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Temple in Perlis
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Cheong Yoke Choy Memorial / 張郁才墓園

Cheong Yoke Choy Memorial / 張郁才墓園

A couple of months back, a good friend whom was reminiscing about his youth, mentioned about a grand colonial mansion he had to travel pass to get home from school. He recalled that it had a huge flat ground, bigger than a football field as its garden and its located next to pudu jail. With very little infomation to work with, we took a drive to Jalan Imbi to help refresh my friends memory. It was in the late 60s and the early 70s when he was staying around the area before furthering his studies overseas. Even with the driving around, it wasn’t easy for him either as many of the road has changed and developments has really alter the surrounding. As usual, with determination, we came to pin point the location of the old mansion to what is today a well known shopping centre.

Further research on the owner of the old mansion has gotten my attention to seek its final resting place and also do a small writeup as my respect to this great person whom many had forgotten.

Cheong Yoke Choy Memorial / 張郁才墓園

The old mansion is addressed at 216, Jalan Pudu. It was built by Mr Cheong Yoke Choy. During the Japanese occupation in malaya, this mansion was used to housed Japanese officers as the nearby Pudu Jail was used by the occupation forces to incarcerated Allied POWs. A bomb shelter was also built in this compound.

Based on what i could gather online, not much is known about this old mansion besides it been demolished to make way for the large shopping complex when the parcel of land was sold by his descendants before the Asian Financial Crisis hit Malaysia in 1997. It is quite unfortunate that i couldn’t find a photo of the old mansion..maybe in near future, i hope. If anybody has a photo of the mansion or any information about it, and wish to share it here, kindly do contact me.

A little about Mr. Cheong Yoke Choy.

Born on the 22nd day of the 6th lunar of 1873 in Xinhui, China. Mr Cheong Yoke Choy / 張郁才, at the age of 16, travelled from Guangzhou to malaya for a better prospect. He arrived at rawang (north of kuala lumpur) to worked as a labourer carrying 200 katies of rice to rawang daily. He was only paid 50 cents a month as a labourer(*5). Six months later, He moved to Kuala Lumpur where he found employment in Dong Xing Long / 東興隆, a provision store owned by the Towkay Loke Yew (*1). Records shows that he was still employed there as a General Manager in 1909. Due to his hard-working and humble nature, he gradually earned the trust of Mr Loke Yew whom he saw not only as a benefactor but also a mentor(*1).

Cheong Yoke Choy Memorial / 張郁才墓園 1

Mr. Cheong Yoke Choy / 張郁才

Following his mentors footsteps, he and a friend Mr. Chan Zhen Wing / 陳振永 aka Chan Wing withdrew all their savings to opened Hoong Fatt Tin Mining Kongsi / Hung Fa Xi Kuang Gong Si / 鴻發錫礦公司(*2) and it became the largest and deepest open-cast tin mine in the world. One could imagine the among of money they were making during that tin prosperous era. Beside been known as a wealthy and charitable person, Mr Cheong also finds interest in equestrian and is also a well known race horse owner(*3). Together with a few business partners, he co-founded Kwong Yik Bank in 1915(*1).

Mr Cheong is a strong believer in education, in 1918, he single-handedly founded Pak Peng Free School / Bo Ping Yue Xue / 柏屏義學 and provided students from very poor family with free education. Along with his associates, he co-founded many other Chinese schools for the poor. He also contributed immensely to society and held many important position in chinese association around Kuala Lumpur. He was also a property trustees for the Xian Si Shi Ye temple in Kuala Lumpur. In recognition, the local British government appointed him as the Chinese counselor and also bestowed him the title of JP (Justice of Peace) and OBE (Order of the British Empire)(*2).

Due to his philanthropic deed even at elderly aged, he is also affectionately known as “The Elderly Philanthropist / Ci Shan Lao Ren / 慈善老人”. There was also a road named after him called Lorong Cheong Yoke Choy but unfortunately this road has been demolished to make way for a shopping warehouse.

Passing of a great man.

