Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thailand: Ranong( 拉儂)& Na Ranong Family

Ranong Province

Ranong (ระนอง,拉儂府) is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, on the coast of the Andaman Sea. It is the province with the fewest citizens. Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Chumphon, Surat Thani and Phang Nga. To the west, it also borders Kawthaung Province, Union of Myanmar.

Ranong is the first southern province on the western coast, located 568 kilometres from Bangkok. It is known for the long rainy period, which lasts for 8 months each year. The locals said it is a place of 'Fon Paed Daed Si' seasons, meaning eight months of rain and four months of sunshine. Ranong occupies an area of 3,298 square kilometres and is bordered by Myanmar and the Indian Ocean to the west. Within its compact area, Ranong contains various natural attractions and is blessed with hot springs and unspoiled mangrove forests.

Ranong is subdivided into five districts (amphoe). These are further subdivided into 30 subdistricts (tambon) and 167 villages (muban). Ranong itself is the only town (thesaban mueang), and there are five more subdistrict municipalities (thesaban tambon).

1. Mueang Ranong
2. La-un
3. Kapoe
4. Kra Buri
5. Suk Samran

Ranong (ระนอง)) is a town in southern Thailand, capital of the Ranong Province and the Mueang Ranong district. The town covers completely the area of the tambon Khao Niwet (เขานิเวศน์). As of 2005 it has a population of 16,163, and has town status (thesaban mueang).

The name Ranong is actually the Thai corruption of Rundung, a Malay principality under the overlordship of Malay Sultanate of Kedah. Rundung gradually succumbed to repeated Thai invasions in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The town is located at the estuary of the Pak Chan (or Kraburi) River, opposite Myanmar's Victoria Point. Phetkasem Road (Thailand Route 4) runs through the city. The Ranong Airport is located about 24 km south of the town.

The Port Authority of Thailand operates the Port of Ranong, which is Thailand's principal Indian Ocean port.

Ranong is best known as a fishing and trading port. It was settled by the Hokkian Chinese, and their strong influence is evident in the town. Ranong town is a gateway to Myanmar, with colourful longboats ferrying produce and people across the narrow divide that separates the two countries. The traffic is even heavier these days since a casino opened at Victoria Point. The famous hot springs are just outside of town, where an arboretum and various first-class hotels cater to visitors eager to benefit from the medicinal properties of the mineral waters. Ranong also famous for its visa run to Burma.

Na Ranong ณ ระนอง Family 那‧拉儂族
Khaw Soo Cheng
The Na Ranong family name has its roots that go back to Khaw Soo Cheang(许泗漳), the province's first governor, whose portrait graces a wall of a shrine that also has a tablet tracing the family tree. In 1916 all Chinese immigrants and their descendants had to adopt a Thai name, and the family of Khaw Soo Cheang became the Na Ranong family.

Khaw Soo Cheang(1797-1882), other name Khaw Teng Hai, was born in Changzhou(中国福建漳州龙溪县霞嶼鄉), not far from Xiamen, China, in 1797. At the age of 25, along with his elder brother, Soo Foo, he left China like thousands of others before him to escape poverty and headed for Nanyang, in search of a better life. In 1822, he arrived at Penang penniless.

Penang was used to be part of Siam before 1786 under vasal state Kedah, but when Khaw arrived in 1822,it was under British rule. Khaw Soo Cheang began as a labourer but when things didn't get better he obtained lease of eight acres of land in Sungei Tiram(过山)- site of Bayan Lepas Airport today - and started growing fruits and vegetables.

Every week he walked 18 miles to sell his produce in Jelutong,Penang. Six years later life still hadn't improved and he moved to Takua Pa and began trading in clothes, guns, tin, areca nuts, bird's nest and pepper. This time it clicked: trade flourished and for a change, with the help of an influential lady, Thao Thep Sunthorn, he made money. (Note: may be Thao Sri Sunthon (ท้าวศรีสุนทร) sister of the wife of deceased governor of Phuket, Thao Thep Kasattri (ท้าวเทพกระษัตรี)who together successfully defended Phuket against Burmese invasion in 1785? her name was Khun Mook (คุณมุก),which needed to be confirmed).

Later, he moved to Phangnga and finding it full of promise opened a store called Koe Guan. He bought a ship and started trading along the coastal Penang-Ranong-Kra Buri route. Phangnga was his base until 1844.

Ranong then was a small settlement of just 17 houses, but it was rich in tin ores. In 1844, during the reign of King Rama III, Khaw Soo Cheang received a concession to mine tin in exchange for a certain amount of royalty payable twice a year, which he subsequently surpassed as business became prosperous. In 1862, King Rama IV formally elevated Ranong to full provincial status and appointed Khaw Soo Cheang, a tin-mining magnate of Hokkien descent, as governor, granting him the official rank of Phra Rattana Setthi. It was for his loyalty, integrity, and in the face of looming threat from the British who then ruled Burma, Khaw Soo Cheang was appointed governor of Ranong. Later, one of his sons, Khaw Sim Kong, was named to the royal court in Bangkok as an aide to the monarch.

Ranong at the time was so distant that tax collectors were far from willing to travel there. Khaw Soo Cheang, apart from being an able trader, also proved a shrewd administrator and obtained the right to collect taxes on behalf of the state.

