Pioneer of poldering in Singapore awarded Dutch Knighthood
Singapore, 28 June 2022 – A pioneer of the transformative polder programme in Singapore’s reclamation history has achieved the rare honour of being conferred Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, accorded to those with longstanding meritorious service to society.
Engineer Chia Way Seng 谢伟生 was knighted on King’s Day, the Dutch National Day which fell on 27 April this year, in recognition of his contribution to raise awareness of the polder technique in reclaiming land from the sea. He is amongst 3,500 recipients of the Dutch knighthood worldwide. The ceremony was held at Raffles Hotel.
Er. Chia is Director of Reclamation in Surbana Jurong Group’s coastal engineering team and is a hydraulic engineer with over 30 years of experience in coastal engineering in Singapore.
Er. Chia worked as a civil engineer with Singapore’s Housing & Development Board (HDB) and was appointed Director of Reclamation at Surbana Corporation in 2006. He joined Surbana Jurong at its formation in June 2015 and has since continued working closely with HDB, as well as Dutch advisers and contractors on the polder programme. He is currently an adviser to the coastal engineering team managing the polder construction in Pulau Tekong. Way Seng’s knowledge, skills and close ties with the Dutch over 20 years have helped to nurture a strong relationship and network between researchers, designers, consultants and contractors involved in the complex project.
Er. Chia said “The beautiful thing about engineering is that it is never the same. Each project requires different thinking, planning and design, while balancing the needs of stakeholders. The Dutch are very knowledgeable and focused, and I am glad to have been a bridge between two cultures, contributing to an important part of Singapore’s nation-building.”
He earned a master’s degree in hydraulic engineering from 1999 to 2001 at the renowned International Hydraulic Engineering Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, the largest international graduate water education facility in the world.
Professor Emeritus Kees d’Angremond, an alumnus of the Delft Institute, nominated Er. Chia for the award a year ago. He said “Way Seng had consistently assisted in bridging the cultural gap between the Dutch and the Singapore water world. In this way, he contributed not only to the acceptance of the polder concept in Singapore, but he also resolved many potential misunderstandings between all involved. Time and again he managed every newcomer in the polder project to feel at home in Singapore.”
Engineer Seah Kim Huah, Surbana Jurong’s Deputy CEO, Infrastructure, who has worked with Way Seng for 35 years, said: “Way Seng is ever helpful by nature and goes out of his way to bridge the differences in any arguments to come out with a win-win solution for all.”
A project to build polders at Pulau Tekong is more than halfway complete, scheduled to complete by the end of 2024.
Polders are large tracts of lowland that are reclaimed from the sea by the construction of dikes or channels that prevent the lowland from coming into contact with the sea.
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