Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chung Thye Phin(鄭大平) & Relau Villa

Relau Villa
The Relau Villa was built by the Kapitan Cina Chung Thye Phin, it is located just beside the Metropolitan Park of Relau. The villa is now in dilapidated state. Kapitan Cina Chung Thye Phin was one of the few who has opportunity to travel extensively to oversea. He was inspired by the famous canal of Venice of Italy, and the beautiful ponds and lakes of China when he planned to build his country villa. The villa was designed by Mr B.H.Ung from the firm Stark & McNeil, who was the first Chinese architect who introduced reinforced concrete buildings to the local community, the first being Ban Hin Lee Bank.

Inside the country villa was the first fresh water swimming pool in Penang Island. Around the swimming pool was the separate rooms, music room, dining room , study room and opium room etc. There was Corinthian column around the swimming pool and in front of the house. It was completed in early 1930s, but sadly Captain Chung Thye Phin passed away in 1935, not much time spent in the villa he built. There was also a small opium house behind the house, further up at the side of the hill, where he entertained his friends.

The mansion is now in dilapidated shape, the state government or the owner of the building can re-build it to its former glory, as it is located in Metropolitan Park, which can be part of the park as a historical building.

Chung Thye Phin ,鄭大平

Kapitan Ah Quee had nine male issue, the 4th and best known of whom was Chung Thye-phin MSC, JP. Born in 1876( some said 1879), Thye-phin received his education at the St. Xavier's Penang. Upon leaving school, he was initiated into his father's business.

An enterprising youth with a flair for progress, he later started a number of tin mines of his own, including a deep-shaft mine at Tronoh , adjoining the famous mine of the same name, and the hydraulic mine at Batu Tugoh. His open-cast mines were operated on the most modern system in his time. He had the distinction of being the first Chinese miner to have introduced the latest appliances on the mines, under the supervision of a European engineer. (Vide "Twentieth Century Impression of British Malaya", op. cit., p. 130)

He also had vast interests in some of the Government farm monopolies. At one time, during the latter part of the first World War, he was among the few who were permitted by the Government to print and issue 10-cent notes for circulation.

Malaya's Last Kapitan

The worthy descendent of Kapitan Ah Quee was the recipient of a tassled "gold medal" from the Government of Indo China (Annam) for his liberal gifts to the Relief Fund. (Vide "The Chung Family Record", op. cit., pp. 9-12)

He was appointed in March 1918, by Sir Arthur Henderson Young to be a member of the Federal Council of the Federated Malay States during the temporary absence of the Honourable Mr. Eu Tong-sen (Vide K. L. F. M. S. Correspondence Ref: No 3663-1917 dated 20th March 1918).

He also served as a member of the Commission to enquire into and report on the in Mining Industry, for which all the members were thanked by Mr. E. L. Brockman, Chief Secretary, F. M. S., for "the thoroughness with which you have gone into the various and important points raised and the clearness with which the conclusion arrived at regarding them have been recorded". (K. L., F. M. S. Correspondence Ref: No. 508-1919 dated 29th Jan., 1920). At about this time he was made a Justice of the Peace.

On 24th March 1921, His Highness Iskandar Shah K. C. M. G., the Sultan of Perak, with the advice of Colonel W. J. P. Hume, British Resident, Perak, conferred on him the title of "Kapitan China", in all probability, the last of the Chjinese Kapitans in Malaya.

He was installed by the Sultan of Perak in Kuala Kangsar amidst much traditional pomp and pagentry. His appointment was so popular with the community that he was escorted to Kuala Kangsar by the delegates of more than 70 Chinese organisations from Perak. (Vide "Miscellaneous Chronicles of Penang", Kuang, Kuo-hsiang op. cit., pp. 112-113)

The Man Thye Phin

A widely-travelled Malayan, Kapitan Thye-phin had gone round the world on many a business-cum-pleasure trip.

On one occasion, when he was accompanied by his wife Madam Lee Sau-yeng, to China, he undertook a perilous trip up the scenic gorges of the Yangtze River at Chungking, China, thus earning for himself the disctinction of being the first non-China-born Chinese to have made the venture. It was here that he was enraptured by Nature's inimitable splendour.

