Ten Thousand Prosperities: The Story of Ban Hin Lee Bank

Quah Seng Sun
Book design and layout by Adrian Cheah
Cover design by Peta Yeap Liew Shih

Ten Thousand Prosperities


A great part of my working life has been spent in the banking industry. In particular, 23 years of a total 24 were in the employment of Ban Hin Lee Bank Berhad, from 1977 till 2000.

There were successes tempered with failures, and happiness balanced by frustration; but overall, those 23 years in Ban Hin Lee Bank filled me with a great sense of accomplishment. And I am not alone in claiming this. Among my former colleagues from this bank, there are many who share similar good memories. We worked as a big, happy family regardless of where we were stationed. If there were any personal differences, we never let these betray us in public. In the office, everyone worked cohesively towards a common goal. We understood our role well. Ultimately, it was to offer an incomparable customer service. In this area, we were never second to other banks. Perhaps it was this work culture, instilled in all employees from the first day they joined the establishment, that forged the close bond among former staff members, one that remains as strong and unflappable as ever.

Ten Thousand Prosperities

This book has been a long time coming. I remember that it was in 2012 that I first began thinking about writing it. However, it was not until seven years later that the book got off the ground. This passing of time, though short, made it ever clearer to me that the story of Ban Hin Lee Bank was too valuable to be forgotten. Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, and the movement control order imposed in March 2020 actually gave me the impetus to put final serious effort into finishing the project.

At the start, I had wanted the book to be based on the oral recollections of a few strategic people who had worked there. There would be meaningful images in the book; lots of them, if possible. Yet, as the project progressed, I realised that the story of Ban Hin Lee Bank was far richer than originally envisaged. Thus, it became necessary for me to tell it more fully. The narration on the Singapore branch, in particular, quickly expanded to fill a complete chapter.

From a handful of initial conversations, I went on to talk to a great many former staff. For the images, Janice Yeap provided access to the storeroom for me to locate old bank artefacts. I asked around in social media for information and obtained more than what I had initially hoped for. Everything offered me – old photographs, mementos, publications, letters – are all greatly appreciated. This then, is the culmination of years of labour to tell the story of Ban Hin Lee Bank. Do enjoy it.

Quah Seng Sun
George Town, Penang, Malaysia
15 January 2021


Ten Thousand Prosperities


List of Illustrations – vi
Foreword I – viii
Foreword II – x
Preface – xi
Acknowledgements – xii
Introduction – xiii
Timeline xv

I. The Founding – 1
II. Surviving the War Years – 15
III. Forging a New Image – 27
IV. The Busy Eighties – 39
V. Roaring into the Nineties – 69
VI. Merger – 87
VII. Across the Causeway – 95
VIII. The Pursuit of Technology – 109
X. The Quest for Control – 129

One. Directors’ Roll of Honour – 145
Two. Head Office Management 146
Three. Branch Management 149
Four. Financial Highlights 153
Five. The Ban Hin Lee Bank Logos – 156
Six. Reminiscence – 158
Seven. Staff Roll Call – 161

Addendum – 176
References – 177
Index – 179
Author Biography – 184


Ten Thousand Prosperities

Quah Seng Sun
2021, Entrepot Publishing Sdn Bhd
Hardcover. 19 cm x 24 cm, 208 pages
Language: English
Illustrated throughout
ISBN 978-967-17008-7-7

Available at https://entrepotpublishing.com/

About the Author

Quah Seng Sun first cut his writer’s teeth at the National Echo (previously known as Straits Echo), a now defunct newspaper in Penang, prior to joining the banking industry in 1977. He rose through the ranks at Ban Hin Lee Bank, working at various branches as well as the Head Office. Whilst at the Head Office, he led the ATM Centre and played a crucial role in developing the GREAT shared ATM network. Thereafter, he was posted to the Information Technology Division until the merger with Southern Bank. Later, he joined the Internet-based recruitment company, JobStreet.com, as the content manager. During his long career with Ban Hin Lee Bank and JobStreet.com, he never lost sight of his love of writing.

In his spare moments, he is a freelance writer and his chess columns in The Star newspaper have spanned some 32 years and contributed much to the development of the game in the country. Since his retirement, he had developed a great interest in Estate Planning, concentrating on wills and trusts, while also returning to his life-long passion of writing.

In 2010, he contributed short essays to George Town World Heritage Incorporated on the heritage sites along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (The Street of Harmony). He is the author of two beginner’s books on chess, aptly titled Catur in 1991 and Taking Up Chess in 1995, and coauthored Fidelis in 2012, which is a commemorative book by The Old Frees’ Association. Quah is the author of Let the Aisles Proclaim in 2016 which traces the history of his alma mater, Penang Free School, over 200 years from 1816. He is also a certified résumé consultant and an international chess arbiter with the World Chess Federation.