Lim Peng Siang

Lim Peng Siang or Lin Bingxiang (b. 1872, Fujian, China d. 1944, Singapore) was a Chinese merchant who contributed significantly to the economic and social developments of Singapore in the early 1900s. Lim was a prominent leader in the Chinese community and held key positions in a number of public and private companies. He was the founder of the Ho Hong Co., and a co-founder of the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC). Lim was appointed president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SCCC), and served as director for the Central Engine Works Ltd. and the Central Motors Ltd. Lim was also a long-standing member of the Chinese Advisory Board and the Hong Kong Fujian Chamber of Commerce. For his contributions and service to the public, Lim was made a Justice of the Peace.

Early Life
Born in Amoy, Fujian in 1872, Lim was the eldest son of industrialist, Lim Ho Puah. His maternal grandfather was Wee Bin, the founder of Wee Bin & Co., an enterprise in Singapore famous for its import of products from the Chinese and Dutch Indies trades.

Lim was given a Chinese education when he was in China. After arriving in Singapore however, he received an English education through private tuition. He was a student at the St. Joseph's Institution for only a year. Thereafter, Lim joined Wee Bin & Co., which was then managed by his father. In subsequent years, Lim expanded the family business significantly.

Commercial Enterprises
Shortly after joining his father in Wee Bin & Co., Lim founded the firm of Ho Hong Co. in 1904 with a modest capital. The firm's diversified business interests included banking, shipping, oil, rice and cement. Some of the companies listed under the Ho Hong conglomerate included the Ho Hong Steamship Co. Ltd., the Ho Hong Oil Mills Ltd., the Ho Hong Parboiled Rice Mill, and the Ho Hong Portland Cement Works Ltd.

Lim's banking firms included the Chinese Commercial Bank and the Ho Hong Bank. The former he established in 1912, together with Lee Choon Guan, Lim Boon Keng and others from the Singapore merchant community. The latter, established in 1917, was in partnership with Lim Boon Keng and Seow Poh Leng amongst others. In 1932, the two banks merged with the Overseas-Chinese Bank to form the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation (now known as OCBC Bank).

Lim was a prominent leader in the Chinese business community in Singapore and well-respected by the local community. He was actively involved in the formation of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and held the position of President from 1913 - 1916, except for 1914 when he was Vice-President. He was a long-standing member of the Chinese Advisory Board, and an honourable chairperson of the Hong Kong Fujian Chamber of Commerce between 1930 and 1941. He was also director for a number of public companies, including the Central Engine Works Ltd. and the Central Motors Ltd.

Community Service and Patriotism
Lim's business ventures contributed significantly to the economic and social growth of Singapore. His large enterprise created jobs for thousands of people, and encouraged thousands more to migrate to the Straits Settlements in search of better opportunities. Commendably, Lim also gave generously of his time and money to better the lives of the less fortunate in Singapore.

As a philanthropist, Lim was mindful of the important role played by education in the growth and development of Singapore's posterity. In 1902, following Sir Walter John Napier's parliamentary motion for a better and more efficient secondary education in Singapore, Lim, along with others like Tan Soo Guan, donated S$60,000 as funds for future scholarships.

On 21 August 1915, Lim and Lee Choon Guan donated a battle plane (Malaya No. 6, also known as the "Choon Guan Peng Siang") in support of the British army in the First World War. At the same time, Lim also worked hard to raise money for the war through various fund-raising avenues. For his contributions and service to the public, Lim was made a Justice of the Peace.

Maternal grandfather: Wee Bin.
Born in China in 1823, Wee Bin travelled to Singapore and started the trading firm, Wee Bin & Co., which grew to become a profitable enterprise by the time Lim took over it. Wee Bin was married twice and died at the age of 45, leaving behind a son and a daughter, who became the wife of Lim Ho Puah.

Father: Lim Ho Puah.
Born in Amoy, China, in 1841, Lim Ho Puah came to Singapore at an early age and worked in Wee Bin & Co. His business acumen was favourably noted by Wee Bin, who then married his daughter to him. Lim Ho Puah was interested in local public affairs, and was at one time a director of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Co. He also served as a member of the Chinese Advisory Board. He died in February 1913 at the age of 72.

Brother: Lim Peng Mao

Wong Hongyi

Huff, W. G. (1994) The economic growth of Singapore: Trade and Development in the twentieth century (p. 233). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 338.9595700904 HUF)

Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE)

Moore, D. (1969). The first 150 years of Singapore (p. 94-8). Singapore: Donald Moore Press.
(Call no.: R 959.57 MOO)

Song O. S. (1985).  One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore (p. 114-117, 331, 518). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON)

Turnbull, C. M. (1989). A History of Singapore: 1819-1988 (p. 245-7). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)

Yong, C. F. (1992) Chinese leadership and power in colonial Singapore (p. 29, 58, 63-4, 70-3, 87). Singapore: Times Academic Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5702 YON)

Further Readings
Mulliner, K. (1991). Historical Dictionary of Singapore. Metuchen, NJ. : Scarecrow Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57003 MUL)

Pan, L. (Ed.) (1998). The encyclopedia of the Chinese overseas. Singapore: Landmark Books & Archipelago Press: Chinese Heritage Center.
(Call no.: RSING 304.80951 ENC)

Tyers, R. K. (1976). Singapore, then & now. Singapore: University Education Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE) 

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.

Community leaders
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Lim Peng Siang, 1872-1944

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