Clement-Jones family v2/21 - Person Sheet
Clement-Jones family v2/21 - Person Sheet
NameKok Cheang YEO , 872
FatherYEO , 5519
FatherSir Robert HO TUNG , 843 (1862-1956)
MotherLady Clara Lin-Kok CHEUNG , 846 (1875-1938)
ChildrenDick , 3853
 Daphne , 3854
 Wendy , 3855
Notes for Kok Cheang YEO

Excerpts from 'Glimpses of K.C.'s Life' which was read by Dick Yeo at the Memorial Service held in Mountfield Church on 18th June 2004.

My father was a great and wonderful man. During his long and fruitful life, with the dedicated support of my mother, he achieved a great deal.

Background and personal information
Born on 1st April, 1903 in Penang, Malaysia, he was the eldest son of a family of nine. His own father worked in a rubber plantation and so he had a poor but happy upbringing. He told us stories of how he once borrowed his father's bicycle which was much too large for him and he fell into a waterway. As he lay in the mud, a large crocodile crept towards him. This taught him a lesson not to use other people's property without permission! He himself used to listen to wonderful stories from his great grandfather whilst he (the great grandfather) was smoking the opium pipe!
As a young man and while he was studying in England, my father became an excellent gymnast and weight-lifter. For several years he held the world record in sit-ups for his body weight.

Telegraph Obituary 2004

K C Yeo, who has died aged 101, gave up a chance to escape from Hong Kong in order to keep the colony's medical services running after the Japanese invasion in 1941.

He and his wife were planning to join relations in China when Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke, the director of medical services, implored him to stay. Selwyn-Clarke said that he was going to be imprisoned soon, leaving Yeo the only man capable of running the colony's health and hygiene, a field in which the Japanese had no expertise and little interest.

After Selwyn-Clarke's arrest on a charge of being the head of British espionage, two members of the Kempitei, the Japanese secret service, barged into Yeo's bedroom with a large Alsatian; they demanded that he come with them to "identify a body". He was taken to a police station for questioning and thrown into a bare windowless cell, 8ft by 5ft. For more than two months Yeo was held in solitary confinement. He was then moved to a cell next to the Reverend George Shea, an Anglican chaplain with whom he started to pray and sing hymns. Eventually he was released to work at the Bacteriological Institute, although shadowed wherever he went. With his family he was baptised as a member of the Church of England.

Kok Cheang Yeo was born at Penang, Malaysia, on April 1 1903, the eldest of a Chinese rubber plantation worker's nine children. One of his childhood memories was of borrowing his father's bicycle, which was so large that he fell off into a waterway where a crocodile crept towards him as he lay in the mud. The experience taught him the importance of not borrowing people's property without permission.

Young Kok Cheang was an excellent gymnast and weight-lifter; for some years, he claimed, he held the world record for sit-ups for his body weight. Following school in Penang he did his medical studies at Hong Kong University, then came to Britain to study tropical medicine in Liverpool and public health at Cambridge.

After qualifying with honours in both subjects, Yeo applied to the Colonial Office to become an assistant medical officer of health in Hong Kong. On his arrival in the colony, the local government discovered he had been given the contract of an Englishman, which included nine months' leave in England with full pay and first-class travel every four years, rather than the fortnight's holiday a year for local staff. But when the Colonial Office realised their mistake, they insisted on sticking to their word, thereby turning Yeo into a staunch Anglophile.

After the war, Yeo was promoted to deputy director of health services, when he helped to plan the 1,000-bed Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Kowloon, then was the first Chinese to become director of medical and health services. It was under his directorship that the BCG vaccination against TB was introduced; malaria was stamped out. He also helped to found a leper colony on Hayling Chao Island.

In addition he was appointed Professor of Social Medicine at Hong Kong University, and became a member of the Legislative Council. In 1956, Yeo was delighted to be appointed CMG before retiring to Britain in 1958. For the next 10 years, he practised as a psychiatrist at St Ebba's Hospital at Epsom in Surrey before settling in Sussex.

K C Yeo married, in 1933, Florence, the daughter of the comprador Sir Robert Ho-tung. She survives him with their son and two daughters.
Last Modified 27 Jul 2011Created 11 Feb 2021 using Reunion for Macintosh