The River Merchants, Boat Quay Riverside Statues, Singapore

The River Merchants Singapore

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The River Merchants are a collection of life sized and life like statues along the river on Boat Quay. Boat Quay is the historic riverside waterfront that used to be the hub of trade and commerce in the mid 19th century.

The River Merchant statues are the work of Aw Tee Hong, a local sculptor and they show a British businessman mediating between a Chinese merchant and a Malay elder, the latter two wearing traditional clothing. Next to them, you can see a couple of dock workers lading a cart.

River Merchants and Coolies, Boat Quay

This is part of what the plaque on the side says:

“This sculpture shows a prominent Scottish businessman, Alexander Laurie Johnston, a prominent merchant of early Singapore, mediating between a Chinese trader and a Malay chief, whilst Indian and Chinese coolies load sacks onto a bullock cart – a common sight along the river as trade expanded.

Alexander Laurie & Co was set up in the spot in 1820. It was more popularly known as Tanjung Tangkap (catch in Malay) because it was the nearest godown near the river’s mouth and Johnston could catch the merchant captains as their boats entered the river to trade. Johsnton was a highly respected businessman and compassionate arbitrator for public matters. …”

River Merchants Singapore