A forgotten lady philanthropist


Life in a colonial port was always complicated, and historical descriptions of individuals and events tended to reflect racial and gender biases, allowing many to fade away from memory. Tan Soon Cheng draws attention to a forgotten lady philanthropist.

Records of the arrival of Chinese immigrants in Penang and their economic activities during the early 20th century are well documented, often in British government reports.

Be that as it may, specific details about immigrants as individuals are a rarity. However, in two publications from the 1930s – Nanyang yingshu haixia zhimindi zhilüe (南洋英 􀀀海􀀀殖民地􀀀略; Gazetteer of the Nanyang British Straits Settlements) and the Nanyang mingren jizhuan (南洋名人集􀀀; Grouped Biographies of Nanyang Worthies)– such information can be found. Both of these were the result of gigantic projects in Chinese initiated by writers and journalists, which were compiled with the aim of commemorating significant men who had contributed to Chinese communities in the Nanyang region.

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