One Hua Qiao's journey to reconnect with his ancestors

  • Lifestyle
  • Saturday, 01 Jul 2017

David Tan's efforts to honour his grandfather Tan Lark Sye, who founded Singapore's Nanyang University in 1952, reconnected him to his ancestors in China.

This is the story of one Hua Qiao's journey to renew his ties to his ancestors in Jimei, China.

Datuk David Tan Sek Yin is a second generation overseas Chinese, a Singaporean who lives in Malaysia. He was once the head of Tasek Cement, one of Malaysia’s first cement factories, until his retirement 10 years ago.

Many still remember Tasek Cement but few remember its founder, David's grandfather the late Tan Lark Sye. He was a prominent overseas Chinese who contributed significantly to the Chinese community and Chinese education in South-East Asia.

However, Lark Sye’s legacy has only been talked about in Singapore. The famous philanthropist is known as the founder of Nanyang University in 1952. He was also one of the trusted right-hand men of well-known Chinese benefactor Tan Kah Kee.

So for the last decade, David has been trying to tell Lark Sye's story, raising awareness of what his grandfather had done. He set up a museum in his family's ancestral home in the Jimei district of China's Xiamen province.

It's a project that has brought him  to Jimei several times a year, and one that has helped him reconnect his links to his forefathers. With the museum completed, David's next mission is to ensure that the next generation upholds Lark Sye's memory.

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