Revolution, Personalities, and Society: Perspectives on the Chinese in Southeast Asia (革命运动、跨域人物、社会图像:东南亚华人研究与视野)

By Amy Lin


Did you know how Tan Boo Liat, the great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng, played a pivotal role in backing Sun Yat Sen’s revolutionary activities in Southeast Asia? Are you aware of Lim Bo Seng’s resistance activities in both China and India prior to his capture in Malaya by the Japanese?

Written by Wong Sin Kiong (黄贤强), this book compiles his academic works on these topics over the years. Wong is an esteemed figure in his field and has been invited to give lectures and visit universities in the United States, Japan, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. He holds a PhD (History) from Indiana University and is an Associate Professor in the NUS Department of Chinese Studies, where he currently teaches and was the former head (2007 2011). His research interests include studies in Chinese overseas/ethnic Chinese and studies in modern China. 

The first part provides the historical context that led to the development of the revolutionary movement in Southeast Asia. Sun Yat Sen’s role in shaping and influencing this movement is central to the narrative. Within this section, the four articles delve into historical developments while analysing the role and influence of Sun Yat Sen in the Nanyang revolutionary movement. Wong provides a nuanced analysis of the historical events, and Sun Yat Sen’s multi-faceted contributions.

Part two of the book broadens the scope by examining the cross-regional activities of four influential Chinese figures: war hero Lim Bo Seng, entrepreneur Tan Boo Liat, community leader and President of Xiamen University Lim Boon Keng, and pioneer and builder of Kuala Lumpur, Yap Ah Loy. It offers readers a thorough insight into the ways in which these individuals influenced the social, economic, and cultural aspects of Southeast Asia in the early 20th century.

The concluding part comprises four chapters that meticulously examine the foundational institutions within the Chinese community in Southeast Asia, such as Chinese clan associations, schools, temples, and newspapers. Wong spotlights Eng Teng Association in Singapore, Foon Yew High School in Johor, Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery in Singapore, and early Chinese newspapers in Singapore, exploring how these institutions shaped everyday life and provided anchors for identity.

By delving into the lives of prominent individuals and the workings of vital institutions in this book, Wong sheds light on this dynamic period, offering fresh sources and innovative perspectives for understanding the vibrant tapestry of the Chinese society in early 20th century Southeast Asia.

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