He went about the work diligently and as his tin-mining business prospered he was able to bring in more workers which he sourced from his native China. In just three years there were thousands of Chinese working in tin mines, and as their numbers soared so did Ranong's contribution to state coffers. Khaw Soo Cheang had complete say when it came to collecting tax levied on tin mining and export, opium, liquor and gambling, which he pursued with due diligence and in an evenhanded manner.

As his reputation grew, so did his tin business to Lang Suan, Phangnga, Takua Thung, Phuket and Takua Pa, and in due course everyone of them were reporting to Bangkok, completely by-passing the tax collectors, and with tin prices reaching new highs the state revenue also peaked.

It was around this time that Khaw Soo Cheang, by now old and feeling his age, took absence of leave to visit his hometown in China. While he was away a revolt of sorts broke out among Chinese workers and there was rioting in Ranong which he helped clamp down on return. For his services, he was bestowed the title "Phraya Damrong Sujarit Mahisorn Phakdi Jangwang" by King Rama V, while his eldest son was appointed chief administrator of Ranong.

Khaw Soo Cheang died at the age of 86 in May, 1882. He was survived by six sons. His final resting place is a plot of land donated by King Rama V at Ranong.

Khaw family
Khaw Soo Cheang was a Chinese immigrant from Zhangzhou-fu, Fukien Province. He was an officer of the "Small Knives Secret Society", which was fighting to restore the Ming Dynasty. His other name was Khaw Teng Hai, and his alias was Khaw Soo Cheang (refer to the Chinese inscription on his tomb in Ranong). In 1810 he arrived in Penang and stayed in Sungai Tiram which is about 1 kilometer from the present Bayan Lepas International Airport where he was engaged in small-scale vegetable farming. Once a week Khaw Soo Cheang would take his produce down to Jelutong to sell. Khaw Soo Cheang subsequently went into trading and started a small sundries shop business under the name of Koe Guan. Subsequently he started trading up the coast of what is today Southern Thailand.

From trading Khaw Soo Cheang diversified into tin mining, shipping and supplying immigrant labourers. In 1844 he was appointed Royal Collector of tin royalties in the Ranong area, and received the title Luang Ratanasethi. In 1854 King Mongkut made him governor of Ranong and elevated him to the rank of Phra Rattana Setthi. At the time Ranong was subordinate to Chumphon province, but in 1864 it was elevated to full provincial status, and Khaw Soo Cheang became a Phraya, the 2nd highest royal title for commoner. He successfully defended the new province against being invaded and annexed by the Burmese. The family became close to the Thai royal court, especially Prince Damrong, who stayed at the family home in Penang, which was named Chakrabong in honour of the Thai royal family. in 1872 Khaw Soo Cheang who was then an old man of 81 sailed back to China where he married an 18-year-old damsel. Prior to that voyage he had a will made by the venerable firm of Presgrave and Matthews in Penang.

Na Ranong Family
Khaw Soo Cheang(1797-1882) had two Chinese wives, Sit Kim Lean and Kim. He had six sons, of which Khaw Sim Cheng(1850) was the eldest, Khaw Sim Kong(1840-1912) the second, Khaw Sim Chuah(1880) the third, Khaw Sim Khim(1845-1903) the fourth, Khaw Sim Teik (1850-1920)the fifth, and Khaw Sim Bee(1860-1913) the sixth. Kim, a Siamese woman was the mother of Khaw Sim Bee, the youngest son. He may have other Siamese wife. But his principal wife and mother of his heir were Chinese.

1. The eldest son, Khaw Sim Cheng(许心正, d 1850) , died in 1850 before his father who died in 1882. His principal wife was from China, Sek Loon Kwan

2. The second son, Khaw Sim Kong(许心廣, b1840 d 1912), Phraya Damrong Sutcharit (Khosimkong na Ranong) became the next governor of Ranong(拉儂府)from 1882-1896. In 1896 Sim Kong became commissioner of the Monthon of Chumphon (มณฑลชุมพร)from 1896-1901. His principal wife was Cheah Lean Kee from Penang. He has 6 sons, the eldest Joo Seng, Joo Ghee , Joo Chai, Joo Lei(a lawyer worked at Thai foreign office at Bangkok), Joo Kik, and Joo Tai. Khaw Joo Ghee succeeded his father as the Governor of Ranong(DIANA CARROLLis,2000)from 1896, and director of family business Penang Khean Guan Insurance.

