Tan Chor Lam 陈楚楠


Tan Chor Lam (陈楚楠, also known as Tan Lian Chye, 陈连才) (1884–1971), was the youngest son of Tan Tye, a wealthy merchant. Born in 1884 in Singapore, Tan received a private Chinese education and learned English and Malay at the same time.

Along with his childhood friend and neighbour, Teo Eng Hock, Tan Chor Lam was noted for his contributions towards the 1911 Chinese revolution. Both Tan and Teo set up a newspaper, Thoe Lam Jit Poh (图南日报), in 1904 to advocate revolutionary ideals. They first met Sun Yat Sen in 1905 through both the newspaper and an introduction from Yau Lit, and became Sun’s supporters.

When a branch of Zhongguo Tongmenghui (中国同盟会, Chinese Revolutionary Alliance) was set up in Singapore, Tan was elected as the president. A few months later, in a second election, he was elected as the vice-president and played an integral role in supporting Sun Yat Sen’s revolution. After the success of the revolution in 1911, Tan held various appointments in the Chinese government, such as Head of the Office for Industry in the Fujian Provincial Government. He gradually relinquished his involvement in China in 1932.

Tan Chor Lam had played a role in female education in Singapore. He founded the Nanyang Girls’ School with Teo Eng Hock, Chuang Hee Tsuan and others in 1917, and sat on the board of directors of the school for several years. He was also on the advisory committee to the British Military Administration in 1945. After World War II, he led a retired life largely focusing on his family and attended activities of United Chinese Library occasionally till his passing on 22 September 1971, aged 87..



Selected books on Tan Chor Lam

  • Chen, M. H. (1967). The Early Chinese Newspapers of Singapore, 1881–1912. Singapore: University of Malaya Press, pp. 80–85, 95, 97.
    Call no.: RSING 079.5702 CHE
    This research title gives a detailed account of the development and history of Chinese newspapers in Singapore and discussed the role newspaper presses played in social reform and activities. The book highlighted Tan Chor Lam’s role and activities as one of the proprietors of two early Chinese newspapers, Thoe Lam Jit Poh and Chong Shing Yit Poh.


  • 柯木林. (主编). [Ke, M. L. (Ed.).] (1995). 新华历史人物列传 [Who’s who in the Chinese community of Singapore]. 新加坡: 教育出版公司, p. 95.
    Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.570092 WHO-[HIS].
    The book contains the biographies of 1,175 Chinese personalities in Singapore, covering the period from 1819 to 1990. Each biography contains the birth and death dates, dialect group, occupation and affiliated organisations of the Chinese personality. Tan Chor Lam’s biography is also included.


  • 方百成, 杜南发. (编委主任). [Fang, B. C. and Du, N. F. (Eds.).] (2012). 世界福建名人录, 新加坡编. [Prominent figures of the world Fujian communities: Singapore]. 新加坡: 新加坡福建会馆, pp. 89–90.
    Call no.: Chinese RSING 920.05957 PRO
    The book contains the biographies of 155 Chinese Hokkien personalities in Singapore, covering the period from 1819 to 2012. Tan Chor Lam’s biography highlighted Tan’s role in supporting Sun Yat Sen’s revolutionary clause and the setting up of Nanyang Girls’ School in Singapore.


  • Yen, C. H. (1976). The overseas Chinese and the 1911 revolution, with special reference to Singapore and Malaya. Kuala Lumpur; New York: Oxford University Press.
    Call no.: RSING 301.451951095957 YEN
    This book gives an account of the Chinese revolutionary activities in Singapore and Malaya between 1900 and 1911, studied the responses of the overseas Chinese in Singapore and Malaya towards the revolution and assessed the role of these activities in the revolution. Tan Chor Lam, who was a supporter of the revolution and held important positions in the revolutionary group in Singapore, was also highlighted in the study.



Selected newspaper articles on Tan Chor Lam

  • 陈楚楠老先生逝世定廿六日举行出殡 [The funeral of Mr Tan Chor Lam will be on the 26th]. (1971, September 23). 南洋商报, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This is the obituary of Tan Chor Lam published in Nanyang Siang Pau; itincludes Tan’s biography.


  • 欢乐园地址为前闽省实业厅长陈楚楠君所有地段约十英亩股本定十万 [The selected location for Happy World belongs to former Head of the Office for Industry in the Fujian Provincial Government, Mr Tan Chor Lam. The total land size is about 10 acre and stock capital is set at ten thousand]. (1933, June 4). 南洋商报, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This article highlights that the land on which Happy World was to be built,belonged to Tan Chor Lam, and provides a brief introduction of Tan.


  • Singapore Chinese Praise Chiang Kai-Shek. (1946, October 11). Indian Daily Mail, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This article covers the “Double Tenth” commemoration at Jalan Basar Stadium. It also quoted Tan Chor Lam as the president of the commemoration event.


  • Social and Personal. (1918, November 20). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This notice mentions the date for the funeral of Mrs Tan Tye, mother of Tan Lian Boh and Tan Chor Lam. It also highlights that the brothers received cables of condolences from their friends in China and Malaya, including Sun Yat Sen.


  • [Untitled]. (1971, September 23). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This is a notice on the passing of Tan Chor Lam.



Selected works by Tan Chor Lam

  • 陈丁辉、陈亮发、蔡佩君等编 [Tan, T.P., Ting, A., Chua, J. et. al. (Eds.).] (2017). 晚晴园与中国革命史略 [Wan Qing Yuan and the 1911 revolution: a recollection by Tan Chor Lam]. 新加坡: 晚晴园—孙中山南洋纪念馆.
    Call no.: Chinese RSING 959.57004951 CCN -[HIS].
    This book is a reprint of a speech that Tan Chor Lam had presented on 1 January 1940, during the opening of the renovated Bin Chan House (Wan Qing Yuan or 晚晴园). In it, Tan emphasised the role of Singapore supporters in the Chinese revolution in 1911. Articles on Tan by his descendants and others, plates of Tan’s photographs and documents and other relevant materials are also included in the book.

Written by Mervin Teo