Monday, January 25, 2010

Khaw Boo Aun's residence at Bukit Tambun(許武安故居)

Anyone know Khaw Boo Aun? Is anyone in the state, or Bukit Tambun know him?

Khaw Boo Aun, the historical figure in the Larut War. He constructed his residential house at Bukit Tambun in 1866. It was reported in Sin Chew Daily on 24-1-2010, all the historical relic in the building has been stolen, even the name plate was stolen....

The heritage building was at Bukit Tambun, not Penang Island; not at UNESCO's heritage zone; her fate is not similar to other heritage buildings in the island. It was reported by the daily that the descendants have no financial capability to maintain the heritage house of their ancestor.

Another heritage building at Seberang Prai, Kee Poh Huat Kongsi at Sungei Bakap was well maintained. Their family members including Madam Kee, a former state exco in charge of tourism and her husband, an active heritage activist. The family members understand the value of their ancestor's house, and kept the house in proper care.

I do not know the other family members of the Khaw or Koh families; the one who stay in Bukit Tambun even moved out from their family home, when the building was in bad condition. How about the family members who are in Penang, in Malaysia and even oversea? Why don't they group their resources to take care of the family house.

It is a sad story. The family member even reported that one of foreigner antique collector offered to buy their 140 years old family business wooden name plate for RM40,000. And the wooden name plate was lost recently....

I was also wonder why the heritage people was not aware of the abandon of the heritage building at Bukit Tambun. No one bought to the attention of state and federal government to preserve it? Why the NGOs initiated some donation or sponsorship campaign to help in the maintain?.

How about the state government, did the government know the fate of the heritage building? or is it because it is in Bukit Tambun, it was not as important as the one in UNESCO heritage zone?

Did the state assemblyman and Member of Parliament there, know the existence of the heritage building ,and their poor condition? I will also like to ask the question to the previous representative in state assembly and Parliament the same question, as it has been in neglected state for some time.....are they aware of the heritage in their constituency?. Otherwise the Chief Minister LGE should forced them to attend awareness course on the conservation of heritage buildings. Being people representatives in the state where there is UNESCO heritage site, they should have the knowledge and urgency to preserve heritage buildings in their area.

The state management of dragon boat activities has been poor, resulted in accident during the competition; the people who were appointed to the organizing committee was reported to be person not familiar with the dragon boat competition; and even worst the experienced people were replaced due to their political background. We should stop politicking after state election. It should be the person who can do well be appointed , not political background. The poor management has partly resulted in the Dragon Boat tragedy of Chung Ling High School students....

Similarly, the Bukit Tambun heritage building, is the state management of heritage questionable? the one responsible for state's heritage should answer for the lost of our historical relics.....

Why the historical building is not listed as heritage, to be eligible for aids and protection, many questions to be answer, or "tidak apa attitude",like the issue of city status, just hide in the carpet and pretend not to see.....let others solve the problem? did the federal government know the heritage building?

Where is the CAT?.....China's former President Deng Xiaoping(邓小平); has once said no matter what color of the cat, black or white; as long as it can catch mouse,it is good cat. Mr Chief Minister, it is high time to get a good cat, and bad cat should be removed.... Too many bad cats around will spoil the state of Penang, we are not Cat Town( but George Town)....

It may be too late, the historical relics may have lost and moved oversea....but the building still intact, we still have time to save the building.

Khaw Boo Aun (1837-1906)

Khaw Boo Aun, was the most prominent member of the Khaw clan. Khaw Boo Aun was involved in the 3rd Larut War (1871-1873) and was later made a member of the Perak State Council.

He was the Sin Seh of the Ghee Hin Sum Hup society and played an instrumental part in the 3rd Larut War (1871- 1873) as the financier to Raja Abdullah. (Sin Seh in those days means Second man or secretary).

Khaw Boo Aun was made a member of the Perak State Council in 1886. He served many years as a member of the Chinese Advisory Board since its inception in 1890. Khaw Boo Aun was the principal of Kwantung and Tingchow Public Cemetery committee and co-founder of Penang Chinese Town Hall and Seh Khaw Kongsi.