3. The third son, Khaw Sim Chuah(许心泉,d 1880), married Yeoh Siew Chee. He died in 1880.

4.His fourth son, Khaw Sim Khim(许心欽 b 1845 d 1903), became became governor of Kraburi(กระบุรี,克拉武里). His principal wife was Lim Kim Teen from Penang. Khaw Sim Khim later left Ranong to manage the family business in Penang. Koe Guan Company was Established by Khaw Soo Cheang during his era(not by Khaw sim Bee, Khaw Soo Cheang's 6th son as some report). The business was look after by Khaw Sim Khim. He was appointed by other members of the Khaw clan organization there the "Koe Yang Tong Society", as the chairman. He was the co-founder of Khaw Kongsi, or Saw Khaw Lean (Heah) Kongsi at Burma Road, Penang, Malaysia. He died in 1903, his tomb was located in Batu Lanchang Chinese cemetery, Penang, Malaysia. His sons, Joo Chie, Joo Tok((許如琢,1871-1951). Khaw Joo Tok, educated in Penang Free School(English school), was the managing director of Koe Guan & Company,Northam Road, Penang. He was the founding member & committee member(協理员)of Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce(檳州中華總商會), found in 27-6-1903, and Confucius Chinese School(孔圣庙中华学校)on 2-8-1911. He was also the Penang Jurors in 1904( Straits Settlements Government Gazette, December 23, 1904). He is also the founding director of Tongkah Harbour Dredging Company when formed in 1907, founding directors of the Eastern Smelting Company Ltd along with Chung Thye Phin, Eu Tong Sen, Ng Boo Bee, Ong Hung Chong, and his nephew Khaw Bian Kee(許紳基). Khaw Joo Tok inherited Asdang house, which was sold after WW2. Joo Chie was involved in opium revenue farm trade of the family. Early 19th century Penang was used as a staging post for the opium trade between India and China. The East India Company auctioned off licences to gambling dens, brothels and opium traders (this alone accounted for approximately 60% of colonial revenue. He was also the director of Eastern Smelting Company Ltd & Penang Khean Guan Insurance(Sim Bee & Joo Tok also director)between 1907-1910. This is the Khaw family whose descendants are still in Penang.

Khaw Joo Chie, 6th clerk, Resident Councillor's Office; Northam Road.
Khaw Joo Tok, managing director, Koe Guan & Company; Northam Road.
( Source: Straits Settlements Government Gazette, December 23, 1904)

5. The fifth son, Khaw Sim Teik(许心德,b 1850 d 1920), became governor of Langsuan(หลังสวน,浪宣府). His principal wife was Cheah Lean Looi from Penang. His tomb was located at Ranong. His son Joo Tien.

6. Khaw Sim Bee(许心美,b 1860 d 1913), the youngest son, Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi(พระยารัษฎานุประดิษฐ์มหิศรภักดี)became governor of Trang(董里府,舊稱什田府)from 1890-1900, and in 1900 commissioner of Monthon Phuket(มณฑลภูเก็ต, 東南六府). He was a bureaucratic tycoon and an appointed Thai Governor of Kraburi, Trang and later the Monthon of Phuket. In Penang, Sim Bee founded the Koe Guan Company Ltd, then one of the biggest shipping companies in British Malaya. He also pioneered the insurance business in Malaya with his Khean Guan Insurance Company. Sim Bee also had business interests in Tongkah Harbour Tin Dredging Co Ltd and Eastern Shipping Co Ltd. While he was so influential in south Thailand, he married a Chinese woman from Penang Lim Seng Kim as principal wife, with whom he had five sons. However, he was also polygamous and a notorious womanizer. This proved to be his undoing, as he was killed by a doctor in Trang whose wife he had his eyes on. The shooting took place on 25 February, 1913. Also wounded was his nephew,the Governor of Trang. Khaw Sim Bee and his nephew were rushed to the Penang hospital, but succumbed to their injuries on 10 April and 2 May respectively. New Strait Times on 6-6-1913, however reported that he was assassinated by a Siamese dresser, Ma Chan, in Trang on 25-3-1913. The accused was sentenced to death by judgment in Penang (source: NST dated 6-6-1913 Pg 8untitled, Sim Bee's illustrious political and business career was cut short when he was assassinated in 1913. The incident was known as the Trang Outrage, the tragedy marked the slow decline of the Khaw business empire. His tomb was located at Ranong. Khaw Sim Bee's only son in Penang is Khaw Joo Chye(许如財), who was the one inherited Chakrabongse House at Northam Road(now Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah). Chakrabongse house was built back to back with Asdang House, Chakrabongse house facing the sea and Asdang House facing the road. Chakrabongse House was demolished to make way for luxurious family flats, Asdang was sold and demolished in 1993.

However after Khaw Sim Bee's death in 1913, a commissioner from outside the area was appointed to stop the traditionally inherited administrative power of the family. The family essentially divided into the Malaysian and Thai portions of the family. In 1932 all Chinese immigrants and their descendants had to adopt a Thai name after the military coup. The family of Khaw Soo Cheang on the Thai side of the border had been given the name meaning "from Ranong" by the Thai King and became the Na Ranong family. In Malaysia and elsewhere they are still known as the Khaw family.

Khaw Soo Cheang, Khaw Sim Kong. Khaw Sim Teik and Khaw Sim Bee's tombs are today located in Ranong. The tombs of Khaw Sim Khim is located in Batu Lanchang Chinese cemetery while Khaw Sim Chuah who had no sons is purportedly buried off at Kampar Road in Penang. Today the eldest son Sim Cheng and the third son Sim Chuah's family are extinct.

Great Grandchildren(not conclusive):
1. KHAW Bian Kee(許紳基), Directors of the Eastern Smelting Company, Ltd along with Ng Boo Bee, Ong Hung Chong, and his uncle Khaw Joo Tok
2. Khaw Bian Ho,the last person whose name appeared on the trust deed Koe Guan Kong Lun established by the will dated 1872 of Khaw Soo Cheang. He died on October 21, 1972. 21 years after his death, the trust was vested.
3. Datuk Khaw Bian Cheng, was an alumnus of Methodist Boys' School,Penang.
4. Dr Khaw Bian Gow, son of Khaw Joo Ghee who had 6 wives
5. Khaw Bian Soon,son of Joo Piu
6. Khaw Bian Ang, son of Joo ley
7. Khaw Bian Chok, son of Joo Ghee
8. Bian Tatt,son of Joo Choe
9. Bian Chee,son of Joo Choe
10. Bian How, son of Joo Tok, who married Gan keng Wah
11. Bian How, son of Joo Tok,who married Yeoh Saw Kooi
12. Bian Teong, son of Joo Tok
13. Bian Wan, son of Joo Tok
14. Bian Eng, clerk with Tom Miles

