Tan Kah Kee Foundation



The Tan Kah Kee Foundation was originally known as the Tan Kah Kee Scholarship Fund. It was established by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1961 in honour of Tan Kah Kee, a prominent Chinese businessman, pioneer and philanthropist, who contributed extensively to the field of education in Singapore by setting up several educational institutions. The Tan Kah Kee Scholarship Fund became the Tan Kah Kee Scholarship Trust Fund in 1968; it was converted into the Tan Kah Kee Foundation in 1982.1

History
Tan Kah Kee (b. 21 October 1874, Jimei, Tong'an, Quanzhou, Fujian, China–d. 12 August 1961, Beijing, China) arrived in Singapore in 1890 as a 17-year-old seeking and making his fortune within the next 50 years.2 Besides building up a huge business empire comprising pineapple canning, brickwork, shipping, and rubber manufacturing and processing, Tan was also a philanthropist devoted to the cause of education. He helped set up many schools here, including the Tao Nan School, Ai Tong School, Nan Chiau High School and Chongfu Primary School.3


In 1918, Tan founded the first Chinese secondary school in Singapore, Nanyang Chinese High School, at Bukit Timah Road.4 He also donated a large amount of money to establish Anglo-Chinese School and Raffles College. In 1956, along with Tan Lark Sye, Tan co-founded Nanyang University, the precursor of the present-day Nanyang Technological University, and the National University of Singapore.5

When Tan passed away in August 1961, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce held a memorial service in his honour on 10 September the following month. The memorial service drew a crowd of more than 5,000 representatives from over 280 associations and clans who came to pay their respects.6 With a donation of S$100,000 by the participants, the Tan Kah Kee Scholarship Fund was established during this event to keep Tan's spirit of education alive. The Tan Kah Kee Scholarship Fund became the Tan Kah Kee Scholarship Trust Fund in April 1968. Money generated by the fund was first used to offer scholarships to students from the four institutions of higher learning then. The fund's small capital, however, proved to be a limiting factor in contributing sufficiently, and the fund was converted into a foundation in February 1982 when the government conferred it the status of an Institution of a Public Character, thereby allowing it to raise an endowment fund of S$8 million.7

Activities
The Tan Kah Kee Foundation aims to “foster  the Tan Kah Kee spirit in entrepreneurship and dedication to education”. It actively promotes education and culture, and grants scholarships to students of all races. The foundation began offering the Tan Kah Kee Postgraduate Scholarship to Singapore citizens and permanent residents for full-time Masters or PhD studies in any discipline, regardless of race or religion, from 1983 onwards. In May 1986, Nobel Laureate Professor Yang Chen Ning, an advisor and mentor of the foundation, brought up the idea of a Young Inventors' Award to encourage young people to be innovative and creative. The Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award was thus established. In 1995, the National Science & Technology Board (now known as the Agency for Science, Technology and Research or A*STAR) joined as a partner, and the award began to hold both the Open and the Student sections annually from 1996. The Defence Science section was introduced in 2001 when the Defence Science & Technology Agency came on board as a co-organiser.8

Since 1984, the foundation has been inviting prominent scholars and professionals from various countries to hold lectures on topics related to science, education and arts for the Singaporean public. Called the Tan Kah Kee Forum, the public lectures have been delivered by eminent personalities such as Nobel Laureates Yang Chen Ning in 1987 and Lee Yuan Tseh in 1988.9

The foundation also administers a University Endowment Fund, under which it gives out the Tan Kah Kee Professorship and Tan Kah Kee Gold Medal Award. The Tan Kah Kee Professorship was launched on Tan Kah Kee's birthday on 21 October 1996 with a donation of S$1.5 million from the Tan Kah Kee Foundation as well as a matching grant from the government.10



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Tan Kah Kee forum to focus on information technology. (1989, November 28). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tan Kah Kee Foundation. (n.d.). About the foundation. Retrieved 2017, June 12 from Tan Kah Kee Foundation website: https://www.tkkfoundation.org.sg/; Yong, C. F. (1987). Tan Kah-Kee: The making of an overseas Chinese legend. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 354. (Call no.: RSING 338.040924 YON)
2. Yong, C. F. (1987). Tan Kah-Kee: The making of an overseas Chinese legend. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 1. (Call no.: RSING 338.040924 YON); Hew, K. Y. (1995). Tan Kah-Kee: Pictorial stories of a legendary overseas Chinese in English and Chinese. Singapore: Confonian, p. v. (Call no.: RSING 338.04092 HEW) 
3. Yang, J. F. (1987). Chen jiageng xian sheng zhuan lue = A short biography of Tan Kah Kee. Xin jia pao: Chen jia kang ji jin li shi hui,p. 11–23. (Call no.: RUR 959.57020924 YCF)
4. Yong, C. F. (1987). Tan Kah-Kee: The making of an overseas Chinese legend. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 106, 110. (Call no.: RSING 338.040924 YON)
5. Yong, C. F. (1987). Tan Kah-Kee: The making of an overseas Chinese legend. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 18, 110, 312, 366. (Call no.: RSING 338.040924 YON); Tan Kah Kee Foundation. (n.d.). About the foundation. Retrieved2017, June 12 from Tan Kah Kee Foundation website: https://www.tkkfoundation.org.sg/;Yang, J. F. (1987). Chen jiageng xian sheng zhuan lue = A short biography of Tan Kah Kee. Xin jia pao: Chen jia kang ji jin li shi hui, pp. 11–23. (Call no.: RUR 959.57020924 YCF)
6. Nobel Laureate to deliver Tan Kah Kee lecture. (1988, October 5). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tan Kah Kee Foundation. (n.d.). About the foundation. Retrieved 2017, June 12 from Tan Kah Kee Foundation website: https://www.tkkfoundation.org.sg/; Yong, C. F. (1987). Tan Kah-Kee: The making of an overseas Chinese legend. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 354. (Call no.: RSING 338.040924 YON)
7. Tan Kah Kee Foundation. (n.d.). About the foundation. Retrieved 2017, June 12 from Tan Kah Kee Foundation website: https://www.tkkfoundation.org.sg/
8. Tan Kah Kee Foundation. (n.d.). About the foundation. Retrieved 2017, June 12 from Tan Kah Kee Foundation website: https://www.tkkfoundation.org.sg/
9. Nobel scientist to give talk today. (1987, October 14). The Straits Times, p. 17; Nobel Laureate to deliver Tan Kah Kee lecture. (1988, October 5). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Tan Kah Kee Foundation. (n.d.). About the foundation. Retrieved 2017, June 12 from Tan Kah Kee Foundation website: https://www.tkkfoundation.org.sg/



The information in this article is valid as at 2004 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Scholarships--Singapore
Associations, institutions, etc.--Singapore
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Organisations>>Associations
Education>>Higher education>>Student aids and scholarships
Organisations