The Hioe family and Yoeng Nam Hien & Co (榮南興)
York Lo: The Hioe family and Yoeng Nam Hien & Co (榮南興)
From the 1930s to 1960s, Yoeng Nam Hien & Co was one of the leading trading companies in Hong Kong specialized in trading between HK/China and Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia where the firm’s owner the Hioe family had built an enormous fortune tracing back to the late 19th century. The family is also known for its philanthropy for over a century in Indonesia, China and Hong Kong, with a particular focus on education.
Khoe A-Fan (丘亞樊, 1859-1930): Chinese Leader in Batavia and Lian Hien & Co
Left: Khoe A-Fan, the father of the Hioe brothers in Hong Kong; Right: the founding members of the Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan in Batavia – Khoe A-fan was likely in the picture
The patriarch of the Hioe family was Khoe A-fan. For some reason, both he and his eldest son’s English surnames are spelled Khoe while the rest of the family spelled their surname Hioe and some members also “Yau” which is based on Cantonese pronunciation or “Chiu” based on Mandarin pronunciation. His original name was Kioe Han-hiang (丘宏環) but he went by the Chinese name of Khoe Siat-ting (丘燮亭) and the English name of Khoe A-fan.
A native of Ping village in Mei-hsien, Khoe A-Fan was born into a poor Hakka family and started working at an early age collecting firewood in the mountains with his older brother. In 1876, the 17 years old Khoe left China for Batavia (now Jakarta) in West Java, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) where he worked at a shop owned by a relative. Together with a fellow Hakka native Liauw A-yoeng (廖煜光), Khoa started the trading firm of N.V. Handel Maaschapiij Lian Hien (聯興公司) in the 1880s and within two decades it became one of the largest trading firms in the Far East. According to Arnold Wright’s 20th Century Impression of Netherlands India in 1908, Lian Hien as a “general importer and exporter” which “deal in all kinds of Chinese and Japanese produce for the last twenty years have been carrying on a large and successful trade in almost every port between Java and Japan”. The firm operated as Tek Yei Liong in Surabaya and Semarang, Him Wo and Nam Chau in Singapore, Tek Hing Wo in Hong Kong, Lun Hing in Canton, Wing On Chong in Kobe and Wing On Woh in Yokohoma. Aside from the various Lian Hien entities listed above, Khoe was also director of a rice mill by the name of Chop Hin Liong and in January 1918, he led a group of Chinese businessmen including Khouw Kim-an (許金安 1875-1945), the last Majoor de Chinezen of Batavia and son in law of Phoa Keng-hek and Tjong A-Fie of Medan to form Batavia Bank (巴達維亞銀行), one of the first Chinese-owned banks in Indonesia, and served as its first president.
Outside of business, Khoe was an active community leader and philanthropist. In 1900, Khoe and other leading Chinese merchants such as Phoa Keng-hek (潘景赫,1857-1937) and Lie Hin-liam (李兴廉) established the first pan-Chinese organization in Indonesia – Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan (中华会馆) of Batavia and served as its vice president for 8 years. In 1901, he was involved in the establishment of the organization’s school – Tiong Hwa Hak Tong (中华学堂), the first Chinese school in Indonesia. Through his connections in Japan, Khoe helped to purchase school supplies and recruited teachers for the new school which was modeled after the modern schools in Japan. In 1908, he and Lie Hin-liam and others formed Tiong Hwa Siang Hwee (中华商会, Chinese Chamber of Commerce) of Batavia and later served as its 8th, 10th and 11th president. For his community involvement, Khoe was given the title of “Luitenant der Chinezen” by the Dutch colonial government.
Tiong Hwa Hak Tong in Batavia – Khoe A-fan was six from the left in the front row.