A keen sportsman, motoring was one of his hobbies. When Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and the Duchess of Connaught and Princess Patricia paid an official visit to Penang, they were driven by Kapitan Chung Thye-phin in his own private car.

And what of Thye-phin the man?

A lover of the good things of life, he lived gaily and luxuriously, so much so that many a legend of his Bohemian mode of living still lingers in the memory of his close contemporaries.

Chung Thye-phin, a Justice of the Peace and the last kapitan China of Perak, died in May 1935.

Architectural Monuments

The memory of this distinguished scion of the Chung family is kept green in Penang by at least two well-known architectural monuments.

Facing the sea at Gurney Drive, Penang, today stands a discoloured but once magnificent mansion. One of the most spectacular buildings of his time, this mansion was conceived and designed by the widely-travelled and resourceful Kapitan.

The mansion is unique because it appears to have been constructed upon a hillock, under which runs a subterranean ground floor with signs of a once well-ventilated and artistic suite of rooms, whereas it was actually built upon a stretch of level sandy beach. Access to this subterranean chamber is made through two long, covert exits facing the sea at Gurney Drive (formerly known as North Beach).

It is a remarkable coincidence, certainly not envisaged by its original founder, that the mansion is now used as a hotel and that within the walls of its subterranean dance-floor, the echo of "Wine, Woman and Song" reverberates to the rancous music of a modern Joget which holds a nocturnal performance therein.

The Famed Swimming Pool

The other architectural monument is the once famous fresh-water private swimming pool built in Relau, the first and the most expensive pool in Penang at that time.

Legend says that the Kapitan was inspired by the artistic canals of Venice and the enchanting ponds and lakes of China when he designed the swimming-pool, which was constructed by Mr. B. H. Ung, the first Chinese architect who introduced reinforced concrete buildings to the community, notably the Ban Hin Lee Bank.

Roads named after Chung Thye Phin

1. Jalan Chung Thye Phin, Ipoh: In Perak he was honoured with roads named after him. It is between Jalan Sultan Iskandar and Jalan Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh. The land marks there are Elim Gospel Hall, SMJK Ave Maria Convent Ipoh, Kinta Medical Centre. Jalan Chung Thye Phin in Ipoh borders the Kinta Medical Centre(20, Jalan Chung Thye Phin). This location is appropriate - the Centre, a private hospital under the administration of the Foo Yet Kai foundation, was formerly the family mansion of Chung Thye Phin.
There is another Lorong Chung Thye Phin between Jalan Hussein and Jalan Chung Thye Phin.

2. There is another road named in his honor in his birthplace of Taiping, Jalan Chung Thye Phin, formerly known as Cross street no.8. It is located between Jalan Taming Sari(formerly Main Road) and Jalan Masjid.

The Surviving Descendants

There are surviving altogether ten sons and seven daughters by the three widows of Kapitan Chung Thye-phin. Of these, two sons and two daughters are by his widow, Madam Lee Sau-yeng, a modest English-speaking lady of infinite classical Chinese feminine grace.

Chung Kok-soon or K.S.Chung, the first son, is a lawyer practicing in Singapore. He was a partner with David Marshall in 1960,8 years after he called to the BAR. David Marshall (1908-1995) was the former Chief Minister of Singapore and Singapore's greatest criminal and constitutional lawyer. He stayed with David Marshall for 2 years.

Chung kok-heng, a qualified motor engineer, is thriving as a financial agent at China Street Ghaut, Penang.

Mary Chung Yuet-seen one of the two daughters is the wife of Mr. Justice H. T. Ong of the Federation of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

Louise Chung Yuet-kuen, the other daughter, is the wife of Dr. C. H. Yeang, a very successful medical practitioner, who has equally distinguished himself in many other spheres of activities, notably as Patron of Jaycee, Penang, and Organizing Secretary for the Theosophical Society of Malaya and Singaproe.

