Commemorating 40th anniversary of the death of
Speaking to primarily a Chinese-educated audience at an event yesterday (28 Oct) commemorating the 40th anniversary of the death of philanthropist Tan Lark Sye, DPM Tharman took the opportunity to defend the Govt’s language policy.
Yes, note that at the event, the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the death of Tan Lark Sye, the audience was mainly the Chinese educated, not even the general Chinese community. It is a fact that only the Chinese educated can relate to Tan. The rest of the population have no interest, let alone being able to relate any attachment or emotions for this man.
Why is the above so? It is so because Tan's interest was sectarian to start with. He was only interested in the Chinese educated. What kind of leader is that, this group of Chinese educated are hailing as a "hero"?
It’s interesting to note that despite the generosity of Mr Tan Lark Sye to donate large sums of money for social causes in Singapore, he was denied the Singapore citizenship. His most outstanding contribution was the initiating of the founding of Nanyang University in 1953. He personally donated $5 million to its building fund (a very large sum of money in the 50s), as well as 523 acres of land for its campus on behalf of the Hokkien Huay Kuan. In the period 1953–1963 he was Chairman of Nanyang University’s Executive Committee, and gave both effort and money to look after various aspects of the university – building, teaching staff, research facilities, library, student welfare and others.
Nantah, Hokkien Huay Kuan.... were they not institutions for the furtherance of the Chinese educated when they were first commissioned?
I am not saying that there is anything wrong if someone wants to further a cause and that cause is for a specific race or group. That itself is fine. But for his supporters and admirers to uplift his status to a level of "national hero" is certainly not justified. His interest was highly sectarian. What national interest had he?
Mr Chia Thye Poh at the LLG-Spirit Award Ceremony in Dec last year, gave a speech commending Mr Tan Lark Sye [Link]:
The immediate link above directs readers to Chia Thye Poh's speech about the history of Nantah. Incidentally, I have also written about Thye Poh's speech last year - LKY should have let Nantah died a natural death. In my article, I again stressed the sectarian interests of Nantah. Excerpts from my article below.
Here is a speech from Chia Thye Poh, one of the last early Socialist Left Leaders who's still around. Let's see what he has to say about Nantah.
Chia Thye Poh: The spirit of Nantah lives on
Honourable chairman, dear friends,
First, I would like to thank the LLG Cultural Development Centre for giving me the Lim Lian Geok Spirit Award this year.
Not long ago, I came across an article about the National Southwest Associated University of China during the Resistance War against Japanese Invasion. In those difficult years, the lodgings for teaching staff were partitioned only by cloth-curtains, classes were conducted in thatched cottages, and students had to queue up for a seat in the library. Yet, the Southwest Associated University brought up not only courageous fighters against the Japanese aggressors, but also talented professionals including Yang Zhenning and Li Zhengdao, who later won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Note Chia's reference and allusion of the Nantah Spirit to the fight for liberty against the Japanese. That's something only the Chinese (and that too the hardcore Chinese who feel for China and not all Chinese) can empathise. But Singapore has other races and culture. So why this Chinese slant which even many Chinese can't relate to? Didn't I say that Nantah is interested in sectarian interests?
The establishment of Nanyang University was, as described by Mr Tan Lark Sye, the crystalization of the wish and courage of ‘over 3 million Chinese’ in Southeast Asia. This can be seen from the support and donation given to Nantah from all walks of life including millionaires, labourers, taxi and pedicab drivers, hawkers and artistes, etc. On the inauguration day of the university, tens of thousands of people thronged to the campus. The whole Jurong Road was a long queue of vehicles, and the motorcade of Singapore Governor Sir William Goode was delayed for more than two hours before reaching the inauguration ceremony.
Again, note the very heavy emphasis of "SE Asian Chinese", totally ignoring that there are 10 over million Malays, Indians and other indigenous groups in Malaysia; as well as the 200 million Indonesians of various races and cultures; as well as the Filiponos, Thais, Viets etc. Suddenly 3 million looks like a very small number to be concerned about. Unless you're only interested in the elite Chinese, which is what Nantah is all about, isn't it?
The purpose of establishing Nantah was to serve the society of Southeast Asia, irrespective of races. It promoted inter-cultural exchanges. Besides donating huge sum of money to Nantah, Mr. Tan Lark Sye also donated to University of Malaya and other institutes in Southeast Asia. In Nantah, there were Department of Chinese Language, Department of Modern Languages, and also Department of Malay Language. However, while Nantah was working hard to develop itself, it suffered blow after blow of attacks from the Singapore Lee Kuan Yew Administration. Mr Tan Lark Sye, who had fought for the citizenship of Singaporeans during the colonial era, was himself deprived of citizenship by the Lee Kuan Yew Administration. In 1980, Nantah was closed. At that time, I was still in prison. One day, an official from the Singapore Home Affairs Ministry came to interrogate me. He wanted my opinion on the merger of Nantah with Singapore University. I gave a cold answer: ‘The people will never forget who closed down Nantah.’ After that, I refused to say anything more. He was unable to pursue the matter further, and the interrogation was called off.
That's the part (bolded above) where the Socialist Left and Nantahans take glory they don't deserve in the first place. But no thanks to LKY who closed Nantah, these guys now blow their horns and make heroes out of themselves, patting each other on their backs.
If Nantah had succeeded, won't we see more Chinese elites far worse than SAP products in the govt service, who are so aloof and out of tune with the majority of Singaporeans?
Just as Mr. Lim Lian Geok had said, his body might be destroyed, yet his spirit would survive and flourish. Today, Nantah no longer exists, but it will always live in the heart of the people. The Spirit of Nantah has already spread and can never be stamped out. It will always inspire us to overcome all difficulties and march on.
The irony is that Nantah purports to be for all races, when it is very clearly very sectarian. So what if they have a Department of Modern Languages and another Department of Malay Language. How many non-Chinese graduated from Nantah? Heck, I'll push it further - how many non-speaking Chinese graduated from Nantah?
Need I stress further the sectarian nature of Nantah?
Note that Chia Thye Poh aptly describes the function of Nantah, ie to work for the advancement of the Chinese community in SE Asia. Again, nothing wrong with that per se. But, let's call a spade a spade. Why this call for Lark Sye, founder of Nantah, to be hailed a national hero, when his interests was so highly sectarian?
Final words -
Tan Lark Sye was a sectarian. He was only interested in the Chinese, or rather, Chinese educated. We should also remember that he allowed his baby, Nantah, to be a hotbed of the Socialist Left to rebel against the govt of the day.
Tan Lark Sye may be a hero in the eyes of a sectarian group. I have no problem with that. But I certainly object if his supporters, fans and worshipers try to deify him into a national hero. That lofty status is not to be insulted by a man not worthy of such.