The Bukit Brown Cemetery Documentation Project

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Ho Siak Kuan (何式均, Ho Sek Kuan, Ho Lok Yu, 1865?-1946, LTA Peg No. 1063)



Ho Siak Kuan was of Teochew lineage but was brought up speaking Cantonese. This was partly due to the fact that his mother was Cantonese.  (During his retirement celebration, he spoke in both Cantonese and English). When he arrived in Singapore as a young boy, he studied at St. Andrew's Mission School and later Raffles Institution. His ability and skill in English and Chinese impressed William A. Pickering (the first Chinese Protector) so much that he was offered employment as a student interpreter in the colonial service. He eventually rose through the ranks to become Chief Chinese Translator.

Ho Siak Kuan was the Chief Chinese Translator for the Straits Settlement Government and later as a reward for his years of loyal service, was made the Assistant Secretary for Chinese Affairs when the Secretary was D. Beatty. When he retired eventually in 1926-1927, he had served the colonial government for 42 years.

In honour of his being made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) during the governorship of Sir Laurence Guillemard, a tea party was thrown for him at Yat Lum Club. During the party, Eu Tong Sen (O.B.E.), presided over the event, congratulating Ho for being the first Chinese to attain such a rank in the colonial service.

On his retirement, Chinese community leaders such as See Tiong Wah (J.P.) and Mr Boey Kok Leong (J.P.), representing the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Chinese Advisory Board and the Po Leung Kuk, gave their addresses in English and Chinese to thank him for his 42 years of service building close links between the colonial government and the Chinese community.

Ho Siak Kuan passed away at the age of 81 on 21 August 1946 at his residence at No. 156 Neil Road. Ho Siak Kuan was buried with two of his wives (who died in 1962 and 1967 respectively). His son, Dr Ho Siu Khan, was buried in an adjacent plot. Their graves are unique in structure with Chinese-style roofing.

Author: Peter Pak