30. Kum Yuen Yuen (1875-1943), businessman
Kum Yuen was born in the village of Chung Wok, Zhongshan, China. He arrived in Victoria in 1897, and moved to Western Australia in the following year. He married Maggie Sam in June 1910 in Perth, and they had five children.
Kum Yuen was a cabinet maker in the See Wah & Co Furniture Factory in West Perth. He travelled to China with his family in 1912, and returned alone in 1913. His family returned to Perth with him after a subsequent visit in 1921.
In 1916, Kum Yuen formed a partnership with Yen Hay Hoy and Mew Toy, and established the J W Wing Furniture Factory at 237 Newcastle Street. They employed 14 Chinese and four Caucasian workers. When Mew Toy retired in 1934, Kum Yuen became sole owner of the business.
In those days all Chinese furniture was required to display an “Asian Labour” stamp. The stamp proved to be an incentive, not a deterrent for buyers, as it established the furniture as a quality product.
Kum Yuen was an active community member. He was a founder and treasurer of the Chung Wah Association, and also an organiser of the Kuo Min Tang Association. In the 1930s he was a partner in the Nanking Restaurant in Barrack Street, Perth with Yuen Bow. During World War II he was treasurer of the Chinese Patriotic Society, which raised money for the Chinese war effort. Together with his wife Maggie, they helped to billet war refugees from Malaya and Asia.