Seah Liang Seah

leader and legislator - seah liang seah

Leader and Legislator – Seah Liang Seah (2019)

I have released a second book, Leader and Legislator – Seah Liang Seah. Currently, this book is available at Kinokuniya, Select Books, and selected museum bookstores. 

Supported by the National Heritage Board, Our SG Fund, and the Singapore Bicentennial, Leader and Legislator – Seah Liang Seah tells the story of the man behind Liang Seah Street in Bugis.

Born in 1850, he rose to become a successful businessman, Teochew community leader, and member of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements. Straddling both East and West, he lived an interesting life of public service, profit, and parties.

And when he died in 1925, he left behind an extremely unusual will… that was only resolved in 1996.

This remarkable man was leader and legislator, Seah Liang Seah.

Edited by local playwright Nabilah Said, this book on one of Seah Eu Chin’s most prominent sons is a sequel and continuation of the story in my first book, Seah Eu Chin: His Life & Times.

It also tells the story of other influential Straits Chinese pioneers like Sir Song Ong Siang, Tan Jiak Kim, and Dr Lim Boon Keng.

Heritage and community correspondent Melody Zaccheus wrote a piece titled “Singapore’s Original Crazy Rich Asian” in the Sunday Times, 10 March 2019. Some key points which stood out for me were:

NHB’s Assistant Chief Executive of Policy and Community Alvin Tan was quoted as saying that the board supported the publication because it presented original research and provided new insights into the life and legacy of Seah Liang Seah. 

Mr Tan added that it was important to document the contributions of Singapore’s second-generation pioneers so that their stories would hopefully inspire current and future generations to give back to society and leave their mark in Singapore’s history. 

The article quoted me saying that: “The question of his identity – Teochew, Straits Chinese, pro-British – was, and still is, an interesting topic of discussion.” 

“Seah Eu Chin and his descendants and their families settled in Singapore and helped make it the way it is today. More ground-up accounts of our past should be encouraged.”

There has been increasing recognition that Singapore has a longer history than once thought. However, while Singapore’s history began neither at 1819 nor independence in 1965, the history between these two dates is still important in shaping who we came to be as a people. We are a product of our colonial history and blend of people who came here and made this their home.

This book is about the story of Singapore-born Seah Liang Seah and his home, and the people who lived in it. But it is equally a story of a Singapore gradually shaping up to be more and more familiar to those who live in it today.

With your support, local writers like me will be able to share our stories and help promote and raise awareness of Singapore’s history, heritage, and culture.

Leader and Legislator Liang Seah

A version of the original artwork by Singaporean artist, Jeyasoorya, for Leader and Legislator – Seah Liang Seah

Please give your kind support to my book and my engagement sessions in 2019. And I hope that you too will be inspired by the fact that Singapore has its own rich history; inspired by our pioneers’ contributions and achievements; and inspired to write your own bit of the Singapore Story. Thank you!

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Copyright © 2019 by Shawn Seah

Updated 13 September 2020