Family trust: Koe Guan Trust or Koe Guan Kong Lun

In his will dated 1872 Khaw Soo Cheang divided his estate into 16 parts, of which 15 parts were distributed to his descendants. One-sixteenth was used to set up Koe Guan Kong Lun, the family trust, which was set up in 1905. Under the terms of the Trust Deed, it was stated that 21 years after the death of the last person whose name appeared in the Trust deed the trust would be vested. The last person whose name appeared on the trust deed who died was his great-grandson Khaw Bian Ho, who died on October 21, 1972. Twenty-one years later on October 21, 1993, the Trust was vested, and the Trustees began the process of winding up Koe Guan Kong Lun.

Khaw family & Political Control

The children of Khaw Soo Cheang was the administrators of Phuket, Krabi, Kra Buri, Langsuan, Chumphon, Trang, Ranong , Satun(in 1907); covered nearly all of the west coast of South Thailand except Malay state of Saturn. Other East coast of South Thailand were Songkhla(which was under Na Songkhla family),Nakhon Si Thammarat, and the Malay states of Patani, Yala, Narathiwat.

Ranong - Khaw Soo Cheang(1854-1877), Khaw Sim Kong(1877-1895), Khaw Joo Ghee(1895-?)(note: 3 generation of Na Ranong family)
Kraburi - Khaw Sim Khim
LangSuan - Khaw Sim Tek
Krabi- Khaw Sim Bee
Trang - Khaw Sim Bee, Khaw Joo Keat(note: 2 generations of na Ranong family),Phra Nara(son-in-law of Khaw Sim Bee)

Khaw Sim Kong was the first commissioner of the Monthon of Chumphon (มณฑลชุมพร)from 1896-1901. Khaw Sim Bee was the first commissioner of the Monthon of Phuket(มณฑลภูเก็ต)from 1900-1913.

(i)Phuket(ภูเก็ต,普吉) - Monthon Phuket(มณฑลภูเก็ต)was established in 1898, succeeding a previously established commissionership. It consisted of the provinces Phuket(普吉), Thalang(ถลาง,它朗), Ranong(拉儂), Phang Nga(จังหวัดระนอง,攀牙), Takua Pa(ตะกั่วป่า,竹古巴)and Krabi(甲米)- 東南六府. In 1907 Satun(沙敦) was added when most of the area of monthon Kedah was ceded to Britain. In 1933 the whole monthon system was abolished with the Provincial Administration Act B.E. 2476, part of the changes made after the coup d'etat which changed the absolute monarchy to a democracy.
(ii) Krabi(กระบี่,甲米) - Krabi was under Kingdom of Ligor in 1200, when the city Ban Thai Samor was part of this kingdom. In modern Thailand, Krabi was administered from Nakhon Si Thammarat, even after 1872 when king Chulalongkorn gave Krabi the status of a town. In 1875 it was made a direct subordinate of Bangkok, thus becoming what is now a province
(iii) Kra Buri (กระบุรี) is now the northernmost district (Amphoe) of Ranong Province, southern Thailand. Mueang Tra (or Kra) was established in Ayutthaya era as the 4th class city under Chumphon. The first governor was Mr. Kaew, a cousin of the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Kra Buri was downgraded to be a amphoe(district) of Ranong province around 1896.
(iv)Lang Suan (หลังสวน,浪宣府) is a district (amphoe) of Chumphon Province, southern Thailand. Lang Suan was originally a Mueang(semi-independent city-states) and a province reporting directly to Bangkok. During the thesaphiban reforms at the end of the 19th century it was put under Monthon Chumphon. On April 1 1932 the province was abolished and its districts were incorporated into Chumphon province
(v) Chumphon (ชุมพร, 春蓬府) is one of the southern provinces (changwat) of Thailand, at the shore of the Gulf of Thailand. Chumphon is a town (thesaban mueang) in southern Thailand, capital of the Chumphon Province and the Mueang Chumphon district. Monthon Chumphon was established in 1896 consisting of the provinces Chumphon, Chaiya, Kanchanadit and Lang Suan. Chaiya and Kanchanadit were later merged into one province named Chaiya. In 1905 the monthon administration was moved to Ban Don, the center of Chaiya province. Together with the rename of Chaiya to Surat Thani the monthon got renamed to "Monthon Surat". 1925 the monthon was incorporated into monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Family Businesses
The Khaw family founded an Eastern shipping company, Eastern Trading company, Tongkah Harbour (a publicly listed company), and an insurance company known as Khean Guan Insurance Company found in 1885. The family is also involved as revenue farmer from opium. Khaw family and its Penang associates decided to enter in shipping service in the Andaman Sea for the first time in 1890. By doing so, this group introduced three steamers to service on the routes of Penang-Ranong, Penang-Trang and Penang-Rangoon respectively.

Rubber and Khaw Sim Bee

The rubber tree was introduced to Phuket and South Thailand at the start of the century, coincidentally at the same time as onshore tin supplies started to dwindle and prices dip. Cash from rubber production breathed life into Phuket's small and faltering economy. Rubber plantations expanded to cover some 40% of Phuket's surface. Today it is around 33%.