Khaw Boo Aun was also appointed as the sole Asian commissioner in the commission of enquiry into the state of Labor in the Straits Settlements and protected Natives States in 1890. He served as a Justice of Peace one year before his death in 1906.

The open policy of tin mining in Larut, attract and prompted the Teochews/Cantonese,and Hokkiens to clash over tin mining rights in Perak, leading eventually to the bloody Larut Wars involving the two main secret societies, the Ghee Hin and Hai San. The Larut war was a 14-year-long conflict.

Prior to the signing of the Pangkor Treaty on 3rd January 1873, Khaw Boo Aun alias Booy Aun accompanied Chin Ah Yam, met W A Pickering for an unofficial preliminary negotiations of the Penang Triad Society. Their co-operation with Pickering paved the way to the signing ofPangkor engagement 20th January 1874.

But when Boo Aun imposed a blockade for about six months in the water route stretching from Perak to Penang, preventing tin ore from being shipped out of Klian Pauh controlled by the Hai San, theBritish forced the two warring secret societies to sign the Treaty of Pangkor in 1874 which ended the bloody conflict.

Khor Boo Aun died in 1906 Jan 8th, the coffin was in state in his Bukit Tambun house for 3 years before it was transferred back to China for burial.

His life story should be suffice to tell us that he was a historical figure of old Penang, and his residence should be preserve for the future. Please act has the potential to become Khoo Kongsi, Cheing Fatt Tze, Penang Teochew Association, of Seberang Perai......































(Sinchew Daily, 24-1-2010)


  1. Yes, Khaw Boo Aun was my great grand father. unfortunately ..There has been many bitter feuds within the Khaw family, and the family is divided. i'm afraid not much chance of grouping resources ... Indeed a very sad tale ... one that I know very little about I'm afraid ...

    I've never seen ... only heard of the house, and yes, it deserves heritage recognition.

    Thank you for your post

  2. Hi, my grandmother used to tell me stories about the family and one of them was that Khaw Boo Aun was either her maternal grandfather (or great-grandfather) or her husband's. I recently found a scribble pad where I took notes and had referenced Tambun family house and a couple of other things which didn't make sense to me as a 12 year old. Does anyone know of where the names of Khaw Boo Aun's wives, children and possibly further descendants might be referenced so I can continue on the family tree search?

    1. kittyKat, I'm trying to piece together a family tree my self ... and you may have some of the missing info I need.
      I've been told by my dad that Khaw Boo Aun had 9 Sons, and 7 Daughters.

      I'm decended from son No 7(Khaw Boon Peng)
      I also have the lineage details for Son No 2 (Khaw Boon Cheh) and Daughter No 6(Khaw Lean Neoh). Thanks to a decendant from the lineage ...

      The rest I'm afraid is a mystery ...
      I think ( not certain .... Son no 5 is Khaw Boon Eng and Son No 6 Khaw Boon Hung)

      Please contact me at - I would very much like to fill in the blanks to my family tree.

  3. Hi,

    I realise it has been 2 years since the last post. Hope you are both still following this.

    I found out recently that my grandfather, age 93, is the great grandson of Khaw Boo Aun from his 2nd wife. He has never met KBA or his great grandma, but had visited the house in Bukit Tambun as a young child when it was headed by wife no. 3. We had a look at the house from the outside during my last visit to Bukit Mertajam where my grandad lives now. I would be very interested to pool resources/lobby towards preserving the building.

    My grandad says his great grandma (mother's side) is Khaw Ew Neoh (KBA's daughter) who married Tan Choon Hock, a kapitan of BM. We are descendants of that line. My grandad's surname is Yeap.

    I would be very interested to connect with both of you, Adele and KittyKat.


  4. Hi Joyce

    Would be great to chat with your grandfather and listen to him on his memory of Khaw Ew Neoh. Khaw Boon Cheh (Khaw Boo Aun's 2nd Son) is my Great Grandfather. Over the years I have attempted to construct the Khaw Family Tree. If you are interested, email me on

    Hock Seang