LKY’s Relations to Opium Trade

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Thanks to some netizens for fact-checking, etc.

Verification, excerpts, and additional info below.

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1) VERIFICATION (STARTING from KWA GEOK CHOO / MRS. LKY)

1. Kwa Geok Choo’s uncle-in-law is Tan Chin Tuan, whose nephew is Tony Tan.

Kwa Geok Choo’s mother was Wee Yew Neo. Wee Yew Neo’s father was Wee Theam Seng, the oldest Straits Chinese Christian and Manager of Chinese Commercial Bank.

2. Wee Theam Seng had a brother called Wee Theam Tew (a graduate of Raffles Institution and later a solicitor, who went to China in 1904 and served as the secretary of Prince Su, the military governor of Peking and Minister to the Emperor).

3. From Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources:

Wee Theam Tew, one of the leading Chinese legal practitioners of Singapore, comes of a family who have resided in the Straits Settlements for three generations. His grandfather, Mr. Wee Theam Soo, came from China as a literary graduate, and, together with Dr. Lim Boon Keng’s father and Mr. Cheng Hong Lim’s father, to whom reference is made on another page, acquired the first opium farm in the colony.

4. Lee Kuan Yew’s father, Lee Chin Koon,  was a storekeeper and depot manager for the Shell Oil Company. Lee Chin Koon’s father was Lee Hoon Leong. Hoon Leong worked with the Heap Eng Moh shipping line for tycoon Oei Tiong Ham. He rose in Oei’s estimation, until he was afforded power of attorney over the tycoon’s assets in Singapore.

5. Oei Tiong Ham was the wealthiest man of his era in the Dutch East Indies, and he made a fortune as an opium revenue farmer (opium farms were only part of his commercial empire).

Oei’s vast fortune amounted to 200 million guilders at his death and he lived in a large house in Semarang resembling a fairytale palace. There were no less than 40 servants and huge banquets specializing in different cuisines were given.

  • NOTE: The surnames Wee and Oei are part of the Huang Surname Clan (which puts “Wee Theam Soo” and “Oei Tiong Ham” in the same clan).

6. Oei Tiong Ham had 8 official wives who bore him 13 daughters and 13 sons (plus 18 concubines with a total of 42 children). His son, Oei Tjong Tiong, married Lim Chit Geck, the daughter of Lim Nee Soon.

7. Lim Nee Soon was one of the pioneers of rubber planting. His big investments in the pineapple industry won him the nickname “Pineapple King.” He was a generous charitable benefactor with a keen interest in social and community matters, and one of the most influential businessmen of the day.

Lim Nee Soon was a leading member of the Teochew clan association Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan.

On the formation of Huay Kuan association:

. . .The Kongsi’s accounts were kept private by the Seah family, and undisclosed even to other members. In 1929, a rival Teochew faction led by Lim Nee Soon founded a new association known as the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan (潮州八邑会馆). The Huay Kuan mounted a lawsuit against the Seah family, alleging that the latter monopolised Kongsi affairs.

Lim Nee Soon was also a close friend of Dr Sun Yat Sen.

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Special guests MP Mr Teo Ser Luck and Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean at the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan Anniversary Dinner.

8. When Lim Nee Soon was eight years old, he was left in the care of his maternal grandfather, Teo Lee.

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“Teo Lee is the great-great-grandfather of Teo Chee Hean, DPM of Singapore.” Source: Teo Lee Family

Teo Lee’s descendant is Teo Chee Hean, who is the cousin of Ivy Lim Seok Cheng. Ivy Lim’s spouse is Kwa Soon Chuan, the brother of Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. LKY / “The Dragon Lady“).

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2) EXCERPTS ON OPIUM TRADE

Some excerpts on the history of opium trade in the region.

a) Over time, Tan [Seng Poh] rose through the ranks of Singaporean Chinese society to become a Justice of the Peace, an Honorary Magistrate, a Municipal Councillor as well as a wealthy opium farmer.

After 1870, syndicates of Straits Chinese controlling the lucrative opium farms extended their involvement in the trade beyond Singapore to Bangkok, Saigon, and Shanghai.

Source: Asia Research Institute — Transcultural Diaspora: The Straits Chinese in Singapore, 1819-1918 (PDF Download)

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b) One Chinese witness (Mr. Koh Seang Tat) says that he has never known of heard of an opium consumer breaking himself of the habit, and this view is supported by one medical man.
(Appendix 151)

Opium is commonly smoked by the Chinese in this colony, especially by the lower classes, artisans, and coolies.
(Appendix 165)

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Singapore, view inside opium den, 1941. Photographer: Harrison Forman.

Opium consumption is considered as a great vice by our Chinese. The habit of opium consumption in many cases reduces the habitués to extreme poverty and eventually to a stealthy and dishonest life.
— Chan-U-Pai, Director of the Po Leung Kuk, Hong Kong (Apendix 204)

Source: First Report of the Royal Commission on Opium, 1894

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c) Coolies were given to opium inhaling to relieve their tired bodies of its soreness and to gambling in an attempt to escape from their misery. The whites and wealthy Chinese employed the coolies mainly because of their willingness to work hard for little money.

Source: Blog to Express

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d) “. . .that most debasing and pernicious drug, opium, in combination with the Chinese secret societies of which spring many of those daring outrages and robberies that disgrace our settlements.”  (Pg-449)

In 1910 in Singapore, the development from opium farming to Opiumregie, like elsewhere, was completed by the opening of a modern opium factory. Once the mechanization of opium production and distribution was a fact, mass addiction could be realized. (Pg-453)

It is well described by Trocki:

“Most important was the expansion of the global market communicated to Singapore through the major trades: opium, capital, and manufactures from India and the West. In addition to redirecting the commodity flows to the West, the shift created a vast demographic eruption. It was as if the current of wealth flowing out of China began to pull with it the Chinese peoples themselves. Singapore came into being as a result of these global forces.”

Opium played in this global shift the most crucial role. Singapore’s opium scene in the 19th-century is, therefore, much more important than only in a local or regional context.

Officially, nearly half of all revenues of the British was earned by opium. It cannot demonstrate how much private or individual British officials, military men or bankers earned. Indirectly, it also suggests how much a very few super-wealthy people (Chinese) pocketed as their share of the opium rents in this century.

