It was poignantly appropriate that the Homestead building at the WOU main campus became the backdrop for the launch of the book on the late Towkay Yeap Chor Ee.
The publication titled ‘The King’s Chinese: From Barber to Banker, the story of Yeap Chor Ee and the Straits Chinese’, was written by his great-granddaughter Daryl Yeap.
The book delves into the life of the late Yeap, a poor immigrant from China, who rose from a barber to become a prominent business tycoon. His achievements included the founding of the Ban Hin Lee Bank in Penang. The book examines Yeap’s trading, banking and other business engagements and also traces the history of the Chinese immigrants in Penang.
In his welcoming remarks at the event held today, Tan Sri Andrew Sheng, the Chairman of the International Advisory Board of WOU’s George Town Institute of Open and Advanced Studies (GIOAS), offered his rousing endorsement of the publication. He said the late Yeap overcame obstacles of absolute poverty and illiteracy to emerge as a successful businessman and contribute to society.
Daryl Yeap, in her presentation, pointed out that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Homestead building, which was once the private family home of the Yeap family but is now part of the WOU main campus.
She said the event was also to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Yeap, a well-known philanthropist, commodity dealer, land owner, community leader and educationist. Towkay Yeap was born in October 1868.
She shared the history of the Yeap clan through photographs and charts and also introduced a few of the descendants and key personalities in her book to the audience. The crowd also had a glimpse of how the Homestead building looked then and now.
She explained that the book not only captures the life of her great-grandfather but also highlights the achievements of the Chinese migrants in Penang.
More than 120 people, many of them leaders in the industry and the community, turned up for the book launch.
Among those in attendance were WOU Board of Governors Chairman Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, WOU Sdn Bhd Chairman Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap and Datin Seri Irene, the parents of Daryl, along with WOU former Vice Chancellor Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan and Dato’ Seri Goh Eng Toon, the former Chairman and CEO of Ban Hin Lee Bank Bhd.