The Cheah Kongsi

History of Cheah Clan of Sek Tong Seah Penang
I am honored to be invited to this opening of the Colloquium on the History of Chinese Communities. (Penang Story Project).

Actually no record could be traced as to the year in which this Institution was founded but based on the first title deeds owned by this Institution, we can infer that that this body was established prior to the year 1820. What appears to be the first landed property acquired was on 15th March, 1820 in the name of Jee Lye Hock Ho Kongsi (the name of our Patrons Saint Hock Haw) comprised in grant 175 Lot 254 and 249 T.S. XX. (land situated at Tek Soon Street). The second to fifth acquisition of landed property was made from 1824 to 1827 in the name of “Cheah Kay Hock Haw Kong” (land situated at Armenian Street).


The sixth comprised the Lot 93 T.S. XXI on which our Kongsi Temple was erected and it was acquired in 1828 in the name of Chengin, Cheah Lye Yeam and Cheah Phang in the trust of “Cheah Kay Hock Haw Kong Kongsi” (at Armenian Street).

No record of Trustees or Committee could be found before 1825. The first and only trustee in 1825 was “Grow Sooe”. Common knowledge has it that Cheah Yeam my great grandfather and his wife Ong Sin Neoh played prominent roles in the founding of this Cheah Clan Temple. The Institution was formed in the old days in a moderate way by a few of our clansmen without a properly defined constitution until 1846 when upon the demise of Mr. Cheah Yeam (father of Mr. Cheah Choo Yew, J.P. President of the Kongsi), his wife Ong Sin Neoh was appointed to take charge of the administration. She in turn appointed Cheah Soye as sole Trustee.

On the death of Cheah Soye, she in the year 1861 appointed 9 trustees (as shown in the Title deed No.336 (register 92) Registered No. 2480 of 1835 and 215 of 1846 and 1863). Although there was no definite foundation for the establishment of the Institution prior to the year 1846, the above proved conclusively the almost unlimited powers which circumstance placed in the hand of my great grandmother Mdm. Ong Sin Neoh. This also shows that it had been wisely exercised by her, or otherwise there is no doubt our Institution would have suffered materially and have been subject to disputes or expensive litigation.

In the year 1909 my grandfather Mr. Cheah Choo Yew J.P. with the support of his co-trustee acquired a land for the Cheah Cemetery at Mt. Erskine Road. A bungalow was also constructed with a total cost of twenty thousand dollars and was named the “Cheah Sek Tong Family Cemetery”. The rules of the cemetery had been engraved in the marble tablet and erected in the pavilion of the cemetery.

The Cheah Kongsi which was established in 1820 possesses a history span of nearly 181 years. It may be noted that Cheah Kongsi is among one of the oldest clan associations in the history of Penang.

Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty and during the early years of Qing Dynasty countless mainlanders from coastal provinces of Guan Dong and Fujian (Hokkien), with the aim of searching for a better living, migrated overseas especially to Malay Peninsula and other Asian Countries. The Cheah Clan first landed in Butterworth (Bagan Dalam), opposite Penang Island and then eventually moved to Penang Island due to booming business and better development opportunities there (mainly focused in George Town especially near the coastal areas).

Like all other clan associations in Penang, the Cheah Kongsi was established to look after the welfare of their clansmen from their ancestral village of Sek Tong Seah in China located in the Hai Teng District, Zhang Zhou prefecture, Fujian Province in the present designated Development Zone of Hai Chang, opposite Xiamen City.

The Cheah immigrants from China known as `Sinkheks’ were given accommodation and financial help by the Kongsi until they found employment. Other objectives of our Cheah Kongsi are as follows:

a) To worship the Patron Saint “Hock Haw Kong”.
b) To observe ancestral worship.
To provide university and educational aid to the children of our Cheah members.
d) To provide subsistence allowance to widows of Cheah Clansmen.

Currently the Board of Trustee is made up of the following “Kark Thau” (section):

1) Ho Boey 6) Chooi Thau
2) Eh Tang Kheh 7) Ah Mah Cheng
3) Tcheng Kow 8) Tong Tang Kheh
4) Ow Kow 9) Sai Suah
5) Eh Boey 10) Thaw Theh/Eh Choo

The above Kark Thau (section) were related to the history of our Cheah Clan of Sek Tong Seah in China as attached.

A Trustee Board was formed out of the selected maximum twenty trustee members and the Board was responsible for the Kongsi’s financial matters, asset management, running of the cemetery and welfare of the members. The purpose was to unite the clan members and devote offerings to ancestors on each festivals and to award scholarships to the deserving children of the clan, help the poor and unfortunate and make donations to charity/education.

Cheah Kongsi is one of the main clans in Penang. The five main surnames are Cheah, Khoo, Yeoh, Lim and Tan. The five Kongi’s are located in the same neighborhood and make up the “Hokkien Kongsi”. Four trustees from each of the five clans are selected to represent the Hokkien Kongsi and are put in charge of five temples as well as Victoria Green (Penang Chinese Recreation Club). The famous Snake Temple is one of them. Others with connections to the Cheah Kongsi are:

Kong Hock Keong (Kuan Yin Temple), Thni Kong Tua (God of Heaven), Shou Tian Kung (Tua Pek Kong Temple), Hock Teik Cheng Sin, Sam Quaye Tong, and Sam Toh Bean Lok Keok.

The Cheah Clan in Penang also has many distinguished sons among them — Mr. Cheah Choo Yew J.P., Dato Cheah Toon Lock, Dr. Cheah Cheng Poh and Senator Cheah Seng Kim, a former state Executive Councillor in Penang. Some roads in Penang were also name after my family. Che Em Lane after my great-grandfather, Jalan Cheah Choo Yew after my grandfather and Jalan Cheah Seng Kim after my father.

In short the Penang Cheah Si Hock Kong Kongsi not only plays an important part in uniting its clan members, but also contributes towards education, religion and sports.

I would like to take this opportunity to with you all a prosperous and grateful year ahead.

History of the Cheah Clan of Sek Tong Seah in China.
Cheah Phee Ghee who lived in the Sung Dynasty was the Great Ancestor, he had two sons one named Geow Lean and the other was Theng Lean. There were two male hot springs from Geow Lean named Soon Ho and Soon Yang.

Soon Ho had three issues of the male line named Beng Him, Beng Eng and Beng Heart. Beng Him alias Tong San had two sons named Toh Beng and Toh Kee.
Toh Beng had six issues of the male line named Hou, Yew, Bok, Yen, Jim, and Soot. Ho founded the village called “Amah Tcheng.”
Yew, Bok and Yen founded the village called ” Eh Boey”.
Jim founded the village called “Tcheng Kow”, “Ow Kow”, “Ho Boey”, “Sai Suah”, “Kow Khow”, and Thaw Theah”.
Soot founded the village called “Teng Tang Kheh”, and “Eh Tang Kheh”.
Toh Kee had four sons named Eng, Hua, Hoo, and Kwee. These four brothers Eng, Hwa, Hoo and Kwee founded the village called `Eh Choo”.
Some of the clansmen of Sai Suah and Eh Choo had settled down in “Chooi Thow” village.

It was Beng Him or Tong San Kong the first ancestor who founded the village of “Sek Tong Seah” Kuan, Cheong Chew Ho, the province of Fukien, China.

The present Cheah clan in Sek Tong Seah were either the desendants of Tong Beng or Toh Kee, the second ancestor.

Cheah Jin Teong