Tan Lark Sye 陈六使 – Early pioneers

The early history of Singapore did not begin in 1965. Singapore existed long before 1965 and there were many pioneering giants that lived through our history.  Tan Lark Sye was one of the great men that lived among us. His contributions were no lesser than other pioneers whose names were remembered in the street and road names of our city, Boon Lay, Joo Chiat, Kim Cheng, Kim Tian, Nee Soon, Hong Lim etc etc. Many of these were very rich and prominent heads of families, the old rich of Singapore. Not many had contributed as much as Tan Lark Sye especially in the field of education.

Tan Lark Sye was best remembered for founding Nantah or Nanyang University, 南洋大学, and his contribution of $5m to the project. The purchasing power of the $5m is easily in the region of $5b today. And on behalf of the Hokien Huay Kuan, he donated 523 acres of land in Jurong to build Nantah. Nantah was then the only Chinese university in Southeast Asia and played a pivotal role in producing many graduates that came from the neighbouring countries that became prominent business, academics and political leaders in the region.

Tan Lark Sye was a giant of his time. He came to Singapore as a young man of 18 but went on to build a fortune in rubber trading and other industries, probably as rich as Tan Kah Kee, and was the President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Hokien Huay Kuan and Chairman of Nanyang University’s Executive Committee. His misfortune came when he was stripped of his citizenship for supporting the Barisan Socialis and died stateless.

The Chinese community has not forgotten this man and has honoured him in many ways and telling his stories in the museum that honours the Chinese pioneers in Ee Hoe Hean Club. His contributions in education, donation to the University of Malaya, as the founder of Nantah and as a philanthropist, within and outside Singapore, should deserve more recognition in the annals of our history.

Singapore owes this man a debt of gratitude and it is about time that this man be honoured and given his due respect as one of our great pioneers who once walked among us.  The political bitterness should be left to rest in history. Tan Kah Kee has a MRT station named after him and his statue stands proudly in the Chinese High School. Would a statue of Tan Lark Sye be erected to stand on our soil or a street name after him?

It is a shame that a great man like Tan Lark Sye is only briefly mentioned and remembered in the history of our pioneers. He was a natural leader and could move crowds, and had great influence in the Chinese community, a most feared attribute in politics. The past, present and future alumni of NTU and Nantah were and are what they are today because of this man. He is part of our history, a true son of Singapore. The pioneering spirit of Tan Lark Sye also known as the Spirit of Nantah, and his contributions to Singapore and education cannot be simply forgotten.


Anonymous said...

It is a shame that a great man like Tan Lark Sye is only briefly mentioned and remembered in the history of our pioneers.

Just google Tan Lark Sye and Lee Kuan Yew and you will know why a great man like Tan Lark Sye is only briefly mentioned and remembered in the history of our pioneers.

Anonymous said...

I thought LKY say Singaporeans very daft.
How come there is a Singaporean called Tan Lark Sye who can founded a university?
Is it true?
This was a long time ago?
Long time ago before Singaporeans got dafted by the PAP government?

Anonymous said...

Listen to this 3 minute speech by LKY praising the Americans for own-self building their American school in Singapore.
And then LKY criticize Singaporeans for being unable to do likewise.


Do you think LKY is fair in his criticism in the light of Tan Lark Sye's accomplishments?
Or do you think there is a lot of hypocrisy and bullshit?
After all, who in Singapore shut down the Nantah University in Singapore in the first place?

Anonymous said...

His misfortune came when he was stripped of his citizenship for supporting the Barisan Socialis and died stateless.

This shows that Tan Lark Sye, for all his greatness, wealth and philanthropy, is not really very smart politically. Because he, like Chee Soon Juan, read wrongly the political realities of the day, and paid a heavy price for it. He should be more like WP Teochew Ah Hia, if he had wanted to be involved politically.

Anonymous said...

LKY sounded very Pro Alien in his remarks to the Americans.
LKY also sounded very critical in his Singaporeans.


