At the start of the 20th century, the above title certainly belonged to Foo Choo Choon. Prior to him the mantle of the Richest Man in the FMS changed hands several times between the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, from the renowned Capitan China, Chung Keng Kwee, to the entrepreneur Loke Yew. But within the 1st decade of the 20th century, Foo Choo Choon had overtaken Loke Yew in terms of wealth. Foo Choo Choon came to Malaysia as a 13 year-old Chinese immigrant in 1873 and worked for Chung Keng Kwee in his Lahat mining concession. The bulk of his initial wealth was amassed in 1897; from his extraordinarily rich mine in Tronoh which became the richest mine in Kinta at the time. Foo Choo Choon then formed a syndicate and proceeded to obtain further mining concessions, turning himself into a mining magnate. At the turn of the century he sold his Tronoh mine to British interests who floated the mine, and made Foo Choo Choon the first Chinese director of a British listed company. After the sale of a second concession, he went on an acquisition trail that was to turn him into the Tin King of Malaya. In 1905, Tronoh Mines Ltd, of which Foo was the majority shareholder, and Foo’s own mines, topped the list of most productive mines in Perak, prompting the Ballarat Courier to refer to him as “the richest Chinaman in the world”.
The above is a summary of one of many heritage articles written by Dr Ho Tak Ming and published in the Ipoh Echo. If you don’t get the Ipoh Echo you are losing out on your heritage facts. Of course you will also be missing out on the Echo’s ‘from the shoulder’ articles.