|Tan Tock Seng|
Others are less well-known - maybe remembered best for the roads named after them, such as Seah Liang Seah of Liang Seah street, Tan Kim Tian (Kim Tian Road in Tiong Bahru) or Tan Keong Saik of Keong Saik street.(I'm sure he's glad that his street is now a row of nice eateries rather than a row of brothels....). And who knew that Koon Seng road (the one with pretty pastel houses, see my earlier post here - although I didn't mention the street's name) was known for the development of Malay theatre in Singapore?And of course, Mr Chew Joo Chiat, who owned the land on both sides of the road which bears his name today.
The majority of those mentioned are men, but I was glad to see a few ladies' names subsequently appear.
|Painting of Mandalay Villa|
The other fascinating thread that runs through it - families. Tan Tock Seng's oldest son Tan Kim Ching (apparently rumoured to be the head of some secret societies) but also a good friend of the Thai Royal family, due to his trading connections; Kim Ching's grandson, Tan Boo Liat; Tan Tock Seng's grandson by his third son, Tan Chay Yan (who started a rubber plantation here in Malaya), and Maggie Lim (nee Tan), a seventh generation descendent of Tan Tock Seng who started family planning in Singapore.
|On the left, Kwa GC's wig and on the right, Lee KY's|
In short, this exhibition, held as it is in Singapore's SG50 Jubilee year, is indeed timely for younger Singaporeans to remember and celebrate the roles and contributions the Peranakan community has played in the development of Singapore. And find out what it takes to get a road named after you......
P.S. In case you can't make it down, there is an app! The coolest thing. Features some of the Peranakans profiled (not all), with a short profile, little audio recordings, etc. Just search for "Great Peranakans" on your phone and check it out. There is also a book, "Great Peranakans: Fifty Remarkable Lives" based on the exhibition and available at the National Library. As at this moment of writing, it is sitting on the table beside me.