Source: History of the Opium Problem: The Assault on the East, ca. 1600 – 1950 (BRILL)

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e) Chan Wing was a man of principle and did not invest in sinful businesses like opium dens, tax-farming and slave trading.

Source: Insider’s Kuala Lumpur (3rd Edn)

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f) In 1879, Banhap, together with Cheang Hong Lim (one of the trio of Singapore opium farmers who made up the “Great Syndicate”) launged a daring attempt to seize control of the entire Asian opium trade.

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Cheang Hong Lim 章芳琳 (1841-1893). Source: RL

When Banhap and Cheang Hong Lim acquired the Hong Kong opium farm, it was not simply an attempt to extend their control over yet another colonial port. The Wo Hang and Yan Wo, the two major opium syndicates in Hong Kong, also controlled the coolie trade of Hong Kong. . .the two firms also sold prepared opium to Chinese immigrants. . .The goal of Banhap and Cheang was to take control of this trade in prepared opium which would have been worth about $3.5 to $4 million per year.

They were among the wealthiest men in Asia at the time and were linked to a vast network of kin, business associates, clansmen, and dependents.

Source: Connecting Seas and Connected Ocean Rims (BRILL)

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g) The Singapore opium farmer simply purchased his supplies on the open market in Singapore. He processed the opium into chandu and distributed it to local opium shops for retail consumption by the population of Chinese coolies.

As a group, it is clear that the farmers were among the most influential and “respectable” of Singapore’s Chinese. They were also economic leaders and were deeply involved in the papper and gambier economy of Singapore and the surrounding territories. These plantations were the major employers of the Chinese coolies who were the major consumers of opium. It is also probable [that] the farmers were intimately connected to the Chinese secret societies of Singapore.

Source: The Rise of Singapore’s Great Opium Syndicate, 1840-86 (Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Department of History, NUS)

3) ADDITIONAL INFO

1. This photo album has some Singapore opium photos (uploaded by Julia Di Lorenzo).

opium_album

2. This chart shows the intermarriages between Straits Chinese Banking Families in Singapore. Done by Roy Ngerng (originally posted on his blog, TheHeartTruths).

Wee Theam Seng (Mrs. LKY’s grandfather + senior OCBC banker on the right side of the opium image) is circled in this image.

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3. This post takes a look at the close historical ties between the Singapore government and Burmese military junta.

PAP: Royal Bloodline (Combined Family Tree)

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Verification and some excerpts on “the aristocracy” below.

Presented in 4 sections:

1. Combined PAP Family Tree (image)
2. Excerpts on Meritocracy / Aristocracy
3. Verification (text + links)
4. Additional Info

P.S. Thanks to some hardworking netizens for help with research and fact-checking. Above image of LKY from Facebook.

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2. EXCERPTS on MERITOCRACY / ARISTOCRACY:

1. “Meritocracy means a country picks its best citizens, not the relatives of the ruling class, to run a country.”
— Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (2015)

2. “Without a natural aristocracy. . .society will lose out.”
— Lee Hsien Loong, 2015

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Group photo of founding of OCBC. FRONT ROW: Tan Chin Tuan (Tony Tan’s uncle) is fourth from left. BACK ROW: Kwa Siew Tee (Mrs. LKY’s father) is third from left. Source: NAS / Veritas

3. OCBC has been described as a “clan bank” with “familial ties between the bank’s directors and close networking.”
— The Star, 2011

4. “It is all but impossible to distinguish between legitimate and ill-gotten gains because there is no public disclosure of the wealth of officials and their relatives. Conflict-of-interest laws are weak or nonexistent. The business dealings of the political elite are heavily censored in the state-controlled news media.”
— ‘Princelings’ in China (NYT)

5. The networks of hundreds of GLCs that are popularly referred to as Singapore Inc are not just vehicles for the conduct of business. Collectively they provide an extensive and almost inescapable vehicle of elite patronage and power.

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Chan Heng Chee (left), former political critic, and Lee Kuan Yew during LKY’s visit to the U.S. in 2000.

There have been scholars who have been critical of the government in their youth, but by the time they have arrived in government, they have always transformed themselves into models of elite solidarity.
— Michael Barr, The Ruling Elite of Singapore

6. It makes it a lot easier to understand Singapore if you [begin] from the premise that it is a Chinese family business, complete with a patriarch, an eldest son, guanxi networks and questions of cross-generational continuity.
— Michael Barr, The Ruling Elite of Singapore

7. Guanxi refers to the benefits gained from social connections and usually extends from extended family, school friends, workmates and members of common clubs or organizations. It is customary for Chinese people to cultivate an intricate web of guanxi relationships, which may expand in a huge number of directions, and includes lifelong relationships. The more you ask of someone the more you owe them. Guanxi can perpetuate a never-ending cycle of favors.
— Wikipedia (Guanxi)

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Chua Kim Teng (LKY’s maternal grandfather – centre row, 4th from left), Leong Ah Soon (centre row, 4th from right) Lee Kuan Yew’s mother Chua Jim Neo (centre row, 2nd from left), and her brother Chua Kheng Hoe (last row, second from left) was also related by marriage to Lee family (Family Photo from Lee Suan Yew)

8. “Family ties develop and strengthen over generations through family, clan, or tribal group activities and ceremonies. This family network can be a source of prestige as well as socioeconomic and political sucess.”
— Encyclopedia of Social Networks (SAGE)

9. “Fundamental change to the political regime will have to await Lee Kuan Yew’s demise. . .any legitimacy that Lee has secured through his personal authority will likely pass with him.”
— Cho Oon Khong, 1995

10. “It may not be imperative for us to know the family history of all the faces that appear in Singapore Tatler. But Singaporeans should at least know more about the roots of those who hold this country’s destiny in their hands.”
— Tan Sai Siong (Straits Times)

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11. “Cling to people you can trust — your family, your clan.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 1984 National Day Rally (video below)

[youtube.com/watch?v=3ofjSBGmOcY&w=420&h=315;feature=youtu.be&t=10m30s]

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3. VERIFICATION (PAP COMBINED FAMILY TREE)

1. Verification for the right side of the image can be found on this post, re: how Tony Tan is related to PM Lee Hsien Loong.

2. Wee Kim Wee’s mother was Chua Hay Luan. Chua Hay Luan is the sister of Chua Kim Teng (father of Chua Jim Neo, LKY’s mother). Mr. Wee addressed Chua Jim Neo as “cousin” in the preface of a book published in the mid-70s. The preface was mysteriously removed from later publications.

