Kapitan China

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A portrait of a Kapitan Cina in Bangil, East Java

Kapitan China (also spelled Kapitan Cina, Capitan China, etc.) was a title given to leaders of overseas Chinese enclaves in Southeast Asia.[1][2] The local 15th century rulers of the region, such as Melaka (modern day Malacca) and Banten (or Bantam), chose to deal with a single individual from each ethnic group under their rule.[3][4] This administrative method of indirect rule was later adopted by the Portuguese when they took over Melaka in the 16th century, as well as the Dutch in the Dutch East Indies, and the English in British Malaya.[3]

Throughout Southeast Asia, Batavia (now Jakarta) arguably boasts the longest continuous history of the institution of Kapitan Cina.[5] In 1619, the Dutch appointed Souw Beng Kong, formerly Kapitan Cina of Bantam, as the first Kapitein der Chinezen of Batavia. Through Kapitein Beng Kong, then, the Batavian Captaincy succeeded the much-earlier institution of Kapitan Cina of Bantam. Batavia also produced probably Asia's only female Kapitan Cina, the so-called Nyai Bali, who was appointed officially to her post in 1649 by the Dutch East India Company.[6] The Batavian Captaincy ended in 1945 with the death of Khouw Kim An, the last Majoor der Chinezen of Batavia, possibly also the last such intermediary rulers in Southeast Asia. The issue of a Luitenant, Kapitein or Majoor der Chinesen are entitled, by Peranakan custom, to the hereditary dignity of Sia.

With the end of the colonial period, the title became purely an honorary one.[3]

Kapiteins and Majoors of Batavia (present day Jakarta)[edit]

Kapiteins and Majoors of Surabaya[edit]

Kapitans of Miri, Sarawak[edit]

Kapitans of Kuala Lumpur[edit]

Yap Ah Loy was a Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur and is considered the founder of the city. The title was abolished in 1902, when Yap Kwan Seng died.

Kapitans of Johor / Major China of Johor[edit]

Kapitans of Kuala Terengganu[edit]

  • 1736–1820 Teo Tioh Eng
  • 1782–17xx Kow Geok Seng
  • 1798–1847 Lim Eng Huat
  • 1810–18xx Kow Teck Lee
  • 18xx–18xx Low Kian Tee
  • 18xx–1899 Wee Teck Siew
  • 1xxx–19xx Kow Swee Leng

Kapitans of Malacca[edit]

  • 1572–1617 Tay Hong Yong @ Tay Kie Ki (鄭甲)
  • 1614–1688 Li Wei King @ Li Koon Chang (李為經)
  • 1662–1708 Lee Chiang Hou @ Lee Chong Kian
  • 1643–1718 Chan Ki Lock @ Chan Lak Kua
  • 1725–1765 Chan Hian Kway @ Chan Kwang Hwee
  • 1703–1784 Tan Seng Yong
  • 1748–1794 Tan Ki Hou @ Tan Siang Lian
  • 1750–1802 Chua Su Cheong @ Chua Tok Ping
  • 1771–1882 Chan Yew Liang @ Chan Keng Sin

Kapitans of Medan[edit]

  • 1890-1911 Tjong Yong Hian (张爵干)
  • 1911-1921 Tjong A Fie (张耀轩)

Kapitans of Penang[edit]

  • 1787–1826 Koh Lay Huan (辜禮歡) was Kapitan China of Kedah, and appointed the first Kapitan China of Penang
  • 1894–1908 Cheah Ching Hui (謝清輝)
  • 1908–1918 Cheah Yong Chong (謝榮宗)

Kapitans of Perak[edit]

  • 1830–18xx Tan Ah Hun (陳亞漢)
  • 1875–1900 Chung Keng Quee (鄭景貴)
  • 1875–1899 Chin Ah Yam @ Chin Seng Yam (陳亞炎) leader of the Ghee Hin during the Larut Wars
  • 1886–1906 Khaw Boo Aun @ Khaw Ewe Kuang (許武安)
  • 1930–1935 Chung Thye Phin (鄭大平) last Kapitan China of Perak and (British) Malaya

Other Kapitans China[edit]

