Biography of Tan Cheng Lock


23 Mar 2015 19 Dec 2017

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Tun Dato Sir Chen Zhen Loke was born on April 5, 1883. He was the fifth-generation Peranakan Chinese Malaysian living on Heeren Street (Malay: Jalan Heeren) in Malacca and also the third son in his family of total seven brothers and sisters. According to history, his ancestors had migrated from China to Malacca in 1771. After then, the young Tan attended Malacca High School. He won the Tan Teck Guan Scholarship, which is specially awarded to top performers in the school. He later continued his education at Raffles Institution in Singapore from 1902-1908. He subsequently taught at the Institution from 1902 to 1908, and relocated back to Malaya to work as an assistant manager of the Bukit Kajang Rubber Estates Ltd., a company which belonged to his cousin. He was a quick learner and soon he was appointed visiting agent to Nyalas Rubber Estates in Malacca in 1909. In that very same year, Tan started three companies - Melaka Pindah Rubber Estates Ltd., United Malacca Rubber Estates and Ayer Molek Estates Ltd.

Three years later in 1912, the British government has nominated him as Melaka Council Commissioner and a Justice of the Peace for Malacca and also after a month, he was also nominated as the Commissioner of the Town Council for the towns and Melaka Port as well. In 1914, he resuscitated the Malacca Chinese Volunteer and was an ordinary member until 1919. The following year in 1915, the Strait Chinese British Association (SCBA) was revived by him, electing as the President of SCBA soon after. In 1923, at the age of 40, he was appointed as an nominated member of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements. Tun Dato Sir Tan Cheng Lock's contribution in various ways toward society and Malaya are appreciated.

Constitutional and political reform

Tan Cheng Lock, at the age of 40, was appointed an unofficial member of the Legislative Council on January 1923. He was appointed from the residents of the settlement of Malacca and has considerable interests in the Settlements according to a Governor's Despatch of the day. His appointment was the result of Guillemard's partial acceptance of the Report of the Select Committee on the Straits Settlements Legislative Council Constitution of 1921 which recommended the enlargement of the council by two additional Chinese Unofficial members. Ironically, Tan having gained entry by this liberalizing act on the part of the Governor was to wage a crusade for changes to the Council over the next twelve years.

He struggled for the introduction of the abandonment of the official majority in the Legislative Council, and an Asian unofficial member to the Executive Council and also limited franchise and In the non-constitutional arenas. He campaigned for the admission of non-European British subjects to the Malayan Civil Service and against the Sri Menanti Scheme of 1931. His views were tempered by his pro-British, united Malaya vision in both constitutional and non-constitutional fields.

Executive council

In running the colony, they merely sought a larger indigenous voice. This was evident in Tan Cheng Lock's advocacy of the inclusion of an Asian member to the Executive Council. Since the 1870s when Hoo Ah Kay served as an extra-ordinary member on the Executive Council, Asians were not represented in this Council. Tan deplored this lack of Asian representation., He called for the inclusion of at least one Asiantic gentleman In 1926 and 1928. The British were brought around after initial reluctance, . Guillemard had objected to the appointment of Chinese unofficial member as he would represent only one of the many tribes of the Chinese race. This British attitude was gradually softened by Tan's representations in the Council. Sir Cecil Clementi opined that it would be politic to add to it an Asiatic by 1930, . A Malay, Mohammed Unus, was appointed to the Executive Council in 1931 as the Unofficial Member. Tan Cheng Lock was hence not, as stated by Soh Eng Lim and Tregonning, the first Asian member nominated to the Executive Council. But the fact that he was instrumental in transforming the British thinking on this is undeniable. His voice was the solitary one in urging such reforms on the British.

Tan Cheng Lock was not satisfied with the inclusion of a Malay unofficial member in the Council, and he called for a Chinese representative in the Council. He initiated the Straits Chinese British Association Petition of August 1931 to pressure Clementi into granting the concession. However, Clementi rebutted that the appointment of the Secretary of Chinese Affairs as an Official member to the Council since July 1931 should adequately represent Chinese interests. Tan remained adamant. He reaffirmed this real grievance of the Chinese in his strongly worded memorandum to Sir Samuel Wilson in December 1932. Finally, the British relented. A Chinese unofficial member was appointed with the resignation of Mohammed Unus in July 1933. This honour did not go to Tan. It went instead to Wee Swee Teow, a seasoned but less senior Legislative Councillor than Tan. However, on the resignation of Wee several months later, the distinction of being the Chinese Executive Representative could not be denied to Tan. He was nominated to the Council in November 1933. His was thus capped with a personal triumph and a 'victory' for the Chinese as he gone through long years of struggle on the issue of Chinese representation After his resignation in 1935, this experiment of an Asian official member to the Executive Council was not discontinued, as stated by Tregonning, but the nomination passed on to another Chinese.

