UALA LUMPUR: The colour of Anthony Tan’s skin is different from that of Tan Bee Seng, the man he calls father and who adopted him from the Tanjung Malim Hospital when he was just two months old.
Anthony, an ethnic Indian, grew up in a large family of all races in Tan’s household in Kuantan.
The 67-year-old man adopted 11 children starting in the 1970s.
Like Anthony, all of Tan’s adopted children grew up speaking Chinese and have taken his surname as their own.
“When I was younger, there was a Malay kampung near where I lived that suffered a flood and there was an orphanage with four children.
“I didn’t have children at the time and my wife encouraged me to take those children in,” said Tan.
Saying that he found fulfilment in giving love and a home to children who had none, Tan adopted seven more over the years, including Anthony.
Forty years later, Tan’s family is larger and as colourful as ever – five of his adopted children have married and given him seven grandchildren.
Tan’s youngest adopted daughter is now pursuing her PhD.
“I really have to thank the Islamic religious division for allowing me to do the adoption procedures and helping me with the National Registration Department.
“My hope now is that all my children return home to visit me for Qing Ming (Chinese All Souls Day),” he said.
Asked how he managed to support so many children, Tan said “it was easy” and that he did not think much about the financial problems he faced.
That was something that Anthony, who is now married and runs Tan’s pawnshop, said he was grateful for.
“He raised me for 20 years, gave me money to get a diploma and supported me,” he said in Mandarin.
Yesterday, Tan was honoured as a Unity Ambassador by the National Unity and Integration Department at the MyHero Awards held at Wisma Chinese Chamber.
The award, organised by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor and Nanyang Siang Pau, recognises unsung Malaysians who have played exemplary roles in promoting national and racial unity.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said that the award paid extra attention to acknowledging everyday Malaysians.
Another winner was motivational speaker Dr Abdol Aziz Sahat, who raised six adopted children of multi-racial backgrounds.
“From very early on I was inspired by my mother, who grew up in a multi-racial village and raised children of different races,” he said.
Thanking his wife for her patience, Dr Abdol said he spent much of his time travelling from state to state to visit his children, who are now grown up.
“Sometimes, I have to cut my own expenses to give them money. Let me suffer, as long as they don’t.
“But it’s not always materialistic. Whatever I can share, I share, even if it is a smile,” he added. – Star Online