Phoa Keng Hek

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Phoa Keng Hek Sia
Phoa Keng Hek.jpg
Phoa, c. 1900
Born 1857
Buitenzorg, West Java, Dutch East Indies
Died 1937 (aged 79–80)
Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Occupation Social worker, entrepreneur
Children Phoa Tji Nio (daughter)
Relatives Majoor Khouw Kim An (son-in-law)
Phoa Liong Djin (grandson)
Phoa Liong Gie (great-nephew)

Phoa Keng Hek Sia (Chinese: 潘景赫舍; pinyin: Pān Jǐnghè Shè; 1857–1937) was a Chinese Indonesian social activist and first president of Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan, an influential Confucian educational and social organisation meant to better the position of ethnic Chinese in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). He served from its establishment in 1900 until 1923.


Phoa was born in Buitenzorg (now Bogor), Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), in 1857[1] into an influential Peranakan Chinese family.[2] His father, Phoa Tjeng Tjoan, held the post of Kapitein der Chinezen of Buitenzorg.[3] This was a civil government position in the Dutch colonial administration with legal and political jurisdiction over the local Chinese community.[4] As the son of a Chinese officer, the younger Phoa held the hereditary title of Sia.[5][6] His great-nephew, Phoa Liong Gie (born 1904), would later attain prominence as a jurist, politician and newspaper owner.[7][8]

Phoa's earliest formal education was in a school run by ethnic Chinese,[9] but after Sierk Coolsma opened a missionary school in Bogor on 31 May 1869, Phoa was in the first class of ten. Among his classmates was Lie Kim Hok, who would later become known as a writer. At this school Phoa studied, among other subjects, Dutch.[10] Although the school was meant to convert people to Christianity, Phoa remained well-versed in Confucianism.[11]

After graduating Phoa married the daughter of a Chinese lieutenant in Batavia (now Jakarta), the capital of the Indies, and he moved there to be with his wife.[1] The couple had a daughter, Tji Nio, who later married Majoor Khouw Kim An, last titular head of the Chinese community of Batavia.[12] Phoa proved very outspoken and soon he was a viewed as a leader of Batavia's Chinese. Because he had a command of Dutch, used by the colonial forces, Phoa was able to easily interact outside of Chinese and native groups.[1]

In 1900 Phoa, together with his former classmate Lie, was an establishing member of the Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan (THHK) school system and social organisation.[13] He served as the president of THHK for twenty-three years before retiring,[1] and was assisted by his son-in-law's cousin, the philanthropist Oen Giok Khouw, as vice-president.[6] The organisation promoted rights for ethnic Chinese[2] and the use of Chinese and English amongst ethnic Chinese.[11] In 1907, Phoa – under the pseudonym "Hoa Djien" ("A Chinese") – used a series of letters to the editor of the daily Perniagaan to criticise the Dutch colonial government and its policies towards the ethnic Chinese. He wrote that the Indies offered little opportunity to ethnic Chinese, who should instead look abroad. He wrote "if they are literate in Chinese and English, they can just take a two- or three-day voyage (Java-Singapore) into a wider world where they can move freely."[14]

Outside of the THHK, Phoa was an active landlord. He bought some land in Bekasi, south-east of Batavia, and in 1903 succeeded in banning gambling in the area.[1][2] As did his father before him, Phoa sold agricultural products. He owned a rice mill and tea factory.[2]

Phoa was made a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau in 1937. He died in Batavia later that year, on 19 July,[2] and was buried after a large funeral at Petamburan Cemetery on 25 July.[15] As he had no male issue, one of his daughter's sons, Phoa Liong Djin, assumed his surname and succeeded him as head of the family.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e Suryadinata 1995, pp. 130–1.
  2. ^ a b c d e Setyautama & Mihardja 2008, p. 308.
  3. ^ Tio 1958, p. 63.
  4. ^ Lohanda 1996, pp. 54–60.
  5. ^ Sidharta 2003, p. 51.
  6. ^ a b Nio 1940, pp. 242–250.
  7. ^ Setyautama & Mihardja 2008, p. 309.
  8. ^ Suryadinata 1997, p. 53-54.
  9. ^ Suryadinata 1997, p. 4.
  10. ^ Tio 1958, pp. 32–34, 36.
  11. ^ a b Suryadinata 1997, p. 3.
  12. ^ Setyautama & Mihardja 2008, p. 127.
  13. ^ Adam 1995, p. 72.
  14. ^ Suryadinata 1997, p. 8.
  15. ^ De Indische Courant 1937.
  16. ^ Het nieuws van den dag voor Nederlandsch-Indië 1937.

Works cited

  • Adam, Ahmat (1995). The Vernacular Press and the Emergence of Modern Indonesian Consciousness (1855–1913). Studies on Southeast Asia. 17. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-87727-716-3. 
  • "Familiebericht" [Family News]. Het nieuws van den dag voor Nederlandsch-Indië (in Dutch) (165). 22 July 1937. p. 4 – via 
  • Lohanda, Mona (1996). The Kapitan Cina of Batavia, 1837-1942: A History of Chinese Establishment in Colonial Society. Jakarta: Djambatan. ISBN 979428257X. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  • Nio, Joe Lan (1940). Riwajat 40 Taon dari Tiong Hoa Hwee Koan — Batavia (1900 - 1939) [The History of Forty Years of Tiong Hoa Hwee Koan — Batavia (1900 - 1939)]. Batavia: Tiong Hoa Hwee Koan. 
  • "Phoa Keng Hek †. De Laatste Eer" [Phoa Keng Hek †. Their Last Respects.]. De Indische Courant (in Dutch). Surabaya. 26 July 1937. p. 1. Retrieved 11 June 2013 – via 
  • Setyautama, Sam; Mihardja, Suma (2008). Tokoh-tokoh Etnis Tionghoa di Indonesia [Ethnic Chinese Figures in Indonesia] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Gramedia. ISBN 978-979-9101-25-9. 
  • Sidharta, Myra (2003). "The Role of the Go-Between in Chinese Marriages in Batavia". In Blussé, Leonard; Chen, Menghong. The Archives of the Kong Koan of Batavia. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9004131574. 
  • Suryadinata, Leo (1995). Prominent Indonesian Chinese: Biographical Sketches. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 978-981-3055-04-9. 
  • Suryadinata, Leo, ed. (1997). Political Thinking of the Indonesian Chinese: 1900-1977; a Sourcebook. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 978-9971-69-201-8. 
  • Tio, Ie Soei (1958). Lie Kimhok 1853–1912 (in Indonesian). Bandung: Good Luck. OCLC 1069407. 
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