by Shawn Seah
In 1823, a gutsy and astute eighteen-year old from China arrived in Singapore to seek fame and fortune. He succeeded in his adopted country, rising to become a business and community leader, and when he died 60 years later, he left a legacy that remains to this day.
This book captures a snapshot of Seah Eu Chin’s life, and the lives of his famous sons, especially Seah Liang Seah and Seah Peck Seah, interwoven with other early pioneers such as Tan Tock Seng, Whampoa, and Sir Song Ong Siang.
Told against a backdrop of a declining China and a rising British Empire, the book also tells the story of the founding and rise of a small maritime settlement nominally under British rule and its agricultural industry—and the rise of the “King of Gambier and Pepper”. And it tells the story of the Chinese secret societies, including episodes of rampages and widespread outbreaks of mayhem like the Anti-Catholic Riots of 1851 and the Hokkien-Teochew Riots of 1854, and how the hapless colonial authorities turned to respected Chinese leaders like Seah Eu Chin for help.
Written by a direct descendant of Seah Eu Chin, the book is largely based on documented material drawn from various sources including One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore by Sir Song Ong Siang.
About the Author
Shawn Seah is the author of Singapore’s first book on his ancestor Seah Eu Chin. The book (and the author) has been described to be “inspiring”, “passionate”, and “engaging”.
Behind his academic awards and qualifications, which include a Master’s degree in Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with a minor in History from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Shawn is driven by a love for history. At the LSE, Shawn became deeply interested in private order institutions in early colonial Singapore (1819–1867), and researched into Peranakan middleman traders and Chinese secret societies.
With experience in education, policy development, communications and engagement, Shawn’s aim as an author is to bring history into the lives of other Singaporeans like himself.
(He enjoys watching Marvel movies and eating pulled-pork burritos.)
Shawn’s path-breaking and meticulous research into his family’s history provides an invaluable understanding of the illustrious life of Seah Eu Chin and his place in Southeast Asia. Adopting a historical narrative, Shawn writes in a simple and yet engaging way, helping readers understand the story of his ancestor who is a pioneer of Singapore. As the story of Seah Eu Chin is interwoven with the history of Singapore, this is a must-read book.
—Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, Fellow of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute and Lecturer, University Scholars Programme of the National University of Singapore
The Bukit Brown Community has been invested in the life and times of Seah Eu Chin ever since Raymond and Charles Goh tracked down his grave at Grave Hill in November 2012. In tracing his roots, Shawn Seah brings alive the pioneering spirit and contributions of early 19th century Singapore.
—Catherine Lim, All Things Bukit Brown
Street names are full of meaning, and Shawn Seah tells the story of the man who is remembered through Eu Chin Street in Tiong Bahru. Knowing the stories and meanings behind street names and our built heritage goes some way towards building a common sense of national identity. This will add to how we understand the character of our city and appreciate the men and women who have contributed to Singapore.
—Kelvin Ang, Resident of Tiong Bahru and Director at the Urban Redevelopment Authority
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Dimension: 130mm x 200mm
Published and Distributed by: Pagesetters Services