The founder of Gan Eng Seng School, his passion for nurturing young minds and community minded spirit lives on!
BUSINESSMAN, PHILANTHROPIST, and TORCHBEARER OF EDUCATION.
A native of Cheng Chian Village, Hai Teng County, Fujian province, China.
He was a Peranakan born to a poor family in Malacca in 1844. His great-grandfather migrated from Cheng Chian Village, Hokkien Province in China to Malacca. Gan Eng Seng was educated in Malacca.
At 16, he headed south for Singapore, where he worked as a book-keeper at the Guthrie Company in Collyer Quay. Here he gained experience in the operations of “entrepot” trade. Hardworking and eager to learn, he rose through the ranks, climbing from the storekeeper post to chief storekeeper. He was eventually promoted to Chief Comprador after 13 years.
Apart from his duties at Guthrie, Gan Eng Seng also ventured into the businesses of local products and shipping. He was involved in a total of 15 businesses.
In 1885, Gan Eng Seng set up the Anglo-Chinese Free School for boys and donated several of his Telok Ayer shophouses for school dormitory use. In 1893, the school dormitories closed due to inadequate space and became part of the campus expansion instead.
Gan Eng Seng financed the building of a free Chinese school in Melacca; and established a free school in Zhangzhou, Fujian province, China. He wrote a will to instruct his descendants to continue the maintenance and management of this school.
Gan Eng Seng donated a large piece of property at Rochor to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He also conceptualised and financed Thong Chai Medical Institution at Wayang Street (the former location of Thong Chai Medical Institution). From 1892 to 1899, he served as the hospital's Chairman and sat on the Board of Trustees.
Added to that, Gan Eng Seng was a member of the Chinese Advisory Board, who represented the Chinese community for petitions and appeals to the Straits Settlement government.
In 1899, he passed away from an illness at the age of 55.