Self-made Man

Choa Chu (11)

To the
honoured and revered memory of
Born in China 1843
Died in Siam 12th March 1911
Leaving the following children and
grandchildren to mourn him

Gek-Seng Meng-Seng Kwang-Seng
Gek-Luan Kim-Luan Siew-Luan

Choon-Mong Hoa-Mong Song-Mong
Soo-Noi  Soo-Mui  Soo-Choo



The grave of Jacobe Low Kiok Chiang is in the Cho Chu Kang cemetery in Singapore. It captured my interest for a number of reasons. Firstly, the slab is very tall and the likeness of Jacobe* at the top is seen rarely upon grave markers. Secondly, Singapore is a tiny country that is short on space so graves have a life-span of ten years. The grave is only one of three that remain in this section of the cemetery, as the rest have had their remains exhumed. Thirdly, the grave marker was imported from Genova, Italy, which must have cost a considerable amount of money. The impressive monument and the fact it was still standing after 104 years signaled that Jacobe must have been someone of great importance.

The obituary to Jacobe published in The Straits Times on March 22, 1911 relates that he was sent to Singapore, from China, with his brother to escape poverty and create a better life for himself. He travelled to Singapore by junk and by his ‘innate shrewdness’ he became a very successful businessman who established import/export businesses in Singapore, Bangkok and Penang.

When he was aged about twenty, Jacobe converted to Roman Catholicism and contributed significant amounts of money toward various church projects throughout Singapore, Malaya and Thailand. The largest of these was the building of the Bangkok Roman Catholic Assumption Cathedral. His faith can be seen on his grave marker by the inclusion of the large image of Jesus on the cross.

Jacobe died in Bangkok in 1911 aged 69 and The Straits Times reports that he ‘remained cheerful to the end’.

RIP Jacobe

*I have chosen to refer to Mr Low as ‘Jacobe’ as this is the given name on his grave marker.


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