Saturday, February 16, 2013

Yeo Bian Chuan (Bukit Brown)

Yeo Bian Chuan was born in Rhio (Riau island of Indonesia which was under Netherlands East Indies control). He came at a very young age to Singapore and was educated in Singapore. He was a produce broker and the senior partner of Messrs. Yeo Bian Chuan and Co, 22-A Change Alley. After residing in the Straits Settlement for the past 52 years ,he was naturalised as a British subject in 1921.
Yeo Bian Chuan
(source: NewspaperSG) 

Singapore Mutiny
On February 15, 1915, Indian soldiers of the 5th Madras Light Infantry (Indian Army or sepoys) revolted, killing more than 40 British officers, residents and locals. The mutiny came to be known as the "Singapore Mutiny". An estimated 800 mutineers were involved, killing more than 40 British officers, residents and locals. It started with a dangerous cocktail of propaganda, poor leadership and misinformation from various parties (including a German prisoner) leading to this mutiny. It was finally quelled with assistance of British allies and the Singapore Volunteer Infantry. To commemorate this event, two memorial tablets have been placed at the entrance of the Victoria Memorial Hall and four plaques at the St Andrew's Cathedral. A total of 36 mutineers were executed at Outram Prison.

A hero forgotten
During the chaos, Yeo Bian Chuan harboured at his house in 155 Pasir Panjang Road, no less than 17 Europeans who sought refuge and safety away from the mutineers who were seeking to harm them. He kept them until daybreak when help arrived. For his heroic deeds, he was awarded the option of $5,000 or a commemorative gold medal. Yeo Bian Chuan chose the commemorative gold medal. Unfortunately, he was soon forgotten and the gold medal never arrived.

Death and Remembrance
Madam Chew Chye Luan (wife of Yeo Bian Chuan) died at the age of 69 on September 17, 1929. Yeo Bian Chuan passed away on October 2, 1929 shortly after the death of his wife, at his residence in 155 Pasir Panjang Road. He leaves behind a son, Yeo Bong Soo and a daughter, Madam Yeo Seok Bee (Mrs On Hup Keng). On the 15th anniversary of the Sepoy Mutiny, Yeo Bian Chuan's memory was honoured by the people who were saved by his heroic deeds.
February 15, 1930 (source NewspaperSG)
Today, he is remembered by us who "rediscovered" his forgotten tomb at Hill 1 Division B plot 14 and 15.
Tomb of Yeo Bian Chuan 

References
Death. (1929, September 21). The Straits Times, page 10
A memory of the mutiny. (1929, October 2). The Straits Times, page 11
Death. (1929, October 2).The Straits Times, page 8
The late Mr. Yeo Bian Chuan. (1929, October 3). The Singapore Free Press, page 9
Mr. R. Jumabhoy honoured. (1930, February 15). The Malayan Tribune, page 35
1915 Indian (Singapore) Mutiny. [website] Infopedia.

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