Nanyang & the Founding of the Republic (南洋与创立民国)

南洋与创立民国 (Nanyang & the Founding of the Republic) written by Teo Eng Hock provides a detailed record of the Tongmenghui (Chinese Revolutionary Alliance) and its activities in Southeast Asia. Teo recounted his experiences in establishing the Singapore branch of the Tongmenghui and narrated the sacrifices and contributions of the Nanyang Chinese in various uprisings in China.

Teo Eng Hock (张永福, 1872-1959), a Straits-born Chinese and well-known Teochew merchant, rubber planter and manufacturer of rubber products, was an active and strong supporter of Chinese revolutionary leader, Dr Sun Yat Sen. Together with Teo’s nephew, Lim Nee Soon (林义顺, 1879-1936), and Tan Chor Lam (陈楚楠, also known as Tan Lian Chye 陈连才, 1884-1971), they founded the Nanyang Tongmenghui branch in Singapore in 1906, which served as headquarters of the organisation for Southeast Asia. Teo used his bungalow, Wan Qing Yuan (晚晴园) as the headquarters of the revolutionists and hosted Dr Sun Yat Sen when the latter visited Singapore on several occasions.

This photo published in the book has been popularly used in exhibitions on Dr Sun Yat Sen and revolutionary activities in Singapore. It is a group photo taken before the establishment of Tongmenghui and shows Teo Eng Hock and Tan Chor Lam on the left and right respectively, flanking Dr Sun.

An image of Wan Qing Yuan, taken in 1927. Wan Qin Yuan was originally named “明珍庐” (Bin Chan House). It was bought in 1905 and renamed Wan Qin Yuan as a residence for Teo’s mother.

Published in 1933, the book highlights Singapore’s role in the 1911 Chinese Revolution that ended China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing dynasty, and resulted in the founding of the Republic of China on 1 January 1912. The contents cover Dr Sun’s first visit to Singapore in 1900 until the Zhennan Pass Uprising (镇南关起义) in 1907 and include about 100 letters, memos and other primary materials. Among the valuable primary materials are photographs of Dr Sun’s visits to Singapore, Dr Sun’s calligraphy works, along with receipts and bills, portraits of revolutionists as well as correspondence with Dr Sun and others relating to the Tongmenhui resistance movement. In the user guide, Teo acknowledged that the book was written mainly based on his memory, and as things had changed over the years, there could be some errors with people’s names and event dates. He added that the book was a draft version and had hoped to rectify the errors in a later edition.

Dr Sun’s written correspondences

Nonetheless, Teo’s detailed records of Nanyang’s involvement in the Chinese revolution is a priceless and rich heritage for future generations.

The book was republished in 2013 by Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall (晚晴园—孙中山南洋纪念馆). Besides incorporating the original version of the book, the republication provided an additional part with revised text in Simplified Chinese. It also included Teo’s chronology and his poetry book《觚园诗集》, and an article《南洋与中国革命》(Nanyang and China Revolution) narrated by Hu Hanmin (胡汉民) and recorded by Zhang Zhenzhi (张振之).

The legendary Teo is one of Dr Sun’s strongest supporters and spared no effort in championing revolutionary ideals. Together with Tan Chor Nam, Teo set up the Chong Shing Yit Pao (中兴日报) to serve as the revolutionists mouthpiece among the Chinese in this part of the world.

Teo was a prolific writer and two of his poetry books can also be found in our libraries: 觚园诗集 (1955) and 觚园耶许声 (1958).

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