Thursday, April 23, 2009


Mr. Whampoa Hoo Ah Kay was one of Singapore's founding fathers. Till today, he is held in high regard by Singaporeans young and old alike for his contributions to early Singapore.

Early Life:

Whampoa Hoo Ah Kay was born in Huangpo, Canton (Guangdong) in 1816. He arrived in Singapore in 1830, at the young age of just 15 years old, eager to help his father manage his provision shop which was located at the junction of Bonham Street and Boat Quay, supplying beef, bread and vegetables mainly to the fishermen and traders who docked their boats and junks there. With his fluency in the English Language, Whampoa soon became an asset to his father's shop and helped to faciliate transactions with the Europeans and British.

Soon after, his father passed on and Whampoa inherited the business, carrying on the trade. His shop, Whampoa & Co, provisions to the British navy. He was extremely successful in his business and hence expanded it. He owned a bakery in Havelock Road and a warehouse, Whampoa ice house in Clarke Quay. His business in ice proved unsuccessful as the demand for ice in Singapore was too low. However, his venture in baking lasted much longer and was more profitable.

Whampoa had 3 sons; Hoo Ah Yip, Hoo Keng Choong and Hoo Keng Tuck. The eldest, Hoo Ah Yip studies overseas and managed Whampoa & Co. for short time before he died. Hoo Keng Choong, his second son, died young too while his youngest son, Hoo Keng Tuck finally took over the family business.


Though he became rich and famous, Whampoa never forsook his fellowmen. He was renowned for donating large sums of money to the poor Chinese and also provided them with shelter and allowed them to gather at his house. He also gave out free food to those who could not afford any. Thus, in remembrance of his selfless contributions, Whampoa has a road named after him.

Furthermore, he encouraged trade in Singapore by supplying food such as beef and vegetables to docking ships from many other countries. He also acted as a consul to many key countries such as China,Russia and Japan. His shop, Whampoa & Co. also supplied provisions to the British. He had also contributed to Singapore's education by co-founding Raffles Girls' School, an elite girls' school.

He was a member of the legislative assembly, which is comparable to the present Parliament.

Where should his monument be erected?

I think that a a monument of Whampoa Hoo Ah Kay should be erected to acknowledge the work he has done for Singapore.

I think that a bronze statue of him should be carved at the entrance to Whampoa Road. It is a very fitting destination for a statue of him as it the road itself was named after him in recognition of his contributions to Singapore. Furthermore, people driving into Whampoa Road would know the history behind its name.


After finishing this ACE project, I realize that I was unaware of many things about Singapore's history. For example, I did not know why Whampoa Road had such an interesting name even though I have been there countless times. Now, I realize the importance of history. Only by studying history can I uncover the origins and beginnings of our present society and understand it better.

Additionally, I have refined my researching skills during the course of searching for information on Whampoa Hoo Ah Kay. I had to slog through numerous library books and crawl the entire World Wide Web in search of the relevant information I needed. As a result, not only do I now know a lot more about Singapore's founding fathers, but also improved my skills at researching and collborating data!

Furthermore, I initially disliked this ACE assignment as I had the mindset that "History= Boring!". However, throughout the course of creating this profile of one of Singapore's pioneers, I have learned how interesting and exciting history can be. Thus, I look forward to completing the next ACE project!


Resources: (Image)