  • Tan Ah Hun, the first Capitan China of Perak circa 1850s, father of Tan Seng Poh and father-in-law of Seah Eu Chin[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]
  • Shing Kap, Capitan China of Sungei Ujong, and a Hai San headman[19][20]
  • Choa Mah Soo, Capitan China of Klias and Mempakul (circa 1869)[21][22][23]
  • Chua Su Cheong Capitan China of Dutch Malacca and father of Choa Chong Long[24]
  • Chan Yungqua, Capitan China of Malacca (18th century)[25]
  • Ah Poh, Capitan China of Lipis
  • Seah Tye Heng, Capitan China of Sekudai, Johore[26]
  • Lieu Chin-Fu, Capitan China of Pulai was the last Capitan China of Kelantan[27]
  • Tan How Seng, Capitan China of Singapore[28]
  • Li Kap or Li Kup or Lee Wei King, Capitan China of Dutch Malacca, founder of the Cheng Hoon Teng temple there and the person who donated Bukit China for use as a Chinese burial ground[29][30]
  • Wee Sin Hee, Capitan China of Terengganu[31]
  • Tin Kap or Tay Kap, Capitan China of Portuguese Malacca, said to have been the only Capitan China appointed by the Portuguese[32][33][34][35][36][37]
  • Baba Seng, Capitan China of Kedah in the 1820s[38]
  • Chan Ki Lock or Chan Kup, Capitan China of Dutch Malacca circa 1704[39]
  • Khaw Boo Aun[40]
  • Dato' Chua Tuah Soon (Chinese: 蔡大孫; pinyin: Cài Dà Sūn)
  • WEE, Hee Hoon (D: 17 March 1922 at 46 yrs of age, leaving a widow and seven children), Kapitan China of Bagan Si Api Api (Indonesia)[41]
  • OEY, Teng Kiang (Murdered 17 September 1924), Kapitan China of Palembang (Indonesia).[42]
  • KOH, Kim Hin (husband of Mrs Anne Tan-Koh who died at 79 yrs of age in 1966, and father of Bishop Roland Koh), Kapitan China of Sandakan (East Malaysia).[43]
  • OEI, Leong Tan, Kapitan China of Bengkalis.[44]
  • LEE, Lei Kam, Kapitan China of Perlis.[45]
  • ONG, Boon Pang, Kapitan China of Brunei.[46]
  • PANG, Boon Ting, Pehin Kapitan China Kornia Diraja of Brunei
  • Tam Yong (father of towkay Tan Yee Man), Kapitan China of Seremban.[47]
  • Lee Sam, Kapitan China of Seremban.[48]
  • LIM, Ah Pat, Capitan China of Muntok was decorated by the Dutch Government in 1910.[49]
  • KHOO Cheow Teong, (Justice of the Peace and father of Khoo Sian Ewe), Kapitan China of Asahan.[50]
  • WEE, Chim Yean (Died 13 August 1926 leaving four sons and four daughters), Kapitan China of Bengkalis.[51][52]
  • KO, Kim Yeo, Kapitan China of Batavia.[53]
  • WEE, Boon Teng (Born in Singapore in 1864. Educated at Lye Fatt English School. Appointed Lieutenant China of Selat Panjang on the Sumatra east coast in 1890. Promoted to Capitan China in 1915 and awarded the Dutch colonial gold medal. Promoted to Majoor in 1925 prior to his retirement), Kapitan China of Selat Panjang.[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Kapitan System and Secret Societies published in Chinese politics in Malaysia: a history of the Malaysian Chinese Association - Page 14
  2. ^ Southeast Asia-China interactions: reprint of articles from the Journal of the Malaysian Branch, Royal Asiatic Society, Issue 25 of M.B.R.A.S. reprint, 2007, - Page 549
  3. ^ a b c Ooi, Keat Gin. Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, From Angkor Wat to East Timor, p. 711
  4. ^ Hwang, In-Won. Personalized Politics: The Malaysian State Under Matahtir, p. 56
  5. ^ The official website of the Koang Koan Archives at Leiden University.
  6. ^ Yuan Bingling, "The Last Resort" in Blussé, Leonard & Chen, Menghong, The Archives of the Kongkoan of Batavia(Den Haag, 2003), pp. 30–31)
  7. ^ A social history of the Chinese in Singapore and Malaya, 1800-1911 - Page 232
  8. ^ A Gallery of Chinese Kapitans, CS Wong
