Wee Bin



Wee Bin (b. 1823, Fujian, China–d. 1868, Singapore) was an early Singapore Chinese businessman with a prominent career as a merchant and shipowner.1

Career
Wee ran a prominent trading and shipping business during the 1860s. His company, Wee Bin & Co., which was located on Market Street, started off by establishing relations with businesses in Bali in the Dutch East Indies. It soon became the greatest importer of Balinese products.2 The business also included trading in earthenware as well as the manufacture of sago.3 Over the years, it built up a fleet of over 20 vessels serving the Chinese and Dutch Indies trade.4 Wee’s company was in general a sign of a visible trend in Singapore towards the latter half of the 19th century, in which a large number of Chinese merchants, majority of Hokkien descent, became successful shipowners.5 In a survey conducted in 1866, 56 out of 178 vessels registered in Singapore belonged to the Chinese.6

Besides Wee Bin & Co., Wee also had a short-lived partnership with his brother-in-law, Kiong Seok Wee. Together with Wee Leong Hin, they set up Joo Chin & Co. and a ship chandler company, chop Aik Ho.7

Wee died in 1868 at the age of 45, after devoting much of his time to his rapidly expanding business. Following his death, his company continued to flourish under his son, Wee Boon Teck, and later under Boon Teck’s son, Wee Siang Tat.8 By the end of the 19th century, Wee Bin & Co. had grown to become one of the largest Chinese shipping firms in Singapore.9 This could be gleaned from G. M. Reith’s description of a scene at the Singapore harbour in the late 19th century:10

The S. S. Teresa ... is a neat little vessel of 753 tons, belonging to the well-known firm of Messrs. Wee Bin & Co., whose familiar blue flag with the red cross is to be seen flying from the mastheads of quite a fleet of coasting steamers in the harbour.

Family
Wee was married twice.11 One of his wives was the daughter of the well-known merchant Kiong Kong Tuan.12 He had only one son, Boon Teck, and a daughter, who became the wife of Lim Ho Puah. Boon Teck’s son, Siang Tat, died at a young age, and the ultimate heir to Wee’s company was Lim’s son, Peng Siang, who would eventually buy up Wee Bin & Co. when it was finally liquidated in 1911.13



Author
Hee En Ming




References
1. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 114–115. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS]); Song, O. S. (2016). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore: The annotated edition [First published 1923; annotated by Kevin Y.L. Tan]. Singapore: National Library Board, p. 168. Retrieved from BookSG.
2. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 114. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])
3. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 114. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS]); Huff, W. G. (1994). The economicgrowth of Singapore: Trade and development in the twentieth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 65. (Call no.: RSING 338.959570094 HUF)
4. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 114. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])
5. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 119. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS]); Huff, W. G. (1994). The economic growth of Singapore: Trade and development in the twentieth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 65. (Call no.: RSING 338.959570094 HUF); Trocki, C. A. (2006). Singapore: Wealth, power and the culture of control. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, p. 17 (RSING 959.5705 TRO-[HIS])
6. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 119. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])
7. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 39. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])
8. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 114–115. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])
9. Cushman, J. W. (1991). Family and state: The formation of a Sino-Thai tin mining dynasty, 1797–1932. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 338.2745309593 CUS)
10. Reith, G. M. (1897). A padre in partibus: Being notes and impressions of a brief holiday tour through Java, the Eastern Archipelago and Siam [Microfilm no.: NL 5829]. Singapore: The Singapore and Straits Printing Office, p. 3.
11. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 115. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])
12. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 39. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])
13. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years’ history of the Chinese in Singapore. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 115. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 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
Trade and industry
Commerce and Industry
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services>>Transportation and logistics
Wee, Bin, 1823-1868
Businessmen--Singapore--Biography