Lim Ah Siang
From Johor Bahru Directory
Lim Ah Siang (1853-1917) was the third and last leader of the Ngee Heng Kongsi of Johor, a legitimized secret society based in Johor Bahru. Ironic as it may seem, he was appointed to the position not because he was the most prominent Chinese in Johor at the time, but because he was not.
2. The Ngee Heng Kongsi: Born in Chaoshan, China, little is known of Lim Ah Siang's early life. An immigrant Teochew, he assumed the leadership of the Ngee Heng Kongsi of Johor around 1885, after Tan Hiok Nee stepped down and retire to Singapore. Even so, Lim was referred to only as Second Brother, the second most senior-ranking member in the secret society hierarchy, as Tan continued to be a towering presence in nearby Singapore. Lim Ah Siang was by no means the most prominent Teochew in Johor at the time and unlike Tan Kee Soon and Tan Hiok Nee who had a personal relationship with the Sultan of Johor, he was described as only being a friend of the Menteri Besar. With no new Kapitan appointed after Kapitan Tan Cheng Hung dropped out of sight after selling off his concessions, and Kapitan Seah Tee Heng having died in 1884, the latter's son, Seah Ling Chai, had taken over his father's kangchu concessions, pepper and gambier business, and revenue farms. In addition, he held shares to eight rivers in his own right and was the manager of the Kongkek (Pepper and Gambier Society of Singapore). Seah was therefore the most prominent towkay in Johor, but the Ngee Heng passed him over for an unknown young man, mostly probably because Tan Hiok Nee was still running the Kongsi from Singapore and only required an assistant, not a business rival, to be in charge.
3. Kampung Ah Siang: In 1892, Lim Ah Siang was granted a 99-year lease from Sultan Abu Bakar for land in Stulang. The grant permitted him to set up a revenue farm on the eastern outskirts of the city, stretching from the beach to where the former Cathay cinema was located. Although the concession was granted in 1892, it came into effect only in 1902 for some unknown reason. Lim built a road right across the centre of his concession and named it Jalan Ah Siang, with his gambling farm built on stilts in the seafront facing what is now the New Hong Kong Restaurant. His concession was named Kampung Ah Siang. In 1896, Lim obtained timber concessions for east Johor and Endau. By then, he was also a revenue farmer, holding kangchu concessions for four rivers and also invested in a number of businesses in Johor Baru, including a pawnshop. A road in Kota Tinggi is named after him.
4. Death: In 1916, the Ngee Heng Kongsi was wound up with the enactment of the Societies Ordinance. Lim Ah Siang's final duty for the Ngee Heng was to sign a $30,000 bond for the settlement of Ngee Heng's liabilities and the disposal of its properties in the legalities of winding up. He died soon after executing the bond and his successor, Lin Jin He, was assigned the task of disposing of Ngee Heng's assets. Lim is believed to have died in Singapore and his body was sent back to Johor Bahru. The Johor Military Force (Timbalan Setia Negeri) received him and the Johor flag was flown half-mast that day with a half-day holiday. Lim Ah Siang's tomb still stands on a hill near Jalan Ah Siang facing Singapore up to this day.