Monday, March 10, 2008

My Chew Joo Chiat Story Part II

Chew Joo Chiat's Other Businesses

In 1904 he had a shop Chop Seng Chiong at Beach Road. In 1908 he was a ship chandler with an office at Philip Street. He supplied provisions and spare parts to ships that called at Singapore. In the same year he had a timber trading business with a saw mill at Beach Road. He imported logs from  mainland Malaya and Indonesia and exported them to the west.

In 1919 he founded the Pacific Bank and was the bank's first chairman. He presided at the meeting. The following year he and his friends opened the Batu Pahat bank in Johore. He was one of the Board of Directors and a major shareholder. In 1920 he founded two tin mines. They were the Trengganu Corporation and the Ulu Pacca Corporation. He was their chairman and presided in all their meetings. They were incorporated in Singapore and their office was at 96 Market Street Singapore.

Above document is a page from a publication on The Developing Economies of Malaysia. It showed that in 1919 Chew Joo Chiat was the first Board Chairman of the Pacific Bank

My great-grand father, Chew Joo Chiat became a very wealthy land and property owner, not only in Joo Chiat but also in Eunos, Changi, Thomson Road and Weld Road. He also owned a rubber estate (64 acres) at Bukit Timah Road and another at Changi Road. Inspite of his wealth  he never own a car. He rather walked to his estates and back daily.

Chew Joo Chiat's Family
After the turn of the century he had his residence at No 65 Joo Chiat Road to be near his plantations. His house was a unique three storey building with a front balcony overlooking the road. It had a fenced in forecourt and a gate with steps leading to the road. There was an air-well in the centre part of the building for natural lighting and ventialation. At the air well was a well and the water was used for cooking, drinking and washing. He also built a permanent opera stage across the road so that he could engage Teochew opera troupe to stage  shows during his birthdays and Chinese festivals. The opera show was his only entertainment. During his birthdays he invited his business associates for dinner and a few chosen friends to view with him the opera show from the balcony.

His family in China enjoyed his prosperity as he remitted regularly money to them. Their lives had been upgraded to the upper class. It enabled his eldest son Chew Cheng Liam to marry a rich family's daughter. She had bounded feet and a maid (slave girl) to attend to all her needs. In 1915 Chew Joo Chiat sent for his two sons Chew Cheng Liam and Chew Cheng Swee and Cheng Liam's family (his wife, 2 children and a maid) to join him in Singapore. They lived with Chew Joo Chiat in his three storey house. Later the two sons built their own homes along Joo Chiat Road and moved out. Like most Chinaman of his era, he was addicted to the persuit of wealth but never enjoy the luxury of life inspite of his wealth.  He died on 5th February 1926 leaving behind 2 sons, Cheng Liam 请廉 and Cheng Swee 请水, 3 daughters Gui Neo桂娘,Xian Neo羡娘,Su Lan素蘭, 5 grandsons Ann Sim安心, Ann Chi安持,Ann Siong安相,Ann Fu安扶,Ann Jing安静 and 3 grand-daughters Choo Neo珠娘,Pen Zhi盆治,Dan Zhi丹治。

Chew Joo Chiat never return to his homeland at Her San 和山, Fujian福建 province in China since he came to Singapore. His root in China had been cut off permanently. On the other hand, he left a living legacy in his adopted land, Singapore. In Joo Chiat area many roads are named after him, such as Joo Chiat Road, Joo Chiat Place, Joo Chiat Terrace, Joo Chiat Lane, Joo Chiat Avenue and Joo Chiat Walk, and Joo Chiat Square. Joo Chiat market at Joo Chiat Road had demolished and replaced by Joo Chiat Complex. Joo Chiat Police Station was at East Coast Road. It had stopped functioning as a police station but the building is still there. Today Joo Chiat is a living legacy. In February 2011 Joo Chiat was awarded the first Heritage Town in Singapore.


Ivan Chew said...

Hey Cousin Philip, thanks for sharing this. Have alerted my kakis at Yesterday.SG to check out your blog.

BTW, the citation to Philip's oral history recordings can be obtained from searching (search for "Chew Joo Chiat").

Katong Gal said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog, and also for sharing your family history and other memories on your blog.

How would you be related to the people who run Tasty Buds? Understand they are also descendents of Chew Joo Chiat. Been there a few times and enjoyed the food.

Philip Chew said...

Tasty Buds owners are Irene Tan and her husband. Irene is my cousin in a way. Her grand-mother, Chew Quee Neo was my grand-father, Chew Cheng Liam's half sister. I was at her shop once.

▲ Cel.h said...

Hi Philip, is there any way to contact you directly?
Chew Joo Chiat's granddaughter, Choo Neo珠娘 is my grandmother.
My mother and her family would like to know more about Joo Chiat's history background.

Philip Chew 周炳镜 said...

First I have confirmed that we are related. Is your your grandmother's surname Chew? If not tell me whether your grandmother Choo Neo is a desecendant of Chew Joo Chiat's son or daughter.

Philip Chew 周炳镜 said...

Cel.h. can you give me your email address? Nobody else can see it except me.
Yes, Joo Chiat has a grand-daughter name Zhu Ninag or Choo Neo in Hokien. I need to confirm it as Choo Neo is a common name.