Lim Chwee Chian



Lim Chwee Chian (林推迁) (b. 21 January 1868, Haicheng, Fujian, China–d. 12 February 1923, Singapore) was a merchant and philanthropist. He was also a known leader of the Ngee Heng Kongsi, a Chinese secret society, in Singapore.1 Lim was probably one of the founders of the Ee Hoe Hean Club, and was active in social and community activities among the Chinese.2 The colonial government appointed him a justice of the peace in 1918, and a member of the Chinese Advisory Board in 1919.3

Early Life

Lim was born the fifth son to a family in Haicheng county in Fujian, China, and had six brothers.4 With little education, he came to Singapore in his youth to make a living as a bumboat worker.5

Career

Over time, Lim accumulated sufficient capital to establish the Swee Hong Seng Company, which provided shipping services between Singapore and the eastern coastal areas of the Malay Peninsula.6 He later expanded his business to include rubber planting, wolfram mining and sawmilling.7


With control of rich wolfram mines in Trengganu, Siam and China, Lim became known as the “Wolfram King of Malaya”. During World War I (1914–18), he was the main contractor supplying wolfram ore to the British government.8

When the Ho Hong Bank was established in 1917, Lim was appointed a member of its board of directors, which was chaired by Lim Peng Siang.9 Lim’s company Swee Hong Seng subsequently suffered a major setback after the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank served a loan recall around 1922.10

Community leadership
Lim headed Ngee Heng Kongsi, a Chinese secret society, with the rank of “red rod” – the highest post then in Singapore.11 Lim’s birthday fell on the first day of the Chinese New Year. Each year, he would pawn a chest box of his wife’s jewellery for $20,000 a few days before his birthday and distribute the money among members of his secret society. Then for the 15 days of Chinese New Year, Lim would hold banquets at Ee Hoe Hean Club and put up a street opera to celebrate his birthday. With the gratuities he received from guests at his birthday celebration, he would then redeem his wife’s jewellery on the fifth day of Chinese New Year.12


Lim became chairman of the Ee Hoe Hean Club before 1909, a post he held until his death in 1923.13 He was also a shareholder of Kwong Wah Yit Poh, a newspaper set up in 1910 in Penang to support the activities of Tongmenghui.14

Lim participated in the formation of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI) in 1906, and became one of the 40 members in its first Council Board.15 In that same year, he supported efforts to restore Thian Hock Kheng temple located at Telok Ayer. In addition, Lim was a member of the board of directors for the restoration of Siong Lim Temple (also known as Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery) in 1919.16 He had also served as a community leader in the Lim’s clan association known as Kiu Leong Tong, and chaired the board of Thong Chai Hospital.17

In 1912, Lim became a committee member of the Po Leung Kuk (which in Cantonese means “office to protect virtue”), an institution set up to prevent forced prostitution.18 In the following year, he was elected a council member of the Singapore branch and communications office of the China Republican Party.19 Then in 1918, the colonial government appointed him a justice of the peace, and a member of the Chinese Advisory Board in 1919.20

By the 1910s, Lim had become a prominent leader in the Hokkien community, and was elected vice-president and treasurer of the 13th Council of SCCCI in 1921.21 He was thereafter voted chairman of the 14th council, but died several weeks before he could assume office on 7 March 1923.22

Philanthropy
Lim contributed generously to famine relief in China and fund-raising efforts for Britain during World War I.23 He also supported educational efforts through donations and serving on the board of directors of various schools. The schools he had supported included Tao Nan School, Ai Tong School, Nanyang Girls’ High School, Chung Hwa Girls’ School and the Chinese High School in Singapore; and Chung Hwa Wei Sin School in Trengganu, Malaysia. He was elected chairman of the school boards of Ai Tong School and the Chinese High School in 1917 and 1922 respectively.24

Funeral

Lim’s funeral took place at his residence at Ann Siang Hill, and his body was temporarily laid at Kilburn Estate until it was removed for burial in China.25


The funeral was one of the largest seen at that time in Singapore.26 Out of respect for Lim, flags were flown at half-mast at SCCCI, the Chinese High School and Ai Tong School when his death was announced.27

Chwee Chian Road in Pasir Panjang today is named after him.28

Family

Lim had two wives, two daughters and four sons. His sons were Man Tay, Mah Poh, Mah Hong and Mah Seng.29




