Ee Tiang Hong was born in Malacca (Malaysia) in 1933 of Chinese descent. He graduated from the University of Malaya in 1956 and published his first book of poetry in 1960. Over the next decade he concentrated primarily on academic writing and co-wrote two books on education with Francis Wong Hoy Kee: Education in Malaysia and Reading and Thinking. In 1973 he spent five months in Hawaii as a participant in the 'Cultural Aspects of Educational Administration and Teacher Education Project' at the East-West Culture Learning Institute in Honolulu. This experience inspired his second book of poetry, which is generally regarded as his least political work.
In 1975, one of Malaysia's best known poets, he left his position as lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Malaya and emigrated to Australia as a political exile. His third book of poetry, which explored his concerns over the political situation in Malaysia in the wake of the 1969 riots, was published soon after Ee, his wife and their four children settled in Perth. Resuming his academic career, he became a lecturer in Education at the Western Australian College of Advanced Education (now Edith Cowan University). He completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) in Education at the University of Western Australia and wrote two more books on Education: Education in Southeast Asia and Curriculum Theory and Development. In 1979 he became an Australian citizen. In 1986 he was writer-in-residence at the National University of Singapore and in 1988 he was Isaac Manasseh Meyer Fellow at the same university.
He died of cancer at his home in Perth. The poems written during the final years of his life were collected and published posthumously in Nearing a Horizon.