3. This post has some text and links on how Teo Chee Hean is related to PM LHL.

In a 2006 Sunday Times article, Teo Chee Hean paid tribute to Tan Chin Tuan by saying:

‘I remember [TAN Chin Tuan] because he was very kind to my father (Teo Cheng Guan). After the war, he gave my father a job at OCBC and my father worked with him for many years. He was always very kind to our family.’

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Newspaper article about Teo Chee Hean’s great-granduncle.

  • READER TIP: Newspaper article about Teo Chee Hean’s family (mostly about Teo Eng Hock, Teo Chee Hean’s great-granduncle). The man on the right is Teo Chee Hean’s father. The woman in the centre with black cheongsam is Teo Chee Hean’s mother (Mrs. Teo Cheng Guan, or Madam TAN Suang). 张志贤 is Teo Chee Hean’s Chinese name.

4. On Teo Chee Hean’s link to Ivy Lim (sister-in-law of Kwa Geok Choo / Mrs. LKY): Teo Chee Hean’s father and Lim Chong Pang are the same generation. Teo Chee Hean and Ivy Lim Seok Cheng (Lim Chong Pang’s daughter) are the same generation. So they would address each other as 表姐, 表弟. In English, “cousin.” The link is through Teo Chee Hean’s great grand aunt (Teo Choon Lian) and Ivy Lim’s great grandfather (Lim Peng Nguan; spouse of Teo Choon Lian).

5. On Lim Kim San: Lim Chong Pang’s father was Lim Nee Soon. Lim Nee Soon’s daughter, Lim Mui Gek, married Tan Huck Khong. Tan Huck Khong’s uncle is Tan Chong Teck. Tan Chong Teck’s grandson is Pang Kim Hin — Tan Chong Teck’s eldest daughter, Tan Poey Quee, married Pang Leong Chwee and is the mother of Pang Kim Hin (married to Chew Kheng Imm). Pang Leong Chwee’s sister, Pang Gek Kim, is the wife of Lim Kim San. Thus Lim Kim San is the uncle of Pang Kim Hin.

6. On Goh Keng Swee: Lim Chong Pang’s father-in-law was Lee Choon Guan. Lee Choon Guan’s father-in-law was Tan Keong Saik. Tan Keong Siak’s father’s brother had a son named Tan Kiong / Keong Keng, who had a daughter called Tan Siok Kim. Tan Siok Kim was married to Chew Cheng Yong. Chew Cheng Yong’s brother-in-law was Goh Leng Inn, father of Goh Keng Swee.

* Tip: Many of the names mentioned above were the leading pioneers in banking and trading sectors during The Straits Settlements. They also held many leading positions in the municipal commission where they worked closely with the British colonial government in the running of domestics affairs of Singapore.

Hence, they all played influential roles in the politics and economy during that time.

As such, readers are encouraged to do their own reading on these pioneers.

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4. ADDITIONAL INFO:

1. According to several netizens, this is the “main branch” of Singapore’s Royal Bloodline.

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2. This chart shows the intermarriages between Straits Chinese Banking Families in Singapore. Done by Roy Ngerng (originally posted on his blog, TheHeartTruths).

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3. A Feudalism chart showing the 99%’s place in society (image by Amendment Gazette).

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4. Collection of “elitism” quotes by PAP Ministers.

Mrs. LKY: “The Dragon Lady”

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A look at Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew) through the perspective of Peranakan culture.

This post is presented in 12 sections:

1. Peranakan Roots + Family Background
2. The Dragon Lady
3. Kwa Geok Choo’s Gold Coin Necklace
4. Images of Gold Coin Necklace
5. Peranakan Culture: General Info
6. Peranakan Culture: A Hidden Matriarchy
7. Peranakan Culture: Phoenix Symbol
8. Peranakan Culture: Females
9. Lee Kuan Yew on Kwa Geok Choo
10. Kwa Geok Choo: Intellect and Capabilities
11. Kwa Geok Choo: State Funeral
12. Kwa Geok Choo: Political Legacy

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1. PERANAKAN ROOTS + Family Background

1) Madam Kwa and her husband, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, both Peranakans, are featured in the Great Peranakans — Fifty Remarkable Lives exhibition.

Source: The Straits Times (2015)

2) . . .born to a well-to-do family, studied law as a Queen’s Scholar in England’s Cambridge University, [and] remained a deeply private person.

Source: Philly.com

2. THE DRAGON LADY

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Mrs and Mr LKY | Image from HerWorld

“Dragon Lady”: A woman of somewhat sinister glamour often perceived as wielding ruthless or corrupt power. (Dictionary.com)

Kwa Geok Choo was described as a “proverbial dragon lady” by a former senior correspondent for The Straits Times.

Francis Seow also referred to Kwa Geok Choo as a dragon lady (short version below; click here for the full-length interview):

Transcript:

The whole structure of government, from the time [Lee Kuan Yew] took office, to the present day, has been designed in such a way that his son will succeed him. And the son has succeeded him, you know?

Now in order to preserve that legacy that he has passed on now to his son, all the troublemakers have to be run out of town, to use an American expression. Behind all this grand scheme of things is. . .the word I’m looking for is. . .The Dragon Lady.

Lee Kuan Yew’s wife. She’s the one with the overweening ambition for her son to take over. She is the one who has been advising Lee Kuan Yew what to do, how to do it, etc.

Many people don’t know this.

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Dowager Empress Cixi.

But I’m telling you today, the power behind the throne is the dowager. The dragon lady, if you like. And she is very smart! That is why all these guys have to get out of the way, and they had to be ruined. Or like me, driven out of the country. If I were to go back, I would go straight from the aeroplane to jail.

— Interview with Francis Seow (former solicitor-general of Singapore)

3. KWA GEOK CHOO’S GOLD COIN NECKLACE

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Kwa Geok Choo’s gold coin necklace.

1) A nyonya and her jewellery are never apart. . . the display of opulence was not just a statement of wealth but also spoke volumes of their shrewdness and austerity.

Source: A Nyonya and Her Jewellery

2) For the 25th anniversary of Lee & Lee law firm in 1980, the firm’s partners had two gold coins specially made for the two senior partners, Mrs Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Dennis Lee.

