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Today Phuket Island is well


Today Phuket Island is well

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									71 TALE                                     0/ TWO                               FAMILIES
            7£e !Jf{;/es0/Jfobarl and/£e X£aws                                               0/ !Yenang
Delving into the Library's
Manuscript Collection,                                                                            (left)
                                                                                                  Captain Edward Thomas
Diana Carroll comments                                                                            Miles (seated) and his two
on a mmmg enterprise                                                                              sons: Thomas A. Miles (left)
                                                                                                  and Angus T. Miles (right)
in Thailand                                                                                       Thomas A. Miles Papers
                                                                                                  From the Manuscript      Collection
                                                                                                  (MS 2295)
                                                                                                  Courtesy     of Richard R. Miles

                                                                                                  (far left)
                                                                                                  Khaw Sim Bee, who held the
                                                                                                  Thai noble title of 'Phraya
                                                                                                  Jennifer W. Cushman Family
                                                                                                  and State: The Formation
                                                                                                  of a Sino- Thai Tin-mining
                                                                                                  Dynasty, 1797-1932
                                                                                                  (Malaysia: Oxford University
                                                                                                  Press, 1991)
                                                                                                  Courtesy     of Mr Tony Kevin

                                            part of the Miles Papers held in the        with the new bucket-dredge in tow.
                                            Library's Manuscript Collection.            Born in Hobart in 1849, he began
                                               Told by his son, Tom (T.A.) Miles,       his maritime career when he was 14.
                                            under the deceptively simple tide,          A man of varied talents, Miles spent

