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Heah Joo Seang

Updated: Apr 9

๐ƒ๐ข๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ค๐ง๐จ๐ฐ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐‰๐š๐ฅ๐š๐ง ๐‡๐ž๐š๐ก ๐‰๐จ๐จ ๐’๐ž๐š๐ง๐  ๐ข๐ง ๐“๐š๐ง๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ง๐  ๐๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐š๐ก ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ง๐š๐ฆ๐ž๐ ๐š๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐ซ๐ฎ๐›๐›๐ž๐ซ ๐ฆ๐š๐ ๐ง๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฉ๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐š๐ง๐ญ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฉ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ ๐‡๐ž๐š๐ก ๐‰๐จ๐จ ๐’๐ž๐š๐ง๐ ?

๐ผ๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘›๐‘”๐‘™๐‘ฆ, ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘ ๐‘œ ๐‘˜๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ค๐‘› ๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘Ž "๐‘‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘๐‘™๐‘’-โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘ ๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘˜๐‘’" ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘‘๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐ฝ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐‘๐‘๐‘ข๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘›.


Heah Joo Seang was a controversial figure. To some, he was the patron of sports and schools in Penang, having contributed quite a substantial amount of money to build schools and sporting centres. Most notably, Heah donated $50,000 to Penang Chinese Swimming Club Building Fund, in addition to an interest-free loan for $120,000 for the purchase of a three-acre site at Tanjong Bungah and also $25,000 to the St. Xavier's building fund in 1953. But many came to regard Heah as a โ€œdouble-headed snakeโ€, a traitor to his race.

๐‡๐ž๐ซ๐žโ€™๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ฒ.

Prior to the second world war, Heah continued as the local agent of a Japanese shipping line, amidst the growing calls to boycott Japanese products by the local Chinese community. Then, during the Japanese Occupation, Heah was made the Chairman of the Chinese Peace Preservation Committee, and was responsible for the unpopular $7 million โ€œvoluntaryโ€ contribution, the Grow-More-Food Scheme in Province Wellesley and the โ€œKinrohoshitaiโ€ in general. Heah was reviled as a โ€œdouble-headed snakeโ€œ for his โ€œJapanese-friendlyโ€ stance. The Japanese remained in occupation until their surrender to the Allies in 1945. After the war, Heah claimed all the rubber that the Japanese had left behind, and he became a millionaire overnight.


His reputation was marred by this, though his past did not stand in the way of his eventually becoming the President of Penang Malayan Chinese Association (MCA), an office he held until his death. He also played an important role in The Reid Commission, an independent commission responsible for drafting the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya prior to Malayan independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 31 August 1957. Heahโ€™s reputation was redeemed and he became a well-respected leader.

๐ƒ๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ก Heah, who was in England to undergo a throat surgery, died in a London hospital on May 14, 1962. Heahโ€™s death was a big loss to the nation, as he played a vital role in leading the MCA and Alliance Party at that time.

๐€๐œ๐œ๐จ๐ซ๐๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐‚๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ฌ๐ž ๐œ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฌ, ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐จ๐๐ฒ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐จ๐ง ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ก๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐œ๐š๐ง๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐›๐ž ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ก๐จ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž (๐ข๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐›๐š๐ ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐œ๐ค), ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ข๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐๐ž๐œ๐ข๐๐ž๐ ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐‡๐ž๐š๐ก ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐›๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐œ๐ž๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ ๐š๐ฌ ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐š๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐จ๐ง๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐›๐ž ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐œ๐ฅ๐š๐ข๐ฆ๐ž๐ ๐๐ž๐š๐ ๐š๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐ซ๐ซ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ ๐ก๐จ๐ฆ๐ž, which was Goodwood Mansion at Jalan Macalister (presently the Che Hoon Khor Moral Uplifting Society).



So, upon the arrival of his body at Bayan Lepas Airport, he was welcomed by 5,000 "well-wishers", MCA Tan Siew Sin, and Tengku Abdul Rahman, among others. There was no mourning at the airport and people were told not to cry, sob, or wee. No one was wearing black. The coffin was then brought to Goodwood and only then he was proclaimed dead. Heahโ€™s body lay in state at Goodwood until the funeral, which saw some 50,000 mourners lined an eight-mile route to pay their last respect to the leader.


Sources: Chua, Ai-Lin (2008) 'Imperial Subjects, Straits Citizens: Anglophone Asians and the Struggle for Political Rights in Inter-War Singapore' in Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-War Singapore, eds Michael D. Barr and Carl A. Trocki, Singapore: NUS Press. Historical Personalities of Penang (1986). Penang: Phoenix Press. [HPP] Lee Kam Hing and Chow Mun Seong (2007) Biographical Dictionary of the Chinese in Malaysia. Selangor: Pelanduk Publication. [Lee & Chow] Yoshihara, Kunio (1988) The rise of ersatz capitalism in South-East Asia, London: Oxford University Press Ong Mei Lin, Pamela (2014) Fortitude: The life and times of Heah Joo Seang, Singapore: Straits Times Press

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