan was the Kapitan of Penang. The marriage was arranged so as to increase the power of the Koh-Khoo families in the Straits Settlements.

Khoo Cheng Lim had four sons through Koh Keng Yean, and his youngest son, Khoo Cheow Teong was a Chinese Kapitan of Asahan, and was made a Justice of Peace by the British in Penang. Khoo Cheng Lim's youngest son through his principal wife in China, Khoo Soo Teong was born in 1883, he married Quah Neo in China and had four sons. His second son, Khoo Ban Seng later moved to Penang and worked for his uncle, Khoo Cheow Teong. Khoo Ban Seng married Yeoh Cheam Neo (d. 1939) and had a son, Khoo Ewe Aik. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

China and her Overseas People

The Chinese Consulates 

The formation of the Chinese Consulates in Singapore and Penang in 1877 and 1890 respectively, was primarily to serve as communication platform between the Chinese Government and the overseas Chinese. Apart from that, it was also the Chinese Government's initiative to gain support and loyalty from her wealthy overseas members. 

The office of the Vice-Consul functions in various aspects and capacities. The diplomatic rule of the Chinese Vice-Consul was based in demography and geography of British Malaya. For instance, the Penang branch engaged with the Chinese affairs in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kedah and Perlis. Whereas, the Singapore branch concerned in the area such as Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu. 

The primitive role of the Vice-Consul was also concerned in protecting the Chinese and their business interests. However, in the early 1900s, other Chinese organisations such as the Chinese Advisory Board (1890), Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Po Leung Kuk (1885) as well as other Chinese clan associations had surged in all major towns in the British Malaya, thus the importance of the Vice-Consul had apparently ceased.

In 1891, the Vice-Consul of Singapore was promoted to the rank of Consul General for Southeast Asia. And in 1933, a Chinese Consulate was established in Kuala Lumpur and dealt with the Chinese affairs in the Federated Malay States, the engagements were mostly in civil, commercial and political affairs. In subsequent to this newly formed Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, thus, the functions of the Consuls in Singapore and Penang were ceased. 

Although the function of the Chinese Consulate had relinquished many of its concerns. However, the issuance of visiting passports to the overseas Chinese still evident. These passports were permission granted to the overseas Chinese for returning to their home districts in China. In 1939, the Chinese Consul in Kuala Lumpur, Shih Shao-tseng made a new policy, by having the local Chinese associations to stand as witnesses to the applicants of passport.

List of Chinese Vice-Consuls in Penang
1890 - 1894 - Cheong Fatt Tze 張弼士 (Chang Pi-shih/Thio Tiauw Siat)
1894 - 1895 - Chang Yu Nan 張煜南 (Thio Chee Non/Chong Yit Nam/Chong Chee Non)
1895 - 1901 - Cheah Choon Seng 謝春生 (Tjia Tioen Sen)
1901 - 1907 - Leong Fee 梁輝 (Liang Pi-joo)
1907 - 1912 - Tye Kee Yoon 戴喜云 (Tai Hsin-jan)
1912 - 1930 - Tye Phey Yuen (Tai Shu-yuan)
1930 - 1931 - Yang Hsiao-tang 楊念祖
1931 - 1933 - Lu Tzu-chin 呂子勤
1933 - 1941 - Huan Yen-kai

