Engineer, 64, is 1st S'porean to get Dutch knighthood for work on polders

Arise, Sir Way Seng.

Ashley Tan | June 28, 2022, 01:33 PM

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A Singaporean engineer recently had the rare honour of being the first from the country to be awarded a Dutch Knighthood.

Chia Way Seng was knighted on Apr. 27, King's Day (when the Dutch celebrate the birthday of King Willem Alexander), which is also the Dutch National Day.

He was amongst 3,500 other recipients from around the world to receive the Dutch Knighthood. He received his in a ceremony at Raffles Hotel.

Has 30 years of experience

The 64-year-old was made a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, an honour accorded to those with longstanding meritorious service to society.

This was done so in recognition of his work in raising awareness of polders, a Dutch technique that mitigates sea level rise and is utilised in land reclamation.

Photo from Surbana Jurong

Chia is currently the Director of Reclamation in Surbana Jurong Group’s coastal engineering team, and has over three decades of experience in the field in Singapore.

Prior to that, he was a civil engineer at the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

In 2006, he was appointed Director of Reclamation at Surbana Corporation, and later joined Surbana Jurong during its formation in Jun. 2015.

Pioneer of polder programme in Singapore

Chia is described as a "pioneer of the transformative polder programme in Singapore's reclamation history".

He still works closely with HDB and Dutch advisors and contractors on the polder programme, and is currently managing the construction of a polder at Pulau Tekong, which is slated for completion in end-2024.

Professor Emeritus Kees d’Angremond, an alumnus of the International Hydraulic Engineering Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands where Chia earned his master's degree, had nominated him in 2021.

d’Angremond shared that Chia had helped to bridge the cultural gap between the Dutch and the Singapore "water world", and as such, "contributed not only to the acceptance of the polder concept in Singapore, but he also resolved many potential misunderstandings between all involved".

Photo from Surbana Jurong

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."

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Top photo from Surbana Jurong a A