Growing up during the era of British colonial expansion in Malaya, Cheah Cheang Lim believed that economic progress should yield the fruit and flower of social progress. He was born to a Penang Hokkien family in Taiping and started out as a postal assistant on the Perak frontier. He was then recruited by his cousin Foo Choo Choon, the ‘Tin King’ of Tronoh Mines fame, who bankrolled Wu Lien-Teh’s anti-opium movement. Cheah himself became an owner of tin mines and rubber plantations. He endowed the Perak Maternity Hospital and provided leadership to the Hokkien community in Cantonese-speaking Ipoh. A federal councillor for two terms (1927–33), he lobbied for the restoration of the Queen’s Scholarship, calling upon the British Empire to live up to its promises. The gift of an unpublished c. 1935 manuscript about this man’s life, authored by Francis Cooray, a Ceylonese journalist with the Malay Mail, prompted Khoo Salma Nasution to write about Cheah in the context of his times. She has compiled a wealth of material, including speeches, letters and family photographs, to present a vivid impression of this ‘gentleman capitalist’ on the edge of empire – a Malayan patriot who contributed eagerly to social improvement in Perak, looked to England and China for inspiration, but considered Penang his ‘true home’. This biography explores the historical identity and complex cultural affiliations of the Straits Chinese in a nascent nation, illuminating the questions of ethnicity, citizenship and nationality, which continue to be debated in Malaysia today.