Unbeknownst to them, Mrs Lee had a chain made for the coin, and would wear it as a necklace on special occasions and at formal functions.

Long after she left the firm, partners would glimpse the gold coin around her neck when her image appeared on TV or in newspaper pictures.

She was appearing at those formal functions as the wife of Singapore’s founding father. But the gold coin around her neck was a reminder that she was also a trailblazing legal luminary in her own right.

Source: Straits Times

4. IMAGES of KWA GEOK CHOO’s GOLD COIN NECKLACE

5. PERANAKAN CULTURE: General Info

1) The Baba Culture is one that is unique to the early settlers along the Straits of Malacca. Since the 17th Century, Chinese traders arrived and lived along these coastal lands bringing with them their wealth of wares, customs, traditions and religions from the south of China.

The off-springs of these ‘locally born Straits Chinese’ were called Peranakan Baba (or Nyonya for womenfolk).

With the arrival of the Europeans in the 18th Century to this part of the world, the Babas were quick to adapt to the changing environment. They became the compradors or ‘go-betweens’ for the Europeans and the locals. Many Baba men held office and important positions in the Portuguese, Dutch & British governments and they rose in status & stature to become successful businessmen who even took on leadership roles in society.

Source: The Main Wayang Company

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President Yusof Ishak with Mrs. LKY’s Parents, Kwa Siew Tee (left) and Wee Yew Neo (right), 1968. | Image from NAS

  • Note: Kwa Geok Choo’s father, Kwa Siew Tee, had several leadership roles (he was one of the founders of the OCBC Bank which he served as General Manager from 1935 to 1945, the Municipal Commissioner of the Colony of Singapore in 1947 and Public Service Commissioner in 1953). (Source: PDF download)

2) Peranakans were bilingual, speaking English as well as their dialect of Baba Malay, and embraced influences from various religions including Buddhism, Taoism, ancestral worship and Christianity.

Source: Five facts about Asia’s unique Peranakans

6. PERANAKAN CULTURE: “A Hidden Matriarchy”

“Matriarch”: A woman who controls a family, group, or government. (Dictionary.com)

1) “While the males are out working to support the family, it is the females that preside the household. A hidden matriarchy, the Nyonya wives rule the household with an iron fist, managing and directing the day to day activities of the household and also controlling the funds in the family.”

Source: Women in the Peranakan Family

2) As someone who married into a Chinese/Peranakan family, [KMN’s] family does hold fast to one Perankan tradition: a powerful matriarchy. The women plan the gatherings, steer the families, and in my observations, usually have the first (and last) say on many matters of importance.

Source: I Married Into a Matriarchy

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Source: ST

3) Chris reminded me that Peranakan families are ‘outwardly patriarchal and internally matriarchal’. Of course! Look at the Little Nyonya, scheming matrons obviously reigned over the households, pretending to be subservient to weak-minded husbands on the surface. Chris, who is Baba by the way and should be awarded some authority on the subject by way of relation, attests to the *fact* that the average Baba man is weaker than the Nyonya woman.

Source: Baba Bling: The Peranakan Museum

4) The portraits of matriarchs displayed above Peranakan Chinese altars in Malacca indicate the powerful position of the matriarch in ruling over the family. These Nyonyas came across as assertive, even bossy as they rose to the position as matriarchs in charge of running an extended family under one household. A mature Baba with great status and influence in the society would have to submit to an uncompromising mother at home.

Source: China Media Research: Analyzing the Little Nyonya

7. PERANAKAN CULTURE: Phoenix Symbol

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What appears to be a “Phoenix” motif on Mrs. LKY’s cheongsam. The bird has a crest of feathers on its head.

1) [Kelvin Pow] explains that the Peranakan culture is matriarchal, hence the phoenix rather than the dragon is the preferred embellishment in its decorative arts.

“I think it is very important that we retain our heritage. I think it is also important for people, especially younger Singaporeans to understand their culture and where they came from.”

Source: ST Jobs — House of Antiques

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Nyonya porcelain featuring a phoenix motif, at the Peranakan Museum.

2) A typical motif used in nyonya porcelain ware is the Phoenix, a symbol of the matriarchal infrastructure of a Peranakan household.

Source: On the Trail of the Phoenix

3) The images above show the Peranakan traditional wedding costume donned on the bride. The geometric layering around her neck is the phoenix collar to symbolise the power of the feminine phoenix in Peranakan society.

Source: lonelytravelog (Peranakan Museum + Phoenix Collar)

8. PERANAKAN CULTURE: Females

a) Young Women

In contrast to her sheltered teenage years, the married Nyonya was given relatively more freedom. It was as if she had served her time, and was now qualified to manage a household and take care of herself.

As she gained more confidence in her dealings with her neighbours, friends and counterparts, her role was likened to that of the strong-willed managing director of a corporation. She controlled almost everything that happened at home.

In public, however, it was the husband who was seen to be the number one person.

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Image from BBC / Getty

b) Keeping it within the Family

In the early days, the younger members of the community married among themselves. This desire to remain within the community was so strong that it was common for people to marry their relatives, even their cousins. The only restriction imposed involved unions between paternal cousins.

c) Colourful Metaphors

Be warned that Peranakans have a way with words. Eavesdrop on two Nyonyas having an animated conversation, and you will be in for a linguistic experience that is hard to forget.

Source: Asiapac Books (Gateway to Peranakan Culture)

d) Cooking + Sewing

“Peranakan families are matriarchal, though the nonya’s role is often seen as supportive to the husband – women are often expected to cook and sew well.”

Source: FRV Bali: Peranakan Museum SG

“She was a skilful knitter, and knitted us sweaters to stay warm, one after another.”

Source: Lee Hsien Loong on Mrs Lee Kuan Yew

9. LEE KUAN YEW on KWA GEOK CHOO

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1) “Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life.”
Lee Kuan Yew

2) “. . .a discerning judge of character. She would tell me whether she would trust that man or not. And often she is right.”

Source: Straits Times

3) “My great advantage was I have a wife who could be a sole breadwinner and bring the children up. That was my insurance policy.”

Source: LKY: The Man and His Ideas, Page 235

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Lee Kuan Yew and Kwa Geok Choo. Image: ST

4) “. . .[she’s my] tower of strength.”

Source: Philly.com

5) “Over the years I’ve been a kept man. My wife keeps the family.”

