Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sir Tan Hoan Kie, Aurora Hotel Original Owner/Builder

Hi all,

My mother's father, Mr. Tan Hoan Kie, in 1959 after he build and opened the AURORA HOTEL as original owner and later knighted by Queen Elizabeth II by the 'then' Governor Goode of England was a legend in his time.  Sir Tan Hoan Kie was the founder of a chain of Department stores in Singapore by the name 'AURORA' and in Indonesia, during the Dutch period named 'TOKO DE ZON' ('Store of the Sun'-In Dutch) and today just known as 'MATAHARI' department stores. ( )  Before he passed away from a sudden heart attack 1963, he had left a legacy of generations of workers that worked in his businesses that included the above and import, Export, Rubber and Palm plantations.  

The intention of this blog is to start a dialog among those folks and their children who have worked for my grandfather, Sir Tan Hoan Kie and pictures to go along with it.  I plan to write a book and you may be credited in having first knowledge of my grandfather's businesses and unique experiences while employed at either of his businesses or during his life.

During the Indonesian period the store was renamed from 'TOKO DE ZON'  to 'TOKO SINAR MATAHARI Pty., Ltd., then after 1968, when our family sold the stores one by one and or collectively to individuals and a group from Japan, who held the bulk of the stores, including my Grandfather's flagship store practically next to his home at Pasar Baru on the former Jl. Krekot (proper), now known as Jl. Kh. Samanhudi.  Today, just the name 'MATAHARI' is being used as the flagship name by the new owners, Lippo Bank Group or specifically Mr. Mochtar Riady.  Hari Darmawan claimed to have founded the 'MATAHARI'
brand, which was the name of my Grandfather's store long before he was born, since the 1920's, known in Dutch, as before mentioned, "TOKO DE ZON" and during the Indonesian Independence in 1949 from the Dutch (Indonesia claimed 1945, as their year of Independence...which Queen Beatrix protested by four days of her expected coming for the celebration on the thirtieth birthday of Independence....One day for EACH year,  so, four days...equals four years, Indonesia claimed they got their Independence from Holland....enfin, that's another long story....) Mr. Hari Darmawan used the famous name "MATAHARI" and revived an almost dying brand-name.  My Grandfather, Mr. Tan Hoan Kie was the real and actual founder of the today known, simply, 'MATAHARI' department stores.  Hari Darmawan, just played on the famous legendary brand coat tails of my Grandfather's highly acclaimed and well known for generations of buyers and workers he cultivated by being a caring employer and smart retailer in his time.  He weathered three bankruptcies and came up on top each time with the help of his astute and faithful backing, due to his high credit ratings on all early payments to them, from his Dutch bankers: BORSUMIJ: Borneo Sumatra Handels Maatschappij.... Borneo Sumatra Trading Corporation, which is still in business in Europe in some form.  He groomed Mr. Ong Tjoe Kim, who founded, in direct competition to his former employer, my grandfather, the 'METRO' stores ), in which he finally lauded my Grandfather in giving him his start in the retail business upon his death in his obituary, recently.  I met Mr. Ong Tjoe Kim to interview him and ask him about my Grandfather, but he discouraged me to write a book about my Grandfather, since he knew things that he felt would not reflect favorably on my Grandfather. 

People who worked for my Grandfather now have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren, who have either shopped or even worked as their ancestors did at the stores, import and export companies and the various plantations for my Grandfather, Mr.(Later Sir) Tan Hoan Kie.

If there is anyone there in Indonesia, Holland, England or anywhere in the world who would like to sound off on experiences with my Grandfather, Sir Tan Hoan Kie (Knighted during the opening ceremonies of the 'AURORA HOTEL' in Kuching, Sarawak, No. Borneo by Sir Goode, the Governor at that time...1959) such as I have read some of the blogs of English soldiers, reminiscing about their ghoulish times, romping about at and near about Ting Ting Cafeteria and bar at the AURORA HOTEL, where they have many ruffian and merry get-together s.  Sir Tan Hoan Kie had the foresight of Kuching becoming a tourist hub and built the AURORA HOTEL to accommodate the future visitors, way before it was anticipated and realized.  His next planned Hotel was the AURORA Hotel, to be built in Penang, Bali, Singapore, Hong kong and Macao but he passed in 1963, before he could realize his travel destinations expansionism and complementing his department stores, where people could buy souvenirs of local craftsmen.

It would be an honor to know the bloggers who sees my blog and respond a positive (or negative) story as an experience shopping, staying or even just knowledge of my Grandfather's business acumen or lack of it...according to your own words..