10 July 2013: Tjong Yong Hian, Legacy of a Great Leader

His story is one that should not remain untold.

Tjong Yong HianThe story of Tjong Yong Hian is one that remains relevant to many Indonesians and Penangites. The role he played in the development of North Sumatra and Penang was significant, yet with the passing of time, his name has slowly begun to fade from collective memory. Not much has been written heretofore about the life of this illustrious lieutenant, major, vice-consul, businessman and philanthropist. Thus his biography, Tjong Yong Hian: Legacy of a Great Leader, is a welcome arrival. Suffice it to say that historians can now breathe a sigh of relief that Tjong’s story has been revived for a new lease of life.

tjong-2The story of Tjong Yong Hian began with an early migration from Meixian, first to Batavia (where he worked for Chong Fatt Tze) and then to Medan and Penang in search of fame and wealth. These new frontiers eventually bore the indelible marks of his many social and cultural contributions in banking, trade, education, healthcare and philantrophy. A few of his significant accomplishments include building a business district in Medan, playing a major role in the growth of the Kek Lok Si temple in Penang, and helping to modernise China via railway construction. Surely the telling of Tjong Yong Hian’s story fulfills the wishes of his great-grandson Budihardo Chandra, who wished for this book ‘to educate our future generations… and inspire them to achieve even more.’