ประวัติคอซูเจียง เจ้าเมืองระนอง

Last updated: 27 มิ.ย. 2567  |  47 จำนวนผู้เข้าชม  | 

ประวัติคอซูเจียง เจ้าเมืองระนอง


the first Rajah of Ranong

(Biography by Khaw Cheng Joey)

     In the year 1810, Khaw Soo Cheang, a young native of Changchow fu (about thirty-five miles north west of Amoy) in Fukien Province, China, arrived in Penang by junk. Penang was then the new, twenty-four year old, trading outpost of the British East India Company.

     He was tall, well built young man of twenty-five years, with a high broad forehead, bushy eyebrows above a pair of piercing eyes; a prominent nose and a firm mounth.

     Like the great majority of Chinese immigrants who came to Nanyang (the Southern Region) to start a new life, he was a poor peasant who came with nothing, except the blue clothes he wore, a carrying pole on his shoulders, plus a lot of courage and determination to succeed.

     Life in the old country under the corrupt and oppressive Manchu regime was very hard, and, like thousands before him, Khaw Soo Cheang had come south to escape from the Manchu government and to seek a better life in a new land. He had no capital so he had to start by working as a labourer for some well established Chinese, and life, for him at that time, was no easier than it was in old Changchow-fu

     Penang Island at that time was largely undeveloped, and virgin land for agriculture was easily obtainable from the then Government. Khaw Soo Cheang applied for and obtained an eight acre plot of land at Sungei Tiram, near the present Bayan Lepas airport, Which he used for vegetable gardening.

     In those early days there were no good roads outside of little George Town, and transport for Asians in the countryside was mainly by bullock cart. Howere, he was too poor to own a bullock cart. So, once a week, he had to carry the produce of his little farm in two large baskets, slung across his shoulders by means of the carrying pole he had brought from China, and he walked all the way to and from the town and his little farm, a round trip of some eighteen miles, to sell his wares.

     Yet, despite his hard work and his frugality he could not prosper. So, after six hard years in Penang, he decided to try his luck elsewhere.

     He travelled by junk, following the coast line, to Takuapa in south-west Siam. Here he invested what little money he had made in Penang in a small sundry goods shop, which he named Koe Guan (High Source). Later he entered the coastal trade in which cloth, muskets, etc., were bartered for tin, areca nuts (pinang), birds' nests, copra and pepper. He received financial aid from a wealthy lady, thawathep Sunthorn, in his business dealings and he prospered. In time he found that Phang-nga had much more business potential than Takuapa and he moved his business concern, Koe Guan, there. His business activities increased in Phang-nga and he purchased a large sailing boat to convey his goods between Penang and the small village ports of south-west Siam.

     Khaw Soo Cheang traded from Penang to as far north as Ranong, a little coastal village in south-west Siam, opposite Victoria Point Zthe southernmost tip of Burma). The Ranong region is very hilly and, at that time, it was thinly populated because it was not suitable for agriculture. He found that Ranong was rich in tin deposits and he went into tin mining.

     In 1844 (B.E.2387) he applied for and was appointed Royal Collector of tin royalties for the Siamese Govornment in the Ranong area, and he was given the title Luang Ratanasethi. He was also given the sole right to operate the tin mines in Ranong.

     During the fourth year of the reign of Rama IV(King Mongkut) 1854 (B.E.2397) be was appointed Governor of Ranong, with the title Phra Ratanasethi. As Governor, he was, among other things, responsible for the defence of Ranong Province, and, at that time, he was also responsible to the Governor of Chumphorn.

     The King was so pleased with the manner in which he performed his duties that he elevated Khaw Soo Cheang to Phraya Ratanasethi in the year 1864 (B.E.2405) and upgraded Ranong province by making the Governor directly responsible to the central Government in Bangkok.

     His private business continued to expand, but he had difficulty in obtaining the necessary labour to work his mines. To solve his labour problem, he imported indentured Chinese labourers from Penang to work his mines, and he extended his tin mining operation to Langsuan Province, helping to increase its prosperity. Like all self made men, he was hard and ruthless and he ruled the community he founded and Ranong Province with a firm patriarchal hand. There was a couplet in Hokkien about Khaw Soo Cheang's Ranong. In substance it says, "The Ranong pit is easy to get into, but it is not possible to get out of it."

     The pirates from south Burma, too, gave him trouble. They raided Ranong and robbed him of his tin ore. In retaliation, he organised his men and fought the Burmese pirates. He drove them out of the Ranong area. To prevent further raids by the Burmese he built a brick wall around the area where he lived and where he store his tin ore; and he crected lookout posts at salient points to prevent and further attempted raids. After that the Burmese pirates did not trouble Ranong.

     In 1875 (B.E.2418) the King granted Khaw Soo Cheang long leave to return to China to pay his respects to his ancestors according to Chinese tradition.

     Shortly after his return to Ranong in 1876 (B.E.2419) the Chinese labourers in Ranong and Phuket staged an uprising. The uprising was due, largely, to the discontent of the labourers over their pay and working conditions.

     About two thousand Chinese labourers revolted in the Ranong area. It was so serious that the Siamese Government nearly lost control of the province. However, Khaw Soo Cheang, despite his old age, showed that he could handle the critical situation. He put down the revolt with a very firm hand and restored the authority of the Siamese Government in Ranong.

     A grateful monarch (Rama v) showed his appreciation by making him Rajah of Ranong, and conferred upon him the title Phraya Damrong Sucharit Mahisornphakdi(Head of Palace Official). The King also decreed that his second son, Khaw Sim Kong, who was given his old title Phraya Ratanasethi, should succed him in due course.

