The father of National University of Singapore (NUS) alumnus Mr Tan Chong Huat (’89) had a generous heart and a huge passion for life. Mr Tan Han Boon started as a salaried worker before rising through the ranks to become a successful businessman, an active member of the community, a philanthropist and the father of three children, two of whom are NUS alumni.
This story inspired Mr Tan Chong Huat to honour his father’s memory by pledging S$150,000 to the NUS Faculty of Law to establish the Tan Han Boon Bursary.
Mr Tan’s desire to perpetuate his father’s values provided his motivation to give back to his alma mater. He explains, “My father was a deserving pioneer who contributed to Singapore and his industrious nature and responsible nature moulded the lives of my siblings and me to be diligent and dedicated in everything that we do.”
Mr Tan shares his father’s achievements, which granted him both status and great respect. He says, “He was born in Batu Pahat, Malaysia on 31 August 1939. At the age of 15, he came to Singapore to work as an apprentice technician and later settled into the position of a clerk in a commodities trading company. Eventually, he rose to the position of trading director. He was held in high regard by his peers for his honesty, integrity and fair dealings in the rice and sugar industry in both Singapore and Thailand.”
In addition, Mr Tan’s father was determined to contribute back to society. He was active in grassroots activities in the constituency, and as honorary secretary to various community organisations, he was fluent in Mandarin and various local dialects. Apart from his time, his father also generously donated and sponsored various causes in the local community despite his modest means.
Through the Bursary, Mr Tan wants to offer deserving students the opportunity to further their studies regardless of their circumstances. He hopes the recipients will do well in life and, when they are ready and financially able, they will give both time and money back to society, as well as to NUS.
For these students to achieve success, Mr Tan believes that recipients of the Tan Han Boon Bursary should possess qualities such as diligence, a deep sense of responsibility and belonging and also a doggedness and passion for life. Mr Tan is a firm believer that these qualities have proven to be the pillars of success for many NUS alumni.
Lennart Ng, a Year 3 Law student and recipient of the Bursary, says, “The biggest difference this Award has made is that I do not have to fret over money issues, which can be very stressful when it comes to juggling studies and work.” He is starting a career in international law, and intends to ‘pass on’ the gift through society projects.
“A good education lays only the basic foundation for one’s journey in life. Values, character, affiliation and ethics are factors that will determine how meaningful and happy that journey will be.
“Giving is an act of sharing and believing in a better future that we all share. Giving originates from the heart. It is the heart of each alumnus that this giving seeks to touch. In doing so, other aspects of our lives will be touched,” concludes Mr Tan.
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