Loke Yew (1846-1917), a tin magnate, revenue farmer, planter, industrialist and philanthropist, was elected as the first president of Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
During his tenure, he protested against The Federated Malay States Railways which practised discrimination against the Chinese in the seating arrangement in the railway carriages, educated the Chinese community on train etiquette, proposed the building of a Chinese town hall and contributed land and the starting fund. The Chamber also approached the government to abolish public gambling, published weekly bulletin containing the latest commercial news and summaries of Government Gazette notifications, by-laws and regulations affecting the Chinese businesses, and translated the Mining Enactment of 1904 into Chinese.
Dr Loke Yew, C.M.G., D. Litt. (Hong Kong) – a picture taken outside his house in Batu Road, Kuala Lumpur, in 1917, shortly before he died.
Chan Sow Lin (1845-1927), a tin miner and founder of the first Chinese engineering firm known as Chop Mee Lee, was known as the Father of Kuala Lumpur Chinese Ironworks.
In 1904, Chan chaired the preliminary and inaugural meeting of the chamber and was elected as its first vice-president before taking over the presidency in 1907. During his tenure, he applied to the Ministry of Commerce for the Qing Dynasty seal for official documentation, and changed the Chinese name of the chamber. The Chamber also donated $10,000 to flood victims in China during his presidency in 1908.
Choo Cheng Kay (1867-1959), a well-known miner, was elected the Honorary Secretary-General of the Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1906. A year later he resigned from the post to tour China, Japan, and Manchuria. After he returned from his trip, he resumed his office and was elected president in 1909.
During his tenure, he championed the anti-opium movement in Selangor and helped to pacify the rikisha and gharry strikes in 1909 by persuading the strikers to return to work. The strike broke out as a result of the introduction of bus services by the Cycle and Carriage Company in Kuala Lumpur.
Loke Chow Kit (1859-1918) was associated with owning many revenue farms in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Malacca and Hong Kong. He was also proprietor of Chow Kit & Co, one of the biggest general dealers in Kuala Lumpur and director of many tin and industrial companies.
As one of the founders of the chamber, he was elected the first vice president and led the Chamber during the period of 1911 China Revolution. At the end of his presidency, a riot broke out in Kuala Lumpur due to the cutting off of the tauchang (pigtail) worn by men. Loke Chow Kit at that time was undergoing an operation. It was his brother, Loke Chow Thye who helped settle the dispute and who was later elected the next president.
Loke Chow Thye (1871-1931), younger brother of Loke Chow Kit, was a well-known tin-miner in Kuala Lumpur. During his tenure, he helped to end the tauchang disturbance in early 1912 and worked together with other associations to withdraw the worn currency notes from circulation in 1913.
In 1922 he was elected president again. The first challenge he faced was the passing of the Export of Rubber (Restriction) Enactment in 1922, also known as the Stevenson Plan, which the Chamber protested strongly against, but was unsuccessful. The Chamber also raised funds to aid victims of the Japanese earthquake (1923), floods in Kwangtung (1924) and earthquake in Sumatra (1926). He organised protest against the Kuala Lumpur Sanitary Board on the requirement for cash deposits for its water, electricity and conservancy service in 1923. He also sent in petitions to abolish opium trafficking; and proposed the establishment of a broadcastingstation in Kuala Lumpur.
Yap Loong Hin （1873-1937）, a miner, was the eldest son of the fourth Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, Yap Ah Shak.
In his tenure, the Chamber of Commerce set up a “general bookkeeping class” in 1915 to train account clerks, with 24 graduates in the first intake. Due to the great demand, the course was held for many years. During WWI, the Colonial government attempted to impose income tax to aid the British war effort, the Chamber proposed that it be replaced with a levy on rubber and tin, which was accepted.
The Chamber also contributed to the Convalescent Home Fund for the British army and to the war lottery too. At the same time, the Chamber set up a few China flood relief funds to aid Canton (1915), Tientsin (1917) and Swatow (1918). In 1916, the Chamber also lobbied to the British government to add another Chinese member to the federal council, but it was only after 8 years that an addition Chinese member was appointed.
Low Leong Gan （1881-1945), a tin miner, was the third son of Low Boon Kim, a well-known revenue farmer and miner in Selangor. Low was appointed to the Chinese Advisory Board and Selangor State Council, and was the second Chinese installed as Dato’ Kurnia Jaya by Sultan Selangor.
During his tenure, as a result of a severe worldwide economic depression, the Chamber set up a camp for the unemployed in the Cantonese Cemetery to provide accommodation, food and medical services. Although the Chamber was also affected by economic difficulties, it still contributed to the Raffles College Fund, the first college for higher education in the arts and sciences founded in 1928 in Malaya. After the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, the Chamber appealed to the League of Nations for justice and advised Chinese in Selangor to wear black till the evacuation of Japanese troops from Manchuria.