Aside from the Chinese communities in Indonesia, Khoe cared deeply for his native China and was involved in the building of numerous schools in his ancestral home of Mei-hsien from 1893 until his death in 1930 and beyond and personally sponsored over 50 Mei-hsien natives in their foreign studies in Japan, Europe and the US. He also contributed significantly to the Canton Christian College (renamed Lingnan in 1927; the Java Hall in the Canton campus built in 1920 was named after Khoe and other Indonesian Chinese merchants who contributed to its construction) and National Chi-nan University in Shanghai (established for overseas Chinese) in the 1920s.
Second Generation – Khoe Sim-yoeng, Hioe Njan-joeng, Hioe To-yoeng and Hioe Tjo-yoeng
Khoe A. Fan had six sons – the eldest, fourth and fifth being the most prominent while not much info is available about the second son Hioe Heng-yoeng (丘向榮), the third son Hioe Meng-yoeng (丘孟榮) and the sixth son Hioe Kwang-yoeng (丘廣榮). Most of Khoe’s children and descendants went to the various schools he started in Indonesia and China and he also sent at least his eldest son and his daughters to Japan to study.
The eldest son Khoe Sim-yoeng (丘心榮) was born in 1887 and graduated from Waseda University in Japan. According to De Indische gids, he was already made a director of Lian Hien in 1903 and director of another family enterprise N.V. Handel Mij Khoe Fan in 1906 although he was only a teenager at the time. Like his father, Sim-yoeng was a strong supporter of Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary cause and when the 1911 revolution succeeded in overthrowing the Manchu regime, Sim-yoeng accompanied the prominent Hakka patriot, educator and poet and fellow clansman Chiu Feng-chia (丘逢甲, 1864-1912, best known for his effort leading the resistance to the Japanese invasion of Taiwan in 1895 and Feng Chia University in Taichung is named after him) as delegate of Kwangtung province to the assembly in Nanking which elected Sun Yat-sen as provisional president of the new Republic. Although Sim-yoeng also served as president of the Tiong Hwa Siang Hwee in Batavia like his father, he was more interested in political affairs in the mainland and was made an Overseas Chinese Affairs commissioner of the KMT. When Sim-yoeng returned from the mainland to Batavia in July 1930 to attend his father’s funeral, he was detained by the Dutch colonial immigration officials for days for not having a proper visa and was ultimately deported despite pleas by the KMT consulate general to the office of the Dutch Governor-General. Allegedly the Dutch colonial administration was unhappy about the employment of two dissident Indonesian Chinese journalists which they deported two years earlier by a newspaper funded by Sim-yoeng in Shanghai.
Left: Hioe Njan-joeng in 1940; Right: Hioe Njan-joeng in his later years
In the 1930s, Khoe A-Fan’s nephew Hioe Njan-joeng (丘元榮, 1897-1978) assumed his uncle’s position as Chinese business and community leader in Indonesia as the president of the Batavia Siang Hwee from 1936-1940 and director of Batavia Bank. Njan-joeng came to Batavia from Mei-hsien in 1913 and joined his uncle’s Lian Hien & Co. Instead of offering him a senior position, Khoe A-fan had Njan-joeng started at the bottom to train him from the ground up. After proving himself at Lian Hien for 17 years, Njan-joeng struck out on his own in 1930 and founded N.V. Handel-Mij Yoeng Sheng (榮盛公司), which quickly became a leading firm in Java dealing in textiles with branches in Batavia, Surabaya and Cirebon.
Teaming up with his cousins (the fourth and fifth son of Khoe A-fan) – Hioe To-yoeng (丘陶榮, also known as 丘公冶) and Hioe Tjo-yoeng (丘佐榮, 1902-1979), Njan-joeng established Yoeng Nam Hien & Co in Hong Kong in 1936 at 37 Jervois Street and in Shanghai in 1938 at 15 Kiangyin Road – Yoeng being the common character in their names, Nam meaning South as in southern China and Hien as a reference to prosperity or their ascendant’s Lian Hien & Co. The firm was involved in the trading of a variety of goods between China and Southeast Asia but the primary focus was in textiles such as cotton and silk piece goods. The cousins also established several enterprises in Batavia – the glassware and metal manufacturer N.V. Handel-Mij Yoeng Hien (榮興公司), the textile trading firm of N.V. Handel Mij Lian Yoeng (聯榮公司) and the cotton weaving mill N.V. Weverij Yoeng Ngi (榮藝棉織廠).
