Koh Lay Huan

Koh Lay Huan

Koh Lay Huan (d. 1826) was a wealthy and educated man, [Rites of Belonging: Memory, Modernity, and Identity in a Malaysian Chinese Community By Jean DeBernardi, Jean Elizabeth DeBernardi Published by Stanford University Press, 2004; ISBN 0804744866, 9780804744867; p. 26] who had earlier rebelled against the Manchus and fled to Siam and the Malay states to eventually settle in Penang as its first Kapitan China. [The Straits Settlements, 1826-67: Indian Presidency to Crown Colony By Constance Mary Turnbull Published by Athlone Press, 1972; p. 9, 420] He was a merchant, planter, tax farmer [http://www.lewismicropublishing.com/Publications/Peranakan/PeranakanBeginnings.htm Baba Beginnings by Hugh M. Lewis] ] , Chinese secret society headman, and one of a handful of pioneering leaders of Penang.Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society By Malaysian Branch, Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland Malaysian Branch, Singapore Published by , 1996; p. 119]

Founding of Penang

In 1786 Francis Light claimed the island, Pulo Pinang, on behalf of His Majesty the King of England and renamed it Prince of Wales' Island. There were only about a hundred Malay fishermen inhabiting the island at that time. Shortly after Light arrived he was visited by Koh Lay HuanThe Patriarch By Joo Kim Yeap Published by Times Books International, 1984; ISBN 9971651505, 9789971651503; p. 21] who had brought with him, from Kuala Muda, Kedah, several boatloads of Chinese and Malays to clear the land, inhabit, trade and generally develop the island. [Asian Transformation: A History of South-East, South, and East Asia By Gilbert Khoo, Dorothy Lo Published by Heinemann Educational Books (Asia), 1977] At their inaugural meeting, Koh presented Light with a present of some fishing nets.Chinese Business in the Making of a Malay State, 1882-1941: Kedah and Penang By Wu Xiao An, Xiao An Wu Published by Routledge, 2003; ISBN 0415301769, 9780415301763; p. 28] By 1789 the local population had expanded to 5,000 and ten years from then the population had grown to 10,000. [ [http://worldfacts.us/Malaysia-Penang.htm] ]

History of the Kapitan China, Koh Lay Huan

In May 1787 Light appointed Koh, who had been Kapitan China of Kedah at Kuala Muda, [Penang Po Leung Kuk:Records and Recollections (1889-1934): Chinese Women, Prostitution & a Welfare Organisation By Neil Jin Keong Khor, Keat Siew Khoo, Izrin Muaz Md. Adnan Published by Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 2004; ISBN 9679948323, ISBN 9789679948325; pp. 15, 21] , the first Kapitan China of Penang. [Historical Personalities of Penang By Historical Personalities of Penang Committee, Historical Personalities of Penang Committee Published by Historical Personalities of Penang Committee, 1986; p. 82] Koh was known as Chewan in official documents. He was also known as Koh Lay HwanTwentieth Impressions of British Malaya, Arnold Wright, 1908] , Cheki [This name appeared in the list of mortgages granted at Prince of Wales Island on 24th February, 1795. On 5th August 1794, Cheki, the Chinese Capitan mortgaged his pepper plantation at Sungai Kluang to James Scott for 1,300 Spanish dollars with an interest of 12 percent per annum] , Chu Khee [See the list of Chinese inhabitants residing in Georgetown, Prince of Wales Island, in December 1788. Chu Khee came from Kedah together with 18 members of his family. He was mainly a merchant.] , Ku Li-huan and Patcan. [Urban Growth and Municipal Development in Colonial Port-town Penang 1786-1830 by Dr. Nordin Hussin Pusat Sejarah, Politik dan Strategik FSSK UKM nordin@pkrisc.cc.ukm.my; The Fourth International Malaysian Studies Conference (MSC4) 3-5 August 2004 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia] Koh Lay Huan was from T'ung-an countyChinese Epigraphic Materials in Malaysia: Collected, Annotated, and Edited by Wolfgang Franke and Chen Tieh Fan By Wolfgang Franke, Tiefan Chen Published by University of Malaysia Press, 1982; Item notes: v.1-2; p. 717] , Zhang Zhou prefecture in Fujian province, China. He had rebelled against the Manchus in China and had been forced to flee to Siam where he settled successfully.Zhongguo hai yang fa zhan shi lun wen ji By Zhongguo hai yang fa zhan shi lun wen ji bian ji wei yuan hui, Zhong yang yan jiu yuan San min zhu yi yan jiu suo, Zhong yang yan jiu yuan Zhongshan ren wen she hui ke xue yan jiu suo Published by Zhong yang yan jiu yuan san min zhu yi yan jiu suo, 1984 Item notes: v.5 (1993)] He became a close ally of the ruler of Nakhon Srithammarat who later, around 1821, married one of Koh's daughters, in Penang.C.S.Wong, A Gallery of Chinese Kapitans (Singapore Government Printing Office, 1964), p.15. and The Burney Papers, Vol. II, Part I (London : Gregg International Publishers, 1971), p. 18.] [http://www.penangstory.net.my/docs/Abs-PhuwadolSongprasert.doc The Implication of Penang Connection in Southern Thailand by Phuwadol Songprasert, Department of History, Faculty of Social Sciences Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand presented at The Penang Story – International Conference 2002 18-21 April 2002, The City Bayview Hotel, Penang, Malaysia; Organisers: The Penang Heritage Trust & STAR Publications] ] Later, encouraged by commercial prospects, he moved to Kedah where he again settled successfullyZhongguo hai yang fa zhan shi lun wen ji By Zhongguo hai yang fa zhan shi lun wen ji bian ji wei yuan hui, Zhong yang yan jiu yuan San min zhu yi yan jiu suo, Zhong yang yan jiu yuan Zhongshan ren wen she hui ke xue yan jiu suo Published by Zhong yang yan jiu yuan san min zhu yi yan jiu suo, 1984 Item notes: v.5 (1993)] and kept a second family. [The Straits Settlements 1826-67: Indian Presidency to Crown Colony by by M Stenson - 1977]