You can recognize rubber plantations by their regimented rows of trees growing 4 m. apart - the assertion of symmetrical order and monoculture over the riot of native species which preceded it.

The rubber tree is indigenous to South America but was introduced to colonial South East Asia by the British, last century. There was strong competition and intense pressure to increase plantation yields. Europe, in the mid of an industrial revolution, developed an insatiable demand for rubber.

There was a lot of experimenting with hybrid strands to increase yields. Thailand was slow to start. In 1899 Trang governor Phraya Ratsada enviously inspected the new rubber estates of North Malaya.

It wasn't until 1901 that he finally sailed to Dutch Indonesia. While there he wrapped dozens of rubber shoots in wet cotton wool, covered them with newspaper and placed them in four boxes aboard his private steam boat. According to one Thai version, he then "took a very rapid and instantaneous trip back to Thailand."

The governor planted 18 acres near Trang and forced government officials to distribute seeds to farmers. Temporary laws were quickly written in Bangkok to allow rice growers to clear native forest for rubber production.

The agricultural ministry distributed seeds of the Indian rubber tree (ficus elastica) at cost price throughout South Thailand where the climate was suitable. The government brought in a European expert from Java, HWL Couperus, to teach cultivation techniques.

By 1910 rubber was a big player in Phuket's economy. The main market was North Malay, from where sheets were sent to meet industrial demand in Britain. Chinese immigrants who came to work the tin mines in Phuket switched to rubber tapping. Most rubber holdings in Phuket were Chinese owned. The Chinese were the only non-Thais allowed to own plantations in South Thailand. Family-run small holdings abounded on the Thai side of the border, while North Malaya encouraged larger estates with hybrid strains, Indian migrant labor, and foreign ownership.

Nevertheless, Thailand's small holdings supplied 4% of the world rubber market by 1936. With over 2,000 mm. of rain a year, the fertile growing climate of South Thailand propelled the country to the position of world's number one by the mid 1990s. Thailand now produces around 1.8 mil tons a year, 90% of which is exported, earning some 60 billion Baht annually. Indonesia and Malaysia follow closely behind.

Tin mining & Tongkah Harbour Tin Dredging Company

The meeting of Australian Miles family and Penang's Khaw family happened in Penang in 1903, Captain Edward T. Miles (1849-1944) negotiated the sale of four steamers to Koh Guan shipping company directors Khaw Joo Tok(1871-1951) and Khaw Sim Bee(1860-1913). It was a priceless opportunity to win the confidence of one of Siam's most influential Sino-Thai dynasties for Miles, and golden opportunity for Khaw family to meet Australian who has technology background. The discussion must be by Khaw Joo Tok, who is English educated from Penang Free School, and the decision may be by his uncle, Khaw Sim Bee.

According to Thomas Miles, son and biographer of Edward Miles, during negotiations with Koh Guan, his father was invited by Sim Bee to view a potential tin property in the town of Phuket, the administrative centre for the island and province of the same name. Sim Bee sought to increase tin output from Phuket through the introduction of modern mining machinery and mining techniques and believed Miles could help. With backing from Tasmanian jam manufacturers, Henry Jones and Co. Ltd, Miles visited the island in 1904 to find the proposed site unsatisfactory. It lay beneath some government buildings and, fearing his financiers would refuse to pay relocation costs, Miles turned his attention to the harbour. Silted-up with tailings washed down by years of intensive mining activity, the harbour was shallow and inaccessible to all but vessels of shallow draught. He deduced that tin must lay beneath this silt and put forward a proposal to adapt revolutionary dredge technology to recover tin from the harbour and, to make his offer more appealing, clear a new shipping channel and dock. In this version, Sim Bee was impressed by Miles' ingenuity and generosity in offering to redevelop Phuket's port facilities and recommended the project to Prince Damrong Rajanupharb, Minister for the Interior (1893-1915), and minister responsible for the Department of Mines and Geology (1897-1909). This straightforward account leaves many questions unanswered.

The world's first Commercial offshore bucket dredge
The launch of the first Tongkah Harbour Tin Dredging Company dredge on 4 November 1907 at Pyre Dock, Penang, was a major event in the history of tin mining. It was the world's first commercial offshore bucket dredge and its designer, Edward Miles, was an Australian. Attended by the Thai Minister for the Interior, Prince Damrong Rachanupharb, the launching ceremony marked the culmination of an extended process of exploration and negotiation. The Company's genesis was a chance meeting in Penang between Miles and two directors of the Koh Guan shipping company, Khaw Joo Tok, a wealthy Penang businessman, and Khaw Sim Bee, Superintendent Commissioner of monthon Phuket, the major tin producing province on Siam's west coast. Floated on the Hobart stock exchange on 23 November 1906 with a registered capital of A$150,000, Tongkah Harbour proved the most successful Australian tin company formed to operate in Siam, both in terms of its longevity and production. Remaining in Australian hands until the late 1930s, Tongkah Harbour was an unlikely business alliance but one that ideally suited the purposes of all parties involved.

