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Eu Kong And Son Towkay Eu Tong Sen
Eu Tong Seng, born on September 23rd 1877, was one of the most successful and wealthiest tin miners in Malaya. The son of Eu Kong and his first wife, who migrated to Penang in 1876, Eu Tong Sen was taken back to Foshan in China to settle when he was four years old. However when Eu Kong brought his son back to Penang a year later on the return voyage he met a well connected English speaking woman Man Van Cheong. His subsequent marriage to her enabled him to exploit her connections with prominent Chinese Baba families and with the British officials in Malaya and through gaining government contracts he became a leading miner in the Gopeng area where they settled as a family.
Upon Eu Kong’s early death at age 38 his widow ensured that Eu Tong Sen could mix well in established social circles. His stepmother provided him with an English tutor and later moved him to the Anglo-Chinese school in Ipoh. At 21 he inherited his father’s estate and benefited from a legacy from his stepmother. Eu Tong Seng’s enterprising approach and advantageous connections combined to bring him early and continued success as a miner. In 1898 he contributed $1000 to establish the Perak Mining and Planting Association. He developed eight mines in Kinta : two at Kampar, three in Gopeng, and one each at Papan, Tronoh and Chenderiang employing 8,000 coolies in total. His two mines in Selangor employed 3,000 and the two in Sembilan another 1,000 coolies. The richest mines were at Kampar where lit by electricity the mining could continue day and night. He became very well established in Kampar as the leading towkay, became President of the Chinese Club, built a magnificent mansion and jointly with fellow miner Chung Thye Phin he establishing a Chinese Theatre. With this friend he also built a grand bungalow on Gopeng Road named Forest Lodge staying there on Ipoh race days as it housed large stables for the racehorses.
Eu Tong Sen had five wives : the first he married in an elaborate ceremony in Gopeng but the other four marriages were kept private. Villas were built in different parts of the country, reportedly to keep them apart. He became the first Asian member of the Ipoh Club, presenting it with an impressive marble topped long-bar made from a single chengal tree trunk. With a few other Chinese towkays he started the Chinese Hotel on Belfield Street catering for businessmen seeking a modern establishment. He was appointed as the permanent Chinese member of the Federal Council and involved himself in national and local issues including lobbying to get rid of gambling farms, becoming Vice President of Perak Anti-Opium Society, joining the committee of the Debating Society and supporting the building of the Ipoh Convent School for girls. He also donated $5000 towards the new building of the Anglo-Chinese School and during the First World War he presented an aeroplane costing $11,150 to the Royal Flying Corps. This was the first to be presented by an individual from overseas supporting the British war effort. He retired from the Federal Council of Malaya in 1921.