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Towkay Choong Sen (aka Choong Sam) JP
Choong Sam learnt his trade as a miner as a young man, Having developed skills originally as an electrical engineer he gained a contract to wire up the mines for Kinta Electrical Distribution Company. The opportunity to open his own mines came after the war when the Government funded the development of the old and new tin mines. He successfully bid for and established the Choong Sam Tin Mine at Gunong Rapat, outbidding some of the region’s major mine owners. He made large profits when tin prices reached a high during the Korean War and expanded his business purchasing and operating 25 mines at one stage. Choong Sam invested in more advanced pumps and machinery to work deeper in the previously abandoned mines. Papan became a focus for his purchases: he bought up 70% of the town’s available mines and land.
Like many of his Chinese brethren, once he became rich he took up philanthropy and is well remembered for the “great deal” he contributed towards the founding of University Malaya. A kind man, he was also very concerned about the health and well-being of his workers. To this end he built a hostel for them on a hill at the 3rd Milestone Gopeng Road, Ipoh at the time a very pleasant area well known as a tourist spot.
He became Vice Chairman of the Perak Ka Yin Association, Ipoh for 1952-53, then the 2nd president of the Perak Hakka Association (also known as the Perak Khek Community Association) 1953-1954 and finally Chairman of the Perak Ka Yin Association, Ipoh from 1954-1957, he was awarded the honour of Justice of the Peace (JP) in 1955.
Choong Sam continued in mining through to the 1980s when his decision long-term to restrict his investments to mining resulted in financial trouble. The sudden removal of a guarantee floor price for tin in October 1985 led him to close all of his mines over the next two years. He died in 1993 owning a few small rubber estates which he had bought to exploit for mining and the large areas of land in Papan which were never mined.
To read more about the Perak Ka Yin Association, click here.
To read more about the Perak Khek Association, click here.
To read about an SMI visit to Choong Sam Mines, click here.