Political Vision

Tan Cheng Lock's ultimate political vision from 1923 to 1935 was a united self governing British Malaya with a Federal Government and Parliament. He is functioning at Kuala Lumpur and with as much autonomy in purely local affairs as possible for each of its constituent parts. Common full-citizenship for all races was also envisaged. It would be a goal to be attained after the evolution of a Malayan consciousness. He believed this Malayan consciousness had to be gradually nurtured by deliberate policy. To forge links between the component parts Conscious efforts should be made. English should be used as the common language, common affection for Malaya and loyalty to the British Empire but with racial distinctiveness retained. In Tan's vision, the pro-British political union would not be an independent one. The image of an independent Malaya which a writer suggested that he had, was asyet an unarticulated goal. He was for constitutional advancement within the basic colonial political framework.


In addition to political and constitutional reforms, a keen interest in the issues of finance and the finance taken by Tan Cheng Lok. As with the constitutional and political reform, his speech concentrated in a few close to his heart, like a thrifty person, rubber planting, and the theme of China's leaders have consistently. Therefore, he spoke several times, including a balanced budget, the government and the colonial economy in the contributions to the defense of financial matters. On economic matter, although Chinese participation in padi-growing attracted his attention, the issue that interested him most was rubber.


When Tan Cheng Lock was appointed to the Council, rubber restriction under Stevenson Scheme introduced on 1 November 1922 was a few months old. From the beginning, he was the most enthusiastic of restriction. In 1924, he said the restriction is the basis of economic life in Malaya. Against an attempt by the mercantilist Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce of British Malaya in 1925 to lift restriction, he said that this would, other than depressing prices, mean that the rubber planting industry would be severely impoverished by the consequent ruination and excessive exploitation of the rubber trees. His restrictionist view prevailed on Guillemard who wrote in support of him fending off the Associated Chinese Chamber Petition: Tan Cheng Lock has his views representative of planting interests and vert considerable planting interests. In the Council, half a year later, Tan added that in restriction lay the salvation of Malaya and of the planting industry. Besides the Netherlands East Indies, non-participation in the Stevenson Scheme, he was for its retention as long as Malaya produced 70 percent of the world's rubber output. With his experience in the rubber industry, Tan's support of restriction was understandable. When he first entered the rubber industry, the ruling price was a heady $1. 98 per pound in 1910, by 1913, the first price fall because of over production while was induced restrictive measures on the high seas brought another low little depression of 1921 to 1922 which saw weak demand and the lowering of prices from eighty-five cents per ound in 1920 to twenty cents a pound two years later. In 1928, restriction of production through the Stevenson Scheme raised this price to forty cents a pound. Growing from his point of view, this ensures important limitations, and therefore to the price stability of prices and profits should be welcomed measures. The British authorities were, however, much concerned with maintaining Malaya's predominance in the rubber industry. Unilateral restrictions on the British Empire has given way to the Dutch East Indiaproduce more before the price achieved at the expense of a higher rubber. Consequently, British Malaya and Ceylon's share of the world's output fell from 70 per cent in 1922 to 52 per cent in 1928. The Dutch's share in the same period, in contrast, crept up from25 per cent to 40 per cent. Furthermore, the Scheme had soured British relations with the United States of America, the largest consumer of Malayan rubber, for these reasons, in November 1928, the British stopped the Stevenson Scheme. Unfortunately, the plan almost gave up when the Great Depression of the high-heeled shoes, weak demand and overproduction suppress prices. Tan, the fervent advocate of restriction, swung into action. In May 1930, he called for the introduction of restriction by the Government of all the producing countries. He spelt out the principles involved in this most forthright speech yet in restriction. Oversupply during the trade depression, he exhorted, must be regulated by taking concerted action to keep the latex in the tree until it is wanted while land alienation for rubber planting had to be stopped. Regulation of supplies, he emphasized, did not mean raising the price of rubber above its proper and natural value. Such actions will only protect non-competitive producers in the use and application of rubber expansion disadvantage. During the depression did not go unopposed, Tan's move to restore restriction. Three months after his last speech, two unofficial members representing mercantilist interests, P. M. robinson of the Penang Chambers of Commerce and W. J Wilcoxson of the Singapore Chambers of Commerce, labeled restriction as an interference by Government with economic laws, a 'quack remedy' which was nothing more than a palliative, and contended that salvation lies in their own efforts. A strongbody of opinion held this view, one of the speakers added. These deprecations drew from Tan a combative response. He wanted to know whom they represented, for it there were no members in this council who happened to be restrictionist remarks would go unchallenged and that would not be fair. He then countered that doing nothing is not unworthy of the position, he believes, because it is two or three-quarter acres of land in Malaya, rubber, rubber production400. 000 tons, about half a million people a year. He reminded that the two Members and the Council that the whole malaya depends upon the industry and that is the reason why the Government should interfere. He was supported by strong restrictionist quareters in Malaya in this campaign. William Doughty, an unofficial Member in the Federated Malay States Council, was waging a similar effort. Similarly, public meetings such as that by the Rubber Growers Association in Negri Sembilan and the Malacca Chambers of Commerce on 21 December 1932 were held to pressure the Government into action. Meanwhile, the Straits Times and the letters and articles filled with the same argumentthe host, these calls led government, the United Nations in June 1934, signed an international rubber and the Netherlands East Indies and the other seven countries, 98. 7%, Production supervision agreement between the world's rubber production, which is a truly remarkable arrangements of international restrictions, he advocated. Pleased with the outcome, he acknowledged in the council that the Agreement was a triumph of common sense and reason. He referred to possible discrimination against small holders, in the same speech. Under the new restriction procedure, an Assessment Committee dominated by the European estates would allocate quotas. He asked for Asian representatives to speak for the interests of the domiciled rubber producers, who own 65 per cent of the rubber area in Malaya on this issue, to prevent discrimination. He failed to change the British policy and what he feared came to pass. In 1935, small farmers as a group gave 36. 8 percent, while export quota in 1933 theyhad exported 47. 8 percent. However, Tan's position is no limit, the overall results, the rubber price per pound forty-three cents per pound thirty-five cents in 1937.