         oday Phuket Island is well         The Life Story of Captain Edward            time on the New Zealand goldfields,
         known to Australians as a          Thomas Miles: Master Mariner and            had a brief period prospecting for tin
         luxury resort. In the early        Pioneer of Tin Dredging', it is the         on Flinders Island, and was elected to
years of the twentieth century, how-        story of three generations of Australians   the Tasmanian Parliament in 1893
ever, it was far from being a holiday       who worked in the tin-mining                where he served until he retired from
destination. The Tongkah harbour            industry in Thailand and Malaysia           public life in 1899.
was badly silted and had no dock.           from 1906 to 1961. In its quiet way            In 1904 he began work as a broker
Passengers and goods were trans-            the story is redolent of the pluck,         for the Union Steamship Company
ported to and from the ships by             tenaciry and vision which ultimately        dealing in second-hand       ships in
lighter. In earlier centuries the island,   ensured their success. It also tells of a   Manila, the Malay Peninsula and
then known as Junk Ceylon, was              special relationship      which grew        India. He also took orders for Tas-
famed as a source of tin-it had even        between the people of the island and        manian timber on behalf of Henry
been described as one gigantic tin          the Miles family.                           Jones Ltd, better known perhaps as
mine. It was here in T ongkah Harbour          Miles designed and successfully          the manufacturers of the IXL brand
in 1907 that a new era in tin mining        introduced the first bucket-dredge,         of jam. During his dealings in
was inaugurated by Captain Edward           used to recover tin wash from up to         Penang with the Chinese shipping
Thomas Miles of Hobart.                     nine metres below the seabed. The           firm, Kee Guan & Co., he met Khaw
   Miles's pioneering undertaking           technique, adapted from a method            Sim Bee, a partner of the firm. He
proved to be a test of ingenuiry and        used in alluvial gold mining, was to        was a man with whom, as it turned
skill. Captain Miles e:::cemplifiedthe      revolutionise tin mining in Malaya          out, Miles had much in common.
hands-on and 'can-do' attitude which        (Malaysia) by reducing labour and           When Khaw Sim Bee discovered that
came to be synonymous               with    operating     costs and opening up          Miles knew something about tin, he
Australians eng~ged in the mining           previously unworkable swampy areas.         invited him to inspect property at
industry on the Malay Peninsula. His           Captain Miles was 58 years old           Tongkah Harbour on the island of
story and that of his family forms          when he went to T ongkah Harbour            Phuket with a view to mining.
  Thus a chance meeting in Penang           exclusive rights to mine for tin in the   of Glasgow was confirmed. Captain
between Miles and Khaw Sim Bee led          harbour in return for digging a           Miles was appointed        as General
to a long-term working relationship         channel to the shore and building a       Manager, his son Angus as Deputy
for their families. The Khaw family         dock. Thus, although deprived of          Manager and Tom-the          author of
story can be found in Family and            compensation money, the Provincial        the 'Life Story' -then     aged 18, as
State: The Formation of a Sino- Thai        Government was to benefit from the        'rouseabout' .
Tin-mining      Dynasty by Jennifer         tin royalties from this immensely            The Miles family remained con-
Cushman. She drew on the Miles              productive tin-mining operation.          nected with the Tongkah Harbour
manuscript among other sources for             In the period up to World War I,       Dredging Company until Captain
her account. Sadly, Cushman died            tin remained the major source of rev-     Miles's resignation in 1911, having
suddenly after she had completed            enue for the government of British        served as Manager and later as
the first draft of her text, and the        Malaya, and Siam's tin resources          Director of the Board. By this time
work was edited for publication by          seemed to cty out for Western exper-      the Company was among the top three
Dr Craig Reynolds, Faculty of Asian         tise. The local British administrators    Peninsular tin-mining companies. Its
Studies, Australian National University.    are said to have been regarded by the     name was regularly included in the
   Eventually, in late 1905 Miles           Siamese as 'rabidly expansionist'. The    Malay Mail 'Mine Output'           and
visited Tongkah Harbour. Khaw Sim           Siamese-Malay states finally ceded to     quoted in their 'Share Lists'.
Bee wore a different hat in the southern    Britain were those which were a              The Miles family initiated          a
provinces of Siam (Thailand), where he      financial drain on the government in      number of other mining ventures
ruled as Governor of Phuket Province,       Bangkok. Thus in the period imme-         both in T ongkah and in the northern
with his headquarters        on Phuket      diately preceding the 1909 Anglo-         Siamese province where another
Island. The property he had in mind         Siamese treaty, there would have been     member of the Khaw family, Khaw
for Miles to develop using Western          considerable pressure from Bangkok        Joo Ghee, was Governor. Cushman
capital and mechanised methods was          to ensure that Phuket Province was        writes of a falling-out between Miles
known as the 'Compound'.            Miles   financially viable. In 1907 Khaw Sim      and Khaw Sim Bee over the years.
knew that he would be unable to raise       Bee had been present at a meeting         This was not enduring, although the
Australian interest in a proposition        held in Penang between the King of        failure of the Tongkah Harbour
which required a considerable up-           Siam and senior British officials about   Company to honour its 'Dock and
front expenditure to compensate the         business and economic problems in         Channel' undertakings        doubtless
Government and private owners of            Kelantan. It was in this context that     contributed. It was not until 1913,
the land. He did, however, become           the Siamese Government concluded          many years after Khaw Sim Bee's
interested in the possibilities of mining   the negotiation of the Mining Con-        death, that the Company finally
the tin wash which he discovered lay        cession with Captain Edward Miles.        made restitution for this.
beneath the harbour seabed.                    Back in Hobart, Miles received            The usual date quoted for the
   As Governor of Phuket Province,          backing from the Henty Jones Com-         introduction      to Malaya of the
one of Khaw Sim Bee's reasons for           panies (which were importers of tin)      bucket-dredge for mining tin wash
approaching Miles had been to bring         and in due course the T ongkah Har-       rather than alluvial tin is 1912. More
in foreign capital and European             bour Dredging Company was formed.
expertise. This revenue would enable        Khaw Joo Tok was appointed to the         The world's first tin dredge, built by
him to rebuild         the (Siamese)        Board of Directors as a representative    William Simons and Co. for the Tongkah
                                                                                      Harbour Tin Dredging Company
Government offices in Tongkah and           of the Khaw family interest. At its
                                                                                      Thomas A. Miles Papers
augment the provincial finances.            first public meeting an order for a       From the Manuscript Collection (MS 2295)
Miles applied for a concession for          dredge placed with Simon Renfrew          Courtesy of Richard R. Miles
recently it has been stated that the       Lumpur     English-language         daily,   Khaw Joo Tok (far right) and his family
first bucket-dredge was successfully       Malay Mail, supports an earlier date.        with Prince Damrong Rajanubhab and
set up on a European-owned mine,           The Tronoh Mining Company's                  daughters at Asdang House, Penang.
                                                                                        Jennifer W. Cushman Family and State:
the Malayan Tin Dredging Company,          tenth Annual General Meeting was
                                                                                         The Formation of a Sino- Thai Tin-mining
and that it was at Batu Gajah in the       held in London on the 23rd May
                                                                                        Dynasty, 1797-1932 (Malaysia: Oxford
Kinta district in the State of Selangor.   1912 to consider the report for 1911.        University Press, 1991)
   The question of the date aroused        The Chairman reminded his audience           Courtesy of Mr Tony Kevin
Tom Miles's interest. In 1954, on the      of the previous year's meeting at
basis of extensive enquiries amongst       which it had been reported that a               The Miles family continued their
his former        European      mining     bucket-dredge    had been ordered            interest in tin mining both on Phuket
colleagues, Miles wrote:                   (presumably during 1910) saying:             and at Renong in northern Siam and
                                                                                        in the Malay States and maintained
  As far as [the author] can ascertain       [the bucket-dredge] has been sent our      their contacts with the Khaw family
  these two companies-Kamunting              and is now at work, and that also will     and the people of Phuket. Although
  Tin Dredging, Ltd [England] and            be contributing an item to the credit of   two memorials        were raised to
  Kampong Kamunting Tin Dredging             rhe profit and loss account in addition    commemorate the life and work of
  Ltd [Australia] were the first English     to rhe annual recurns from rhe property.   Captain Miles, one in Penang and
  and Australian Companies respec-                                                      one in Phuket, the human testament
  tively, floated for the purpose of          From Captain Miles first visit to         recounted in Tom Miles's manuscript
  dredging for tin in Malaya, or the       Tongkah in 1905 until he severed his         is more eloquent than any monument.
  Malay States as it then was. These       connection with the company in                  In 1937 Tom Miles returned to
  companies were formed in 1913.           1911 the calls on his determination          Phuket on a new venture. The
                                           and ingenuity were many. To sink             nephew of Kim Sim Bee, Khaw
  Tom Miles suggested that an              his early test bores he had devised a        Bieng Eng, was his clerk. When once
intention to employ a dredge could         pontoon from a pair of sampans. The          again Tom called on the 'orang lalit'
have been mistaken for its execution.      towing of the dredge (backwards)             for help, Khaw Bieng Eng remarked:;
Certainly this could have occurred.        from Penang to Phuket had been
Such an initiative would have been         a minor epic. Similarly the testing            They will work for your family. You
encouraged by the incentives announced     and modification        of the dredge          know they look on your father as a
by the government of the Federated         had presented challenges, not the              kind of god, who came many years
Malay States in 1912. In March of          least being communicating       across         ago, when they were young, and
that year the Government invited           language barriers. Malay became                brought in tin dredges, which have
applications for a red~ction in the        their common language. The Chinese             provided rhem with work ever since.
royalty on tin 'where ore is refractory    miners and the 'orang laut'-
to win or treat'.                          Malayan sea gypsies-who        worked        DIANA CARROLLis a PhD candidate
   However, peru'sal of the National       as divers had all contributed to the         at the Faculty of Asian Studies,
Library's microfilm of the Kuala           success of the venture.                      Australian National University
'The Milestone'-The     Milestone was
erected on the shores ofTongkah
Harbour to celebrate the diamond
jubilee of tin dredging in Thailand
and was dedicated on 28 November,
 1969 in honour of Captain E.T.
Miles and his sons
Thomas A. Miles Papers
From the Manuscript Collection (MS 2295)
Courtesy of Richard R. Miles

Phuket Island historic map
'Burma and the Malay Peninsula' in
The Universal Atlas (London:
published for The Atlas Publishing
Co. Ltd by Cassell, 1893)
From the Map Collection (RA 197 Plate 82)

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