Source: Lee Kuan Yew in Parliament, 1985

6) Lee Kuan Yew discussed the possibility of euthanasia with his doctors and family in his final years as he struggled with illness and mourned the death of his wife.

Associate professor Michael Barr, who has studied and published on Singapore, said Lee had been left lost and distraught following the death of his wife, Kwa Geok Choo, in 2010, to whom he had been married for 60 years.

Source: South China Morning Post

10. KWA GEOK CHOO’S INTELLECT and CAPABILITIES

1) The late Madam Kwa, wife of Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, was undoubtedly an excellent Peranakan woman, steel clothed in velvet, as Peranakan women were known to be!

Source: Passage Magazine by FOM.sg (PDF download)

2) Mrs Lee Kuan Yew was the firm’s ‘intellectual mind‘, while Mr Dennis Lee took care of the business side of things.

Mrs Lee’s personality, according to one prominent lawyer who declined to be named, is best summed up in the way she always dressed impeccably in a cheongsam to work, but would change into rubber flip-flops once there.

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White cheongsam worn by Kwa Geok Choo. Image: Peranakan Museum.

‘When we heard her walk around in the flip-flops, I would joke that that is power,’ he said. ‘Power in rubber flip-flops.’

Source: Straits Times

3) In 1940, Geok Choo entered Raffles College where, to Kuan Yew’s consternation, she beat him in the English and Economics examinations.

They married while in Cambridge, and graduated together with first class honours degrees in 1949. Geok Choo did it in two years; he in three. She was the first woman in Malaya to get a first class honours law degree.

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Lee Kuan Yew and his wife, Kwa Geok Choo in 1968. Photo: Benson Lo

Though she opted to stay in the political background and play the role of supportive wife, she was a founding member of the People’s Action Party (PAP). She was highly skilled in legal draftmanship, helping to draft the PAP Constitution, and later the crucial provisions that guaranteed Singapore’s continued water supply when Singapore separated from Malaysia.

Source: Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame

4) Standing proudly atop its box on the third floor of the Peranakan Museum, the barrister’s wig that belonged to the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo (21 December 1920 – 2 October 2010) is very much a tribute not only to its erstwhile owner, but also to the era’s fledgling coterie of able Peranakan women.

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Kwa Geok Choo’s barrister’s wig.

Source: Passage Magazine by FOM.sg (PDF download)

5) Known for her attention to detail, Kwa Geok Choo once interrupted the taping of an interview to touch up [Lee Kuan Yew’s] hair and makeup.

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Source: Straits Times

11. KWA GEOK CHOO: STATE FUNERAL

From the Press Statement from the PM’s office on the passing of Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew:

The family requests that no obituaries and no wreaths or flowers to be sent. All donations will go to the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) Health Research Endowment Fund.

Kwa Geok Choo was given a heroine’s funeral:

The glass-encased brown coffin of Kwa Geok Choo, who died aged 89 on Saturday after a long illness, was transported to a suburban crematorium on a ceremonial gun carriage normally reserved for state and military funerals.

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Casket of Mrs. LKY

The government said the usage of a ceremonial gun carriage “is in recognition of her exceptional and unique contributions to Singapore for more than five decades, beginning before Singapore became independent.”

12. KWA GEOK CHOO: POLITICAL LEGACY

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Mr. and Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew. Image: CNA

Her political legacy runs deep.

In 1959, she delivered her first and only party political broadcast during the general election that year, urging women to vote for the PAP. She was the only English-speaking woman in the party who had the requisite firmness and conviction for the broadcast.

‘I have been proof-reading and sometimes correcting [Lee Kuan Yew’s] speeches from his earliest 1950 speech to the Malayan Forum in London,’ she told The Straits Times in 1998.

The early history of the People’s Action Party (PAP) also bears the stamp of her involvement.

‘Who else would have drafted that Constitution for them?’ she said. ‘My husband doesn’t draft things. He was an advocate; he was a court lawyer.’

Drafting the rules of a society, by contrast, was her speciality.

Source: Straits Times

MORE INFO:

This blog post has a family tree of Kwa Geok Choo’s relatives holding government positions in Singapore.

National Heritage Board

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1. STOLEN ARTIFACTS?

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is one of the National Museums of Singapore under the National Heritage Board.

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A photo of the 1,000-year-old bronze sculpture of Uma Parmeshvari stolen from a temple in Tamil Nadu and sold to the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. Source: The Hindu

On 6 December 2013, TRE broke the news that a 1,000-year idol stolen from India was in the possession of ACM.

“The 1,000-year-old Uma Parmeshvari bronze sculpture was stolen from a temple in the Ariyalur district of Tamil Nadu in 2005 or 2006 before being smuggled to Art Of The Past, owned by disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor. Kapoor sold the idol to ACM for US$650,000 in February 2007.

According to chasingaphrodite.com, a blog dedicated to the hunt for looted antiquities in the world’s museums, Kapoor’s contact in Singapore is ACM’s senior curator Dr Gauri Krishnan. The blog is written and maintained by Jason Felch, an award-winning investigative reporter with the Los Angeles Times.”
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“Singapore’s Asian Civilizations Museum bought more than $1 million of art from disgraced Manhattan antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor, according to business records from Kapoor’s Art of the Past gallery.”
Chasing Aphrodite

2. ART AND MONEY LAUNDERING

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Art dealer Yves Bouvier, a Singapore permanent resident. Source: ST

Prominent Swiss businessman and art dealer Yves Bouvier, who is under investigation in Monaco for fraud and money laundering, is a Singapore permanent resident. He was accused by Russian billionaire and art collector Dmitry Rybolovlev of inflating the prices of works by master artists such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh.

Bouvier owns a company that ships and stores art for the wealthy, and has majority stakes in freeports — warehouses for the rich to store art and other valuables — including one in Singapore.

Lawyers and art dealers familiar with the discussions say the case could expand well beyond Bouvier and reach into the top galleries and billionaire collectors in New York, London and Hong Kong. It could widen to involve not only undisclosed mark-ups by dealers, but also tax fraud, global money laundering and possible bribery. 

“This is just the beginning,” said one prominent art lawyer in New York who asked not to be named. “There will be a lot of big dealers and collectors involved.”

