Time to tuck in and share

125 family members gather for reunion

The eve of Chinese New Year was a time of celebration for 156 elderly residents of Bukit Merah View, 125 members of the Tan clan in Upper Changi as well as 18 cleaners and support workers at StHilda's Secondary in Tampines. The Straits Times reports.

WHEN the Tans, who run the Prime Supermarket chain of 19 stores, gather for their Chinese New Year reunion dinner, it is an eye-popping event.

Probably the largest household in Singapore, their dinner this year had 125 family members from five generations tucking in at the family home on Toh Crescent, off Upper Changi Road.

Many flew into Singapore for the get-together two days ago, which was the biggest the family had ever organised in years, said Mr Tan Hong Khoon, 60, the household's head.

It was held at their three-storey, 32-bedroom mansion, where 80 family members live under one roof.

The oldest at the dinner table was 87-year-old Koh Ah Soon, aunt of Mr Tan, who chairs Prime Group International - a family business made up of a modern pig farm, five Sun Island golf-cum-holiday resorts and two international schools in China, plus the supermarkets in Singapore.

The youngest, three-month-old Nara, is the great-granddaughter of one of Mr Tan's 12 siblings.

To mark the occasion, the clan did what they did 20 years ago: Pose for a family picture.

It was snapped at the same spot outside their hexagonal-shaped home.

But this time, only about half of the family members showed up, said Mr Tan.

"My father's sister, who is in her late 80s, is unwell, while others are working or studying elsewhere and will be returning home to Singapore only in the next few days," he said on Wednesday.

Still, six family members took a month to organise the massive reunion.

Said Mr Tan's niece, Ms Frances Tan, 45, who is general manager of Prime Supermarket in Singapore: "We had to check with each one whether they can make it and if necessary, help those abroad to book their air tickets home."

Among those who flew home were Mr Tan's three children, who work with him in Shanghai at the family's Sun Island resorts.

Said older daughter Tan Siew Hui, 27, the assistant general manager of the resorts: "I was seven when we had our last big family photograph done.

"I think we should do this every year, not after 20 years."

The Tans have been living under one roof for 100 years, and as they picked their spot for the snapshot of family bonding, a grinning Mr Tan declared: "I am very happy to see so many members coming home for the reunion, and I hope the family continues to stay united."

wengkam@sph.com.sg