Sim Bee effectively controlled access to mineral deposits in monthon Phuket. Confident of Sim Bee's loyalty to the state, Prince Damrong, a royal patron of the Khaw family, appointed him superintendent commissioner in 1899 conferring the title Phraya Rasadanupradit-Mahisonphakdi, Respected even by the British in Malaya for his efficiency and fairness, Sim Bee was charged with modernising administration and promoting economic development. Increased tin production was one way to silence Siam's critics in Malaya who alleged that incompetent Thai administrators had failed to promote the mining industry and were could not be relied upon to maintain peaceful conditions in Siam's southern provinces and Malay principalities. Under the Anglo-Siamese Convention of 1897 Bangkok was forced to acknowledge a British sphere of influence over most of peninsular Siam to Bang Saphan in monthon Chumphon. British businessmen in the Straits Settlements openly advocated that the principalities, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Trangannu, and Pattani become British protectorates. Belligerent sentiments expressed by businessmen and British officials alike merely exacerbated Thai fears of annexation. Thus extreme care had to be exercised when granting prospecting permits and mining lease applications lest politically astute concession-hunters foment local political discontent to strengthen their bargaining position with the Thai government. In the case of Miles, Thai anxieties were set aside.

Sim Bee and Joo Tok, who also played an instrumental part in bringing Miles to Phuket, were equally anxious to protect their family's mining interests against encroachment by British mining companies, already displacing Chinese miners in Malaya. With no practical mining experience Miles was infinitely less qualified to prospect for tin than many British mining engineers in Malaya desperately to break into Siam. However, Miles had considerable maritime experience and engineering skills which made him an ideal partner for the Khaws. Mine workings on the foreshore and traces of tin ore collected by the anchors of Koh Guan steamers near the harbour mouth, suggested that significant ore deposits lay within reach of someone with sufficient capital and the right technology to recover them. Miles looked to the harbour because Joo Tok told him tin would be found there. The decisive factor was his offer of free shares to Joo Tok and Sim Bee, and a company directorship for Joo Tok. The gesture indicated that Miles was prepared to cooperate with the Khaws and share the potential economic benefits of his tin venture.

Miles identified himself as an Australian rather than a British subject. Perhaps trying to distance himself from the British in Malaya, Miles informed Sim Bee that had he tried to establish a company in the Federated Malay States, British authorities would have made life difficult. Given the damage done to his reputation by the Strahan Marine Board scandal, there was more than an element of truth in this claim. Another critical factor was the rapport that emerged between Miles and Damrong. Dredging aside, politics, Australian and British, was a popular topic of their many conversations during 1906-1907. Recognised in Damrong's official correspondence as chao australia (Australian), as opposed to chao angkrit (English), Miles impressed with his ingenuity, enthusiasm and apparent sincerity. In Bangkok awaiting royal approval for his application for mining leases, Miles was treated by Damrong to a journey by royal yacht up the Chaophraya River to the ancient Thai capital of Ayudhaya. Standing beside the grave of his wife in the royal temple reserve in the ancient Thai capital, Damrong handed Miles a flower inviting him to place it on the grave as a token of respect. Miles did so with due reverence. Displaying a humility that contrasted sharply with the hauteur of many British colonial officials and businessmen with which Thais dealt, this simple act left a lasting impression upon Damrong.

Miles brought an attractive proposal before the Thai government. A shrewd businessman, in return for redeveloping Phuket's port facilities Miles asked that compensation of A$32, 000 be paid by the Thai government in the form of tin royalty and tax exemptions. It was evidence that Miles felt himself in a strong enough position to make demands. Rejecting the request for exemptions, Damrong nonetheless hailed the scheme as a major contribution to the welfare of Siam, taking personal responsibility for shepherding the proposal past a special commission of inquiry, the Council of Ministers, and recommending to King Chulalongkorn that a mining concession be granted. A measure of the standing Miles had acquired, a 25 year mining lease covering 9.16 square kilometres of Phuket harbour was issued to him and not the IXL Prospecting Company NL, formed by Henry Jones to finance his exploration. To offset establishment costs, a reduced lease rent was awarded for an unspecified duration and duties waived on imports of capital equipment and fuel. The Thai government granted Miles generous terms.

Strong opposition to the scheme came from the Director of the Department of Mines and Geology, an Englishman, Henry Scott. Hand-picked by Damrong in 1897 to work in the sensitive area of mining administration, Scott was a trusted employee who rose quickly to become director in 1899. He believed the dredge and dock proposal unworkable and, even though his objections went unheeded by the commission, continued to cast doubt on the project.

Scott also had reason to be jealous. With the help of his brother, T.G. Scott, a London stockbroker, he registered the Siamese Tin Syndicate Ltd., in London in November 1906. A betrayal of Damrong's trust, Scott intended to exploit his inside knowledge of the mining industry in Siam for personal profit. To avoid allegations of a conflict of interest, he did not take up a directorship with Siamese Tin until his resignation from the Mines Department in mid-1907. Yet Miles had beaten him to the start. Moreover, Miles allied with one of southern Siam's elite Sino-Thai families,the Khaw family, an example Scott refused to follow.

The first Tongkah Harbour dredge was built to Miles' specifications by the Scottish firm William Simons and Co. British mining engineers in Phuket sneered as Miles and his team battled mechanical failures to make the dredge operational. Tin was recovered for the first time two months later in January 1908. Within three years Tongkah Harbour had five offshore tin dredges working its Phuket leases. Unable to control management policy, Miles resigned from the company he created after series of disputes with the Hobart board, the most bitter over his replacement as mine manager in 1908. One of his last acts as managing director was to assist Tongkah Harbour renege on his promise to dredge a new dock and shipping channel by heading negotiation with the Thai government for the Company's release from this contractual obligation. It was the last straw. Miles struck out on his own finding an important ally in Aschelon Wooliscroft Palfreyman, a founding director of Tongkah Harbour, who learned the value of Miles relationships with Damrong and Sim Bee on a visit to Phuket in 1908, ironically to oversee Miles' replacement.

