Gong Gong says

This is a posthumous blog of our father's (Lim Kok Ann) life. When our father passed away on 8 March 2003, he left behind an unpublished autobiography. We'd like to celebrate his life by sharing his autobiography through this blog.


"I have dredged these anecdotes from memory just to pass the time; if they amuse my grandchildren their purpose will have been served; if they provide any instruction, it will be a happy coincidence; that they are disjointed is probably to be expected.

Aurora was the name of my grandfather’s house in Kulangsu.   Amoy, where I spent the first five or six years of my life.   I still have vivid memories of events that took place when I was barely three years old.

Lim Kok Ann
October 1996"

Friday, July 11, 2008

1:18 My Father Lim Kho Leng

My father was doubtless pleased by my success though he did not mentioned the fact to me -- our relationship being an uneasy one for reasons not clear to me. At that time we were living in River Valley Road where I had a room of my own. I seldom saw my father except at meal-times and we never had occasion to sit down together for a chat or to do things together as father and son.

Occasionally, he would leave a note in my room to remind me to study and not to be out late at night. Once he brought home a book for me to read that made a great impression on me, H. G. Wells’ two-volume work, The History of Life, that helped my understanding of Hygiene and hysiology no end, and possibly gave me a foundation in biology.

I regret very much that I never got to know my father, for by all accounts his was a gentle nature and most lovable. He was not very successful at being a bank manager for he was scrupulous to the extreme in all he did and would not connive at anything that smelt wrong to him. Thus, it came to be known, that if anyone wanted an endorsement that required bending of the rules, there was “no need to ask Kho Leng.”

Mr. Yap Chor Ee, one of the directors of the OCBC, understood that advancement would not come easily to such an unbending character as my father, and suggested to my father that he should resign from the OCBC and start a Singapore branch of Mr. Yap’s bank in Penang, the Ban Hin Lee Bank. My father would get the same salary that he was receiving from the OCBC, but would benefit from an enhanced bonus if the bank made profits.

It was a good proposal and my father took it Unluckily (fortune did not smile often on my father), this deal was made about 1935, just before the Japanese invaded China and disrupted trade between China and the outside world. The main business of the Ban Hin Lee Bank was to finance rice exports to China and when that dwindled to nothing, so did the profits of the bank.

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