Tjong A Fie – The Story of A Generous Chinese in Medan

Tjong A Fie - The Story of A Generous Chinese in Medan

The charms of Indonesia is not only in its natural beauty, but also its local knowledge and historical objects that can be an important element to color the Indonesian tourism world.

Temporaktif – Indonesia is a country with full of history in its development. Not only of indigenous people who want this nation to be developed but also the newcomers from abroad will love this country and want a better life than in their home country.

Since the past, the construction and development of Medan had continued to grow rapidly as the largest city in Sumatra Province and the third largest city in Indonesia. Medan was a city that saved a lot of interesting history that always wanted to listen. One of them was the role of Chinese people in building the city of Medan. Many people didn’t know the Chinese people had participated in constructing and advancing Medan.

Since the curiosity on the history of Medan, we visited the General A. Yani street No. 105 Medan. We did not know if the street formerly named Kesawan street which was famous with its evening culinary tourism called Kesawan Square, but it had ultimately lost because there were no more visitors who kept the phenomenal history of Medan.

The Story of A Generous Chinese in Medan

Right on the right road, we stopped right in front of the Chinese house that was very large, grand and nice. Yes, this is a Tjong A Fie Mansion called “a historical jewel in Medan”, a house of a Chinese who had many roles in the development of Medan. Entering the house that now became a museum, we greeted by some friendly guides who would describe each corner of the house which had an area of 8000 sq.meter.

Tjong A Fie Mansion, a dwelling house which opened to the public for the first time in June 2009. It was a registered historical landmark as well as a cultural heritage building and museum. When visiting the house, we would find a lot of rooms, with many relics from Tjong A Fie. When we firstly came in, we passed a large arch, then came into the large courtyard that was very similar to the houses we may have ever seen in the past Chinese film series.

Coming into the first room which was the guest room, we were presented with the view of the past chairs, the photographs of Tjong A Fie and family, as well as various other trinkets, such as flower vases, cabinets, until complete ceramics displayed. The next room was the dining room, we would find a big dining table with its furniture that was neatly arranged on it.

Coming into the Tjong A Fie’s bedroom, then a variety of antiques and ancient relics of the tycoons would be found. The bedroom holds the memories of the owner. We could also find a room used by Tjong A Fie to worship. All equipment such as offerings, incense, and other trinkets could be found here, along with various other antique objects as well. Besides there were a lot of other rooms with its antique things, in the rear of the house, we could also see the pictures of Tjong A Fie’s descents.

You can see more snapshot Tjong A Fie Mansion

So who is exactly Tjong A Fie?

From the guide’s explanation, we got information that Tjong A Fie was born in 1860 as the Hakka people. He came from a humble and poor origins in China. He didn’t even finish his schooling so he and his brother, Tjong Yong Hian, could help out in their family’s shop that made him chose to migrate at the age of 15 years. The Land of Deli became his destiny. In this land, he worked very hard and diligent in order to build relationships, until then he was known as the most respected Chinese entrepreneur, banker, and industrialist in Southeast Asia. Moreover, Tjong A Fie was regarded as one of the founders of Medan. His company employed more than 10,000 employees. Although he was not the only rich man in the field, due to his generosity and leadership as China Kapitan (Majoor der Chineezen), made him special.

As the father of Medan, Tjong A Fie had an important role in the establishment of many important buildings in this city. Around 1888, the incumbent Sultan of Deli called Sultan Ma’mun al-Rashid, wanted to build a palace in Medan. Tjong A Fie reportedly accounts for 1/3 the cost of the construction of the palace which now becomes one of a tourist destination. The other Tjong A Fie’s relics was the contribution of a big watch to the Township Office Hours Medan in 1913. It remains on display at City Hall Medan, a Dutch building located one straight line with Tjong A Fie’s Mansion. The big watch made by Van Bergen in the Heillgerlee Netherlands was dedicated specifically to Medan.

Tjong A Fie also referred as the first man behind the construction of the railway line (Deli Spoorweg Maatschappij) which connected Medan to the area of Belawan Port. In addition, he became a major donor of the development of Masjid Raya al-Mahsun. For the health sector, he also founded the first Chinese hospital called Tjie On Jie Jan.

With his big effort and tenacious, Medan occupied a very important position for the regional trade and tourism in Southeast Asia. Tjong A Fie was an important tycoon who built a business relationship with Selat Malaka region. Medan became closely connected to Penang because of the intense activity in those two regions. Not only in terms of trade, but also town planning and architecture of the building. British plantation entrepreneurs and architects of this strait area were often hired by wealthy people in Medan. Instead, the architects and Dutch planters had brought the new ideas across the strait

Downtown’s field in the city center in Medan called “Esplanade”, the same as the open field that was in Penang. The house store buildings (shops), as well as the type of building in this city, were also very similar to each other. Hence, the combined style of Dutch and English was widely available in Medan until today.

Tjong A Fie success in overseas did not make him forget to the land of his birth. In the province of Nanking, China, Tjong A Fie built a plant to encourage the industry there. For his services, the Kingdom of China raised Tjong A Fie as the royal with Tjie Voe degree, and in 1911 the title was raised again to To Thay. That was the story of the legendary tycoon in Deli Land that could not inseparable from the history of Medan. So, the Chinese people was not a stranger in this city

Tjong A Fie died at age 61 years, in museum contained his last photo precisely when the 60th anniversary year, one year before his death. For a Chinese man who were very rich and generous, Tjong A Fie also had thought of the continuity of the company and his habit to donate his property to people who can not afford, as well as helping the country’s development. Then, before his death, Tjong A Fie also willed his entire fortune inside and outside of Sumatra to Toen Moek Tong Foundation that should be established in Medan and Sungkow when he died.

Even, he wrote his request that the foundation provided financial assistance to the talented and wellbehaved young men who wanted to complete their education, regardless of their nationality. Tjong also advised that the foundation helped those who could not work properly due to a defect and helped the victims of natural disasters without irrespective of their nationality or ethnicity.

That was the development history of Medan that had received so much assistance from a Chinese. From the history, we could also see that the generosity of Tjong A Fie did not look at religion and ethnicity. Everyone was assisted to the common interest, even some of his relics still used until now and had a vital role.

Until nowadays the economy of Medan has kept moving forward with the role of Chinese descents who have been the citizen of Indonesia, they still live in peace one another, even with the natives, they maintain social bliss connection that never happened a friction among ethnic in Medan.

So if we want to visit Medan, besides visiting the sights of nature around North Sumatra and Medan, we would better visit Tjong A Fie Mansion that is in the middle of Medan, where it is not too difficult to find it. Besides seeing the history of Medan from Tjong A Fie Mansion, we can also see the old buildings located around A. Yani street, because these locations become the old town area which is preserved by the local government.


Snapshot – Tjong A Fie Mansion (The Story of A Generous Chinese in Medan) 

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