In the first five appointed Chinese Vice-Consul in Penang, the office was held by the Hakka-origin Chinese with business interests in Southeast Asia. Most of these men were illiterate, and their connections were through family-link and business collaborations. Cheong Fatt Tze and Chang Yu Nan were cousins, and Cheah Choon Seng was a business partner with Cheong Fatt Tze, whereas Leong Fee was his son-in-law. Ironically, these leaders were not Straits Chinese or British subjects but Chinese from the Dutch East Indies and they were pro-Qing government's policies in China. Their representative in the Chinese Consulate could suggest unpopular and feudal, as most Straits Chinese were then received Western education and some had been influenced by Dr Sun Yat Sen's uprising movement against the Qing Government. In fact, there were already formed the silent community in resisting the Qing Government. Early pioneers such as Goh Say Eng, Ooi Kim Kheng, Loh Chong Huo were founders of Tongmenghui in Penang, which fight against the corrupted Qing Government.  On 17 August 1900, Tan Jiak Kim, Seah Liang Seah, Dr Lim Boon Keng and Song Ong Siang founded the Straits Chinese British Association in Singapore. Two months later, a similar branch was set up in Malacca. The Penang wing was established in 1920. This association was a pro-British movement led by the Hokkien-origin Chinese, many of their members held high government positions and recognized by the British as local Chinese leaders. They represented the Chinese in the Straits Settlements and British Malaya in the local Legislative Council and State Councils. Following with the fall of Qing Dynasty Government in 1912, the appointment of the Vice-Consul in Penang by the Republic of China were more selective-based in term of education and experience backgrounds. For instance,Yang Hsiao-tang was educated at the Kiangsu Provincial College in Suzhou and prior his appointment he had held various government positions in China. And Lu Tze-chin who acted for a short term was a capable young man graduated from the Peking Academy in 1922 and Nankai University, Tianjin in 1926. He was later appointed as the first Chinese Consul in Kuala Lumpur. 

NOTE: Yang Hsiao-tang was educated at the Kiangsu Provincial College in Suzhou born in Shanghai in 1890. He was educated at the Kiangsu Provincial College in Soochow. He joined the diplomatic service as a secretary in the Bureau of Foreign Affairs at Shanghai in 1911, and later became the chief secretary and director of the Land Office of the Bureau. In 1926, he was promoted Superintendent of Customs and concurrently Commissioner of Foreign Affairs at Nanking. He was appointed Chinese Consul-general at Penang in 1930 and transferred to Shanghai as Director of Shanghai Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1931. He was also in the Land Bureau of the City Government of Shanghai Municipality. 

Lu Tze-chin or Lu Tzu-chin was born in Hanyang, Hubei in 1904. He graduated from the Peking Academy in 1922 and Nankai University, Tientsin in 1926. In 1928 he passed the Diplomatic and Consular Service Examinations held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Lu Tze-chin had held the office of Chancellor of the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver, Canada (1929), Deputy Consul in Penang (1930), Deputy Consul in Singapore (1932), and acting Vice Consul in Penang (1933). 

Qing Dynasty Titles and Honours 

After the collapsed of the Ming Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty Government followed the Ming's ruling structure and system. The Emperor headed the six ministries (六部), each ministry was assisted by two chancellors (尚書) and four assistant-chancellors (侍郎). The only difference in the Qing's court is the ethnic classification. Each position in the Qing's court was filled by a Manchurian (the royal family member) and a Han Chinese official whom passed the state examinations. The Manchurian functions as an overseer to his Han Chinese counterpart in performing the duty. Despite the same ranking, both wore a different official attire. In which, the Manchurians will have a small round emblem on the robes and a square emblem for the Han officials. 

The Qing official attire design came with the identification of hierarchy known as the Mandarin Square (補子). This Mandarin Square distinguishes into the division of military and civilian with nine rankings (九品), each ranking has a unique emblem, the first class rank being the highest and the ninth class rank being the lowest. The Mandarin Square was first used during the Mongol rule in Yuan Dynasty, after the fall of the Yuan Dynasty, the Ming's court then adopted this official ranking system. In 1391, Emperor Hongwu decreed bird patterns on the squares should be restricted to civil officials, and animal patterns reserved for military officials. However, the Qing's court started to use this system in 1652, during the rule of Emperor Shunzhi. Below are the emblem patterns used in the division of military and civil officials: 

Military 
1. Qilin
2. Lion
3. Tiger - Leopard (after 1644)
4. Leopard - Tiger (after 1644)
5. Bear
6. Panther
7. Panther - Rhinoceros (after 1759) 
8. Rhinoceros
9. Sea Horse

Civilian 
1. Crane
2. Golden Pheasant
3. Peacock
4. Wild Goose
5. Silver Pheasant
6. Egret
7. Mandarin Duck
8. Quail
9. Paradise Flycatcher

