Chung Thye Phin - The Tin Man

The Tin Man

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 or Teronoh, adjoining the famous mine of the same name, and the hydraulic mine at Batu Tugoh. Tronoh was the centre of the mining field containing the mine of Chung Thye Phin's Tronoh Mines Company Ltd.

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.

In 1914 he was elected to the council of the F.M.S. Chamber of Mines.

Together with Ho Man and Foo Choong Nyit, Chung Thye Phin co-founded the Toh Allang Chinese Tin Company in Perak, the first Chinese limited liability company, in 1925. He was also a founder and member of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Smelting Company (1908), Ltd along with Eu Tong Sen, Ng Boo Bee, Ong Hung Chong, Khaw Joo Tok and his nephew Khaw Bian Kee. The Eastern Smelting Company, Penang was registered in August 1907, and in November that year, its prospectus was advertised in various newspapers offering shares to the public. Governor Sir John Andserson officiated at its opening in January 1908. The company appeared to be doing well and at its first ordinary general meeting in October that year a 5 per cent dividend was declared based on the good performance of the prior six months work. Problems arose the following year and by the end of it its works manager had resigned, accusing the managing director and other directors of financial mismanagement. By March 1911 it had been decided to sell off the business to a London company. Newspapers in July 1911 carried the prospectus of the new London-based company that was to acquire the business of the Malayan company. The chairmanship of the London-based public company was Chung Thye Phin's old friend, former British Resident, Sir Ernest Birch. By the end of November 1911 the transfer from old to new company had been completed and the first general meeting of the new London-based company took place. Ownership by the London-company of the Penang-company became complete with the liquidation of the Penang public company.

In 1907 he convened a public meeting held at his offices attended by leading miners and other prominent residents to discuss problems that could arise as a result of the construction of the proposed Tronoh Railway and calling for a memorandum to be sent to the government to postpone the letting of contracts until a full public enquiry could be taken.

He was also active in promoting tin mining and the latest tin mining technologies available at the time.

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