Sarawak-born Lai Tet Loke（1872-1953) was the son-in-law of Goh Ah Ngee, a pioneer tin-miner in Selangor. Lai himself was a miner and invented the“Tet Loke and Christie Puddler” which was widely used in Selangor and Perak mines.
During his tenure, the Chamber together with other public bodies protested against the rice tax and Cecil Clementi’s decentralisation policy. The chamber moved to its new premise at Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in November 1933, and the hall was officially opened by the Sultan of Selangor in October 1934. The chamber also subscribed to the funding of University of Amoy when Dr Lim Boon Keng, the Chancellor of the University of Amoy visited Kuala Lumpur in 1935.
Yong Shook Lin（1896-1955）founded Shook Lin & Bok, one of the largest and oldest law firms in Malaysia in 1918.
During Yong’s leadership, the chamber stood with the FMS Chamber of Commerce to jointly oppose the business registration bill, issued certificates to members to facilitate their business engagement in China and raised funds for the construction of a theatre in the Sungai Buloh Leprosy Settlement.
Since the Chinese began boycotting Japanese goods in reaction to Japanese aggression in China, the Chamber established a Department of Commodity Research to identify the country of origin of the goods. The Chamber also assisted the China National Industry and Trade Association in holding a trade fair in Kuala Lumpur. It mobilized the Chinese community in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI; accompanied representatives from Kwong Tong and Hokkien Cemetery Kuala Lumpur to meet the British Resident to discuss acquisition of burial grounds; and recommended students for further studies to China.
Born in Yongchun, Fujian Province, Ng Teong Kiat (1892-1966) later moved to Selangor and specialized in the production of rubber shoes, crushing oil, winemaking, sawmilling and biscuits making. He also owned farms, rubber and tea plantations.
During his tenure as President, he called for the establishment of the Selangor Overseas Chinese First Aid Training Association and gave assistance to the Donation Committee of Buddhist Rescue Mission of China. In 1939, the Chamber proposed amendments to the Business Registration Bill. The laws were later translated into Chinese, which were published in the “Malayan Chinese Daily” and distributed to the members of the society. In order to prevent hawkers from being arrested by the police, the Chamber negotiated with the Sanitary Board to make rules. In the same year, the chamber submitted its feedback to China’s Consulate regarding the new regulations for passport application. The Chamber also formed a committee to coordinate the celebration of the coronation of the Sultan Selangor.
Born in Hong Kong and graduated from Cambridge University, Lee Hau Shik （1901-1988）came to Malaya in 1924 and opened a tin mining company.
During his tenure as president, he not only actively participated in anti-Japanese activities, served as president of the Selangor China Relief Fund, but also encouraged Chamber members to promote Chinese goods. On the other hand, the Chamber also assisted the British government in raising funds to finance the military efforts and for Remembrance Day. When the war approached Malaya, the Chamber encouraged the Chinese in Selangor to join the civil defence force, which included Lee. Later, Lee was promoted as the chief of Kuala Lumpur Southern District Air Raid Precaution Squad.
Lee who evacuated to India during the Japanese Occupation, returned to Malaya after the war. He revived the operations of the Chamber in early December 1945. The old committee members resumed their post until the election of a new committee a year after that. A special donation was launched to revitalize the Chamber. Apart from reviving the economy, the Chamber also assisted the government to overcome the problems of the black-market, rice rations, war compensation, and the problem land selling during the Occupation period.
In addition to revitalizing associations established in the pre-war period, Lee was also involved in setting up new ones and integrating many Chinese associations, for instance the Federation of Malaysian Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Kwang Tung Associations. He also championed the formation of a Chinese political party, the Malayan Chinese Association, and the establishment of a Chinese newspaper, the China Press. Lee served as a member of Legislative and Executive Council, as well as Minister of Transport and later represented Malaya in the signing of the agreement for independence of Malaya with British and became the first finance minister after independence.
Second son of Chong Yoon Hee, a famous tin miner, Chong Khoon Lin (1893-1962) was one of the founders of Kuala Lumpur Chung Kwo School, the president of the All-Malayan Chinese Mining Association, the Selangor Ka Yin Association and the Kwangtung Association. He was a nominated member to represent the interest of the tin industry in the Federal Legislative Council (1955-1959) and represented Malaya at International Tin Council meetings for many years.
During his presidency, Malaya was at a critical moment of obtaining independence from the British. The Chamber had sent a memorandum to the government to ask for equal rights between different ethnic groups and to make Chinese one of the official languages. In 1955, The Chamber organised an art exhibition to raise funds for a new building, but the project was abandoned later due to lack of funds. The Chamber amended its rules in 1956 by expanding membership to associations which was previously only open to individuals and companies.
