Debunking the Myth of Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall PDF Print E-mail
Written by Charles Goh   
Thursday, 15 December 2011 14:27

A tomb discovery by Raymond Goh in Bukit Brown Chinese Cemetery revealed a startling Myth that everyone had accepted as a fact for a hundred years!

Above: The tomb of Boey Chuan Poh found by Raymond Goh in Bukit Brown. 


To verfiy the identity of Boey Chuan Poh, API's Raymond Goh did a historical background check and reveal, among other things, this Obiturary:-

Translated, it meant:-

Boey Chuan Poh was a honorary gentleman who contributed much to society, He has been in the newspapers industry for more than 20 over years, and always seek for the welfare and benefits of humanity and the world, irregardless of political ideologies. His comments and opinion were accurate and has been appreciated by locals and foreigners. His death due to sickness was sudden and everyone was sadden by his early demise.

Yet his name suffered an injustice by being the person who attributed the naming of a Villa named as Bin Chan House (now Wang Qing Yuan – Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall), as being named after his concubine or Mistress.

According to Singapore Infopedia, it is written that:-

"The former Sun Yat Sen Villa (also known as Bin Chan House or Wan Qing Yuan) at 12 Tai Gin Road, off Balestier Road, is named after the prominent Chinese nationalist Sun Yat Sen.........The villa was built sometime in the 1880s by wealthy Chinese merchant Boey Chuan Poh. It was rumoured to be for his mistress Bin Chan, after whom he named it Bin Chan House."

And according to Wikipedia, it is also written as:-

"The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall (Chinese: 孙中山南洋纪念馆; pinyin: Sūn Zhōngshān Nányáng Jìniàn Guǎn, also known as Wan Qing Yuan, 晚晴园, and formerly as Sun Yat Sen Villa, 孙中山故居) is a double-storey colonial villa at Balestier in Singapore. The villa is now a museum commemorating Dr Sun Yat Sen who visited Singapore eight times between 1900 and 1911...... The villa is believed to have been built by businessman Boey Chuan Poh in 1880 to house his mistress, Bin Chan, from whom came the building's original name, Bin Chan House."

So was the Bin Chan House:-

1) Named after Boey's Mistress, and

2) Could the Mistress had stayed in the House?


Answer to Question 1 - Whose's name was Bin Chan?

Fact 1

The House was first designed in July 1900, and not in the 1880s.

Fact 2

The House was erected soon after it was designed and had already been named Bin Chan and appeared on a map dated May 1901. Nearby Houses are also erected around same time.

Fact 3

Boey Chuan Poh loved horses, and built stables in the House erected on 12 Tai Gin Road.

In fact, he had a race horse named Bin Chan

Therefore, was the House was named after a Horse instead?

Fact 4

Boey Chuan Poh, being a well educated man and the director of the Union Times, 1 of the earliest Chinese daily newspapers. 

Mr Boey named his House in Cairnhill Road the 'Eng Ho House', which in Mandarin, 'Eng' might meant Forever or Glory, and 'Ho' might meant 'Harmony.... 

When Mr Boey celebrated his mother-in-law's birthday in Dec 1911, each piece of the cultery for dinner was ordered from England and inscribed with the words 'Jolly Boey'.

Thus when the House at Balestier was erected, he could have gave the name Bin Chan House to mean Bin - Bright and Clear, and Chan - Treasure.... as in Bright Treasure House?

Answer to Question 2 - Did the Bin Chan House 'house' the Mistress?

Fact 5

Bin Chan House was designed in July 1900, and built by May 1901.

  • He used it once in Feb 1902 to host a farewell dinner for Dr Chan, a friend of Dr Lim Boon Keng. In early 1902, he advertised to either let or auction the house.

    In Sep 1902, Bin Chan House was sold to a Lim Ah Liang.

    Therefore, base on the short time of possible human occupation period, and how it was used, and how it was advertised to Let or Auction just 1 year after it was built,  it was very unlikely it was ever used to 'house' any Mistress.

    So now you know.
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 December 2011 01:37