3. PAMELIA LEE and Tang Dynasty Ship / Shipwreck Treasure

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Pamelia Lee; sister-in-law of LKY. Image from Challenge.gov.sg

In 2004, as Senior Consultant to the Singapore Tourism Board, Mrs Pamelia Lee (a sister-in-law of Lee Kuan Yew) handled the acquisition of a 9th Century shipwreck treasure of over 53,000 artifacts, known as the “Tang Shipwreck Treasures: Singapore’s Maritime Collection.”

Trafficking Culture, a website run by the University of Glasgow, focuses on understanding the international trade in illicit cultural objects.

From a 2012 article on Trafficking Culture:

. . .the Indonesian government turned to commercial salvaging company Seabed Explorations, led by German director Tilman Walterfang.

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Tilman Walterfang, founder and owner of Seabed Explorations NZ Ltd. with Mrs. Pamelia Lee during one of her many visits to Seabed Explorations New Zealand.

Walterfang sold the collection for $32 million USD in 2005 to the Sentosa Leisure Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Sentosa Development Corporation, an entity established by the government of Singapore. The Sentosa Development Corporation established a long-term loan agreement with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and that same year, the STB teamed up with the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore to display highlights from the collection in an exhibition titled, ‘Tang Treasures from the Sea’.

In 2007, the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer/Sackler Galleries was approached by Singapore Tourism Board’s Pamelia Lee about organizing an exhibition of the shipwreck and putting together a book.

. . .This news sparked an internal debate within the Smithsonian, [when] archaeologists in other museum departments heard that an exhibition of unscientifically excavated, commercially exploited artefact was so far along.

Source: Trafficking Culture

This screenshot mentions some financial numbers re: the Tang Shipwreck Treasure.

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Financial Statements, Notes (2013). Source: NHB.

Last paragraph: “During the current financial year, 53,227 heritage materials of the Tang Shipwreck Treasure were transferred from the Singapore Tourism Board to the Board. The heritage materials were valued by an external valuer on a class basis and was valued at SGD$75,020,166  (US$60,392,985) in June 2012. These are recorded as part of heritage capital reserve.”

  • Reader Tip: I remember those days, lots of rumours Pamelia Lee made a lot of comission from this. I noticed a lot of the Lee or Kwa family members used to be ex-directors in the National Heritage Board too.

4. BOARD MEMBERS in NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD

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NHB Board Members (PDF; 2013)

I. Some board members include (from 2013 document):

II. Mini FAMILY TREE Image

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5. NOTE ABOUT MR. KWA CHONG GUAN:

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Kwa Chong Guan; a nephew of Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. LKY)

Kwa Chong Guan, a nephew of the late Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew, is a Member of the National Heritage Board and current chairman of the National Archives Advisory Committee. He is also a board member of the National Library Board, and chairs the Acquisition Sub-committee of the Asian Civilisations Board.

From the website of The National Archives of Singapore:

“The National Archives of Singapore (NAS) is the keeper of records of national or historical significance. The records acquired by NAS come from both public agencies and private sources. Records in various mediums and formats are safeguarded and preserved.

The immensely rich collection continues to grow as NAS fulfils its mission to actively acquire records that will serve as the corporate memory of the Government and the social memory of our people. This memory allows current and future generations of Singaporeans to understand our different cultures, explore our common heritage and appreciate who we are and how we became a nation.”
National Archives of Singapore (Our Roles)

With academics warning of the “power of the Singapore state in constraining [history],” one wonders just how much of the National Archives is made to keep in line with “the well-rehearsed official state narrative.”

Chris Ho: Saved Comment on LKY

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Great post via Chris Ho in March 2015, with many pertinent points mentioned (based on a comment by netizen “hortensisus_truth,saved by Chris Ho).

  • Will update the pic above when I get the chance! (March 2016 — I moved house a couple of months ago…)

Re-posted below.

The SG PR machine will do its very best to persuade the world that Lee Kuan Yew was a benevolent man. The truth is far more complicated and in some instances downright sinister. His economic legacy may be available for all to see, but at what cost?

The Telegraph even chooses to repeat the lie that LKY believed in the rule of law. He believed in no such thing. He believed in HIS rule & HIS law. To this day, the judiciary remains a compliant poodle that dares not go against the government & has made the most outrageous rulings so as not to inconvenience the PAP (ruling party.) Just look up: Cheng San GRC polling day ruling

Consider the following:

1) SG, under his rule, had one of the highest execution rates per capita in the entire world – often for ridiculously small crimes. (See Van Nguyen’s execution – one of the least just executions ever).

2) To this day, it is still not mandatory to provide domestic workers with a day of leave each week. Nothing short of modern slavery for more than 100,000 poor, migrant labourers who can do practically nothing about it if they have a ruthless, uncaring employer-which many do. SG may have gotten rich but the exploitation of regional workforces has played a massive role in that wealth generation. That mindset has been passed into society which is one of the least caring rich countries on earth towards its migrant poor.

3) The claims of zero corruption are simply laughable. Is nepotism not considered corruption? The reality is that with such iron control of the media, it has been hard to establish who owns and controls what in SG – interestingly as alternative media has grown, so has evidence of corruption. Just consider: LKY’s son is PM, his other son was head of the Singtel and is CEO of Civil Aviation Authority, his daughter-in-law is in charge of the sovereign wealth fund, his relative is President. I could go on but it is absolutely clear that the entire family benefitted enormously from his ruthless control of the government. The gov lost 40% of the vote in the last election & yet still retains 82 out of 89 seats in parliament? Why? The electoral system has been gerrymandered & twisted to the ruling party’s benefit entirely corruptly. No corruption? Absolute rubbish & nonsense.

4) The birth rate. If you want a real indictment of his rule – look to the SG birth rate. SG has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates. People have simply given up having children because this densely populated island is a hot house of constant and almost unbearable pressure on its citizens. He created a school system that deliberately made people of lesser academic talents feel second class and were treated as second class. The result has been a brain drain of creative talents. Like the Mayans before him, his legacy may be to have eradicated his own people in the name of material glory. Some legacy.

5) Intolerance. The local and sympathetic foreign press will use euphemisms for his “knuckle duster” approach to dissent or political control. Ask those who have been imprisoned by him without trial whether they think it was just the knuckle duster? One of the world’s longest serving political prisoners, without trial, was in SG – 32 years – and there are literally countless others. See Operation Coldstore and Operation Spectrum for a hint of his charming, bullying, ruthless style.

