Khoo Cheng Tiong



Khoo Cheng Tiong (邱正中) (b. 1820, Fujian China–d. 1896, Singapore), also known as Khoo Tock Xin (邱笃信), was a well-known rice merchant and the president of Thong Chai Medical Institution.1

Family name
A native of Chang Zhou Hai Deng (漳州海澄新垵), Khoo’s ancestors bore the surname 丘 (Khoo). At the beginning of the Qing dynasty, to avoid misfortunes predicted by the Chinese philosopher Kong Zi (also known as Confucius), Khoo changed his surname from the character 丘to 邱. Khoo was also known as Khoo Tock Xin (邱笃信) and went by the nickname Qin Zi (勤值).2


Business activities
When British trade in Malaya increased, many Chinese from Khoo’s native town Hai Deng Xin An (海澄新安) came to Singapore. Following suit, Khoo arrived in Singapore in 1840 at the age of 20.3 Having very little money, he worked hard. In 1850, he started a rice-trading firm at Boat Quay named Chop Heng Chun and gradually became the most famous rice merchant in Singapore. Khoo grew prosperous by specialising in rice imported from Saigon, Vietnam, where he owned rice mills. At the time of his death, he was worth over a million Straits Settlement dollars.4


Social contributions
Like many early Chinese migrants to Singapore who became wealthy businessmen, Khoo made many contributions to the Chinese community. He proposed the idea of setting up the Hokkien Clan Association and was widely regarded as one of the leaders of the Hokkien Clan. He played a pivotal role in the establishment of many temples, educational institutions and associations. He forged close ties with people from his native dialect group, one of the most prosperous and prominent groups in Singapore at the time, and was very influential as a leader of this group.5


He contributed money to as well as raised funds for the construction of the Thong Chai Medical Institution, a clinic that provided free medical services for the poor. He was also the president of the Thong Chai Medical Institution for some years.6

In 1871, he made monetary contributions to the establishment of the Singapore Railway Co. Ltd. In 1879, he donated $400 toward the renovation of Heng Shan Ting (恒山亭). In 1883, Khoo represented the Chinese community in the enactment of the Land Ownership Act. Four years later, he donated $600 to Chui Eng Public School (萃英书院).7 Khoo, together with Qiu Ba Zheng (邱八正), was also responsible for the management of the common cemetery for deceased bearing the surname Khoo (邱) and Chan (曾).8

Traditional beliefs
Having been born and raised in China, Khoo strongly believed in Chinese customs and traditions and inculcated these family, hometown and imperial values in his descendants. He had a wife as well as six concubines. He believed in the old style of education and hired a private tutor for his sons. To venerate his ancestors, he brought his son back to his hometown to sit for the imperial exams and glorify his clan. He also bought many official titles from the Qing government and conferred them on his ancestors posthumously.


Death
Khoo retired to his hometown at the age of 68. He returned to Singapore in 1895 to visit his ailing brother and died in 1896 at the age of 76. His ashes were brought back to his hometown by his son, Khoo Seok Wan (邱菽园).10


Family
Son:
Khoo Seok Wan, a well-known scholar and poet who started Tian Nan Press in 1898 and was the editor of the newspaper Sin Chew Jit Poh.11

Brother: Khoo Cheng Cheok.12



Author
Ong Chong Kai



References
1. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 33. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
2. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 33. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
3.  李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 33. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
4. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 33. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
[5. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 189. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
6. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 34. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
7. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 34. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
8. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 189. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
9. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 34. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
10. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 34. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
11. 李元瑾. [Li, Y]. (2001). 󠄆 《东西文化的撞击与新华知识分子的三种回应: 邱菽园、林文庆、宋旺相的比较研究》[Dong xi wen hua de zhuang ji yu xin hua zhi shi fen zi de san zhong hui ying: Qiu Shuyuan, Lin Wenqing, Song Wangxiang de bi jiao yan jiu]. 新加坡: 新加坡国立大学中文系, 八方文化企业, p. 42. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 305.552095957 LYJ)
12. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 73. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])



Further resources
邱新民 [Qiu, X]. (1991). 《新加坡先驱人物》[Xinjiapo xian qu ren wu]. 新加坡: 胜友书局.

(Call no.: Chinese YRSING 959.570099 QXM)

Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS])



The information in this article is valid as at 2008 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
Rice trade--Singapore
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
Khoo Cheng Tiong, 1820-1896
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services>>Retail and wholesale
Community leaders
Businessmen--Singapore--Biography