By virtue of his relationships with influential members of the Thai government and their Sino-Thai clients, Miles opened the door to Australian mining investment in Siam. Urged on by Miles, Eric Byron Moore, a dredgemaster with Tongkah Harbour, formed a company to develop leases covering the government compound in Phuket town. In the light of Tongkah Harbour's success, this area looked more attractive, and Palfreyman accepted liability for a substantial portion of compensation due the Thai government for relocation of buildings. Following the pattern established by Miles with Tongkah Harbour, Byron Moore procured evidence of �100,000 in available capital to fund the compound project. Generous leasing terms were granted by Chaophraya Wongsanupraphat, Minister for Lands and Agriculture, to whose responsibility the Department of Mines and Geology was transferred in 1909. The Tongkah Compound NL., was floated on the Melbourne stock exchange in 1910 with a registered capital of �50,000. Miles took no part in the company, but, his Penang associate, Khaw Joo Tok, acquired a directorship along with a parcel of free shares.

Between 1911 and 1914 Miles and Palfreyman formed three more dredging companies in association with the Khaw family. Following an invitation to examine possible properties in changwad Renong from the Governor, Khaw Joo Ghee, Deebook Dredging NL, Katoo Deebook NL, and Bangnon Dredging NL were formed. Despite the obvious conflict of interests, Joo Ghee accepted directorships with all three companies. For the Khaw family, the attraction of dealing with Australian investors was obvious. Miles, unlike Scott, was prepared to deal with them on their terms. In return for assistance with the location of fresh tin deposits and the acquisition of mining leases, Khaw Joo Tok and Khaw Joo Ghee received free shares in Australian companies for no capital outlay. With tin prices soaring in the years before World War One, the Khaws could expect substantial dividend payments in pounds sterling. The tragedy of Sim Bee's murder in 1913 did not dent the capacity of the "Khaw-Australia Syndicate" to function as a mining investment vehicle.

The success of Miles and other Australian mining entrepreneurs who followed him needs to be viewed in the context of Thai attitudes towards foreign mining investment. As mentioned, Sim Bee and Damrong were averse to throwing Siam open to British mining companies for fear of disastrous political consequences. Damrong set mining policy on a course designed to curtail the powers of British officials in the Department of Mines and Geology. His successor, Phraya Wonsanuprphat, was equally suspicious, but, bound by the terms of the new treaty with Britain, resigned to increasing foreign mining investment in Siam. Through a selective process of admission, this investment could be harnessed for the improvement of Siam. The Minister for Agriculture urged accommodation lest this "wild water", his metaphor for foreign capital, "flood in and punish us". With regard to the grant of mining leases a balance had to be found between the need for economic development and the interests of state security.

Suspicion of British intentions with regard to the boundary between Malaya and Siam did not cease with the 1909 treaty. Fears that increased British commercial activity in the South might be a precursor to further territorial demands were shared by Chulalongkorn's successor Wachirawudh (1910-25) and Prajadhipok (1925-1935). Overseeing a reduction in the number of foreign advisers employed by the State, Wachirawudh tried to encourage Thai participation in industry. Yet, despite his strident nationalistic and anti-Chinese rhetoric, he did nothing to challenge the interests of the Khaw family. A visitor to the Tongkah Harbour Company in 1910, he appreciated the national economic benefits of increased tin production and valued the contribution of Edward Miles. Thus, despite Damrong's resignation as Minister for the Interior in 1915 after falling out of royal favour, Australian mining investors continued to enjoy privileged access to Siam's coveted tin resources. Enobled as Phraya Rattanasethi during the Sixth Reign, Khaw Joo Tok remained the key broker for Australian tin investors.

Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi Museum

This is a historical site where the former ruler of Trang, Phraya Ratsadanupradit, once lived. Inside the two-story wooden building are a wax figure of the former ruler and a complete collection of his daily personal items. Currently, the Na Ranong family manages the house. The Museum is located around 200 meters from Kantang Municipality at No. 1, Khai Phithak Road, Tambon Kantang. It is open to the public every day, except Mondays (it is open on public holidays but closed the following day). Guide services are available for group tours, and must be requested in advance at the Kantang Phitthayakon School tel. 0-7525-1100.

Ranong Governor’s Grave (สุสานเจ้าเมืองระนอง)
Ranong Governor’s Grave (สุสานเจ้าเมืองระนอง) This Chinese grave of Phraya Rattanasetthi (Kho Su Chiang), Ranong’s first governor, is situated on a piece of land dedicated by King Rama V. There are three tiers of stone platform with steps leading up to the grave with antique granite sculptures of Chinese noblemen, horses, goats and lions on both sides.

The Na Ranong family shrine and residential ruins can be visited free of charge. Guided tours can be arranged on request: call Kosol na Ranong at 081-956-0008. Other places of interest: - The privately-owned spa near Raksawarin Hot Spring. - Boat excursions to Andaman Club, a four-star luxury accommodation with casino, and to Victoria Point that features a market, a replica of Shwedagon Pagoda and a monument to King Bayint Naung of Burma.