  9. ^ A portrait of Malaysia and Singapore - Page 77
  10. ^ Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume 68 - Page 34
  11. ^ Triad and Tabut: a survey of the origin and diffusion of Chinese and ... - Page 350
  12. ^ The Straits Settlements, 1826-67: Indian presidency to crown colony - Page 259
  13. ^ Wong Ah Fook: immigrant, builder, and entrepreneur - Page 85
  14. ^ Singapore: wealth, power and the culture of control - Page 49
  15. ^ The Western Malay States, 1850-1873: the effects of commercial development ... - Page 35
  16. ^ One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore - Page 21
  17. ^ A social history of the Chinese in Singapore and Malaya, 1800-1911 - Page 267
  18. ^ Toponymics: a study of Singapore street names - Page 345
  19. ^ Chinese secret societies in Malaya: a survey of the Triad Society from 1800 ... - Page 206
  20. ^ Chinese epigraphic materials in Malaysia - Page 452
  21. ^ Studies in the Social History of China and South-east Asia - Page 36
  22. ^ Pope-Hennesy to C.O., 13 October 1869. Co. 144/20. To F.O., 1 September 1869. F.O. 12/34B. To Lord Knutsford, 25 May 1888. C.O. 133/66
  23. ^ The Sarawak Museum journal - Page 9, 1963
  24. ^ The Eastern seas: or, Voyages and adventures in the Indian Archipelago, in ... - Page 363
  25. ^ European commercial expansion in early modern Asia - Page 273
  26. ^ Opium and empire: Chinese society in Colonial Singapore, 1800-1910 - Page 195
  27. ^ Kelantan zaman awal: kajian arkeologi dan sejarah di Malaysia By Hassan Shuhaimi bin Nik Abd. Rahman, 1987, Pg 227
  28. ^ Ethnic Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia: a dialogue between tradition and modernity by Leo Suryadinata, 2002, Pg 86
  29. ^ The cultural melting pot By Robert Sin Nyen Tan, 1991, Page 85
  30. ^ Rites of belonging: memory, modernity, and identity in a Malaysian Chinese ... By Jean Elizabeth DeBernardi Page 27
  31. ^ Growing Up in Trengganu By Awang Goneng by Monsoon Books, 2007, Page 161
  32. ^ Reconstructing identities: a social history of the Babas in Singapore by Jürgen Rudolph - Page 149
  33. ^ The Baba of Melaka: culture and identity of a Chinese peranakan community in ... - Page 64
  34. ^ The Portuguese Missions in Malacca and Singapore (1511-1958): Malacca - Page 317
  35. ^ Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volumes 11-12, 1933, - Page 1
  36. ^ Wong, 1963: 1-2, Studies in ASEAN sociology: urban society and social change - Page 232
  37. ^ Historical Sabah: The Chinese by Danny Tze-Ken Wong, 2005 - Page 57
  38. ^ Wong C.S., 1963, p. 47, Reconstructing identities: a social history of the Babas in Singapore By Jürgen Rudolph, Page 38
  39. ^ See historical Malacca in one day - Page 18 by Marcus Scott-Ross - History - 1973
  40. ^ The overseas Chinese and the 1911 revolution, with special reference to Singapore and Malaya by Yen Ching Hwang, Qinghuang Yan, 1976, Pg 182
  41. ^ The Straits Times 20 March 1922, Page 8
  42. ^ The Straits Times, 29 September 1924, Page 10
  43. ^ The Straits Times, 25 August 1966, Page 10
  44. ^ The Straits Times, 28 July 1914, Page 9
  45. ^ The Straits Times, 5 April 1965, Page 11
  46. ^ The Straits Times, 25 April 1948, Page 7
  47. ^ The Straits Times, 2 May 1933, Page 12
  48. ^ The Straits Times, 7 August 1949, Page 4
  49. ^ Weekly Sun, 15 October 1910, Page 4
  50. ^ The Straits Times, 16 August 1917, Page 6.
  51. ^ The Strtaits Times, 16 August 1926, Page 7
  52. ^ The Straits Times, 14 August 1926, Page 8
  53. ^ The Straits Times, 13 July 1909, Page 7
  54. ^ The Straits Times, 30 May 1937, Page 9


External links[edit]