Lim Boon Keng bigraphy, stories - Chinese physician and social activist

Lim Boon Keng : biography

18 October 1869 - 1 January 1957

Dr. Lim Boon Keng ( 18 October 1869 – 1 January 1957), , was a Chinese physician who promoted social and educational reforms in Singapore in the early 20th century. Lim was of Peranakan descent, with ancestry from Hai Teng district in Fujian, China.

Later life

Lim led his remaining years in recluse in Singapore as an ordinary citizen. He died at the age of 88 on 1 January 1957, and was buried at Bidadari Cemetery in Singapore.

President of OCA

In 1942, Lim's family were interned at a Japanese concentration camp at Arab Street. According to Shinozaki Mamoru, Lim was in a state that he was so shocked that his voice was inaudible. However, with Shinozaki's help, Lim was able to get home with Shinozaki's protection cards.

Lim was asked by the Japanese to become the leader of the Overseas Chinese Association (OCA), an association which was designated to serve the needs of the local Chinese community under the approval of the Japanese. In response, Lim refused, claiming that he was too old to take up the role of a president. Lim's wife was then made to kneel down under the scorching sun for four hours at a stretch, in addition to bearing other insults. After Shinozaki persuaded him, telling him that Lim's position as president was merely to be a figurehead without needing to do much work, Lim finally relented.

In March 1942, Lim was ordered by the Japanese to raise a "donation" of $50 million for Japan. However, only $28 million was raised with much difficulty. In response to the anger of the Japanese, Lim made an emotional speech:

"We never told a lie. When we promised to give the military contribution, we mean to do it. Financial conditions are now such as to be beyond our control. If we are unable to pay, then die we will. I wish to point out, however, that the manner in which the Government raise this military contribution is without any parallel in any country."

In the end, the Japanese agreed to a loan for the remaining sum through the Yokohama Specie Bank.

Lim also supervised the construction of the Endau settlement in 1944. In view of Singapore's inability to feed her large population, it was meant to be a place for local citizens to migrate to.

Known as the grand old man of Singapore's Chinese society, during the Japanese occupation, he would feign a drunken stupor rather than cooperate with the Japanese.

Early life

Lim was born as the third-generation of a Peranakan family in Penang, Malaya. His father, Lim Thean Geow, had moved his family to Singapore when Lim was a young boy. Lim was later enrolled into Raffles Institution. However, the death of his parents during his childhood inspired Lim to pursue a career in medicine. In 1887, Lim became the first Malayan to receive a Queen's Scholarship, and entered Edinburgh University. He graduated in 1892 with a first class honours degree in medicine.


Lim married twice. His first marriage was to Margaret Huang in 1896 at a Presbyterian Church, and they had four sons: Robert Kho-Seng, Francis Kho-Beng, Walter Kho-Leng and John Kho-Liau. However, Lim's wife died in 1905.

Lim remarried in 1908, to Grace Yin. They had one son, Peng Han, who later became a race car driver, and daughter Ena Guat-Kheng. Lim also had another son, Peng Thiam, with Chui Geok, niece of one of Lim's wives, probably out of wedlock.

Lim's son Lim Peng Han was the first Chinese to race at Brooklands, United Kingdom. His granddaughter, Annalisa Ee Nga Landymore-Lim, began her education at the school her grandfather co-founded, the Singapore Chinese Girls' School. She obtained her BSc (First Class) and PhD in the United Kingdom in biomedical chemistry. Like her grandfather, she has also published and campaigned against the harmful effects of drugs used in medicine. She is author of 'Poisonous Prescriptions - Do Antibiotics Cause Asthma and Diabetes?'.


The area now known as Boon Keng, including Boon Keng MRT Station, Boon Keng Road and Upper Boon Keng Road are named after Lim.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine