For Jakarta people the name Oey Tambahsia[1] is legendary. The name used to cause worries among parents who had young and beautiful daughters in Batavia[2] during the 19th century. This young man of Chinese ethnic minority did not like to be rejected and would do anything to get what he wanted. Nobody, not even the Majoor der Chinezen[3] of Batavia could do anything to stop him until another young man came into the scene. Here is the story of Oey Tambahsia.

Oey Thoa the PhilanthrophistEdit


Toko Tiga Street, Batavia, a busy business center in 19th century.

Oey Thoa, a rich tobacco merchant who lived in Pekalongan city, Central Java, had four children. The first was a daughter. The second, third and fourth were sons, Oey Holan, Oey Tambah and Oey Mako.

The first daughter married the son of an old friend, the Regent of Pekalongan. It turned out that the society of Chinese people in Pekalongan didn't approve this inter-ethnic marriage. As a result, Oey Thoa was forced to leave Pekalongan.

Oey Thoa moved to Batavia and opened a tobacco store at Toko Tiga Street, a busy business center in Batavia. His was the largest tobacco store there.

Oey Thoa was a philanthropist, he often gave charity to the poor, usually on the first and fifteenth day of Chinese calendar when he prayed at a temple.

During an auction, Oey Thoa met Tan Eng Goan, the Majoor der Chinezen of Batavia at the time. They became best friend and Tan suggested the Dutch colonial government to appoint Oey as Luitenant der Chinezen.

The Dandy and Reckless Oey TambahEdit

A few years after becoming the Luitenant der Chinezen of Kongsi Besar area of Batavia, Oey Thoa suddenly died at the age of 50, leaving a huge amount of wealth for Oey Tambah and his siblings, among them were some lands at Curug, Tangerang, which yielded 95,000 guldens of rent a year, some lands at Pintu Kecil area, Batavia, which yielded 40,000 guldens of rent a year and also some other lands, houses, merchandises, money and jewellery, which value was more than two million guldens.

Oey Tambah was still 15 when Oey Thoa died. He grew up to be a dandy person, always seen riding a horse and wearing very neatly ironed Chinese clothing with Chinese cap made of silk. He was never seen going anywhere without his bodyguards who would do what he ordered without asking any questions.

Oey Tambah was very extravagant. One story said that he always used paper money to wipe his bottom every morning after defecating and then threw them away, causing poor people to fight for the "dirty money" full of Oey Tambah's feces. Such was his extravagance.

He also did not care to pay respect Chinese leaders. It was a custom to stop for a moment and raise one's cap when passing by a house of a leader but Oey Tambah did not care to do that. A member of the Chinese Council (Kong Koan), The Kimhow, advised him not to be proud and to respect the leaders who were his father's colleagues, but in return, he treated The Kimhow disrespectfully, He did that because he knew that a number of Chinese officers had received donations from his father and because he felt that he was so rich that he did not need to respect them.

Oey Tambah the PlayboyEdit

One of Oey Tambah's behaviour which made parents of beautiful young girls very worried was that he liked to seduce women, no matter if the woman had married or not.

Oey Tambah owned a villa at Bintang Mas, Ancol, Batavia. The villa was not an ordinary one. It was the place where he placed the woman he had seduced.

The Story of the Peddler's WifeEdit

One day, one of Oey Tambah's "henchmen" saw a beautiful woman at Tongkangan area, the wife of a poor peddler. With help of his money and a matchmaker, he successfully seduced the woman. While her husband made his daily rounds selling his merchandise, she would take the train to Bintang Mas to have a "date" with Oey Tambah.

This affair could not be hidden for a long time and her husband eventually find it out. After a big fight with her husband, she left him and headed for Bintang Mas. Her husband searched for her everywhere without any result. He eventually found out that his wife lived at Bintang Mas. In anger, he went there and shouted his wife's name and forcing his way into the villa but was hampered by Oey Tambah's henchmen.

Oey Tambah and the peddler's wife escaped with a horse carriage to the fish market but was chased by the husband on foot. Naturally, the husband was outran by the horses. Since that day, the peddler was never seen again and his house was always locked. Rumor said that he threw himself to the sea but his body was never found.

The Traditional Javanese SingerEdit

There was a beautiful Javanese traditional singer whose name was M.A. Gundjing. She was the daughter of an ex-head of a sub-district area.


  1. His name was actually Oey Tambah. Sia is a honorary title to address a son of a Chinese officer. In this case, Oey Tambah was the son of an official Chinese leader called Majoor der Chinezen.
  2. The name of Jakarta city under Dutch colonial government.
  3. During Dutch colonial times, there were councils for each non-native communities of a city in Indonesia. So there were titles like Majoor, Kapitein and Luitenant, such as Luitenant der Arabieren for community of Arabic people or Luitenant der Chinezen for community of Chinese people. The people who were appointed became official leaders of their respective communities.