Tan Lark Sye

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Tan.

Tan Lark Sye (simplified Chinese: 陈六使; traditional Chinese: 陳六使; pinyin: Chén Lìushǐ; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tân La̍k-sái; 1897 - 11 September 1975) was a prominent Chinese businessman and philanthropist active in Singapore in the 20th century.

Biography[edit]

Tan was born in a poor Hoklo family in Fujian, China. He migrated to Singapore at the age of 18.

In Singapore, Tan worked in one of Tan Kah Kee's factories, and within half a year he was promoted to a responsible position in Tan Kah Kee's Khiam Aik (Qianyi) company. Not long after, he left the company to set up a rubber enterprise, with help from his brothers, but the enterprise lost half its capital in a year. Tan then ran it alone and after several years, he built up his Aik Hoe (Yihe) rubber company and became one of the leading rubber industrialists of the region. He expanded his business to all parts of Malaya, Thailand and India, and diversified into insurance, paper and cement industries. His career as an industrialist peaked in the 1950s when his company reaped huge profits from the rising price of rubber.

Tan was an activist, and like other entrepreneurs of his time, he believed in the value of education. As chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in the 1950s, he fought for citizenship for Chinese people in Singapore, and for the Chinese language to be one of Singapore's official languages. As chairman of the Hokkien Huay Kuan (Hokkien clan association), he developed many schools under the auspices of the association: Kong Hwa School in Guillemard, Tao Nan School in Marine Parade, Nan Chiau School in River Valley and Chongfu Primary School in Yishun. He also contributed to financing the Jimei schools founded by Tan Kah Kee. In 1957 he donated considerable sums to Thailand's Hokkien clan association to build overseas Chinese schools. His contributions to education, however, were not confined to Chinese schools. In 1949, when the University of Malaya was set up, Tan donated S$300,000, and between 1950 and 1960 he contributed to the building of schools of different language mediums.

Tan's most outstanding contribution, however, was the initiating of the founding of Nanyang University (now Nanyang Technological University in 1953. He donated S$5 million to its building fund, as well as 523 acres (2.12 km2) of land for its campus on behalf of the Hokkien Huay Kuan. Between 1953 and 1963, he was Chairman of Nanyang University's Executive Committee, and was in charge of various aspects of the university – building, teaching staff, research facilities, library, student welfare and others.

Tan died in 1975 in Singapore at the age of 76. In 1974, a Tan Lark Sye scholarship was set up, and in 1998 the Tan Lark Sye professorship in Chinese language and culture was established to honour Tan.