6) Gay rights. SG is the only G20 country in the world where it is still illegal to be gay. Gay people are arbitrarily abused for their inherent sexuality and from time to time their sexuality is used against them. For that matter, try and be an independent academic. (See Cherian George – denied tenure simply because he was a mild government critic, despite being one of the foremost journalism professors in the country).

7) Opacity in government. The Singaporeans are forced to save their money in a scheme called the CPF. This is used for healthcare, housing, education and retirement. It remains to be seen, however, whether the way that money is managed is fair, reasonable and corruption free. Whilst it may indeed be all above the board, the government has refused to disclose much information about this giant pool of money and how exactly the money is used, invested etc. There remains a lingering doubt as to whether the money is truly available for citizens or used in their best interest. SG has no freedom of information laws, tightly controls the flow of information out of government and repeatedly refuses to provide data that justifies their actions.

LKY was a utilitarian, Platonic and Machiavellian bully. Praise his economic achievements but never forget those who have suffered, and there are plenty today and in the past who still do so, because of his ruthlessness. Spare a thought for the exiled, the executed, the unfairly punished, the bankrupted, and, above all the S’porens who were left for 30 years in a climate of utter fear. His legacy is far less benign than a sycophantic press will acknowledge.

Check out some excerpts by Chris Ho I compiled some time ago, and follow his witty, entertaining and enlightening updates on FB.

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[Photo from FB]

CHRIS HO is a singer/musician/author/underground filmmaker/music fan/DJ.

Chris Ho Online: Facebook | Photo Album | Website | Music | DJ Profile

Bukit Brown Cemetery

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Many well-known and prominent Singaporeans are buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery.

According to Wikipedia / CNA:

It was originally announced by Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in Feb 2012 that 5,000, out of more than 100,000 graves, would make way for a new 4-lane road that would cut through the cemetery. This number was reduced to 3,746 from the original 5,000, on 19 Mar 2012. It was also revealed that the rest of the cemetery would make way for a new public housing town in about 40 years time.

While the bolded line is not shocking since many of Singapore’s urban spaces have been subjected to constant redevelopment, isn’t it sad that a place with such a rich heritage is deemed to be unworthy of preservation? Is it morally right to destroy a unique aspect of a country’s cultural and natural heritage?

This is a heartfelt letter penned by Raymond Goh, the “Tomb Whisperer” who captivates others with his passion and knowledge of Bukit Brown.

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A plea to the President – Discover your Roots in Bukit Brown
October 13, 2011

* Reposted with kind permission from Raymond Goh.

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Singapore President Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam

Dear Mr President,

A few days ago, we saw you sitting at the highest chair in parliament. Yes, you are the newly appointed president.

You have never disappointed your parents and ancestors, and they are certainly proud of you.

When you were a young student, you already excelled in your studies. In 1957, you were the top student in Singapore with 8 distinctions for the Cambridge School Certificate, and in 1959 again you topped the Cambridge Higher School Certificate while in SJI.

It is a pity your father Seng Hwee died young, at the age of 47, in 1962. At that time your mother Jessie Lim has to bring up herself the 4 children.

But she certainly had a full and wonderful life, and she died in 1999 at a ripe old age. If there is one rule which she lived by, it was to get on with life, as she did with determination for 36 years after your father Seng Hwee passed away.

But your grandfather Cheng Siong died young too as he died at the age of 42, just at the peak of his career as GM of Overseas Chinese Bank, and managing the United Sawmill Ltd, of which the directors included Lim Nee Soon, Ong Peng Hock and Lim Boon Keng.

Your grandfather was a JP and a prominent citizen of the community, and was ever willing to give a helping hand in any charitable cause.

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Tan Cheng Siong’s tomb – Tony Tan’s grandfather

At that time, your grandfather has two wives, Lee Guay Eng and Wee Chai Neo. Both widows were left with young children of their own after Cheng Siong died. Guay Eng was just 35 and Chai Neo was 40 years old. Wee Chai Neo passed away in 1934 while Lee Guay Eng passed away in 1965.

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Lee Guay Eng’s tomb

Now a bit of history to dig further to your roots:

You may not know, but in the past many years ago, there was a group of 36 businessman from Malacca who came to Singapore in the early days when Singapore was just founded.

This group of 36 young Hokkien Chinese baba traders, in their early 20 and 30s, from middle to upper income families most in Malacca, too came to seek their fortune in this new city.

Although they came from well to do families, business at that time was still considered risky. They have alliances with the Europeans, and can take goods on credit with them, but depending on the business situation, they would have to pay the Europeans with equivalent goods or cash in a few months. Sometimes if the goods could not be sold within this period, they would have to “lelong” the goods, resulting in financial problems for them hence the need to form such a mutual aid association for these businessman and their families. This mutual aid association was Kheng Teck Whay.

Each of the 36 members would have to contribute 100 big dollars to the Association fund, which will be used as seed money for the businessman’s families.

If a member unfortunately passed away or fall into financial difficulties, then this mutual help group would help the family.

Many of the 36 members did well in later life and have successful business. Some of them were managers of the neighbouring Thian Hock Keng. They constructed their HQ just next to Thian Hock Keng.

Together with Chong Wen Ge, the Kheng Teck Building and Chong Wen Ge formed the left and right pavillion of Thian Hock Keng.

One of the 36 founding members was Ang Choon Seng, who was born in 1805 in Malacca. Set up Chop Chin Seng in Philip St. He had 2 sailing ships Patah Salam and Kong-Kek, travelling between Saigon and Bangkok. He also had nutmeg plantations in Moulmein Road.

Ang Choon Seng’s son Ang Kim Tee was the chief of Keng Teck Whay from 1890 – 1892.

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From the tomb, we can see that Ang Kim Tee has 5 daughters. Do you know he married 3 of his daughters to Tan Jiak Kim because they unfortunately died successively at young age?

The first daughter of Kim Tee married to Jiak Kim died in 1898, and he married then the 4th daughter of Kim Tee, Giok Yan.

Unfortunately Giok Yan died when accompanying Jiak Kim to England for the Coronation activities in 1911. She was only 33.

At that time, they decided to buried Giok Yan there. As it was in Europe, the usual Chinese funeral rites could not be observed, and a European coffin had to be used. No Confucian priest could be found to officiate, and the only Chinese accessories available were a candle and some joss sticks.

