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History Of Tun Tan Cheng Lock History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Tun Tan Cheng Lock was a Malaysian Chinese, in Simplified Chinese: 陈祯禄; Pinyin: Chén ZhÄ“nlù; he born at year 1883 and end his life ended at year 1960. Tun Tan Cheng Lock was born in Malacca. He was the founder and first president of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA), which represents the Malaysian Chinese population. He was a key public figure in Malaysia, who contributed his life significantly to the struggle of the Chinese community in Malaya, especially in the fields of politics, education and social welfare.

Under Tan Cheng Lock, the MCA played an important role in negotiating independence from the British; he was also in charge as the MCA formed the Alliance in 1954 in coalition with the United Malays National Organization and the Malaysian Indian Congress. Tun Tan Cheng Lock, who was a member of the Malayan Anti-Japanese League, was MCA’s first president, but did not enter the cabinet on independence because his rival, who is Tun H.S. Lee that came from Selangor, and he was part of the cabinet.

Prior to the independence of Malaya, he was also a member of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements. In 1952, Tan Cheng Lock and the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) under Tunku Rahman’s leadership contested the election as partners. He was best remembered for his contributions in the business and political arenas and his work for integrating between the Chinese and the Indian communities to the newborn Malayan society.

Today, Tun Tan is widely acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of modern day Malaysia, along with Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Tun V.T. Sambanthan.

Tan Cheng Lock passed away following a heart attack on December 8, 1960 in Malacca, leaving behind a great legacy and a strong family. Tan Cheng Lock had three daughters and one son. His son, Tan Siew Sin, the former Finance Minister of Malaysia, took over as the president of MCA after his death.

2.0 Early Life

Tun Tan Cheng Lock was a leading member of the Straits Chinese community and, as the first elected president of the Malayan Chinese Association (now the Malaysian Chinese Association) or MCA was one of the men who were aid in the negotiations for independence and on behalf of the Malaysian Chinese Population. He especially contributes significantly in the field of education, politic and social welfare.

Tun Tan Cheng Lock was born on April 5, 1883 at Hereen Street in Malacca. He won the Tan Teck Guan scholarship as he was awarded as the top performers in the Malacca High School. From 1902 to 1908, he taught at the Raffles Institution. He joined the rubber industry as assistant manager of the Bukit Kajang Rubber Estates after he left the institution. Picking up the skills of the trade quickly, he was appointed visiting agent to Nyalas Rubber Estates in 1909.

Tun Tan Cheng Lock then went on to be involved in various estates, including the Malacca Pinda Rubber Estates, Ayer Molek Rubber Company and the United Malacca Rubber Estates. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Malacca and subsequently the Commissioner for the Municipality of the Town and Fort of Malacca from 1912 to 1922.

2.1 Family Background

Tun Tan Cheng Lock was a Baba-Chinese who caught the eye of the British. He had born in April 5, 1883 at Hereen Street in Malacca. Tan Cheng Lock was a Baba-Chinese whose ancestor Tan Hay Kwan arrived in Malaya in 1771. He was the third son of a family of seven brothers and sisters. He was the fifth generation of Chinese Malaysian; his great grandfather migrated to Malacca from China in 1771. His grandfather Tan Choon Bock founded one of the first steamship companies in Malaya. Tun Tan Cheng Lock was highly educated and well read in both Western and Chinese political philosophy, was a teacher of English language and literature at Raffles Institution in Singapore before embarking on a successful career as a rubber planter. In 1910, he formed United Malacca Rubber Estates, a company still listed on the Malaysian stock exchange. Tan Cheng Lock’s oratorical prowess and his high status within the Chinese community in Malacca, and facilitated by his business acumen and marriage to Yeo Yeok Neo, daughter of the leader of Malacca’s Hokkien community. He had five children. His son Tan Siew Sin was a Finance Minister in Malaysia. Madam Agnes Tan (his last surviving child), who made the gift for National University of Singapore (NUS) to honour her father’s name. Tan Cheng Lock was a successful businessman in the Malayan rubber, tapioca and gambier industries.

2.2 Education Background

Tun Tan Cheng Lock won the Tan Teck Guan scholarship as he was awarded as the top performers in the Malacca High School. In 1902, He continued his studies in Singapore’s Raffles College.

2.3 Patriotism

Like many Straits-born Chinese of his time, Tun Tan Cheng Lock was partial towards Britain but was deeply influenced by ideas of independence that were sweeping across many British colonies. He truly advocated the concept of a “united self-governing British Malaya”. Tun Tan Cheng Lock and his son Tan Siew Sin had spent some time in India during the Japanese Occupation and witnessed the struggles of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for independence. This inspired them to take up the cause for Malaya.

2.4 Political career

At the age of 40, he was made a nominated an unofficial member of the Straits Settlements Legislative Council and from 1933 to 1935 was an unofficial member of the Straits Settlements Executive Council. He championed social causes like opium smoking, Chinese vernacular education and immigration issues. In 1949, Tan was elected the first president of the MCA and was actively involved in public affairs. Tan passed away following a heart attack on Dec 8 1960 in Malacca, leaving behind a great legacy and a strong family.

2.5 MCA

Tan Cheng Lock caught the attention of British officials, who nominated him to a number of key positions in the colonial government. He became a Malacca municipal commissioner in 1912 and a Straits Settlements Legislative Council member in 1923, serving on its Executive Council from 1933 to 1938. He also highly regarded within the Straits Chinese community in 1915. He was elected president of the Malacca Straits China British Association, a body formed in 1900 to safeguard the political status of Straits-born Chinese as British subjects. His proposal to form a “Malayan Chinese Association” was first articulated in 1943 when he was living in exile, India during the Japanese Occupation. He wanted to use the MCA as the primary vehicle to instill Malayan loyalty among the Chinese population. The new party’s key objectives would be to wean Chinese away from China centric preoccupations, to involve them in Malayan nationalist politics, and to focus the collective Chinese mind on the urgent task of getting citizenship rights in an independent Malaya.

In February 1949, Tun Tan Cheng Lock’s brainchild took concrete form when it received the active backing of British High Commissioner Sir Henry Gurney to garner Chinese support against the communist uprising. Others who helped in the formation of the MCA were Tun H.S. Lee and Tun Leong Yew Koh. Tan Cheng Lock’s election as MCA president gave him a powerful political vehicle and a mass-based party built upon the country’s extensive network of Chinese guilds and associations, the former Kuomintang movement and the Straits Chinese community. This is in order to pursue his political objectives. Support by the party’s welfare work among the half million Chinese who were resettled in 440 New Villages during the Emergency, the MCA’s membership reached 300,000 by 1954. This was the first Malayan-Chinese figure to recognize that the immigrant Chinese population would need to show undivided loyalty to Malaya in order to earn the privileges of citizenship. His persuasive advocacy of Chinese aspirations combined with an ability to gain the respectful attention of British officials and Malay nationalist leaders made it possible for his ideas to be given concrete form in 1957. His political vision and ideas for a self-governing, democratic, multiracial Malaya are available in a landmark publication Malayan Problems. Stand from a Chinese Point of View, a compilation of his key speeches and writings spanning the period 1926-1947.

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