Tan Cheng Tuan’s Father

Likely to be Tan Kim Swee , Father of Tan Cheng Tuan.  Tan Cheng Tuan (the Muncipal Commissoner)  was a director of China Mutual Life Insurance Co when he died in 1902 and a SVI volunteer.   From other sources, (see below) Tan Cheng Joo was an agent of China Mutual Life Insurance Co in 1910 and Tan Cheng Yong was a SVI volunteer in 1904

All three names, Cheng Tuan, Cheng Joo and Cheng Yong was mentioned in the tomb.

光緒十七年辛卯季 1891 
清端 Tan Cheng Tuan
清風 Tan Cheng Hong 
清裕 Tan Cheng Joo
清陽 Tan Cheng Yong 

The Straits Times, 7 April 1902, Page 4

The Straits Times, 15 April 1902, Page 5

Page 1 Advertisements Column 3
The Straits Times, 2 December 1902, Page 1

Page 3 Miscellaneous Column 2
The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 21 September 1904, Page 3

Volunteer Order

Transferred to SVC Reserve : Pte Tan Cheng Yong

The Directory & Chronicle for China, Japan, Corea, Indo-China, Straits Settlement 1910

Tan Cheng Joo - Agents for China Mutual Life Insurance Co Ltd


Taken from the Annotated Song Ong Siang :

Mr Tan Cheng Tuan was born in Singapore in 1864. His father, Tan Kim Swee, was known as the Temenggong of Brunei.  He did a large business in jungle produce with Brunei and Malay ports, but his home was in Singapore. 

He married a niece of Ong Kew Ho, and Cheng Tuan was his only son. In partnership with Song Soon Kay, Tan Cheng Tuan went into business as shipchandlers, but the venture failed, and he subsequently launched out on his own account, in a similar business, at Boat Quay, under the style of Seng Tek Bee, which was wound up shortly after his death. He visited Peking; just after the Boxer revolt, and used to speak with pride of the occasion on which he sat for a few  minutes on the throne of the late Emperor of China. Dying soon after his return to Singapore, his superstitious friends attributed his death to his having dared to sit on the Chinese Emperor’s throne! At his death, which took place on the 7th April 1902, he was a director of the China Mutual Life Insurance Co. He was a man of affable manners and was very popular with the Straits Chinese com- munity. His patriotic spirit was shown by his joining the SVI on its formation in November 1901, and his funeral was attended not only by members of the Chinese Company, but also by a large number of the Eurasian volunteers. As uniforms and equipment had not yet then been issued, all volunteers attended the funeral in black clothes, and on arrival at the Alexandra Road burial ground, the heavy coffin was carried to the graveside by members of both companies of the SVI.

Tan Cheng Tuan was elected Municipal Commissioner for Central Ward in August 1897 (see ‘Municipal Election’ Straits Times, 3 Aug 1897, at 23). He resigned on 25 Apr 1900 (see ‘Municipal Commission’ Singapore Free Press, 26 Apr 1900, at 3). Tan was also Hokkien representative in the Chinese Advisory Board (see Yen Ching-hwang, ‘Class Structure and Social Mobility in the Chinese Com- munity in Singapore and Malaya 1800-1911’ (1987) 21(3) Modern Asian Studies 417–445).

35 Tan Cheng Tuan owned land and had six shophouses along Tanjong Pagar Road. Cheng Tuan Street (now expunged) off Tanjong Pagar Road, is named after him (see, Victor R Savage & Brenda SA Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2013) at 73).

36 Tan Kim Swee died in May 1891 (see The Colonies & India (newspaper), 21 May 1891, at 22). According to Buckley, he operated a ‘large business on Boat Quay between Market Street and Bonham Street; and between 1832 and 1834 built the houses that he occupied at the end of the Bridge’. He also owned land in High Street. See, CB Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Fraser & Neave, 1902), at 151 and 215.

The Straits Times, 3 December 1912, Page 8

The tomb has these characters denoting a follower of the Eastern Dragon sect 


Likely to be the tomb of Lim Hong Bee Neo, widow of Tan Cheng Tuan 

Pic courtesy of Erwin