Monument of Phraya Rasdanupradit Mahissara Phakdi: Located 1 kilometer out of town on the road to Pattalung, this is the monument of an important ruler of Trang who first initiated the idea of growing rubber plants in Trang. Nowadays, rubber is widely planted in southern Thailand and became an important commodity of the country. In the evening, this is a place for meeting and relaxing of Trang residents.

The first rubber tree in Thailand: The first rubber tree in Thailand is on the road that leads to Kantang district. This tree represents the first group of rubber trees that Phraya Ratsadanupradit planted to pioneer the rubber plantation industry in 1899.

Phraya Rasdanupradit Mahissara Phakdi Musuem: The museum situates about 200 meters from the Kantang Munipality, Kantang district. It is the important historical site because it is the old house of Phraya Rasdanupradit, the Trang's governor in the past. The house is a two-storeyed wooden building. Inside, there are a waxed figure of the governor and a complete collection of his daily personal items. Today, the Na Ranong, the notable family looks after this house. It is open to the public everyday except Monday.


Indigo Pearl Phuket: Indigo Pearl resort hotel Phuket

The Indigo Pearl was previously the Pearl Village Resort at Nai Yang Beach in the North of Phuket Island. The resort through has been restyled and as the Indigo Pearl offers a high standard of comfort with luxurious rooms and villas. The quiet location of Nai Yang Beach is appealing to many. This is now an excellent resort hotel on Pohuket for those who wish to be in a quieter and more relaxing beach area on Phuket. he resort has been inspired by Phuket's Tin Mining past and was originally the site of a tin mine owned by the family of Khun Wichit Na-Ranong, Indigo Pearl's visionary owner

The statue of Phraya Ratsada Korsimbi, (Ratsada Korsimbi Na Ranong) the Governor of Phuket between 1890 and 1909 is also situated here

Saphan Hin
A public park located by the sea at the end of Phuket Road , Saphan Hin is a recreational park for both locals and tourists. The Tin Mining Monument dedicated to the memory of Captain Edward Thomas Miles, the Australian who brought the first dredge to Phuket in 1909, is located inside the park. The Saphan Hin Sports Center is also located here.


Monument of Phraya Rasdanupradit Mahissara Phakdi
Located 1 km. out of town on the road to Phatthalung, this is the monument of an important ruler of Trang who first initiated the idea of growing rubber plants in Trang and later they spread all over the southern part of Thailand. In the evening, a lot of people go there for relaxation.

Penang, Malaysia

Today the only vestige of his presence in Penang is the Penang state hall known as Dewan Sri Pinang which sits on the land known as Ranong grounds which was given by the Khaw family to the then government of the day in gratitude for the opportunities. The houses where the Khaw family resided on the famous millionaires' road Northam Road such as Asdang, Charkrabong the house opposite the old Shih Chung school besides No 32, have all been sold and no longer remain in the hands of the family.

Koe Guan Kongsi, the company of the Khaw/Na Ranong family of Penang and South Thailand has a family gallery in its premises at 63, Beach Street,Penang.

Khaw Sim Bee Road, located near Westland Secondary School in Penang, was named after him.

Famous Personality from Na Ranong

1.Wichit Na Ranong - Thailand Tourism Council president Wichit Na Ranong
2. Kittiratt Na-Ranong - Former President of The Stock Exchange of Thailand, Kittiratt Na-Ranong. Now Deputy Director for Academic Affairs of Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok,(MBA program)
3. Pittaya Na Ranong (เบิร์ด พิทยา ณ ระนอง), actor.
4. Dr. Teerasak Na Ranong, faculty member,School of Business, Assumption University of Thailand
5. Dr Viroj na Ranong, an economist with the Thailand Development Research Institute.
6. Assoc Prof Dr Anchana na Ranong, Thailand Development Research Institute.
7. Tan Sri Thitinant Na Ranong (นายประสงค์ บุญเจิม)- Khaw Sim Bee's grand nephew Tan Sri Thitinant Na Ranong was Thai Ambassador to Malaysia during Tunku's era(1959-1964). He was one of the founder of Chetawan Thai Buddhist Temple in Petaling Jaya during the 50"s.

(Note: To be updated and improve further)

Related articles:

1. Rubber Wood story,
3. Thai-Australian Relations in the Twentieth Century, by Paul Battersby,
5. Ranong & Victoria Point,
6. Khao Rang Hills,
7. Khaw Sim Bee, Governor of Phuket: A Centenary View by Pranee Sakulpipatana, Penang Story:
8. Forum on Thai Rubber:
9. Chinese kinship , marriage strategies, and social mobility in late 19th and early 20th century Siam(1987), by Jennifer W Cushman, Chinese business enterprise, Volume 1, edited by
Rajeswary Ampalavanar Brown pg 175- pg 187, published by Taylor & Francis in 1996
10. Khaw Sim Bee,
11. Thai)
12. Saw Khaw Lean (Heah) Kongsi,
13. 路過許心美先賢的什田府, chinese, but with many photo)
14. 泰國橡膠之父──許心美,
15. The tales of two families, the miles of Hobart and the Khaws of Penang(2000), by DIANA CARROLL, National Library of Australia News.
16. The Khaw Group: Chinese business in early 20th century Penang, by JW Cushman pg 48- pg 73, Chinese Business Vol 4(1996),published by Routledge London.
17. Tongkah Harbour Tin Dredging Company,

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