Left: “Statue of Liberty” “Memorial Tower” and “Centipedes” trademarks for cotton and silk piece goods registered by Yoeng Nam Hien in HK in 1936. The “YYY” likely represents the three Hioe cousins whose names all end with “Yoeng” (HK Government Reports); Right: lid for a glass jar made by Yoeng Hien
In Hong Kong, Hioe To-yoeng and other merchants engaged in the Southeast Asian trade such as Poon Kwan-min (潘君勉, 1882-1968) established the Nanyang Importers & Exporters Association (香港南洋輸出入商會) in 1938. He and Njan-joeng also supported the establishment of the tertiary educational institution South China College (香港南華學院) by the Stanford-educated Hakka educator Chung Lo-chai the same year in HK – the school moved to Mei Hsien and Swatow and operated until 1951. The Hioes might also have been involved with the founding of the Sun Weaving Factory which was later controlled by fellow totok entrepreneur Djiauw Pok-kie (see article).
In Singapore, Hioe To-yoeng founded Fan Yoeng & Co (環榮公司) with the support of Hauw Sing-king (侯新慶, 1913-1983) who later started Tuck Lee Ice Co. In Shanghai, Njan-joeng started Batavia Chinese Pen Factory (巴華筆廠) which produced a very unique dual-mode pen which could switch from a Western fountain pen to Chinese ink brush. He also established Overseas Chinese Glass Factory (華僑玻璃廠) in Mei-hsien in 1941 and the cousins not only financially contributed to the construction of the Jinjiang Bridge in Mei-hsien between 1937 and 1948 but helped to procure construction materials such as cement and steel via Yoeng Nam Hien in HK.
Although the Hioe family did extensive business with Japan, when the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, Hioe Njan-jeong in particular took an active role in the refugee relief effort and the anti-Japanese war effort in China. He was one of the major subscribers to the war bonds issued by the KMT regime and when he visited Chungking in April 1941, he was personally received by President Lin Sen and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. When the Japanese occupied Java in 1942, Njan-joeng and 500 fellow Chinese leaders were detained in a concentration camp for three years. His businesses and factories, including 1000 boxes of piecegood, were confiscated.
As the Chinese Nationalists and Communists split up after the War in 1945, the cousins also split up over differing political views with To-yoeng and Tjo-yoeng keeping Yoeng Nam Hien and others while Njan-joeng keeping Yoeng Sheng. Njan-joeng remained very close to the KMT regime and when President Sukarno launched his campaign against KMT sympathizers in 1958, he along with other Chinese leaders such as Djiauw Pok-kie and Bong Ah Lock were arrested. Njan-joeng was released after one and a half year and was forced to sell Yoeng Sheng although he chose to stay in Jakarta where he died in 1978.
A graduate of Tung Shan Middle School (东山中学) in Mei-hsien (which was also founded by his father), To-yoeng relocated to HK after the War. During the Chinese Civil War between 1946 and 1949, he quietly hosted pro-Communist propagandists in his home in HK and provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial support to pro-Communist publications. Yoeng Nam Hien also assisted the People’s Liberation Army in procuring military supplies in the early years of the People’s Republic and in the 1960s donated funds to Mei-hsien for purchases of fertilizers. In 1964, the press in the US reported that Yong Nam Hien as agent for the Sukarno regime in Indonesia helped to procure 15 landing crafts equipped with GM engines that were being assembled at the W.H. Fong shipyard in Macau with 15 more to follow.
