Oei Tiong Ham, the Southeast Asia Sugar Sovereign

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Sugar had become one of colonialism-fine commodity in Nusantara. After Banda Neira Island, as the island of spices, had replaced with Java Island, as the best place of sugar production, sugar became the most important product in the world from 1800 to 1930.

One of the sugar sovereign at that time in Nusantara was a Chinese man named Oei Tiong Ham. He was lived from 1866 until 1924 and he was a son of Oei Tjie Sien, the man behind the Kian Gwan Company. Oei Tiong Ham also became the proclamator of Oei Tiong Ham Concern (OTHC) that then developed into one of giant business in Asia.  He then did business invasion to Hong Kong, London, and New York. The De Locomotief nominated him as “the richest person between Shanghai and Australia.”

Oei Tiong Ham began his first business with crops, such as coffee, rubber, kapok, Gambier, tapioca, and opium. Later, his trade grown rapidly after his acquisitioned of 5 almost-bankrupt-sugar factories, which were Pakis Sugar Factory in Pati, Rejoagung Factory in Madiun, Ponen Factory in Jombang, Tanggulangin Factory in Sidoarjo, and Krebet Factory in Malang.

Nowadays, the residual of OTHC still can be seen in Semarang Old City area. There are 3 ex-office building of OTHC, which are in Kepodang Street No 25, in the corner between Kepodang Street and Suari Street, and in Kepodang Street no 11 – 13.

This post is also available in: Indonesian

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