Mr Cheong Yoke Choy passed away in his bungalow located in 216, Jalan Pudu… the said big mansion… on the night of 26 May 1958 at the age of 85 years. He leaves behind a son and two daughter(*3). According to some news report, it is said that he had been ill for sometime(*5) .

His funeral procession was one of the grandest of the time. The were as many as 10,000 whom participated to pay their last respect. Many of these includes Government officials, Community leader, Business leaders and School delegates along with school children in their uniform. There were fifteen funerals bands in attendance on that day(*6) and the traffic was jammed up as the funeral procession was a 4.8km long affair and there was also a 3.6meter effigy of a deity too(*4).

He is buried closed to his father in a family plot at a Chinese cemetery in Kuala Lumpur on a Sunday, 1st June, 1958.

Uniquely, for a person of such stature, his final resting place was a simple one. It has a simple tombstone next to the burial mounds that is planted on the ground looking high up the sky above. A measurement on a Chinese compass shows the tomb should be sitting You / 酉 at 268°. Other family members later interred here includes his late wife and his son.

Born on a leap month?

While looking for his DOB on the gregorian calendar, I came to notice that there were a leap lunar 6th month in 1873 on the Chinese Thousand Year Calendar. Usually when a person is born on a leap month, it would be inscribed onto the tombstone. Unfortunately, no such info is found. So without any more information to further work with, I converted the lunar dates and it would either be 16th July 1873 or 14th August 1873 if he is born on the leap month.

Reference:-

(1) Wikipedia

(2) Selangor and Federal Territory Kwong Siew Association

3) DEATH OF K.L. MILLIONAIRE, The Straits Times, 27 May 1958, Page 1

4) FUNERAL BANDS, NST, 21 March 1990, Fong Leong Ming.

5) CAPITAL TO SEE BIG FUNERAL PROCESSION ON SUNDAY, The Straits Times, 28 May 1958, Page 9

6) 10,000 AT FUNERAL OF MR. CHEONG – The Straits Times, 2 June 1958, Page 7


Cheong Yoke Choy Memorial / 張郁才墓園 – My Time – my.72dragon.com – Cataloging Chinese temples in Malaysia / 記錄馬來西亞廟宇文化.

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4 comments to Cheong Yoke Choy Memorial / 張郁才墓園

  • avatar Alex Lim

    Thank you for this information. Now I can put a face to this name.
    I grew up in the Pudu neighbourhood (1971-1983) and his bungalow was a landmark in those days.

    • avatar AdminMy72dragon

      Hi Alex,

      Great to know that the post helped answered something many has long forgotten…. unfortunately, I’m still not able to find photos of this bungalow.

      Cheers.

  • avatar June Wong

    I too grew up in Pudu, in one of the old double story shop houses I used to call home from 1960 – 1973 . When I was young we used to walk along Jalan Pudu all the way down passed the Majestic Cinema, opposite, the big tree – where the once famous hokkien mee stall opened in the evening, Eurasian Club and finally the infamous Pudu jail and often when we reached this point, m we paused and stared across the road at the old bungalow of Cheong Yoke Choy whom we had heard stories about this man. There were frenji penny trees in and outside its compound , the ambience and surroundings were quiet and dark and kind of mysterious making one eager to know more about the inhabitants of the house.

    Bullock cart was a regular sight on the main road but what I remembered most was almost everyday, a trishaw would pass by my house and from the window, in it I saw a very fair skin little boy about 6-7 years old who wore dark sunglasses with an amah sitting beside him. I was told he is the son of Cheong Yoke Choy’s son – the only son I was heard

    Little is known about this philanthropist , his wive(s) or children ( I understand he had few wives and mistresses)except what have been written above.

    I left Pudu in 1973, occasionally, I came back to this place just to reminisce some old times and would have a meal at the old Sek Yuen Restaurant the only old Chinese restaurant along the main road of Jln. Pudu who had withstood time and survived through the modern era. The other two restaurants Pit Yow Tin and Hup Fatt which once served authentic Cantonese cuisine and charcoal roast pork and duck along with traditional cakes and pastries were long gone and missed by all the old timers of Pudu.

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