Left: Article about Hioe Tjo-yoeng’s donation to the Chung Sing Benevolent Society in 1965 with his picture (WKYP, 1965-7-27)
In the 1950s and 1960s, Yoeng Nam Hien operated out of 128 Connaught Road Central, which has since been re-developed into Yue Thai Commercial Building 豫泰商業大廈 in 1990. To-yoeng was close with his younger brother Tjo-yoeng and together they developed Tho Tjo Mansion (陶佐大廈, taking a character from each of their names) via Tho Tjo Co Ltd (incorporated in 1947, dissolved in 1970) at 23A Ventris Road in Happy Valley where many of the family members and foreign diplomats such as the consul general from Thailand, Cuba and Panama resided. Another property owned by the family was an office building at 255 Des Voeux Road Central which has since been re-developed into Kam Sang Building (錦甡大廈) in 1992. As a firm, Yoeng Nam Hien was dissolved in 1997.
Relative to his older brother, Tjo-yoeng and his wife Tjoeng Lan (鍾蘭) were much higher profile as philanthropists and captured headlines in 1963 when they donated HK$100,000 towards the construction of the HK Chinese Women’s Club Hioe Tjo Yoeng Primary School (中國婦女會丘佐榮學校) in Sai Wan Ho, which opened in 1965. In 1971, the couple made a $500,000 donation towards the construction of the YWCA Hioe Tjo Yoeng College in Ho Man Tin. Hioe Tjo-yoeng died in September 1979 in HK of a heart attack.
Left: YWCA Hioe Tjo Yoeng College; Right: Mrs. Hioe Tjo-yoeng (right) presenting HK$100,000 check to Gertrude Kwok in 1963 for the construction of the HKCWC HTY Primary School. (WKYP, 1963-8)
Third Generation and Beyond
Left: Chiu Fu-chan and wife at a New Year’s Party (Lingnan 1943 graduate 50th anniversary booklet); right: Yau Fu-hong (Fung Ying Seen Koon)
Hioe Njan-joeng had at least 9 children – the 5 sons by the order of birth are Khoe Fuk-kim (丘福錦), Khoe Fuk-long (丘福亮) Hioe Foek-soen (丘福順), Hioe Foek-meng (丘福明) and Hioe Foek-tjiong. Born in 1941, Foek-tjiong earned his PhD in physics from King’s College in London and has been a professor and chairman of the physics department at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Njan-joeng’s 4 daughters were named after the four Chinese flowers – plum, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo and the eldest Khoe Lan-moy (丘梅) studied at St Paul’s in Hong Kong before the War.
Hioe To-yoeng had eight children including four sons – Steven Yau Fu-hong (丘福雄, 1919-2005), Chiu Fu-chan (丘福展), Chiu Fu-loen (丘福崙) and Chiu Fu-pang (丘福鵬) and four daughters. Born in 1919, Fu-hong grew up in Indonesia but studied in Swatow and HK where he attended St Paul’s College. He was involved in the management of Yoeng Nam Hien and co-founded Kwee Brothers & Sons Co Ltd (郭氏有限公司), an import export firm with Kwee Hauw-Oe (Engkun Kawidjaja) with $2 million in capital in 1955. In 1969, Steven established Vanson Enterprises (萬順企業) to participate in the triangle trade between Indonesia, HK and Taiwan. As a firm, both Vanson and Kwee Brothers were dissolved in 2005. A Taoist leader, Fu-hong was head of Fung Ying Seen Koon and vice chair of the HK Taoist Association and served as HK Affairs Adviser to Beijing between 1995-97 and HK SAR election committee member from 1996 to 2005 when he passed away.
Born in 1927, Chiu Fu-chan attended the Ping Village Middle School (丙村中学, founded by his grandfather in 1905) in his native Mei-hsien, Lingnan in Canton and graduated from National Chi-nan University in Shanghai. After he received his master degree from MIT, Fu-chan returned to HK to join Yong Nam Hien and married Yueh-hwa Li (李月華), daughter of Li Hsi-mou (李熙謀, 1896-1975), president of Chiao Tung University in Taiwan at St John’s Cathedral followed by a banquet attended by 2000 guests at the Kam Ling restaurant in 1954. Aside from Yoeng Nam Hien, Fu-chan was associated with Fortune Enterprises (福中企業) which was incorporated in 1963 and dissolved in 2006. He donated $126,000 in 1979 to his alma mater Ping Village Middle School to build “Siat Ting Hall” in memory of his grandfather and also donated statues of Marshal Ye Jianying and Khoe A Fan at the school in 1986. He was the owner of several racehorses in HK in the 1960s and 1970s.
