New plaques in Tiong Bahru tell story of ancestors; 60 gather for Tan clan reunion

Ms Tan Eng Bee Sylvia, Ms Tan Eng Soon Kathleen and MP Indranee rajah unveiling two plaques at Tiong Bahru. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
Ms Tan Eng Bee Sylvia, Ms Tan Eng Soon Kathleen and MP Indranee rajah unveiling two plaques at Tiong Bahru. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
Two new plaques, telling the stories of Tan Tock Seng's descendants Tan Kim Ching and Tan Chay Yan, were unveiled on streets named after them in the Tiong Bahru estate. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
Two new plaques, telling the stories of Tan Tock Seng's descendants Tan Kim Ching and Tan Chay Yan, were unveiled on streets named after them in the Tiong Bahru estate. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
The Tan clan gathered together on Chay Yan Street. -- PHOTO: EUGENE CHAN
The Tan clan gathered together on Chay Yan Street. -- PHOTO: EUGENE CHAN
MP Indranee rajah (centre left) and Mr Tan Hsien Chuang(centre right) unveiling two plaques at Kim Cheng Street.Two new plaques, telling the stories of Tan Tock Seng's descendants Tan Kim Ching and Tan Chay Yan, were unveiled on streets named after t
MP Indranee rajah (centre left) and Mr Tan Hsien Chuang(centre right) unveiling two plaques at Kim Cheng Street.Two new plaques, telling the stories of Tan Tock Seng's descendants Tan Kim Ching and Tan Chay Yan, were unveiled on streets named after them in the Tiong Bahru estate. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

SINGAPORE - Two new plaques, telling the stories of Tan Tock Seng's descendants Tan Kim Ching and Tan Chay Yan, were unveiled on streets named after them in the Tiong Bahru estate.

About sixty descendants from the Tan clan joined Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah in unveiling the boards on Sunday.

The plaques will give residents a greater sense of heritage, she said.

The board on Kim Cheng street tells the story of Tan Tock Seng's eldest son Tan Kim Ching, born 1829. He was a rice trader and first leader of the Hokkien Huay Kuan.

He also played a key role in signing treaties that ended wars in South-east Asia. Because of his trading business, Tan Kim Ching had close ties with Siamese royalty. He recommended Anna Leonowens, which the movie Anna and the King was based on, to the Siamese king who wanted to educate his children.

"That is a fascinating detail I would not have known if I had not seen these boards on the street," said passerby Kim Lee, 27.

The other board on Chay Yan Street told the story of Tan Chay Yan, the first rubber planter in Malaya who also donated generously to medical causes.

"I am proud to have my ancestor's story on a street named after him," said Ms Sylvia Tan, 82, granddaughter of Tan Chay Yan. "This way, more can know about his good work."

The boards were done by the community leaders and helpers in the Tiong Bahru estate in consultation with the Tan clan.

The unveiling of the boards was just one stop among several in the Tan clan's heritage journey on Sunday. The sixty descendants of Tan Tock Seng will also visit the pioneer's grave and the Thian Hock Keng temple which the Tan family set up.

Some of these 60 descendants even flew in from the United States and the United Kingdom to attend this Tan clan tour which is held every three years.

Meanwhile, giving an update of the parking situation in Tiong Bahru, Ms Rajah said that things have "improved" after new signs directing people to parking spaces were put up in January.

Parking problems, however, still occur in the weekends when more come to the estate to do their marketing. "We are exploring the possibility of an app to tell people where parking is available," she said.

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