The Mandarin square for the Han officials has two identical pieces, one for the chest and the other for the back, each measures 12 inches square. The Qing's official attire came in a set of dark robe, red floss-silk fringes headgear and beads. There are two type of headgear used according to the season. The summer headgear has a conical shape woven from strips of bamboo and edged with silk brocade and the winter headgear usually a black skull cap with upturned fur brim. There is also a peacock feather (hua ling) attached on the headgear, this plume is a special distinction conferred by the Emperor. A single-eye plume was conferred upon nobles and officials down to the sixth class official. On the top of the headgear there is a knob that identifies the ranking of the official. The colours of the knob also distinguish the ranks, as show in the following: 

1. Royalty and Nobility wore numerous pearls 
2. First class official = red ball (originally a ruby)
3. Second class official = solid red ball (originally coral)
4. Third class official = translucent blue ball (originally sapphire)
5. Fourth class official = solid blue ball
6. Fifth class official = translucent white ball (originally crystal)
7. Sixth class official = solid white ball (originally mother of pearl)
8. Seventh to Ninth class official = gold or clear amber balls of various designs

In the mid 19th and early 20th centuries, the Qing's court offered numerous official titles and honours to the wealthy overseas Chinese, this honour was known by the Europeans as Mandarin of the Blue Cotton. This was for the purpose in exchange of lucrative donations and investments to fund the government's expenditure in solving famine, natural catastrophe and major infrastructure investments (such as railways, factories, mining and banking). By then, many overseas Chinese had built considerable wealth and their purchase of these honorific titles was merely to enhance their social status. Most of the wealthy Chinese merchants purchased these titles under the category of Honorary, and had no absolute ruling power as of those officials in the same rank who had passed the state examinations in China.

For instance, Khoo Seok Wan (Singapore) received his Juren 举人 title in 1894 and Chan Yap Thong  (Perak) received his Xiucai 秀才 title, both lads had passed the provincial examinations in China. Unlike Cheang Hong Lim (Dao Yuan degree 道員) who had purchased numerous titles for his family in 1869 (including for his ancestors and his 11 sons), his father Cheong Sam Teow was given the title Jin Shi (进士), the highest scholar title. In between 1877 until 1912, there were 295 holders of Qing honour titles and ranks, of this figure, 5 obtained through the imperial examinations. These titles include civilian titles from First grade Guang Lu Da Fu to the lowest Ninth Grade Deng Shi Zuo Lang as listed below:

Qing's Court Civilian Degrees 
1st Class Official = Guanglu Dafu 光祿大夫
2nd Class Official = Jinshi Chushen 进士出身
3rd Class Official = Tong Jinshi Chushen 同进士出身
4th Class Official = Zhong Xian Dafu 中憲大夫
5th Class Official = Fengzheng Dafu 奉政大夫
6th Class Official = Chengde Lang 承德郎
7th Class Official = Zheng Shilang 征仕郎
8th Class Official = Xiuzhi Zuolang 修職佐郎
9th Class Official = Dengshi Zuolang 登仕佐郎


Cheng Hong Kok 清芳阁 in 1897, it was an elite merchants' club. Some of its members had purchased the Qing honours and showed off their mandarin robes.

Chinese community in Singapore presented the Queen Victoria statue to Sir Cecil Smith in 1889

Khoo Cheng Teow in his Mandarin attire

Low Kim Pong 劉金榜

Foo Choo Choon, 3rd Class Rank Civilian Official

Mei Quong Tat, 4th Class Rank Civilian Official in 1894
(Courtesy: State Library of Victoria)