Left: Mimie Hioe as a bride in 1965 (Boston Globe, 1965); middle: Albert C.H. Kwok in 1975 (KSEN, 1975-12-24); Right: article about the double suicide of Hioe Ting-ting and her caretaker in 1971
In 1965, Hioe To-yoeng’s daughter Mimie Hioe Mei-mei (丘薇薇, and also went by the name Mimie Yau), who studied at Boston University, married Albert Kwok Chi-hong (郭志匡, 1940-1986), the second son of Wing On Group chairman Lam-Po Kwok in Boston. Albert, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard the same day as his older brother Philip (Albert’s degree was in chemistry while his brother’s degree was in physics) in 1965, was vice chairman and managing director of Wing On Bank before his death in 1986 while Mimie was a licensed representative of the securities brokerage DBS Vickers until 2016. In 1971, the low profile Hioe To-yoeng’s name made the front page when the unconscious bodies of his 35 years old daughter Hioe Ting-ting (who required full time medical care after an illness at an early age) and her caretaker were found in their apartment in Tho Tjo Mansion in a suspected double suicide by overdosing pills.
Article and picture of the engagement of Kenny Hioe in 1954 at the family residence at 23 Ventris Road in Happy Valley which was attended by the Indonesian consul general and who’s who of the HK business and banking circles (WKYP, 1954-8-16)
Hioe Tjo-yoeng was survived by one son – Kenny Hioe Foek-keng (丘福根) and three daughters – Hioe Tjien-tjien (丘清清), Hioe Kioen Kioen (丘瑾瑾) and Hioe Ling-ling (丘玲玲). Kenny attended Tabor Academy and Harvard Business School and married S.C. Yung (榮兆菁), the daughter of Wuxi textile industrialist Yung Kwong-liang (榮廣亮) in 1954. Kenny Hioe was listed in Taiwan business directories in the 1960s as chairman of Nusantara Corp in Taiwan which was involved in the trading of textiles, chemicals and metals. He was also a benefactor of the College of Chinese Culture, the precursor of Chinese Culture University in Taipei. A 1965 file in the National Archive in Kew listed Kenny Hioe as a suspected spy for the Indonesian Armed Forces intelligence staff. In 1981, Kenny was named defendant alongside Tjo Ta Ltd in a lawsuit filed by his sister Tjien-tjien over the disposition of 255 Des Voeux Road.
Kenny’s sons include Kenny Hioe Jr who had worked in private banking with Citibank in HK and Silicon Valley Bank in the Bay Area; Tony Hioe Tsun-chao (丘俊超), a lawyer in HK and Sandy Hioe Tsun-cheng (丘俊誠), a UC Berkeley trained architect in HK who died in 2005 of lung cancer. Sandy’s widow architect Winnie Yue (余詠詩)is the daughter of HK Table Tennis Association president Yue Yun-hing (余潤興) and founder of the International Design Furniture Fair Hong Kong in 2015.
Left: Mrs. Hioe Tjo-yoeng and Mrs. Kenny Hioe cutting the ribbon for a charity event organized by the Chung Sing Benevolent Society in 1965 (WKYP 1965-10-18); Right: article and picture of the wedding of Sandy Hioe and Winnie Yue in 1991 (WKYP, 1991-1-7)
Sources (other than those quoted above):
Suryadinata, Leo, Prominent Indonesian Chinese: Biographical Sketches (4th edition), Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2015
Chinese Indonesians Reassessed: History, Religion and Belonging, Routledge, 2013
Boston Globe 19 Sep 1965: B_9
“Indonesia’s Landing Crafts being Built at Macao” Atlanta Constitution 19 Apr 1964:
This article was first posted on 24th May 2019.
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