Seah Eu Chin’s Family

Seah Eu Chin had four sons and three daughters with his second wife. Of the four sons – Seah Cheo Seah, Seah Liang Seah, Seah Peck Seah, and Seah Song Seah, two of them – Liang Seah and Peck Seah – became famous and powerful personalities in Singapore’s history. Of his daughters, little is known about them.

Seah Cheo Seah

Relatively little is known about Seah Cheo Seah. What we do know is that Seah Eu Chin’s eldest son Cheo Seah, whom the British made a Justice of the Peace, was “a gentleman well known for his kindness of heart and liberality” according to Sir Song Ong Siang.

Seah Cheo Seah died in 1885, only a mere two years after his own father passed away, leaving four sons, Seah Eng Kiat and Seah Eng Kun, and Seah Eng Yeak and Seah Eng Lok.

Seah Liang Seah

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Seah Eu Chin’s second son, Seah Liang Seah, was another famous pioneer. He was well-known for his entrepreneurial spirit, wisdom, and kindness. And among Seah Eu Chin’s sons, he was the most famous.

He was born in Singapore in 1850, and studied Chinese with a private tutor under his father’s direct supervision, and learnt English for a short while at St Joseph’s Institution. He married at the age of 17, and after his marriage became an assistant in Eu Chin & Co., his father’s company, and worked for many years as his secretary.

While he was a successful businessman, Seah Liang Seah also took a keen interest in public issues because of his father’s strong influence as an important public figure. On 5 January 1883, he was first appointed by the Governor Sir Frederick Weld as a temporary member of the Legislative Council. His appointment was significant because there had been no Chinese member on the Legislative Council since Whampoa’s death in 1880. In November 1883, Seah Liang Seah’s appointment as a permanent member of the Legislative Council received Her Majesty’s sanction. In 1890, he resigned his seat due to an increase in his private businesses and ill health. For his service on the Legislative Council, he received the thanks of the Secretary of State in 1891, communicated to him through the Governor, Sir Cecil Smith.

In 1894, on the resignation of Tan Jiak Kim, Seah Liang Seah was once again appointed to the Legislative Council, but resigned in 1895 together with the other Singapore unofficial members of the Legislative Council, to “protest against the unsympathetic attitude of the Home Government over the Military contribution”. However, because of his experience, he continued to be occasionally appointed as a temporary member of the Council to stand in for members who were absent or on leave.

Around this period, Seah Liang Seah was also a member of the Municipal Commission, which oversaw public works in Singapore. He served with distinction until he was succeeded by Choa Giang Thye in 1897.

Seah Song Seah

From what little we know of Seah Eu Chin’s third son, Seah Song Seah, he was not made Justice of the Peace, like his brothers. However, like the rest of his family, he must have been a wealthy and successful businessman. He was chief partner of an opium and spirit farm, like his uncle Tan Seng Poh. And Seah Song Seah was likely as generous and philanthropic as his father and brothers. For example, in 1906, he and other members of the Straits Chinese community donated to the Japanese famine relief fund.

It is said that Seah Song Seah died in China.

Seah Peck Seah

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Seah Peck Seah, the fourth son of Seah Eu Chin, was also an important Singapore pioneer. He would have been born after 1850 (after Seah Liang Seah, his older brother) in Singapore. He would have been born sometime around 1857, and died around 1939.

Seah Peck Seah was married to Tan Soo Heok, who died in 1933. They had many children. He was the father of four sons: Seah Eng Koon, Seah Eng Kiang, Seah Eng Kwang, and Seah Eng Lim. As for daughters, Seah Peck Seah had many daughters – at least seven of them.

Seah Peck Seah was a talented entrepreneur and successful businessmen. In terms of community leadership, he served as a Justice of the Peace, just like his father. And as a Straits Chinese, like his brother Seah Liang Seah, he was loyal to the British colonial government and served in the Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA). In fact, Seah Peck Seah was the first Honorary Treasurer of the Association, holding the office for four years.

He also strongly supported local education: according to Sir Song Ong Siang, in April 1899, the foundations for the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School were established; Seah Peck Seah, alongside Sir Song Ong Siang and Dr Lim Boon Keng, was on the committee.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Shawn Seah

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