Book on pineapple king Lim Nee Soon launched

Lim Nee Soon statue at Yishun bus interchange.
PHOTO: ST, Ong Chin Kai

It is part of Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall series on early Chinese pioneers here.

A book on the life and works of Singapore's early Chinese pioneer Lim Nee Soon, from whom the Nee Soon area - now known as Yishun - got its name, was launched by the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall on Saturday.

A Record Of Singapore's Tong Meng Hui includes a reprint of a 40-page handwritten book by Lim on Tong Meng Hui, a political group and predecessor of the Kuomintang founded by Dr Sun Yat Sen, who ended 267 years of Qing rule after the successful 1911 Chinese Revolution.

Born in Singapore in 1879, Lim was a pineapple plantation king and rubber magnate bilingual in English and Chinese. He was among the leaders of the group's branch here set up by Dr Sun in 1905 and had presented his book to China's Xiamen University in 1928. He died eight years later.

The book - with the names of all the group's 123 Singapore members at the time, newspaper cuttings and photographs of its activities, and short essays written by members - was kept in the university's library warehouse until it was discovered by former Chinese newspaper journalist Toh Lam Huat in 2011.

Mr Toh, 63, spoke about its significance at a forum held in conjunction with the book launch, adding he was glad it has been reprinted and published by the memorial hall.

"Lim Nee Soon's book is the earliest record of Singapore's involvement in the 1911 Chinese Revolution to date," he said.

Other forum speakers were local Chinese history researcher Kua Bak Lim and National University of Singapore Associate Professor Lee Chee Hiang.

The Chinese book on Lim includes reprints of early articles about him, milestones in his life illustrated with photographs and documents, and an essay in English on the Lim family history.

It is the second book in the memorial hall's series on Singapore's early Chinese pioneers, said its general manager, Dr Tan Teng Phee, 43.

The first, on rubber tycoon Teo Eng Hock (1872-1959) - published in 2013 and titled Nanyang And The Founding Of The Chinese Republic - includes a reprint of his 1933 memoirs and some of his poems. He was Lim's uncle and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean's great-granduncle.

A third volume, on Tan Chor Lam (1884-1971), founding chairman of Tong Meng Hui in Singapore, is expected to be out by the first quarter of the year.

It will include his 1940 speech at the opening of Wan Qing Yuan after renovation works were done to the villa in Tai Gin Road, which was once Tong Meng Hui's South-east Asia headquarters and is now occupied by the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall as its permanent museum building.

In the pipeline are works on other early Singapore pioneers such as Lin Shou Zhi, Koh Soh Chew and Reverend Tay Sek Tin, which will be published later.

"They will be valuable resources for scholars as well as young Singaporeans to know their past better," said Dr Tan.

The books on Lim Nee Soon and Teo Eng Hock are available at $20 and $39.90 respectively at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.

This article was first published on Jan 11, 2016.
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