Author

Jane Wee



References
1. 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (188). 〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: A social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, pp. 18, 22. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS]); 彭松涛 [Peng, S. T.]. (1986).〈林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian]. In 黄溢华 (主编) [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).],《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊: 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club 90th anniversary commemorative book: 1895–1985] (pp. 45–48). 新加坡:大水牛出版机构, p. 48. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX); Death of towkay Lim Chwee Chian. (1923, February 13). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. 林孝胜 [Lin, X. S.]. (1986).〈怡和轩俱乐部史略 [Brief history of Ee Hoe Hean Club]. In 黄溢华 (主编) [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).],《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊:1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club 90th anniversary commemorative book: 1895–1985] (pp. 37–42). 新加坡:大水牛出版机构, p. 37. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX); 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988).〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: A social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In 《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, p. 20. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS])
3. Social and personal. (1918, January 5). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988).〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: A social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In 《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, p. 20. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS])
4. 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988). 〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: A social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In 《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, p. 20. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS])
5. 陈维龙 [Chen, W. L.]. (1977). 《东南亚华裔闻人传略》[A brief biography of famous Chinese in Southeast Asia]. 新加坡: 南洋学会, p. 36. (Call no.: Chinese RCLOS 920.059 CWL)
6. 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988). 〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: A social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, p. 19. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS])
7. 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988). 〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: A social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, pp. 19–20. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS])
8. Death of towkay Lim Chwee Chian. (1923, February 13). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. The Ho Hong Bank, Ltd. (1917, March 28). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. 陈维龙 [Chen, W. L.]. (1977). 《东南亚华裔闻人传略》[A brief biography of famous Chinese in Southeast Asia]. 新加坡: 南洋学会, p. 36. (Call no.: Chinese RCLOS 920.059 CWL)
11. 彭松涛 [Peng, S. T.]. (1986). 〈林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian]. In 黄溢华 (主编) [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).],《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊: 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club 90th anniversary commemorative book: 1895–1985] (pp. 45–48). 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 47. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
12. 彭松涛 [Peng, S. T.]. (1986). 〈林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian]. In 黄溢华 (主编) [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).],《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊: 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club 90th anniversary commemorative book: 1895–1985] (pp. 45–48). 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 46. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
13. 林孝胜 [Lin, X. S.]. (1986). 〈怡和轩俱乐部史略〉[Brief history of Ee Hoe Hean Club]. In 黄溢华 (主编) [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).],《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊:1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club 90th anniversary commemorative book: 1895–1985] (pp. 37–42). 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 37. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
14. 柯木林 (主编). [Ke, M. L. (Ed.).] (1995). 《新华历史人物列传》 [Who’s who in the Chinese community of Singapore]. 新加坡: 教育出版公司, p. 134. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.570092 WHO-[HIS]); Khoo, S. N. (2008). Sun Yat Sen in Penang. Penang, Malaysia: Areca Books, pp. 60–61. (Call no.: RSEA 951.08092 KHO)
15. 彭松涛 [Peng, S. T.]. (1986). 〈林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian]. In 黄溢华 (主编) [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).],《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊: 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club 90th anniversary commemorative book: 1895–1985] (pp. 45–48). 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 47. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
16. 柯木林 (主编). [Ke, M. L. (Ed.).] (1995). 《新华历史人物列传》[Who’s who in the Chinese community of Singapore]. 新加坡: 教育出版公司, p. 134. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.570092 WHO-[HIS])
17. 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988). 〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: A social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In 《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, p. 22. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS]); 柯木林 (主编). [Ke, M. L. (Ed.).] (1995). 《新华历史人物列传》[Who’s who in the Chinese community of Singapore]. 新加坡: 教育出版公司, p. 134. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.570092 WHO-[HIS])
18. 柯木林 (主编). [Ke, M. L. (Ed.).] (1995). 《新华历史人物列传》[Who’s who in the Chinese community of Singapore]. 新加坡: 教育出版公司, p. 134. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.570092 WHO-[HIS]); Liu, G. (1999). Singapore : A pictorial history 1819–2000. Singapore: Archipelago Press in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 LIU-[HIS])
19. 柯木林 (主编). [Ke, M. L. (Ed.).] (1995). 《新华历史人物列传》[Who’s who in the Chinese community of Singapore]. 新加坡: 教育出版公司, p. 134. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.570092 WHO-[HIS])
20. Social and personal. (1918, January 5). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988). 〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: A social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In 《陈嘉庚研究文集》 [Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, p. 20. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS])
21. 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988). 〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: a social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In 《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, p. 22. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS]); Untitled. (1921, March 5). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Untitled. (1923, February 8). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; 陈维龙 [Chen, W. L.]. (1977). 《东南亚华裔闻人传略》[A Brief biography of famous Chinese in Southeast Asia]. 新加坡: 南洋学会, p. 36. (Call no.: Chinese RCLOS 920.059 CWL)
23. China famine relief. (1920, October 19). The Straits Times, p. 10; Swatow relief fund. (1922, August 19). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 7; “Our day.” (1918, September 27). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. 杨进发 [Yang, J. F.]. (1988). 〈战前星华社会热心家 – 林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian: a social enthusiast in pre-war Singapore]. In 《陈嘉庚研究文集》[Collected papers on the studies of Tan Kah Kee] (pp. 18–23). 北京: 中国友谊出版公司, pp. 20–21. (Call no.: Chinese R CO 959.57020924 YCF-[HIS])
25. The late Mr. Lim Chwee Chian. (1923, February 26). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. The late Mr. Lim Chwee Chian. (1923, February 26). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Social and personal. (1923, February 14). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. 彭松涛 [Peng, S. T.]. (1986). 〈林推迁〉[Lim Chwee Chian]. In 黄溢华 (主编) [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).], 《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊: 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club 90th anniversary commemorative book: 1895–1985] (pp. 45–48). 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 48. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
29. Death of towkay Lim Chwee Chian. (1923, February 13). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; 〈闽商林推迁君噩耗续纪〉[Death of Hokkien Businessman Lim Chwee Chian – Continued]. (1923, February 14). 《新国民日报》, p. 6. Retrieved 2016, November 23 from NUS Chinese Library website: http://www.lib.nus.edu.sg/skm/reel13/scan_0633.pdf




The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Heritage and Culture
Ethnic Communities
Philanthropists--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
Merchants--Singapore--Biography
Community leaders
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Lim, Chwee Chian, 1864-1923