The next year, Jiak Kim married another daughter of Kim Tee, which is Geok Lan.

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Tan Jiak Kim third wife Geok Lan (also daughter of Ang Kim Tee) and 2 sons (pic from G.R. Lambert & Co)

Now the first daugher of Kim Tee married to Jiak Kim gave birth to a girl Tan Sun Neo in 1894. Tan Sun Neo was married to Lim Kian Beng and had a daughter.

That daughter was Jessie Lim who was actually your mother.

So you can see you came from a very illustrious family, not to mention that Jiak Kim’s mother See Keng Neo also comes from the illustrious See Family.

Do you know that all the above tombs were found in Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery? I think you probably have not visited the tombs of your grandfather and grandmother.

Perhaps you may not even know they are buried in Bukit Brown. There are so many pioneers and forefathers of Singapore being buried there, that the list go on and on…

There is so much history yet to be uncovered in Bukit Brown, but recently you would have heard the news from LTA recently about redevelopment of Bukit Brown.

A new road is being planned to cut right across Bukit Brown, a road that will cover an area of 24 hectares and affect approx 10,000 tombs.

Did the relevant authorities do a proper historical survey of the place before deciding on this new road? Or do they think it is just a cemetery?

Do you know that many tombs from the Qing dynasty era are relocated to this cemetery such as your ancestors? Tombs as early as 1833 and the mid 19th century can be found there.

Every one of those tombs tell a story, a story of birth, life and death, but in the end, they are all builders of what modern Singapore is standing on.

Our roots and links to the past are all here, buried in this cemetery, many still waiting to be discovered.

It is only in the recent past, that people are just rediscovering their roots.

For us, when we remember our roots from whence we came, can we really love the country and the people that nurture us to what we are today.

This cemetery definitely has historical and social values of great significance to our young country.

The present generation seems to have forgotten about the previous generation of nation builders and pioneers, but the current generation’s existence lies in the roots of these tombs, the roots of which are going to be dug up for a road if nobody does anything.

So, please come, dear President, please come to Bukit Brown. It has been such a long time, but I think your grandparents and other relatives are waiting for you to come and visit them, and remember your roots.

And in the meantime, please try to let the authorities fully understand the implication of what they are going to destroy. There is still time, although time is running out for the residents of Bukit Brown Cemetery.

It will be an irreplaceable loss.

From a Singapore citizen
Raymond Goh
on behalf of BBC residents

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MORE INFO:

1) 4.5 star overall review on Bukit Brown Cemetery (TripAdvisor)

2) Bukit Brown Cemetery on the World Monuments Watch 2014, the first time any site in Singapore has been named on the list (World Monuments Fund)

3) Bukit Brown Cemetery (Facebook Page #1 and Facebook Page #2)

4) Bukit Brown (Main Website)

Overcoming Fear

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Being a respected leader doesn’t mean ruling with an iron first.

Showing compassion as a leader can be highly effective. . .according to Bill George, a Harvard professor, the leader must think about the “we” instead of the “I.”  In other words, the leader doesn’t think about him/herself, but about [others].
( — JEMS Journal)

I lived in Singapore until the age of 19. I remember what it was like to constantly live with the feeling that your every move, thought, and action was being watched. Whisper something that’s anti-PAP or anti-LKY — *BOOM*, you’re in trouble.

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The first quote that came to my mind when I viewed this image: “Big Brother is Watching.” (George Orwell)
| Image from ST Blog

The sense of dysfunctional paranoia these feelings can create certainly isn’t an ideal thing for anyone to live with.

Ruling by fear is wrong for several reasons, one being that no one should be made to do something or act in a way he or she doesn’t feel comfortable with.

Why should a human being’s mind/heart/spirit be subject to being controlled by an authority figure? Wouldn’t a true “saviour of the people” sincerely care for the well-being of the populace they have pledged to serve?

This isn’t applicable to the realm of politics alone. It is something that goes much deeper which has universal resonance in terms of being free to:

  • be your own self,
  • have your own thoughts, and
  • speak your mind or speak truth to power when it is necessary to do so.

Fear is a crippling weapon of control and manipulation. To overcome that fear is to release oneself from the shame of being ruled by fear.

Many people in history have literally died for their beliefs. Integrity and a moral conscience are things that some of us are unwilling or unable to trade for elitist commodities.

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t predict the outcome of the next general election in Singapore. I don’t have expectations of the result, because whatever will be, will be.

But seeing this fear of expression up-close from numerous Singaporeans is proof that people DO have strong opinions, that they do have minds and a spirit that yearns to be free from the shackles of an authoritarian power (whether it’s referred to as an aristocracy, a pseudo-democracy, or fascist).

As 16-year-old blogger and prisoner of conscience Amos Yee said in a recent update:

If we allow the government, the police and the law, to continue to censor us, to use archaic laws to dictate our ideas and our views, to use fear to threaten us into not expressing our views, then though I am a prisoner, when freedom cannot be granted to me, you are a prisoner although freedom is granted to you. And that’s more saddening than any number of months or years in jail that I have to endure.

Buried beneath this fear is a collective need to aspire for something better — if not for yourself, then for the future generations that will come after you.

An article by Catherine Lim points out how a “compliant, fearful population that has never learnt to be politically savvy could spell the doom of Singapore.”

Singapore has been under decades of authoritarian rule. Do you want to see it through several more?

As Julie Hanus writes on the forward-thinking Utne Reader:

We can give up allowing fears to define us, and focus instead on which ones are worth tackling together. When we do that, we don’t just free politicians from fear-inducing rhetoric; we also give ourselves some much-needed relief.

I think of the dark events in Singapore’s political history (Operation Coldstore and Spectrum, in particular), and all the wasted years, hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled because of fear. That alone inspires my interest in socio-political issues.

There comes a point where staying silent would be the real crime.

Instead of feeling shameful about not having done enough: just do something different today. Time is short and precious.

May you find your bolt of inspiration too, that will set you free from fear itself.

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More Info:

1. Fear is Dead (Teo Soh Lung)

2. #FreeAmosYee: Hong Lim Park Protest (TOC)

3. Self-Censorship & The Climate of Fear (Catherine Lim)

4. PAP’s “Internet Brigade” (TOC)

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“Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.”
~ PictureQuotes.com

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