The Origin of Penang's Pepper Cultivation

Koh was well connected with the English and French-speaking Sultan of Acheh, Jauhar al-Alam. In 1790 Francis Light sent Koh, away to Acheh to gather pepper plants for cultivation in Penang. Pepper in Penang began by this initial effort of Francis Light and Koh Lay Huan. Koh had had earlier experience cultivating pepper in Phuket, where he had a home and in Kedah. [ [http://ccm.um.edu.my/umweb/fsss/images/persidangan/Kertas%20Kerja/K.T.%20Joseph.doc LANDMARKS IN AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN PENINSULAR MALAYSIA – CONTRIBUTIONS FROM INDONESIA. (K.T. Joseph)] ] Light respected Koh's canniness, enterprise and social and political acumen and connections. He was recorded to have said about Koh, "Tuanka (towkay) China is an old fox. He has little to do with the government but being rich and having married a daughter of the old King he bears a considerable sway in their Becharas or Council" [Tregonning 1965: 79] By appointing Koh Kapitan China, Light had gained an able administrator and judge.

The Origin of Penang's Municipal Assessments

In 1795, Light's business partner, James Scott, sought representation when it was decided that properties should be taxed, the revenue being needed to fund the police force, maintain roads and ensure cleanliness. It was at this time that Kapitan China Koh Lay Huan, Kapitan Keling Cauder Mohideen and other prominent members of the community, formed the first Committee of Assessors to decide the rates and collection of taxes (assessments). [ [http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2008/8/3/lifefocus/1613963&sec=lifefocus Recipe for rebellion: THE THIRD SPACE By NEIL KHOR and KHALDUN MALIK, The Sunday Star Sunday August 3, 2008] ] Koh was also involved in other intrigues of the time. Koh was a principal figure in helping the Sultan of Acheh, Jauhar al-Alam put down a rebellion by Achenese territorial chiefs around 1819. [The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia By Nicholas Tarling Published by Cambridge University Press, 1999 ISBN 0521663709, 9780521663700; pg. 260]

Koh Dynasty

Koh would go on to found a dynasty. His descendants played a major role in the Penang-Kedah Chinese community for generations. [Chinese Business in the Making of a Malay State, 1882-1941: Kedah and Penang By Wu Xiao An, Xiao An Wu Published by Routledge, 2003; ISBN 0415301769, 9780415301763; p. 28>] He had six sons and two daughters by Saw It Neoh, his wife in Penang, and two sons and one daughter by Guan Boey Neoh, his wife in Kedah. His daughter, Luan, the wife of the ruler of Nakhon Srithammarat, later became the mother of the governors of Phang-Nga and Takuapa who financially supported Khaw Su Chiang's successful tax monopolies in those provinces and who with the support of this powerful lady later became the governor of Rating in 1844.. Koh's eldest son, Koh Kok Chye, was from his Penang wife and was promoted to be the governor of Kuala Kedah (1821-1841). Another son accompanied Sir Stanford Raffles to Singapore in its opening in 1819. Koh Lay Huan's son also served as Raja of Pungah in Ligor, and Agent for the Chau Phya of Ligor. [The Western Malay States, 1850-1873: the effects of commercial development on Malay politics By Kay Kim Khoo Published by Oxford University Press, 1972; pp. 67, 209, 239] His famous descendants include Koh Teng Choon, the planter and Teng Choon's son, Koh Seang Tat who together with Foo Tye Sin operated the successful firm of Tye Sin Tat & Co.


ee Also

* [http://www.buzzle.com/articles/light-street-and-pitt-street-walking-tour-part2.html Light Street & Pitt Street Walking Tour - Part 2]
*Southeast Asian Urbanism: The Meaning and Power of Social Space By Evers, Hans-Dieter Evers, Rüdiger Korff Published by LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2000; ISBN 3825840212, ISBN 9783825840211; p. 48.

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