Leong Yew Koh

Tun Leong Yew Koh (Chinese: 梁宇皋; pinyin: Liáng Yǔgāo; Jyutping: Leung1 Yau3 Koh5; 22 August 1888 – 12 January 1963)[1] was the first Governor of Malacca since independence. Being a Kuomintang member himself and serving under the Republic of China government from 1932 and later become the leader of Overseas Chinese Anti-Japanese Army branch in Perak from 1942 until 1945, he is one of the founder of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) in 1949 and the party first secretary-general.[2]

Leong Yew Koh
1st Yang Dipertua Negeri of Melaka
In office
31 August 1957  30 August 1959
Succeeded byAbdul Malek Yusuf
Personal details
Born(1888-08-22)22 August 1888
Sungai Siput, Perak, Federated Malay States, British Malaya
Died12 January 1963(1963-01-12) (aged 74)
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Federation of Malaya
Political partyMalayan Chinese Association (MCA)
Spouse(s)Ho York Ling
ResidenceBritish Malaya, Republic of China
OccupationMCA Secretary-General (1952–1957)

Early life and background

Born in Salak Utara, Sungai Siput, Perak on 22 August 1888, Leong was the son of Leong Yew Teen, who was responsible in developing Salak Utara.[2]

He went to Canton, Republic of China, for his early education. At age 13, he came back to Malaya from China and studied in Anglo-Chinese School Ipoh and St Xavier's Institution, Penang.[2] At age 16, he joined Tongmenghui Singapore.

He went to the University of London in 1908, studying economics, sociology, political science and law. He graduated in 1912 with an LLB.[2]

Further career

Malayan bar

He was called to the bar in 1920 and served as an advocate and solicitor in the Federated Malay States (FMS) and was also a member of the FMS Bar Committee until his resignation in 1932.[2][3]

Republic of China

In 1932, Leong returned to China and served the Chinese government as counsellor of the Ministry of Railway's, legal adviser to the Executive Yuan, members of Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission, adviser to the Treaty Commission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and inspector of China consulates in the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Malaya and South Africa from 1935.[2] He was also the senior commissioner for China in the Sino-British Joint Boundary Commission for the Investigation of the Southern Section of the Undelimited Yunnan-Burma Boundary from 1935 until 1937. He became counsellor to ambassador Chen Kung Po, the Chinese emissary to Rome in 1938. He then left the central government to join the Yunnan provincial government as development commissioner of the Second Frontier District of Yunnan.[2]

War-time era

Resistance activities in Malaya

Through the ensuing Japanese Malayan campaign during the World War II, Leong is the leader of the Malayan Kuomintang-guerrilla branch of the Overseas Chinese Anti-Japanese Army (OCAJA) in Perak where the group controlled the upper portion of the Perak River Valley.[4] After the war ended and subsequent Japanese surrender, a negotiation was held between him and the British Malayan authorities where he agreed for the OCAJA under his authority being absorbed into the national Special Constabulary in 1947 to fight alongside the British against the Communist-influenced Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA).[4]

Later life until final years

Political career in Malaya

On 27 February 1949, Tan Cheng Lock founded the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) along with Leong and Colonel H. S. Lee. Leong became the first Secretary-General of MCA.[5]

He was appointed as the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Malacca on 31 August 1957, and served until 30 August 1959. In 1958, he was awarded a federal title of Tun, bestowed by DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya. He was then appointed as the Justice Minister of Malaya in 1959. He died on 12 January 1963 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.[6]

He was the first Chinese to be appointed as the Yang di-Pertua Negeri in any of the Malayan states.[7] As of 2015, he is considered as the only Chinese ever appointed as the Yang di-Pertua Negeri in any of the Malaysian states.


Honour of Malaya


  1. "The First President of Malacca (TYT Tun Leong Yew Koh)". TYT Yang-di Pertua Negeri of Melaka Office. 24 September 2012. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  2. Leo Suryadinata (2012). Southeast Asian Personalities of Chinese Descent: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume I & II. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 555–. ISBN 978-981-4345-21-7.
  3. "Untitled". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942). 20 July 1932. p. 12. Retrieved 20 October 2019 via National Library Board, Singapore.
  4. Paul H. Kratoska (30 April 2018). The Japanese Occupation of Malaya and Singapore, 1941-45: A Social and Economic History. NUS Press. pp. 299–. ISBN 978-9971-69-638-2.
  5. "Malaysian Road Names: Who's Who?". Malaysian Digest. 18 June 2013. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  6. Pauziah (14 November 2011). "Tun Leong Yew Koh Meninggal Dunia" [Tun Leong Yew Koh Passed Away] (in Malay). National Archives of Malaysia. Archived from the original on 20 October 2019. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  7. "First Malacca Governor is Leong Yew Koh. But today even government office boy's job denied to Indian poor: Racist UMNO Agenda". Human Rights Party Malaysia. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2018 via archive.is.
  8. "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1958" (PDF).
New creation Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Malacca
Succeeded by
Abdul Malek Yusuf
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