Footnote: The name Thye-phin (which rhymes with Taiping) needs clarification. It is a common belief that the town of Taiping (Supreme Peace) was named after Thye-phin or vice versa. This notion is unfounded, for the syllable "Thye" is indicated by a possibility different Chinese character "Ta"(meaning big).

The confusion arises from the fact that the character , "Ta" is pronounced "Thye" (or Tai) in Hakka. In fact, "Thye" is a "generation name" and all the eight brothers of Thye Phin bear the same generation name: Thye Choon, Thye Jin, Thye Jit, Thye Cheong, Thye Yen, Thye Hin, Thye Chiong and Thye Kim.

(extract from wikipedia)

Note: Taiping was named by Capt Speedy after Pangkor Agreement 1874, it is formerly Kelian Pauh, now within Taiping. It cannot be named after Chung Thye Phin as he was not born yet. The name is Chinese word for forever peace or everlasting peace. "Tai(太) means more,extreme,and "ping(平) means balance, fair, peace. Generally the two words means "greater peace". This is the name used to reflect the wishes of all people after Larut Wars, peace forever thereafter...... The name of Chung Thye Phin may be named after Taiping, but "Tai(太)" which means extremely, was changed to "Ta(大)" which means big, this is to follow the middle name of Chung's family generation name(where children of the same generation of the family will use the same character in their 2nd name). So "Thye Phin(大平)" and "Tai-ping(太平) have same meaning, that is greater peace, that is the name Chung Ah Queen named his son, not only after Taiping town, but also having a great meaning to him personally, as he has make peace with his rival gang(Ghee Hin), and the leader of Ghee Hin was the god father of his son. So Thye Phin was relevant to him, what other names can be more meaningful than that?. The Hakka pronounced Ta and Tai with the same sound, but it does not make any difference,when two words are combined, that is big peace, more peace, extreme peace.......

作者 : 郑永美

郑大平(1879 -1935),郑景贵之四郎,生於太平哥打(KOTA),祖籍广东增城县绥福都良田约新村。幼入本屿圣芳济书院受英文教育,卒业後承继父业料理海记栈业 务,後设平记锡矿公司,为本邦著名矿商,拥有大矿场数处,如端洛矿场,聘用数千工人;又如峇都顿莪(BATU TUGOH)矿场采用现代化设备操作,遂成为最先进的华人矿家,并聘请欧籍工程师当监督。

由于精通矿务,曾获英政府委为考察锡矿专员。此外,亦曾承包政府各种饷码、经营种植业及实业,一九二一年三月廿四日受封为吡叻华人甲必丹,乃本邦最后一位接受此职者。历任吡叻议会议员、马来联邦议员, 平章会馆信理员(一九二0至二八年)、增龙会馆信理员、中华总商会首届值理、中国农商部谘议且受封四等文虎章、安南政府颁赐金章(因捐救济金)等。


他卒于一九三五年五月,遗下两座建筑物:(一)新关仔角前上海饭店即其大厦,今拆棹改置十数层豪华公寓(为海岭集团所拥有)。(二)湖内有一私人淡水游泳 池,旁边有间「夏楼」,系本屿最早的游泳池。夫人三位,元配李秀英,出二男二女。其他夫人生八男五女。长郎国顺律师在星执业,次郎国兴是位机械工程师,曾在火车头街任金融代理商。女儿月丝(玛莉)嫁联合邦高等法院法官王福泰、月娟(露丝)适杨清添医生,这二男二女都是李夫人所生。

Relau Villa

This is a swimming pool ,where Chung Thye Phin's children used to throw rambutan into the pool and later dive in to pick it up.

Related articles:
1. Relau Villa(in Chinese),农历七月——谈超渡, http://www.mybuddhist.net/cms/e/DoPrint/?classid=80&id=5712
2.Chinese business in the making of a Malay state, 1882-1941: Kedah and Penang(2003),by Xiao An Wu,published by Routledge. This book examines how Chinese family and business networks, focused around activities such as revenue farming, including opium, the rice trade, and pawnbroking, and related legal and labour organization activities, were highly influential in the process of state formation in Malaya.

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