Monday, July 28, 2014

The Straits Times : Tan Tock Seng's descendants celebrate Tiong Bahru link

The Straits Times
By Kash Cheong
28th July 2014

New plaques there mark two roads named after his son and grandson

Tanjong Pagar MP Indranee Rajah (in red) unveiling the Tan Kim Ching plaque with Mr Tan Hsien Chuang, 45, a descendant of Tan Tock Seng's eldest son Tan Kim Ching. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

THEY had some big shoes to fill, but descendants of merchant and philanthropist Tan Tock Seng did not disappoint.

Tan Tock Seng's eldest son, rice trader Tan Kim Ching, who was the first leader of the Hokkien Huay Kuan, donated to hospitals and built facilities to prevent the Thian Hock Keng Temple in Telok Ayer Street from flooding.

And because of his trading business, he established good ties with the Siamese ruler at the time, King Chulalongkorn, recommending English tutor Anna Leonowens to teach the royal family English. The fictionalised account of her story was made famous in the musical The King And I.

And Tan Chay Yan, Tan Tock Seng's grandson by his youngest son Teck Guan, was the first rubber planter in Malaya. He donated generously to medical causes.

Sixty-eight descendants from the Tan clan gathered for the unveiling of two plaques yesterday. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Yesterday, two new plaques telling the stories of the two men were unveiled in streets named after them in Tiong Bahru.

Tan Tock Seng had six children. His family genealogy now spans over eight generations.

Descendants from the Tan clan joined Tanjong Pagar MP Indranee Rajah in unveiling the plaques. The plaques in Kim Cheng and Chay Yan streets would give residents a greater sense of heritage, said Ms Rajah, who is Senior Minister of State for Law and Education.

"I am proud to have my ancestor's story on a street named after him," said Ms Sylvia Tan, 82, a housewife and Tan Chay Yan's granddaughter.

The boards were produced by Seng Poh Residents' Committee, in consultation with the Tan clan.

Clan members made several stops on a tour tracing their roots yesterday. The 68 descendants, part of a group of 200 that arrived in Singapore for a reunion dinner last Saturday, paid their respects at Tan Tock Seng's grave in Outram Road, and visited the Thai Embassy to commemorate relationships built by their ancestors.