     In addition, the King gave him three thousand "rai" of land (about one thousand, two hundred acres), a large gold table, a gold spittoon, as well as a long handled red umbrella and robes be fitting his rank for use on official and ceremonial occasions.

     Khaw Soo Cheang was not ashamed of his humble beginning. After he had become wealthy and powerful, he had the carrying pole, which he had brought all the way with him from China, partly encased in gold, and he showed it, with justiflable pride, to visitors.

     Following the fashion of the Siamese aristocracy and the successful men of his day, he was polygamous. He had a Chinese wife (Sitt Kim Lean), and a Siamese wife. By them be had six sons and five daughters. When he went back to China in 1875, after the death of his first wife, he brought back an eithteen year old bride. He had desired a pretty and cultured wife ( a "Hsiao Chieh") from the old country to grace his home and to satisfy his ego's cry beauty in his old age, and she was specially selected for him.

     Within his family circle. Khaw Soo Cheang was a good and generous father to his children, as well as being a doting grandfather who always had time for his grandchildren. As a result of the many hardships he had endured in his early years, he was most concerned about the well being of his existing and future descendants., the majority of whom he would never see, and he provided as best he could for them.

     He eilled that sixteen shares of the residue of his estate was to be used to set up a Trust according to the provisions of his Will. On 10th April, 1905, twenty-three years after his death, the three surviving executors of his Will set up the Trust, Koe Guan Kong Lun, in Penang.

     Khaw Soo Cheang was so interested in his future descendants that he went to the extent to choosing the middle names for his male descendants of the next five generations after him. By doing that he ensured that he would be known and remembered by them; he also made it possible for them to recognise and to get to know one another easily.

     The hardships he encountered in his earlier years also made him a philanthropist. In 1862 he gave a big donation to the Kuan Yin Temple in Pitt Street, Penang, for major repairs to the temple. To Penang, which had given him a new start in life, he gave a large piece of land next to the old Esplanade - known as Renong Ground - for a playing ground. To day, Renong  Ground is the site of Dewan Sri Pulau Pinang.

     He lived to be the grand old man of his day; acknowledged as a noble and a strong "pillar" of the Throne in the Siamese Court, and well known in business circles in both Siam and Penang.

     He died on 25th May, 1882, (the 9th day of the 4th Moon of the Horse Year of the Chinese Calendar) when he was in his mid-nineties. The seventy-two years he had spent in Penang and Siam had been hard, but his lasting achievements were satisfying and outstanding.

     His remains were buried on a hill in Ranong given to his family by Rama V (King Chulalongkorn). The hundred and fifty acre piece of land, on the outskirts of Ranong Town, was given by the King to the Khaw Family in perpetuity for use as its own private burial ground, in appreciation of Khaw Soo Cheang's loyal and meritorious service to the Royal House of Chakri.

     Following his death, his second son, Khaw Sim Kong, assumed the title Phraya Damrong Sucharit Mahisornphakdi and became the second Raja of Ranong. His other sons were also enobled by the King and appointed governors of the southern provinces of the country. Khaw Sim Khim, his fourth son, became Governor of Kra; Khaw Sim Teik, his fifth son, was appointed Governor of Langsuan; while his youngest son, Khaw Sim Bee, was made Governor of Trang. In 1892 Khaw Sim Bee was appointed High Commissioner of South Siam.

     In 1916 when the Chinese in Siam were required to have Siamese names in order to be citizens of that country, Rama VI (King Vajiravudh) issued a Royal Decreee on 1st July,1916, giving the surname "Na Ranong" ("of Ranong") to all the descendants of Khaw Soo Cheang living in Siam. Thenceforth all the Khaws of Ranong in modern day Thailand are known by that name.

     When Rama IX (King Phumiphol Adulaydet) visited Ranong in 1959, the King went and laid a wreath at the tomb of Khaw Soo Cheang to show that he is still remembered by the Royal House.

According to an old Chinese proverb:-

"A tiger dies and leaves a skin; A man dies and leaves a name"

A hundred and three years have gone by since the death of Khaw Soo Cheang, and the House of Ranong, which he founded, his withstood the winds of change reasonably well. To date, it has lasted much longer than most other well known old wealthy families in this part of the world.

     In fact it can be said that Khaw Soo Cheang had done the best he could for his House, and as a result of his efforts the Khaws of Ranong still have a place in the sun, in and outside of Thailand. Many of them, particularly those from the second and fifth branches of the family, still serve in the Thai civil, military, and diplomatic services, and "Na Ranong" is still an hounoured and respected name in Thailand.

     His Trust, Koe Guan Kong Lun, bassed in Penang, is controlled by his male descendants from the second, fourth and sixth branches of his family, and it is now his family centre. It is the meeting point for the Na Ranongs of Thailand and the Khaws of Koe Guan living in Malaysia.

     In Ranong, Khaw Soo Cheang has become a legend. The people there consider him to be the patron saint of the province. Every new Governor, and all the new senior officers of the province pay their respects at his tomb when they assume their new appointments there. Politicians running for parliament make offerings at his grave during their election campaigns, and business men pray to him for success in their business ventures.

     The poor immigrant from Changchow-fu had not only risen from rags to riches and power in the land of his adoption, but he had set a shining example for all his descendants to emulate, and also left behind a vary distinctive mark in the history of south Thailand.


Powered by MakeWebEasy.com
เว็บไซต์นี้มีการใช้งานคุกกี้ เพื่อเพิ่มประสิทธิภาพและประสบการณ์ที่ดีในการใช้งานเว็บไซต์ของท่าน ท่านสามารถอ่านรายละเอียดเพิ่มเติมได้ที่ นโยบายความเป็นส่วนตัว  และ  นโยบายคุกกี้