Balanced Budgeting and Public Works

Although Tan Cheng Lock change the rice policy efforts are unsuccessful, the impact on the budget in shaping his views on the Government's financial policies. Beginning in 1924 until his last years in the Legislative Council, he advocated a balanced budget with a surplus to boot. He believes that governments, such as individuals, must live within our means and save. He said that a surplus is the income in the reduction of opium uncertainties attendant insurance. The principle of a balanced budget, he advocated the development of public works which, to him, was a form of capital investment. He repeatedly accused of not doing enough in this regard, because it's lack of income and lack of exploitation in opium replacementfund revenue surplus for the Government.

In 1930, the Great Depression, unemployment and lack of money from the economy's brought forth from Tan his most stirring call.. He urged the Government: to perform a worthy and noble act of self-sacrifice by the transfusion of some of its plentiful supply of blood into the arteries of this economically sick and anaemic community of Malaya by putting a portion of its enormous surplus funds into circulation by the execution of large public works which will keep a certain number of people employed. Therefore, the government finally did it in 1931, through the colonial's surpluswhich was about twice the estimated annual revenue of drawing.

Economy in Government

Tan Cheng Lock was not, however, advocating a deficit of modern fiscal policy. On the financial part, he advocated prudence and frugality. Although there is urgency of public works, he is still in the government economy. He criticized Europe's excessive spending on personal emoluments of civil servants In 1928, before the Great Depression enveloped, in Malaya, he cautioned the Government against the increases in this category of expenditure from $8. 7 million in 1920 to $16. 1 million or 471/2 per cent of the revenue for 1929. He urged the European to cut staff by reducing the economic "our single highest head of expenditure". In 1929, this was extended to the call for a cut-back in personal emoluments and greater productivity. With the depression and unemployment in mind, he proposed cutting down personnal cost by the replacement of retired European officers in the Malayan Civil Service by outstanding Asians in 1930 and 1932.

