Ling Chew Siang

1914 - 1978
Educationist and first lay leader of Chin Hock Chinese Methodist Church (Sitiawan, Malaya)

Ling Chew Siang was born on August 18, 1914 in Kampong China, Sitiawan in the state of Perak in Malaya. He was the eldest of five sons and three daughters of Ling Chiong Ho and his wife who had arrived in Sitiawan in 1903 from Fuzhou, China, as pioneer settlers recruited by the Methodist mission to start a new life in Malaya.[1]

A committed educationist and lay leader, Ling received his early education at the Anglo-Chinese School in Ipoh. After a short stint as a teacher in Bruas, about 20 miles from Sitiawan, Ling went into Christian work.

Most of the migrant settlers in Sitiawan spoke the Hock-Chiang dialect and worshipped at the Pioneer Methodist Church in Kampong Koh.[2] In the 1930s, the renowned evangelist and preacher Dr John Sung visited Sitiawan three times to conduct preaching campaigns which brought about a great revival. 

The number of Christians increased greatly resulting in the need for a religious building in Kampong China. Ling’s father, the patriarch of the Ling family in Sitiawan, donated the land to build the first education centre there. The wooden building with an attap-thatched roof was used for Christian education on Sunday, and Bible study and prayer meetings on weekdays.

The building soon became inadequate to meet the needs of the growing number of Sunday School students. The Sunday School staff approved a plan to acquire a piece of land to build bigger premises, but it had to be shelved due to the Japanese occupation of Malaya.

After the war, the Christians in Kampong China under the leadership of Ling and Gong Hock Ming, pastor of the Pioneer Methodist Church at Kampong Koh, revived the plan to relocate the Christian education building to its present site. In 1947, they bought a half-acre piece of land for $800 to erect the wooden building which still stands in the church compound today. The land was paid for with a donation from Reverend Canon Kuok Koh Moh while the building cost was met with donations and gifts from Christians in Sitiawan, Ipoh, Penang and Singapore. The building was completed in mid-1948 and dedicated by Reverend Timothy Huang, the northern district superintendent of the Malaya Chinese Annual Conference (MCAC).

With the MCAC’s approval in 1953, the Chin Hock Chinese Methodist Church (CHCMC), Kampong China, was officially set up with 114 founding members and Reverend Gong Hock Ming as the pastor of this new congregation. Ling was appointed the first lay leader of the church where he served for the next 24 years. He was also the northern district conference lay leader for a few years.

The CHCMC premises were fully utilised for Christian education and youth programmes and many people were brought into God’s kingdom and became church members as a result. In the early 1950s, a prayer group comprising mostly elderly women church members was formed. They witnessed to the non-Christian villagers through miracles and wonders and many were miraculously healed of their ailments while those who were troubled by evil spirits were set free and turned to the Lord. The number of believers increased significantly and many joined the church. A prayer house was then built for this ministry.

The church also set up a clinic to provide medical care and services to the Sitiawan residents. Ling served as a medical board member and the work flourished under a committed medical team comprising a doctor, dentist and two full-time nursing staff.

In 1954, Reverend Lim Swee Beng was appointed as pastor of CHCMC. She worked with great dedication and devotion and led many to Christ. The church grew from strength to strength under her and a parsonage was built from donations in 1955 to provide proper accommodation for the pastor. Reverend Lim encouraged the young people to go into full-time ministry and eight church members responded to God’s call to be trained at Trinity Theological College, Singapore.

In 1961, Reverend Kao Ji En succeeded Reverend Lim when she was appointed the southern district superintendent. Under Reverend Kao’s pastoral leadership, CHCMC continued to grow, resulting in the need to build a bigger sanctuary that could accommodate 500 worshippers. The estimated cost of the building was $80,000. The funds were successfully raised with Ling as chairman of the building committee assisted by Reverend T.C. Nga. The new sanctuary was completed and dedicated to God’s glory by Bishop R. F. Lundy in December 1964.

In 1961, Ling was transferred from the Methodist English Primary school at Ayer Tawar where he had served as headmaster for 12 years, to the Methodist English Secondary School (private) at Kampong Koh, Sitiawan. The mission school opened up opportunities for him to carry out Christian service through education for the next 17 years. The school catered to kindergarten children and also offered students who had failed the Lower Certificate of Education (LCE) and Malaysian Certificate of Education (MCE) a second chance to resit the public examinations.

In the 1970s, the school started Form Six (Arts) classes and with a steady rise in student enrolment, there was a need for a new building to accommodate new classrooms, a science laboratory, an air-conditioned library, a typewriting room, a hostel block for 80 residents, and a hall for chapel services, school assembly and examinations. The congregation of the Wesley Methodist Church, Sitiawan, also used the Methodist English School hall from 1985 to 1994 while waiting for their own sanctuary to be built.

Ling took his walk with God and the Bible seriously. He led the weekly Friday morning school chapel for the non-Muslim students with great devotion and passion. One of his staff members, Daniel Ho, shared in the work of the school chapel services. Many of Ling’s former students went on to do well in life: one is a generous giver towards Christian work and ministry while two others are well-known pastors in Malaysia. 

After three decades of Christian service through education as head of two schools, MES Ayer Tawar and MES Kampong Koh, Sitiawan, Ling retired in 1974 to take care of his wife whose health was failing. His beloved wife passed away in 1975.

Although retired, he was resolute in wanting to continue doing God’s work. His vast experience in church and school building projects proved invaluable as he guided his second son, the principal of the Methodist Secondary School, Parit Buntar, Perak, to a successful completion of a two-storey building consisting of a staff room, office and classrooms.

Soon after, Ling’s own health deteriorated quickly and he passed away in early 1978, aged 63. 


  1. ^ The Fuzhou settlement in Sitiawan started in 1902 when the Methodist Church in Singapore appointed Reverend H.L.E. Leuring, a German, and Reverend Ling Ching Mi, a Fuzhou Chinese pastor, to travel to the Fuzhou district in China to recruit settlers. It was part of the British colonial government’s plan to establish a more permanent population of agriculturalists in the Federated Malay States which included Perak., 3. Accessed August 15, 2021.
  2. ^ Kampung Koh became synonymous with the Fuzhou settlement at Sitiawan as the new arrivals were first concentrated here., 6. Accessed August 15, 2021.

Ling Ong Sing 

The writer is the son of Ling Chew Siang and a retired headmaster of SMK Methodist (ACS) in Parit Buntar, Perak from 1973-1979.