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Tjong A Fie the Generous and Tolerant Merchant

If you visit Medan, North Sumatra, try stopping at the historic house of Tjong A Fie. A large building full of historical history and become the pride of the people of Medan. There is an assumption, if a tour to Medan does not stop by Tjong A Fie’s house, then the journey will not be complete.

The owner of the house, of course, was named Tjong A Fie. Born with the name Tjong Fung Nam in Meixian, Guangdong, China, in 1860. His initial arrival to Medan was due to the desire of Tjong A Fie, who had grown up to live and work more properly while following his older brother who had migrated earlier.

In 1875, Tjong A Fie’s journey to Medan began from China. Just like his brother had done. Previously, while still living in China, Tjong A Fie and his brother decided to just work to help their father trade in the shop. Tjong A Fie and his brother did not want to continue their school education.

Arriving in Medan, Tjong A Fie returned to work at one of the figures belonging to his brother’s friend. Tjong A Fie’s job is to serve as a book sales clerk to consumers and collect debts. Tjong A Fie’s brother at that time had become a respected figure by the Chinese who had been there before or had just come to Medan.

Tjong A Fie’s tenacity and expertise in his work attracted the Dutch colonial government. Tjong A Fie was asked by the Dutch colonial government to mediate various problems in Medan, especially when he had to deal with people of Chinese descent.

The figure of Tjong A Fie is not only known as a Chinese person who works hard, never gives up in achieving business success and focuses on carrying out his responsibilities. Tjong A Fie is also known by many as a sociable, friendly, tolerant and helpful character.

Tjong A Fie’s inherent attitude made him able to make friends with anyone, from any ethnicity, race, religion and caste. Many of Tjong A Fie’s friends are people of Indian descent, ethnic Malay, Batak, Arabic, Dutch, European and others with different languages, religions and strata. But Tjong A Fie did not choose friendship. Anyone become Tjong A Fie’s friend.

It also brought Tjong A Fie to be friends with the Sultan of Deli at that time. Tjong A Fie’s honesty and humility were able to put the trust of the Sultan of Deli to have a business partner with him.

That’s where the beginning of Tjong A Fie’s economic revival. His business venture in partnership with Sultan Deli was able to develop and accelerate rapidly. Tjong A Fie penetrated the plantation business and was able to grow. Coconut, rubber, coffee and tobacco plantations are businesses managed by Tjong A Fie. It can be said that at that time Tjong A Fie dominated the plantation business in Medan. He even said that he was able to export to Malaysia, Singapore and India.

In Medan, apart from being able to gain economic success like his initial dream when he left China, Tjong A Fie has found his soul mate again. He married a third time to a Chinese-Malay girl named Liem Koei Yam. Previously while in China, Tjong A Fie had been married. Likewise, when he stopped in Malaysia, Tjong A Fie also got married.

The success of Tjong A Fie’s plantation business made him a merchant in Medan. Anyone would know Tjong A Fie at that time as a rich and successful man in the plantation business. But all that did not make Tjong A Fie arrogant. He is still Tjong A Fie who is friendly, friendly and helpful.

Thanks to Tjong A Fie, it must be admitted that Medan has become a big city that is advanced and modern. The economy in Medan is booming because of the contribution of Tjong A Fie. There are huge job opportunities, especially at Tjong A Fie’s plantation. Tjong A Fie’s contribution to the advancement of the management of the financial system in Medan was by establishing Bank Kesawan in 1913. Not long after, several other banks were re-established by Tjong A Fie, namely Bank Batavia and Bank Deli.

Tjong A Fie also restored the Maimun Palace of the Deli Sultanate to be more beautiful and bigger. That was because of his friendship with the Sultan of Deli at that time. Tjong A Fie then built a hospital in Medan called Tjie On Jie Jan. Another example is Tjong A Fie’s services to infrastructure in Medan, such as building a bell tower in the City Hall building, Archbishop Sugiapranoto Church, Brayan Buddhist Temple, a special Hindu temple for residents of Indian descent and a bridge of virtue.

Although Tjong A Fie is of Chinese descent and non-Muslim, his friendly, tolerant and loving character has made him respect Muslims as the majority group in Medan. He built the Al Mahsum Grand Mosque and the Gang Bengkok Mosque. Then also often provide material assistance at every celebration of Islamic holidays.

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