The Government do not need of his proposal initially. In the 1920s, since Guillemard raised salaries, pensions and temporary allowances, the government is very concerned with the maintenance of a luxury "standard of living, to which members of the senior branches of the Government service are expected to conform". The Great Depression, however, made it see the wisdom in Tan's arguments. In 1931, the Colonial Secretary wrote:

.. public opinion generally is critical of delay by Government in deciding to reduce allowances. I recommend reduction [by half the temporary allowance] in the Colony accordingly as from 1 June. Half a year later, Clementi in a drastic move abolished the temporary allowances to save $1 million. In 1932, the Governor announced in the Council that "no more cadets [would]. .. be recruited for Malaya for the time being".

Chinese Marriage Laws

Britain and China also held back from the old marriage legal intervention. The most famous number of case being the six widows case since 1867. The Straits Settlements laws upheld what it deemed were Chinese polygamous laws in 1908. Therefore, the secondary wife and secret mistresses and their offspring to share in the intestate property and marriage long in accordance with Chinese customs and ussages was conducted, in conjunction, laws of the Straits Settlements does not recognize it. The intestates adopted children were not conforred the rights of inheritace as it was stated in 2 well known cases that is in the case of Tan, in 1924, Pointed out the inadequacies of these laws, and that they lead the wild claims, costlylitigation and resoectable widow of humiliation. Women in the judiciary, he said, requires that they should be protected by law of monogamy. In addition, no provisions existed for a woman to divorce her husband separated by mutual consent in the case, there is no law to force her husband to pay maintenance. Tan hence called for a Select Committee to collect information. Government has an obligation of a committee comprising Tan in April 1925 asappointed. The Chinese Marriage Commitee in its report of 1926, recorded that it was impossible to submit proposals for legislation. It pointed out that if this issue is very different in the South China region and the province of the complex ritual practices and, in addition, through various dialect groups settled in the Straits Settlements changes. The Commission also found that, "pratically unanimous" in the Straits Settlements in sinkehs conservative opposed to any compulsory registration of marriage and divorce among the requirements for the Straits Chinese. In the view of this, the commitee recommended only voluntary registration. The issue of his son's adoption, however, it recommended the legalization of this practice. The government, in order to avoid " a very thorny and difficult subject with a very long history " desire that is by recommendations in the implementng the Comittee delay. Tan will talk about all this with his repeated urging the Government to take action. Finally, the Government has long speech in response to Tan in the Council and by the memorandum he submitted to the 193 in a reasonable position. The Secretary for Chinese Affairs said that the Government can only only legislate for the domiciled Chinese. An administrator with knowledge of Chinese affairs, then ruled that the customs of a country such as China cannot be altered rapidly which is known as Clementi. The solution, he stressed that China wants to make a will, not the dead will. Tan persistece about the matter, yet, not without success. In earlier month in 1931, apparently forgotten by the Government, The Straits SettlementsDovorce rules have been adopted. The Division of Chinese Affairs, about the legislative failure, it is not a correct statement. Tan exertions were thus only partially succesful, but it does not meet until 1940 with the civil marriage law enforcement, and his form of monogamous marriage law was adopted.

English Education and Language

In 1923 when Tan Cheng Lock entered the Legislative Council, the British had shifted from a laissez-faire attitude towards education under its control. This change brought about by the efforts of the Kuomintang which regulate the Straits Settlements in China since 1912 and education, which led to the devastating effects of the school in the Chinese anti-Japanese riots that in 1919 Chinese school politics. Thus alarmed, the United Kingdom in 1920 through the enactment of the school registration, and the establishment of a grant in aid system, to "exercise a greater degree of control " in China's schools. the British viewed with equanimity the educational system of free primary Malay education, a supportive role in English education and self-help in Chinese education. In addition, it leads to a variety of low-cost system to realize the economic exploitation of Malaya and the minimum target of efforts and the application of the maxim of divide and rule.

