Moreover, and especially in Asia, this infrastructure was rooted in an interregional commercial and colonial system that dovetailed with indigenous forms of modernity, such as the Chinese towkay
merchants who controlled trade in Penang.
In The Concubine's Child, her first novel for adults, she writes from the perspective of 16-year-old Yu Lan, who is sold as a concubine to a wealthy, ageing towkay
(businessman) in 1930s Kuala Lumpur.
Lee (1956-1959) and Tan Siew Sin (1959-1974), were wealthy towkay
(business and community leaders) whose tin, rubber, and trading interests relied upon global markets.
Khoo (1998) says that the hybrid building style has also been given several other names, some of them facetious: "Sino-Malay Colonial," "Sino-Malay-Palladian," "Tropical Renaissance," "Towkay
is a term referring to wealthy ethnic Chinese and Peranakan Chinese businessmen), "Chinese Palladian," and "Chinese Baroque." Khoo (1998) observes that because of the combination of influences, a building of the 19th century may have a Chinese roof crowning a Palladian elevation supported on Malay-style stilts.
Among these words are kongsi (association or partnership), towkay
(a wealthy Chinese businessman, boss), tapau (take away food) and kiasu (fear of losing out to other people) (Hashim and Leitner 2011).
It may be interesting to note that there is at Georgetown in Malaysia a clock tower, the Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, erected in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee by the rich Chinese Towkay
(master), Cheah Chin Gok.
Robert, a schoolmate of mine, who has been a remisier for more than 40 years for the same brokerage says: "Every client is your towkay
. Sometimes you get brickbats and sometimes you get a bouquet of flowers from them.
?" Ling called out as she entered Kedai Sim.
As one looks harder among the towering concrete, more converted sites emerge - a Catholic boys' school turned into a museum, a former convent and chapel restored into a site for art, antiques and restaurants, or a 19th-century towkay
's mansion turned into a hall for wedding dinners and seminars.
The End of Empire is peopled with colonial reformists, ardent Malay nationalists, Chinese leftwing radicals and communists, rich towkay
philanthropists, farmers, workers, and shopkeepers of all races, as well as, of course, ethnic leaders out to secure the best deals for their communities.
As a graduate student at LSE Lim was in contact with Firth, but his thesis contains little theoretical analysis and casts the relationship between the Malay fishermen and the Chinese middlemen and merchant class (towkay
), from which Lim himself originates, in unproblematic and mutually beneficial terms.