Rise and fall of pioneer Chia Ann Siang's fortune

New book chronicles eldest son's sale of land, properties as nutmeg industry fell into decline

Singapore pioneer Chia Ann Siang's descendants (from left) Soh Tiang Keng, Ruth Chia and Linda Kow, seen here in Ann Siang Hill in Chinatown, are behind the new book, Chia Ann Siang And Family: The Tides Of Fortune. The Chia family fortune at one tim
Singapore pioneer Chia Ann Siang's descendants (from left) Soh Tiang Keng, Ruth Chia and Linda Kow, seen here in Ann Siang Hill in Chinatown, are behind the new book, Chia Ann Siang And Family: The Tides Of Fortune. The Chia family fortune at one time included land lots and 77 properties in Chinatown.ST PHOTO: KELLY HUI

How did the wealth of pioneer Chia Ann Siang dwindle over time? In 1919, some 27 years after his death, newspapers were plastered with auction notices for swathes of land he had owned.

The notices were posted by his eldest son Keng Beng - the trustee of his estate. Land lots and 77 properties in Chinatown - in prime spots such as Ann Siang Hill and Telok Ayer - were listed for sale. Some of these areas were home to once-lucrative nutmeg plantations.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2019, with the headline 'Rise and fall of pioneer Chia Ann Siang's fortune'. Print Edition | Subscribe