Khaw Sim Bee, Governor of Phuket: A Centenary View


Chinese emigrated to Phuket during 1853 -1932 because of the food shortage and political events in their country. Most of the Chinese emigrants were Fukeinese from Fujian the Southern district of China. Some of them became tin mine owners, merchants and holders of a government monopoly.

Khaw Su Jiang, the founder of Na Ranong clan, was also one of the well-known governor in Ranong the southern border state of Siam. Khaw Sim Bee, his youngest son, was the most outstanding regional governor of the western coast provinces of Thailand during A.D. 1901 – 1913. He had been appointed to be Phraya Rasdanupradit, the Governor of Monton Phuket (The State provinces of Phuket) in 1901.

He was named “The Jewels of The Ralanakosin Riegn” from the ministry of the Interior Affairs because of his wisdom in administration.

During his time as the governor of Monton Phuket, he success fully solved many of the problems Monton Phuket had.

Even though Phraya Rasdanupradit had passed away for nearly ninety years, his working techniques in civil works, agriculture and tin mining business is always discussed on how he could manage it due to the lack of money and manpower.

Though, be didn’t have an opportunity to study in class. His father Khaw Su Jiang, accompanied him to the nearby provinces and foreign countries especially the Straits Settlement.

He learned the new knowledge, the Westernizing thinking and technology from the State of Malaya. He dreamed of changing Monton Phuket into a modem state.

One of his dreams is the Government’s House of Penang that can be seen as the Phuket Government’s Hall, the 99 doors European Style architecture mansion which was built in 1907 and finished in 1913.

The wide canal of Bang – Yai in the center of Phuket, which connected with the Phuket Bay is now difficult to trace because of the lack of the vision of the next governor.

We owe a lot to his vision to start the Para Rubber Plantation, the economic plant which dated back 100 years ago and it still plays an important role in an exporting goods for Thailand.

He learned from his experience that most of the Chinese emigrants were the main disease carriers especially “Plague”. He ordered to build a big quarantine station at the Bay of Phuket (Na-res Bay). All the emigrants had to be kept there at least three days. ‘They should have their hair shaved and burned all their own clothing. Monton Phuket at that time was really in need of tin-mining labors. Therefore, Phraya Rasdanupradit tried his best to draw attention of the Chinese emigrants to work here in Phuket with some special conditions.

This is a prove that he learned the modern ways of living from the neighbor country.

Pranee Sakulpipatana