Lin Hengnan (林衡南; birth and death years unknown), also known as Lim Kong Chuan (林光铨), was from Jinmen in Fujian Province, China.
Not much has been written about Lin apart from the fact that he owned a printing and publishing company called Koh Yew Hean Press (古友轩). His press was well-known for publishing two Chinese language newspapers and numerous publications in various languages, including English, Chinese and Malay. Lin came to Singapore in 1861 and picked up his printing skills from the British.
In 1877, Lin published a Chinese-Malay dictionary, Tong Yi Xin Yu (《通夷新语》). It became very popular and was reprinted in 1883 under the title Hua Yi Tong Yu (《华夷通语》), with a preface written by Tso Ping Lung, the first Chinese consul to Singapore appointed by the Qing imperial court.
Lin started printing a newspaper called Xing Bao (《星报》, also spelt Sing Pau, Sing Po or Sing Poh) in 1890, almost 10 years after the appearance of Lat Pau (《叻报》), the first Chinese newspaper in Singapore, in 1881. He mentioned in Xing Bao that he had been running his printing company for over 20 years, implying that the company could have been established in 1870 or earlier – making it possibly one of the earliest Chinese printing houses in Singapore. On average, Xing Bao enjoyed a daily circulation of 300 copies, reaching a peak of 970 copies in 1896. Xing Bao ceased publication in 1898 and Koh Yew Hean Press was subsequently put up for sale in October that same year.
Selected books related to Lin Hengnan
陈蒙鹤著, 胡兴荣译 [Chen, M. H., Hu, X. R. (Eds.).] (2008). 《早期新加坡华文报章与华人社会 (1881-1912)》 [The early Chinese newspapers of Singapore]. 广州: 广东科技出版社, pp. 51-59. Call no.: RSING Chinese 079.5957 CMH Originally published in English in 1967, this academic work on the history of early Chinese newspapers of Singapore makes note of Sing Pau.
北京图书馆 [Beijing Library]. (2000). 《北京图书馆藏家谱丛刊 – 闽粤(侨乡)卷》 [Collection of genealogies in the Beijing Library – Fujian and Guangdong provinces]. Vol. 1. 北京：北京图书馆出版社, pp. 425-426. Call no.: RCO Chinese q929.10720512 BJT In this 50-volume collection, there is an entry for《西河林氏族谱》that was proofread by Lim Kong Chuan and printed by the Koh Yew Hean Press in 1877.
柯木林. (主编). [Ke, M. L. (Ed.).] (1995). 《新华历史人物列传》 [Who’s who in the Chinese community of Singapore]. 新加坡: 教育出版公司, p. 137. Call no.: RSING Chinese 959.570092 WHO-[HIS]. The book contains the biographies of 1,175 Chinese personalities in Singapore, covering the period from 1819 to 1990. Each biography contains information on the birth and death dates, dialect group, occupation and affiliated organisations of the Chinese personality. Lin Hengnan’s biography is also included.
崔贵强 (Chui, G. Q.). (1993). 《新加坡华文报刊与报人》 [Singapore Chinese presses and journalists]. 新加坡: 海天文化企业, pp. 7-9. Call no.: RSING Chinese 079.5957 CG This publication focuses on Chinese newspapers and their prominent personalities, as well as discusses the history of Sing Pau.
郑文辉 (Zheng, W. H.). (1973). 《新加坡华文报业史: 1881-1972》 [History of Singapore Chinese newspapers, 1881-1972]. 新加坡: 新马出版印刷, pp. 25-29. Call no.: RCO Chinese 079.5957 CWH This publication features the history of Singapore’s Chinese newspapers from 1881 to 1972, and mentions the development of Sing Pau as one of Singapore’s early Chinese newspapers.
Selected newspaper articles on Lin Hengnan
百年印务馆 – 古友轩 [Hundred years printing press – Koh Yew Hean]. (1988, September 4). 《联合早报》[Lianhe Zaobao], p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. A short article on the various operating locations of Koh Yew Hean since its establishment.
庄钦永 (Zhuang, Q. Y.). (1983, January 17). 古友轩二三事 [Information on Koh Yew Hean]. 《星洲日报》[Xingzhou Ribao], p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. The article discusses the possible year of establishment of Koh Yew Hean Press and argues that Lin Hengnan is Lim Kong Chuan.