To the right of First Generation is another sculpture, From Chettiars to Financiers. This pays homage to the history of the finance industry in Singapore – a history that started with simple traditional moneylenders. The Chettiars are a subset of the Tamil community and come from Chettinad in India, with many immigrating to Singapore in the 1820s.
Many Chettiars have historically and traditionally been moneylenders, and they set up successful moneylending businesses along the Singapore River next to the many trading houses in the area. It is fitting that this sculpture now occupies the same shadow as the region’s and world’s biggest financial institutions which have made Singapore a global finance hub.
Walk towards the graceful facade of the Fullerton Hotel (formerly the General Post Office) to look for River Merchants, the third sculpture in the series. The scene depicts a European merchant discussing business with a Chinese trader and Malay chief, while a group of coolies load a bullock cart a short distance away.
The European is Alexander Laurie Johnston, one of Singapore’s pioneer traders. The site of the sculpture is actually where Johnston's trading company operated near the mouth of the Singapore River from 1820 to 1848. Originally from Scotland, Johnston was a key figure in the early Singapore business scene and was one of the founding members of the Chamber of Commerce.