Kuala Lumpur born Chan Kwong Hon (1909-1978) was the eldest son of tin miner Chan Chin Moi. He was a member of the Selangor State Council and Municipal Commissioner of Kuala Lumpur, and was later made a member of the Dewan Negara (Senate). He was the chairman of Selangor Dredging Bhd and Goodmeal Biochemical Manufactory Bhd, and director of United Asian Bank Bhd and Malayan flour Mills Bhd.
His tenure coincided with the formation of Malaysia in 1963 and the confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia in the same period. The Chamber supported the government’s policies and participated in the Malay Language Month Movement to popularize the learning and use of Malay to promote national unity. The Chamber also assisted villagers of Sekinchan and Slim River to apply for agriculture land. During his presidency, a preparatory committee was formed to discuss matters related to the construction of the Chamber’s new building, and the Chinese name of the Chamber was changed. Chan was elected as the president of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).
Tang Tong Hye or better known as T.H. Tan (1914-1985) was a journalist before he became the secretary of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and then the first honorary secretary-general of the Alliance Party until 1971. He was the secretary of the Alliance delegation for the independence talks convened in London. He was appointed a federal senator in 1959. Tan also held office as chairman of the Social Welfare Lotteries Board and Federal Film Censorship appeal board, and board member of the Central Electricity Board/National Electricity Board, 1959-1978. In addition, he was a member of the Volunteer Police Reserve and managing director of several companies including Malayawata Steel.
During his tenure, the Chamber proposed the application of Rent Control Act in Kuala Lumpur to overcome problems of renting old houses. The Chamber also launched a motion to claim compensation from Japan, besides assisting four leaders of The Chamber to become members of the Senate (Dewan Negara) to represent the voice of Chinese businessmen. The Chamber’s office was relocated from the ground floor of the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall to the first floor and an international trade library and trade promotion centre were set up. After the May 13th riots, the Chamber assisted the government in dealing with food rations, including the purchase of rice for the police force to distribute to various retailers, and the delivering of food to various relief centres.
Lee Yoon Thim (1905-1977) or better known as Y.T. Lee practised as an architect in Kuala Lumpur from 1929 and founded Lee Y.T. Architect Company. He was president of the Incorporated Society of Architects and Surveyors, Malayan Branch. Several iconic buildings in Kuala Lumpur were designed by him, such as the Chin Woo Stadium, the UMNO building, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka and the Federal Hotel. Lee was also a member of the Selangor State Council and Selangor Executive Council for 10 years and was later elected to the Kuala Lumpur Municipal Council.
During the May 13th incident, Lee was the vice president of the Chamber and was invited to radio broadcast and television shows to appeal to businessmen to not take the opportunity to raise prices. Lee led the members of the Chamber to welcome the second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak when the latter returned home from his historic visit to China and both Malaysia and China established diplomatic ties on May 31, 1974.
Lee Yan Lian（1906-1983）first worked as a clerk for Harper Gilfillan – a rubber company and was promoted to purchasing officer, before starting his own construction company which developed the Overseas Union Garden (OUG) at Old Klang Road, Southeast Asia (SEA) Park in Petaling Jaya, Bukit Indah, Kepong Garden and Taman Tan Sri Lee Yan Lian. Lee also moved into other industries including the import-export business, brick manufacturing, rubber trading, and tourism.
After he took over the chair of the Chamber, Lee actively reformed the association by employing more staff, published monthly newsletters and biannual members’ directory, purchased land for the new premise, expanded the resource centre, organised business administration courses and seminars on business and trade. Besides, he obtained authorisation to produce Certificate of Origin of products for members, translated selected government laws and regulations into Chinese, publicised business inquiries and trade opportunities, and offered scholarships for college students. Under his leadership, the membership of the Chamber increased from about 500 to nearly 1,800.
In response to the government’s new economic policy, Lee led the Chinese community to carry out self-help undertaking and unity movements by promoting the use of Mandarin as a tool to unite the different dialect groups. He then encouraged the Chinese in different states to set up Chinese assembly halls and proposed the establishment of a federation of all the Chinese assembly halls in Malaysia. During his tenure, the National Chinese Economic Conference, the first national conference in 1978 was held by the Chinese business community to discuss in depth the Chinese status and roles in the country’s economic development.
Wong Tok Chai（1918-2015）born in Xiamen. He graduated from Lingnan University in Guangzhou and was sent to Kuala Lumpur to set up a branch of factory, Amoy Food Limited, a pioneer in the food and beverage industry in Malaysia. Their product, the “Green Spot” soda, was a household name during that time. The Amoda Building, which was built by Wong, still stands in the centre of Kuala Lumpur today.
