Chung Thye Phin - Public Life

Public Life

Chung Thye Phin was a committee member of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (檳城華人商部局) which was founded in June 1903 and before that served as a President of the Penang Chinese Town Hall (平章公館) established in 1881. At one time he even led the Penang Chinese Literary Association.

He was a director of the Straits Echo.

Despite his many business concerns, Chung Thye Phin envinced a lively interest in various philanthropic works, foreign famine funds and local charities.

In 1904 he subscribed (1,000) to the building fund for the founding of the Seven States Medical School. At a Chinese concert at Ipoh in 1908 in aid of the Canton famine fund he paid $100 for a plate of icecream.

According to a deed dating back to 1906, he was one of the trustees of the Penang Chinese Recreation Club.

During the financial depression in Perak in 1908 he was one of the four members of a deputation (the other three being Eu Tong Sen, Foo Choo Choon and Yau Tet Shin) appointed by the whole of the Chinese community in Perak to plead their plight and bring to the attention of the acting resident of Perak, Mr E L Brockman their requests for government aid.

He donated a fountain to the Penang Turf Club and the Taiping Lake Gardens to the Perak State Government. Both of these still exist today. Together with Eu Tong Sen he donated land in Papan for a jail. This same pair contributed $1,500 to the Perak Chinese Recreation Club in 1913.

This worthy scion of Kapitan Chung, Keng Quee was the recipient of a tasseled "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 appears in the 1904 List of Qualified Jurors. He was just 25 years of age at that time.

He was a member of the board of governors of the Yuk Choy school in Ipoh which began Standard 5 and 6 classes in 1908.

He was made a Justice of the Peace in 1917.

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.

He also served as a member of the Commission to enquire into and report on the 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)

In October 1920 he was appointed President of the Chinese Widow's and Orphan's Institution, Perak at its seventeenth annual general meeting in Ipoh.

Earlier that year he was part of a deputation, also comprising the Hon. Mr A N Kenion, the Hon. Mr J H Rich, Messrs. F S Physick, Herbert Cooper, C F Green, Chairman, Sanitary Board, Kinta and Cheang Heng Thoy, J. P., who met with the Hon. Mr W George Maxwell, C.M.G. British Resident of Perak to discuss Ipoh's electricity and lilghting needs.

He was elected representative vice president of the Garden Club for Penang, a position he was re-elected to for a number of years.

On 24 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 Chinese 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.

Later that year he was invited to Kuala Lumpur to give his views to the Trade Depression Commission during its two day's sitting in camera.

He was appointed trustee of the resuscitated Perak Miners' and Planters' association in 1922.

In July 1923 he was elected the first president of the newly inaugurated British Chinese Association. In November 1923, at the annual general meeting of the Perak Chinese Dramatic Club, he was elected Patron.

He presided over the Association of States and Straits Representatives (representing Chinese born in the Federated Malay States and the Straits Settlements) in 1923.

In 1926, together with Leong Sin Nam he was elected an honorary member of the Ipoh Club, whose members till then were restricted to the European community. The Times of Malaya said this was a compliment which should further cement the good feeling existing between the European and Chinese communities in Kinta.

In the name of His Majesty the King, His Excellency the High Commissioner awarded him a Certificate of Honour in recognition of his loyal and valuable services to the government of the F. M. S. in June 2007. He was presented the Malayan Certificate of Honour and its accompanying insignia by the Chief Secretary, F. M. S., Sir William Peel, in the throne room at Istana Nagara, Kuala Kangsar in August 1928, having received the same award on the occasion of H. M. the King-Emperor's birthday the year before.

According to berita.perak.gov.my, Foo Yet Kai, another Perak philanthropist, bought Chung Thye Phin's villa in Ipoh from the family of the late Kapitan and later gave permission for it to be converted into a private hospital, then known as Our Lady's Hospital and run by the Franciscan Sisters from Salzkotten, Germany. The hospital subsequently was renamed Kinta Medical Centre in the 1980s when the Foo Yet Kai Foundation took over the administration.

In 1905 together with a few others, he maintained 'Seng Kee' a Mess patronized by wealthy miners and merchants including Foo Choo Choon with whom he had familial and business relations.

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