David Gerald Jeyasegaram

Growing up in Sri Lanka during the civil unrest of the late 1950s is an ordeal in and of itself, but for Mr David Gerald, lawyer, former magistrate and prosecutor and president of SIAS (Securities Investors Association Singapore), the experience was one that left a lasting impression on him. Seeing the Tamil minority being discriminated against by the majority led him to develop a strong sense of justice and equality.

While serving as a magistrate, Mr Gerald would encounter numerous children and devoted time to help bring them back to a normal life. Though there are indeed many organisations and homes dedicated to helping youths, Mr Gerald believes that children respond to the attention given to them and tries to ensure that they are as comfortable as possible so that they can achieve their maximum potential.


Perhaps the most inspiring example of all is that of a gangster girl whom he ended up fostering. In a case where movies would pale in comparison to real life, the story of how this young girl went from a gang life to excelling at school through Mr Gerald’s intervention is truly incredible and worth a listen.

“Would you like to be my daughter?”

This very same attitude of helping people led Mr Gerald to his biggest act, the one that he is most well-known for; the setting up of SIAS. In 1998, following the Asian Financial Crisis, Malaysia froze the shares of some 170 000 investors with assets totaling up to approximately SGD $5 billion claiming illegality and demanding a 52% penalty fee individually from the investors to recover their stocks.

Though he himself had invested some $5000, which was affected, it was the tactics employed by Malaysia that outraged him and stirred him to action.

A lawyer at the time, but having had experience in founding associations such as the Medico-legal Society and Apex Club East, Mr Gerald was able to effectively organize the collective majority of the shareholders into a single strong voice under SIAS. His persistence in raising media awareness of the situation as well as resilience in fending off businessmen as well as not caving in to threats of forfeiture by Malaysia ultimately led him to success and a settlement was reached with the Malaysia government.

However, as a result of this incident, to this day, many Singaporeans are still wary of investing in Malaysian companies.

“As professionals, we should always go forward to help people.”

In the aftermath of the Malaysian investment crisis, Mr Gerald was now faced with a decision to make. Now that SIAS had fulfilled its primary purpose, should he return to a life of law and disband the organisation or could he take this further? Through his interactions with many of the investors involved in the Malaysian saga, Mr Gerald found that many of them were largely unaware of the details and risks behind the companies they were investing in and doing it largely based on the recommendations of someone else.


Realising that majority of the investors were not financially educated, Mr Gerald and his team then embarked on a nationwide education scheme advising investors on choosing investments as well as further analysis of those investments.

Despite having trained numerous people along the way, Mr Gerald mentions he has not encountered many Indians interested in learning more about investing wisely. He also comments that it would be beneficial if there was greater participation from the Indian community in this regard as after all, we all face the same challenges in using our current savings to plan for our retirement.

In line with his dedication to helping people, during his time as a lawyer, he also believed in helping anyone with a genuine problem despite their financial situation.

“Investing without knowledge is merely gambling.”

Helping the underdogs and using boardroom diplomacy to solve issues became a trademark feature of Mr Gerald since the SIAS episode. But SIAS is only one of the many organisations that he set up to help people such as the Ex-national Soccer Player's Club for retired footballers who were looking for a source of income and Apex Club East to collect clothes for charity and redistribute them, along with other essentials, to the needy. Collectively, these organizations have been able to reach out to countless people and help them, in both small and large ways. He has also served on committees of various organizations such as Serangoon Gardens Country Club amongst others.

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Despite having already done so much for so many, even after he retires, Mr Gerald mentions that he wishes to continue with social work, volunteering at church and contributing in other ways. Ever the active worker, Mr Gerald knows himself to be incapable of sitting still and needs to be doing something to be happy.

“I’m not the type who will sit around doing nothing.”

Looking back to when he first arrived in Singapore, Mr Gerald recalls the minority friendly policies set down by Lee Kuan Yew and the government. He appreciates that though Singapore may not be perfect in terms of equality, these policies still allow all citizens to have a fair chance.

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He also expresses gratitude to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the government of the early years as well as the pioneers, all of whom were crucial factors in helping Singapore succeed above and beyond, something which at the time many thought impossible, particularly when compared to our neighbouring countries. In line with this, we would like to thank Mr Gerald for all of his contributions as well, without whom, many Singaporeans would still be financially unaware.


A dedication to the pioneers in the Indian community.

50Faces brings your stories of ordinary Singaporeans who have contributed to our community and nation building.