References
  1. Khoo, S.N. (2008). Sun Yat Sen in Penang. Penang: Areca Books. page 22 - 23
  2. Tan, K.H. (2007). The Chinese in Penang: A Pictorial History. Penang: Areca Books. page 122
  3. Song, O.S. (1923). One Hundred Years' History of the Chinese in Singapore. London: John Murray
  4. Ramsay, C. (2007). Days Gone by: Growing Up in Penang. Penang: Areca Books. page 23
  5. The Straits Times, 4 October 1933, Page 12
  6. Ministry of Interior National Government of China. (1936). Who's Who in China: Biographies of Chinese Leaders 5th Edition. Shanghai: The China Weekly Review. page 181, 269 - 270
  7. Reynolds, D.R. (1995). China, 1895-1912 State Sponsored Reforms and China's Late-Qing Revolution, 28(3-4)
  8. Yen, C.H. (Sept. 1970). Ch'ing's Sale of Honours and the Chinese Leadership in Singapore and Malaya (1877-1912). Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 20-32

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Kao Kuen 高錕

Sir Charles Kao
KBE, GBM (Hong Kong), PhD (London) 

Kao Kuen or Charles Kao was born on 4 November 1933 in Shanghai to Kao Chun-hsiang 高君湘, a Professor of Law at Soochow University. Charles' grandfather, Kao Sit 高燮 was a notable Chinese scholar. In 1959, Charles married Wong May Wan 黄美芸 in London, and has a son and a daughter. Charles is belonged to a well-educated family, his brother, Kao Wu 高鋙 or Timothy Kao was a Professor Emeritus in Civil Engineering at the Catholic University of America. And his uncle, Kao Ping-tse 高平子 was a notable astronomer, Kao Crater on the moon was named after him.  

Charles received his early education at home, studying Chinese classics together with his brother. He also attended an international school in Shanghai, and studied French and English. In 1948, his family migrated to Hong Kong, and Charles was enrolled to St. Joseph's College and completed his study in 1952. He then furthers his study at Woolwich Polytechnic and obtained a degree in electrical engineering. 

In 1965 he completed his doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University College London under the supervision of Professor Harold Barlow. He was then an engineer for the Standard Telephones & Cables working as a researcher at the Standard Telecommunication Laboratories in Harlow.  It was during this time, he developed the transmission of light in fibre optic in telecommunications and was notably honoured with the Noble Prize in Physics in 2009. Today he is known in the modern science as the Father of Fiber Optic Communications.

In 1996, he endowed a research grant to the Yale University and founded the Charles Kao Fund Research Grant. Since early 2004, Charles suffered Alzheimer's disease and  has difficulty to talk. He is currently living with his children and grandchildren at Mountain View, California.

During his early time, Charles was awarded numerous accolades in recognition for his work and has received at least 17 honorary degrees  from the universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Italy. He also held various positions in public and private organisations, and was most notable for being honoured to be a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in the United States.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Khoo Siew Jin 邱瑞仁

Khoo Siew Jin

Khoo Siew Jin was born in 1884 in Penang to Khoo Hun Yeang. He was known as a young-business achiever. Khoo Siew Jin was first received Chinese education in Penang, and when his parents moved to Singapore in 1898 he enrolled to the Anglo Chinese School. After he finished his four-year studies in ACS, he went to Kuching, Sarawak and worked as an assistant in the Opium, Spirit & Gambling Farms, in which his father had the interest. Within two years’ time, he was promoted to General Manager of the Sawarak General Farm, a post in which he held for three years before commenced his own government farm. In partnership with his cousin, Khoo Sian Tan, they founded the Ban Hoe Kongsi in Rhio and Ban Lee Kongsi in Karimon, respectively. Both lads were well-known as strong tenderer for the Johore Opium & Sprit Farms on 3 November 1906. However shortly after that, the $90,000 worth contract was in dispute when they alleged the Johore Government had breached the contract. At a very young age, Khoo Siew Jin had built a considerable wealth, his property were distributed in Penang, Singapore and Sarawak. He was a member in the Sarawak Merchants’ Club, Honorary Secretary of the Penang Chinese Union and many other positions. Khoo Siew Jin married a daughter of Quah Mah Tek of Penang and had one son, Khoo Seng Kay (d. 20 November 1925). Khoo Siew Jin was belonged to an illustrious family, his grandfather Khoo Thean Tek was a well-known figure in the Straits Settlements, however, Khoo Siew Jin and his family remained a very low profile in public affairs.