100th birthday bash for veteran actor

Bai Yan (seated in centre) with attendees at yesterday's lunch, including actors such as Christopher Lee, Yang Libing and Jin Yinji, and one of the organisers, former veteran journalist Kwan Seck Mui.
Bai Yan (seated in centre) with attendees at yesterday's lunch, including actors such as Christopher Lee, Yang Libing and Jin Yinji, and one of the organisers, former veteran journalist Kwan Seck Mui.PHOTO: INVISION

More than 100 local artists turned up at a restaurant yesterday to celebrate retired actor Bai Yan's 100th birthday.

According to Shin Min Daily News, the buffet lunch began at 11.30am yesterday, with the well-wishing beginning at noon.

Kwan Seck Mui, a former veteran journalist who was one of the organisers, told Shin Min that Bai arrived in a wheelchair at 11.45am.

She said he is still healthy, but is less mobile now due to old age.

He was very happy when many people came over at the lunch to wish him happy birthday, even though he did not remember many of the artists who were present.

Those who attended included actors Zoe Tay, Aileen Tan, Christopher Lee, Pan Lingling, Huang Shinan, Zhu Houren, Yang Libing, Tang Hu, Jin Yinji and Hong Guorui.

The celebration came about when Mui mentioned in her new book launched last year that Bai would be celebrating his 100th birthday this year.

When she went to his house with artist Chen Guohua and Kwan Inn Vegetarian founder Choo Hong Eng to give Bai the book - called Haojiu Bujian in Chinese, loosely translated as Long Time No See, a series of interviews with 100 artists and people in the television industry - they suggested to his granddaughter holding a 100th birthday celebration for him.

The organising committee included Mui, Ms Choo, Chen and Hong. The cost of the celebration was borne by the participants.

The event was closed to the media to respect the wish by Bai's family for a low-profile celebration.

Bai's granddaughter Jenny thanked the television artists who attended the celebration.

"When my family knows that a group of friends from the TV industry are celebrating grandpa's birthday, we are very touched and thankful that everyone is still concerned about grandpa even though he has left the industry for many years," she said.

Bai joined the then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation in 1985 and retired from acting after receiving the Special Achievement award at the Star Awards in 1996. His wife Ye Qing died at the age of 94 in 2016.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2019, with the headline '100th birthday bash for veteran actor'. Print Edition | Subscribe