And to think so many Singaporeans wasted so much time and money on LKY's funeral.
Do you think it was worth it?
Do you think he was a horrible man?

Anonymous said...

The late Lee Kuan Yew is really very smart politically. So smart that even after he died, his smartness is still remembered by majority Sinkies to give PAP a resounding 70% mandate at the recent election. Or so they said. Lucky Hsien Loong, for having such a smart father. And poor Soon Juan, with still nothing to show in Parliament, after more than 20 years, and most of time very tough too, in politics.

Anonymous said...

Wah! Singaporean American School sounds very good.
Can Singaporean children apply to study there?

If Singaporean children not allowed to study there, then very funny right?
Singapore don't belong to Singaporeans meh?

Anonymous said...

@ September 24, 2015 10:11 a.m

Singapore American School sounds very good.
Even LKY say so.


Even LKY's grandson go there to study because of dyslexia.

All Singaporean children with dyslexia should apply.

Was Amos Yee diagnosed with autism?
Maybe Amos should go study at the Singapore American School.

virgo49 said...

You go with the flow- you great man

You against me- you dead man

Gerogie Bush famous quote- You with me or against me??

Chinese quote: A clever dog must also be a loyal faithful dog.

agongkia said...

Not everyone wish to be popular and many did good deed anonymously.
At least he is briefly mentioned.
There are also some Ah Long in the past that suck money from koolee till become" bankirs "today but many still think these are great people just becos they rich.
My great grandparent oso made many good deed and sacrifices but never want to boast .Maybe to avoid being kidnap or to keep low profile.
So naturally you dun know them except maybe his great grandson agongkia here.
Great mean great.Great people no need sell koyok to have a road name named after them.

Anonymous said...

Lucky we give PAP gahmen strong mandate.
If not today's haze will be even worse.

ℳatilah_$ingapura said...

Please lah redbean, the current version of the history of Singapore is the PAP version lah.

Where is the statue of Sang Nila Utama (Sri Tri Buana)? He FOUNDED the Kingdom Of Singapura in the fucking 1300's lah. Before that the island of Temasek ("sea town") was not "settled" (Note: EVERYONE in Singapore--past and present--is a descendant from an IMMIGRANT. Remember that you xenophobic baby-rapers.)

The name "Singapura" is over 700 motherfucking years old lah. Yet, I will bet my cock and balls that less than a few percent of the population are aware of the history and legends of the KINGDOM of Singapura and its first king: Sri Tri Buana.

Why? Because the PAP didn't spoon-feed these historical points to the gullible population, that's why.

Sang Nila Utama and Raffles are not even MENTIONED during National Day Celebrations.

ℳatilah_$ingapura said...

...and you're hoping for some "tribute" to Tan Lark Sye? From the PAP??

Good luck lah ;-)

...but there's nothing to stop you from creating a statue through private means and then "donating" the statue to the cuntry for display in say, Orchard Road, where they have replicas of motherfucking Dali sculptures lah. (Pic: Dali rhino at Orchard Turn, just behind Ion)

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Tan Lark Sye was a real threat to Lee Kuan Yew's political career. His influence in the Chinese community was something that Lee could only be envious off. Lee needed to get rid of this rival in his path.

Tan Lark Sye is history and so is Lee Kuan Yew. It is time to kiss and make up. A resurrection of the Spirit of Tan Lark Sye will gain Lee Hsien Loong many political mileage.

ℳatilah_$ingapura said...

@ RB

>> A resurrection of the Spirit of Tan Lark Sye will gain Lee Hsien Loong many political mileage. <<

Please lah, with a resounding 70% big excuse for a mandate, I doubt if LHL needs any more "political milage".

As long as Singapore is a materialistic culture, and the PAP keep speaking to the people in "$$ingaporeane$e", the PAP will continue to rout any threat to their ongoing dominance.

You know what? I don't mind it, as long as they keep the place rocking and awesome.