Tan Kah Kee's son, Tan Guan Chay, celebrates his 100th birthday

Mr Tan Guan Chay and his sister-in-law Chua Ming Niang at the celebrations.
Mr Tan Guan Chay and his sister-in-law Chua Ming Niang at the celebrations. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - The seventh son of philanthropist Tan Kah Kee, Mr Tan Guan Chay, celebrated his 100th birthday on Saturday (Nov 19) with a banquet, reported Lianhe Wanbao.

Despite his age, he faithfully swims for half an hour every Sunday and eats whatever he fancies. He even requested for his favourite roasted suckling pig on his birthday.

The Tan Kah Kee Foundation had celebrated its 35th anniversary on Thursday. For Mr Tan Guan Chay's birthday celebration at the Chinese Swimming Club, Tan Kah Kee's second, third and fourth generations were present.

Mr Tan Guan Chay has three children, daughters Rui Fang, 64, and Ren Yue, 62 and son Jun Bao, 54.

Mr Tan Jun Bao told Wanbao that his father has visited Chinese Swimming Club to swim every weekend since the 1940s, and it has become a habit. Mr Tan Guan Chay's routine also includes eating laksa and satay at the Club after each swim.

"He enjoys spicy food best," said Mr Tan Jun Bao. He also mentioned that his father is independent and declines their offers to cut fruit for him.

Longevity might be in their genes, Mr Tan Jun Bao added, as many of his relatives are in their 90s or above 100.

Mr Tan Jun Bao said that he learnt the value of thrift from his grandfather. Even though he was born in 1962, a year after his grandfather died, he would hear stories from his relatives.

He said that Mr Tan Kah Kee would tear his tissue paper into half so as to use the piece of tissue twice, such was his thrift.

Mr Tan Kah Kee was born in 1874 in Fujian, China. He came to Singapore when he was 17 and helped to manage his father's rice store. He helped to expand the business into the pineapples and rubber industries and achieved great success. He was termed the "King of Rubber" in Southeast Asia.

Mr Tan Kah Kee had a passion for education and founded five primary schools here: Tao Nan, Ai Tong, Chong Fu, Kong Hwa and Nan Chiau. He also donated generously to other schools, including Anglo-Chinese School. In 1950, he left Singapore to return to his hometown in China, before he died in Beijing on Aug 12, 1961 at age 88.