Tan insisted that not enough was being done for English education when surveying this scene in 1923. He urged the introduction of universal, compulsory free English education for all so that "a common British outlook" which would be the basis for building a Malayan consciousness and community could evolve. during his maiden speech in the Council. Besides inculcating good citizenship with loyalty focused on the British Empire, an English education would, he added, prepare the Straits Settlements ultimately for a representative form of government. He therefore believed that the nation-building in the English education means to different communities across groups to achieve political progress. At the individual level, the average on both sides of his birth in favor of Chinese parents believe that English is a means to escape poverty and respected profession. Malaysian English education also want to meet other community. Tan believes that since it is the demand for English education, it should be provided free of charge. Malaysian English education also want to meet other community demand. Tan believes that since it is the demand for English education, it should be provided free of charge. British authorities, however, does not agree. Free English education will be a financial burden, because they are not prepared to be shoulder. Neither were they prepared to give to the Colony an equivalent level of education obtainable in the United Kingdom. The British applied the brakes to an "unconscious" preference for English education over Malay education. Clementi, the vigorous pro-Malay Governor, stated at length in the Council that English was inappropriate as the "basic" language in Malaya and the Straits Settlements in earlier in the early 1930s. English education in India, Ceylon and the Philippines, he claimed, had divorced the natives from traditional occupations and led to widespread discontentment when the higher expectations attendant on acquiring an English education were not met. He further warned that the "propagation of a smattering of English has its dangers". To avoid this, he claimed that the Malays would be "basic " language, free education will continue to be provided in the Straits Settlements. By supporting him, his Colonial Secretary added that the lingua franca of the British Malaya Malaysian can learn easier and cheaper than the English. In addition, the United Kingdom, it has no intrinsic market value, and it will not cause dissatisfaction. For these reasons, the British raised fees in English schools in an attempt to curb eyrolment and reinforce the policy of free primary Malay education Tan rebelled against this ndamental shift in education and language policy. In the Memorandum to Sir Samuel Wilson, he criticized these steps as retrogressive. It was also supported by the other Chinese Unofficial Members (Lim Cheang Ean of Penang and Wee Swee Teow of Singapore) and the Straits Times, Tan argued in the Council that the Malay language had little practical and literary value, was inadequate for modern usage and could easily be learnt without attending a school. In addition, he also warned against any "Malayanization" or assimilated into the Malay culture in the British attempt. This intention, he emphasized, would be "energetically resisted by the non-Malays as something most obnoxious and baneful to their well-being", and the Chinese would for these reasons reject Malay education. He then reinforced the call he made in 1923 for English education to be the primary system in Malaya. It was best suited as a "bond 'between the sections of our population". It was, moreover, the "most widely, spoken language throughout the world and [was] likely to become universal". From every conceivable standpoint, be it political (loyalty to the British Crown), economic, educational or cultural, English rather than Malay should be the language in which all Malayans were given free education. The right language, Tan advocated, was English as it was the "common basic language which can impart to our heterogeneous population the common outlook conducive to national solidarity". The Straits Times, supporting Tan, remarked: In our view, Tan Cheng Lock in one of the finest speeches of his political career, has conclusively shown the principle [of only providing free primary Malay education] to be indefensible" and "an educational policy which [our] entire non-indigenous population" rejected must be radically wrong. the British disregarded the pleas for the adoption of English as a neutral language and continued with the free primary Malay education system and this is really unfortunate for Tan and his supporters.

Chinese Vernacular Education

It is contrastive to see that the usual Straits-born Chinese leader who only supported English education, Tan was also a strong campaigner of Chinese vernacular education. He attempt insistently throughout his Council for Chinese-language education. In this, he was enthusiastically supported by overseas Chinese community. He stated that no child should be withdraw of an education in their mother-tongue and English school lack facility in mandarin in 1923. Tan advocated that Chinese language should be included and taught in school's curriculum.

In addition, the Straits Settlements Government had second thoughts Chinese vernacular education in wisdom. It had proven that unable of preventing the politicization of Chinese education in the control measures set up in the early 1920s. In the results of the Chinese schools shunned aid within governmental 'inquisition', the grants in aid scheme fail. The Chinese education is straightforward in Straits Settlement in support of their causes by Kuomintang and the Communist Chinese throughout the 1920s. The Chinese government and its consul-general in Singapore threatened an imperium in imperio in Chinese school in Strait Settlements after the adoption of the Manchu principle of jus saguinis in 1929 and victory of Kuomintang in 1927. The chinese education alarmed the British with its subversive message against colonialism.

When an increased interest in the study of Mandarin, he decided that the grants shall not given to schools that have not previously received them. When the depression and financial difficulties had increased application for grants-in-aid by Chinese schools. Clementi hesitant between an increase in grants-in-aid to regain control and the curtailment of Chinese vernacular education, and he moved resolutely in banning the Kuomintang in 1930. This policy drew forth strong disagreement from Tan. He strongly attacked the discontinuation of new grants-in-aid to Chinese schools while he saw it fit to detach himself from Kuomintang's activities. The continuance to subsidize the Chinese vernacular schools as to educate the local-born children was stated in the Memorandum to Sir Samuel Wilson. It was unjust that grotesque and unaccountable as foreign Malaysians such as Javnese and Boyanese could enjoy free vernacular education in their mother tongue while non-Malays couldn't. Therefore, he had pointed out in the Council, the policy would brings to more illiteracy among the non-Malays. He declared that Government was not looking into and doing enough for Chinese education which almost wholly financed through doing-it-yourself. He advised government that, better supervise Chinese education and making sure the instilling of good nationality.