Since the 1960s, Wong had been actively involved in the Chamber’s activities. During his tenure as president, the Chamber gave priority to business and industry, followed by cultural, educational, and welfare activities. The Chamber coordinated the discussion between the Kuala Lumpur City Council and the Advertising Manufacturer Association to solve the language and licensing issues for sign boards, which was a problem disturbed Chinese businessmen for many years.
Under Wong’s leadership, besides presenting memoranda, the Chamber also met up with the Selangor Chief Minister from time to time to discuss issues relating to the Chinese community. The current building lot was purchased under his advocacy. In 1983, the “Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce” was renamed “The Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry” and the president’s term of office was also revised to be non-renewable after two terms.
Lim Geok Chan (1936-2006) was widely regarded as a legendary figure in the world of commerce after he bought over Singapore KFC shares in 1985 and subsequently purchased and gained control over Malaysia KFC the following year. That was the reason why he was given the title “Chicken King” in the 1980s. Lim was also involved in politics, being branch president of the Kampung Baru Pandamaran Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), and a treasurer and youth president of the Klang division of MCA. He also served as president of the Klang Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Board of Governors of various primary and secondary schools. He successfully registered the Federation of the Malaysian Chinese Assembly Halls, which was proposed by the former president Lee Yan Lian, with the government and served as its first president.
During his term of office, the Chamber jointly worked with other cultural and educational groups to initiate the “Malaysia Chinese Literature Festival”, while the Chamber has organised Malaysia Chinese Literature Award biennially. He continued the effort of previous presidents by forming a preparatory group to get approval from the Kuala Lumpur City Council for the architectural design of the new building.
Born in Air Tawar, Perak, Ngan Ching Wen (1932-2011) graduated from the Faculty of Economics, Nanyang University of Singapore and the Law School of the National University of Singapore. After graduating, he first worked as a lawyer, and later involved himself in business and was a pioneer in the oil palm industry in Perak. He also engaged in property development in China. He contributed to promote education, especially to Nam Hwa High School in Manjung, Perak and was dubbed as “the father of Nam Hwa Independent School”. He also aided schools in poor rural areas in China and contributed to the building of 27 primary schools in Yunnan.
During his tenure, he actively started preparatory work for the construction of the Chamber’s building. It took two years and eight months to complete the RM20 million building. The “Wisma Chinese Chamber” was finally completed in 1995 and was officially open by the Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir.
Lim Guan Teik was born in Kedah in 1935. After graduating from Nanyang University of Singapore in 1960 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, he joined the Malayan Paper Products Ltd. Later Lim acquired it and renamed it as Muda Holdings Berhad, the pioneer paper manufacturing company in Malaysia listed in the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Lim was invited by the Prime Minister to become a member of the National Economic Advisory Council. As an effort of economic self-help, the Chamber sponsored the “Love Malaysia Trade Fair” and encouraged the purchase of made in Malaysia goods. From 1998 to 2009, a total of eight trade fairs were organized.
From 1998 to 1999, there was a Nipah virus epidemic in Malaysia with a fatality rate of 40 percent. The government culled almost 1 million pigs, nearly destroying the country’s pork industry. The Chamber and other Chinese organisations jointly formed a committee to raise funds for the victims.
He also served as the president of the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia, and successfully hosted the 7th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2003. A total of 3,200 Chinese businessmen, local and abroad attended the meeting
Born in Singapore in 1943, William Cheng entered his father’s company in Malaysia at the age of 19 and was engaged in steel furniture production, rubber products and food processing. After taking over the company, he merged it with his own steel plant to become the largest steel company in Malaysia and was known as the “steel king of Malaysia”. He was later involved in the retail industry, and made Parkson a multinational company.
His tenure as President coincided with the changing of prime ministership from Tun Dr Mahathir to Tun Abdullah Badawi, and power alternation in Selangor. The Chamber worked closely with the new government and continued to maintain the competitiveness of the business and industry of the country.
The Chamber also recruited experts from various fields to participate in planning and organising new activities. A task force was formed to present reform proposals, including the introduction of a small medium enterprise information counter. The Chamber continued to organize the “Love Malaysia Trade Fair”, business seminars, and overseas study mission.
Born in Klang in 1964, Ter graduated from the University of Malaya with honours in engineering. As the executive chairman of Sunsuria Bhd, involved in real estate and construction, Ter also actively participated in the Chamber’s activities.
In addition, he has actively expanded the trading networks and signed a number of cooperation agreements with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). He is also involved in large-scale development projects such as the “China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park” project to create business opportunities for Malaysian companies in China. Ter is instrumental in getting the Xiamen University of China to establish a campus in Malaysia in 2015.
In line with the development of modern technology, the Chamber also updated and upgraded its software and hardware equipment, including sharing information among departments of the Chamber. The renovation of the Chamber commenced in early 2018, and it incorporates a gallery of the Chamber’s history.