Lowe Kong Meng (Liu Guangming 劉光眀, 1831-1888),1 pre-eminent merchant and community leader of gold-rush Melbourne, was active in Australian politics, self-regarded as a British subject yet engaged with the Qing dynasty and was likely the first overseas Chinese awarded rank in the Chinese imperial service. Victoria’s mid-1880 election was a watershed: the immediate aftermath was the re-introduction of regulations penalising Chinese, after over 15 years of free immigration and no official discrimination. After the election it was claimed that Lowe Kong Meng persuaded Victoria’s Chinese to vote for the government, but was it in his interests to do so? This article examines the nature of Lowe Kong Meng’s engagement in European and Chinese political activity in the colony, as well as the extent of his leadership in Chinese colonial and diasporic life and explores how much he could have used that leadership to influence electoral outcomes. The article also examines how Lowe Kong Meng and the wider Chinese population of the colony brought changing political agendas to Victoria and developed these agendas through their colonial experiences.
CaiShaoqingCouchmanSophieFitzgeraldJohnMacgregorPaul“From Mutual Aid to Public Interest: Chinese Secret Societies in Australia.”After the Rush: Regulation Participation and Chinese Communities in Australia 1860-194020049Special edition of Otherland Literary JournalKingsbury, Victoria133170
ChiangBien“The Kongsi’s Past as a Foreign Country.”2003Paper presented at New Perspectives on the Study of Chinese Culture and Society, workshop organised by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly ExchangeMarch 24-26, 2003Princetonand published at http://www.cckf.org/PrincetonWorkshop/papers.htm.
ChoiChing-Yan1971Chinese Migration and Settlement in Australia with Special Reference to the Chinese in Melbourne. Ph.D thesis ANU
CrawfordJohn Dundas“Notes by Mr. Crawford on Chinese Immigration in the Australian Colonies,”Great Britain Foreign Office Confidential Prints1877F.O. 3742 (available as Foreign Office Confidential Print 3742 National Library of Australia; also downloadable from the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website Digitised history documents database item 1576)September 1877
HeidhuesMary F. SomersGolddiggers Farmers and Traders in the “Chinese Districts” of West Kalimantan Indonesia2003Ithaca, N.Y.Southeast Asia Program Publications, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University
HodgesCharles PowellMcLarenIan F.“Chinese in Victoria: Report by Mr Hodges, Chinese Interpreter, to the Honorable the Premier, on the Chinese in Victoria, having Special Reference to their Numbers and Employment.”The Chinese in Victoria: Official Reports & Documents1880MelbourneRed Rooster Press59641985Melbourne: 31 May 1880
HumphreysH. M.Men of the Time in Australia: Victorian Series1878Melbourne263(Reprinted in 1882 the same text is repeated as “Lowe Kong Meng” In Australian Representative Men T. W. H. Leavitt ed. Melbourne 1887; and a facsimile of these pages was reprinted in “Lowe Kong Meng” In The Jubilee History of Victoria and Melbourne. T. W. H. Leavitt ed. Vol. 1 Melbourne 1888 p. 98. A brief summary of this article appeared as “Kong Meng L.” In Victoria and Its Metropolis A. Sutherland et al. Vol. 2 1888 p. 567)
MacgregorPaulBroinowskiAlison“ ‘Before We Came to this Country, We Heard that English Laws were Good and Kind to Everybody’, Chinese Immigrants’ Views of Colonial Australia.”Double Vision: Asian Accounts of Australia2004CanberraPandanus Books, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU
MacgregorPaul“Lowe Kong Meng and Chinese Engagement in the International Trade of Colonial Victoria.”Provenance201211(http://prov.vic.gov.au/publications/provenance/lowe-kong-meng).Search strings for citations:a. “are on a large it might be said a gigantic scale”b. “How did Kong Meng . . .” [to] “. . . further his business”c. “How did Kong Meng . . .” [to] “. . . each other”d. “chinese-quarter domicile”e. “trading activity”f. “joint stock companies”
WadeGeoff“New Ways of Knowing: The Prince of Wales Island Gazette — Penang’s First Newspaper.”2002accessed 5 February 2009Paper presented at The Penang Story International Conference18-21 April 2002Penang and published at www.penangstory.net.my/main-oldpg.html
WelchIan2003Alien Son: The Life and Times of Cheok Hong Cheong (Zhang Zhouxiong) 1851-1928. Ph.D thesis. ANU
WilliamsMichael“Observations of a China Consul”Locality2001112Centre for Community History, University of NSW2431(downloadable at: http://arrow.latrobe.edu.au/store/3/4/5/5/1/public/pdf/crawford.pdfhttp://arrow.latrobe.edu.au/store/3/4/5/5/1/public/pdf/crawford.pdf)2001
YoungWilliamRevMcLarenIan F.“Report on the Condition of the Chinese Population in Victoria, Presented to Both Houses of Parliament,”The Chinese in Victoria: Official Reports & Documents1868MelbourneRed Rooster Press33581985reprinted in
Letter from Lowe Kong Meng to Redmond Barry1869March18Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 927/P0000. Correspondence relating to various exhibitions [Trustees of the Public Library Museum and Exhibition Buildings] Unit 5 Intercolonial and Fine Arts Exhibition
National Archives1874DunedinDAACAcc D239 119 Letters of Administration A185959
Digital copies of the articles below can be found through the National Library of Australia’s Trove on-line search system (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ ) with the exception of:* New Zealand newspapers available on-line through the National Library of New Zealand’s Papers Past on-line search system (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz)# Digital copies not available on-line. Print and microfilm copies available at the State Library of Victoria Melbourne or the Mitchell Library Sydney.
“A case involving a nice point of law, and also the compatibility of our restrictions upon Chinese immigration with the rights of persons of the Mongolian race who are born in the Chinese dependencies of Britain, was heard yesterday before Mr. Hackett, in the District Court”Bendigo Advertiser1859June42
“A meeting of the Society of Old Scotch Collegians will be held at the Oriental Hotel, at 8 o clock this evening, when Mr. J. F. Turnball will read a paper on ‘The Chinese Question’”The Argus1880July65
* “We do not know who the Red Cross Knights of Ballarat are, but judging from the manifesto they have issued against our Chinese fellow colonists, they seem to be terrible persons indeed”The Inangahua Times1880September3Vol. IINew Zealand2
“Mr. W. M. Clark asked the Chief Secretary if he would insert a clause in the proposed bill to abolish plural voting rendering it imperative on all Chinese that in addition to being naturalised they shall also be able to speak read and write the English language before they are qualified to vote at any election whatsoever”The Argus1880September89
“Sixth Schedule: I, the undersigned, hereby make application to register the Madame Kong Meng Gold-Mining Company as a no liability company under the provisions of the ‘The Mining Companies Act 1871’ ”The Argus1887February118
“A lady in Adelaide who had had the charge of the education of the children of Mrs Kong Meng, of Melbourne, requested me when I was paying a visit to that city to call and see them with messages from her.” Inquirer & Commercial News1888June135
In1874Bent and Kong Meng were both provisional directors of the Hazelwood Coal-Mining Company (Argus 12 December 1874: 8). In mid-1880 Coppin and Kong Meng were both provisional directors of the Melbourne Fishmongers’ and Deep Sea Fishing Company (Argus 19 June 1880: 10).