Tan's advice again get ignored. Clementi, reiterated in addition to summing up the debate held in English and vernacular education strong views on the advantages of education in Malay and English education shortcomings and ignore the comments on the statement about local education. Tan, during his long years in the Council, he fight for greater educational opportunities for the less privileged in society. He urged for the establishment of trade and agricultural schools for the less academically inclined. He canvassed, in the evening, to improve standards in private schools "and the age limit in the government schools outdated students. He called for the establishment of an institution to teach them to read and write for those blind. He retained the Queen's scholarship campaign. In some of his success, he failed in others, but through these efforts, his human side is evident.

The Port of Malacca

That time, Tan Cheng Lock was appointed as the Legislative Council of the 20th century, 20 years, has been a marked decline in Malacca as an entrepot. Historical and geographical circumstances, the raising of her early re-growth of a great change. Conquered by the Netherlands and Singapore, Sumatra and Penang favor the emergence of center, cut off her hinterland, trade more, and relegated her to the coastal port. Malacca river siltation, as an inland port the result of deforestation and erosion of the port has been handling her ocean-going vessels is inappropriate, and with some difficulty, coastal vessels. 'dredging' which is taken in 1902, rarely alleviate the problem of Malacca seemed destined for oblivion in addition to economic development efforts in the rubber plantations by Tan Chay Yan in 1895. This expansion of rubber cultivation temporarily revived Malacca's fortune, but it reorientated her maritime outlook. With the development of the road networks inland and the Malacca-Tampin railway link to the Peninsular system in 1905, Malacca after centuries of living off the sea was increasingly forced to look to her shrinking hinterland for survival. Indeed, the official Straits Settlements Annual Report commented that the railway might "perhaps save Malacca from commercial extinction". ' Tan refused to accept this fate. Coming from a family which had long been associated with the sea, he repeatedly pressed in and out of Council for the revival of Malacca as a seaport. This was of vital importance as Malacca, he believed, could only hope to survive by "improving its facilities as a seaport and by becoming a manufacturing town in the course of time". In the furtherance of this vision, he proposed numerous schemes with the backing of the Malaccan business community. In 1930, He suggested the establishment of a readily accepted Government. He is carefully monitored from the residence of his activities, Heron Street, and soon was questioned in 1930, transferred to elsewhere. By dredger purchase, led to the lack of progress close to despair, he proposed a more comprehensive plan. First, he drew attention to the need to purchase an existing dredging river mouth a place "suitable for modern dredger. " Secondly, he suggested the spur expansion (a concrete wall extending from the coast to the sea), to ensure that the Malacca River, the coast from further washed deposits clear. The proposal is to extend groin in his own words, the sludge transferred to the personal sacrifices Heron Street, standing on the shore of his ancestral home. Third, he urged the Government to build a new port on the island of Java it will be dealing with ocean-going vessels ability. In the Council, he outlined his plan thus:

Such a scheme would necessitate the construction of a causeway of about 3/4 miles long leading to the islet where an L-shaped wharf may be built. The railway could then be connected with the wharf and Malacca would regain some of its former importance as a seaport. .. [serving]. .. the Malayan hinterland of Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Johore

When the Governor visited Malacca in May 1930, Tan mobilized interested parties to cajole the Government to build the deep water port. He led a "Harbour Deputation" which presented statistics and his harbour scheme to the Governor. In a public dinner speech in Clementi's honour at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, he again called for efforts to be made to bring about the revival of "Malacca, the mother of Malaya, at one time the great trade emporium. "Despite these efforts, Clementi was unconvinced. Five months later, he wrote in support of the Malayan Communication Board's plan to improve the ports of Singapore, Penang and Port Swettenham which would "be of utmost importance". " In his eight-page submission no mention was made of Malacca. When the Board's report was published, the Malacca Guardian carried a scathing editorial entitled "Sacrificed Again". "

Tan remained undeterred and during Clementi's next visit to Malacca in 1932, he further pressed the issue. This time round, he attempted to put forward a stronger case and to this end, "by a remarkable coincidence is the fine appearance. .. of. .. no fewer than ten ships riding at anchor" in the harbour. In the Council meeting in the Malacca Court House, he took the opportunity to draw the members' attention to the many ships in the harbour and restated the case for the harbour at Pulau Jawa which he now christened, rather flatteringly, "the Clementi Scheme". Clementi, however, remained unmoved. In 1934, in the third and last Legislative Council Meeting conducted in Malacca by him, Clementi finally dashed Tan's dream by stating that the "die-hard element" working for the revival of Malacca as an entrepot was fighting the irresistible tide of decline. " Malacca, he declared, had lost its transit trade and Malaccans had better turned their eyes inland. Thus, Tan failed miserably in the Malaccan subject closest to his heart because his scheme was an unrealistic one. Malacca had irretrievably passed her prime. Historically, her domain had shrunk and geographically, the quaint, little Malacca River with "a brown liquid three parts water and one part earth" could not hope to compete with Penang, Port Swettenham or Singapore.


On 26 September 1935, Tan Cheng Lock resigned as the Straits Settlements of the Executive Council, the appointment of a short two months ago, and his term of office. Why rush? the official records did not specify the reasons for his resignation. This Period newspapers, also remained silent on this issue. Only it is definitely about the family from "retirement" in order to temperate an urgent "rest cure" his wife, who is suffering from a serious chest infection, Switzerland. On the reasons for the resignation of, may be not so simple.

At the end of his second term in 1928, Tan had "wished for retirement". He was however persuaded to stay on "in view of the unanimous desire for his reappointment. This report in the Malacca Guardian, probably with Tan's blessings, added that "it means a genuine sacrifice on his part". The "sacrifice" was his wife's need for attention because of her fragile health. In 1935, while his wife's chest infection needed his urgent attention, Tan's sudden exit may also have signified his disappointment with the Legislative and Executive system. We have seen his unhappiness with Clementi's "anti- Chinese" policies between 1932 to 1934. More telling, perhaps, was his indignation at being awarded a "lowly" C. B. E. in 1933. The Malacca Guardian in a scathing editorial stated:. .. we cannot but say that the compensation is a most ungrateful one. .. we contend that the Hon'ble Tan Cheng Lock deserved, not a. .. C. B. E. but a knighthood. We consider it an insult that the Chinese member for Malacca had been called upon to accept an honour. .. doled outto officials for good, routine-salaried work. .. . Tan, probably angered with the award, failed to attend the investiture ceremony. Clementi, in reporting his absence, wrote that Tan was unable to attend because of an illness. Yet another indication of his increasing disappointment with the system, was a report in Malacca Guardian in December 1934 stating that Tan was "definitely retiring" from the Straits Settlements Legislative Council. Tan was clearly disengaging himself from the legislature that he had increasingly grown disillusioned with.

Tan Cheng Lock, therefore, temporarily fade out of the Straits Settlements in 1935, a disappointed person's public life. For since 1912, most of his adult life, he is tough champion and the Chinese community of Malacca. From 1923 to 1934, in the Legislative Council, he had been a soldier alone for political reform and economic and social justice. A lot of things he does not meet the struggles and successes, but if his loyalty, involves a number of Malaya, self-government, education and language remain modern and relevant in Malaya and Malaysia. It may be that, Tan Cheng Lock, he more than any generation in the early 20's and 30 more in China, Malaysia, contributed to the foundation of today. In his efforts, he won the individual in some countries, this is Chinese and the Straits Settlements - British Malaya and the general - which have gained most.


In the time of about 40 years, leadership and fought of Tun Tan Cheng Lock had provided for the politic, education and welfare of the Chinese in Malaya. In his struggles, he used economic and political arenas. He put forward ideas brought up by the community he presented. He not only used memorandum and petition in raising the issues, but also debate and speeches. These methods was used when he was in the Straits Settlements Council. When he was the leader of MCA, he encouraged the spirit of co-operate between Malays and Indians. Alliance was the platform for achieving independence and a stable political area. This foundation of alliance was fostered in Alliance and was followed by future generations such as the formation of Barisan Nasional. To honour his service rentered to the nation, he was installed in the British Government, federation and state. He was conferred the title 'tun' by DYMM seri baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong in 1958. On 13 of December 1960, Tun Tan Cheng Lock passed away at the age of 77 years old.


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