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A great hero of kindness

  • A couplet encouraging Tan Tat Aun to do charity work. Photo courtesy: Guang Ming Daily
  • He might look like a nobody but he is actually a great hero of kindness! Photo courtesy: Guang Ming Daily
  • Tan said that he does not mind being laughed behind his back as he believes that the most importing thing is to help those who are in need. Photo courtesy: Guang Ming Daily
  • Tan brings the list of philanthropic institutions with him everyday. Photo courtesy: Guang Ming Daily

Everyone knows that charity brings the greatest happiness but not all are willing to do so.

Some people do charity to build good images while some people do it to repay the society.

Sometimes, time and effort contribution is a greater kindness compared to money donation.

Many Penang people have met Tan Tat Aun at funerals. He speaks in a very deep and gruff voice and is always dressed simple. He rides an old bicycle and he limps when he walks. Most people would subjectively think that he is either a coffin dealer or just a passerby.

And everyone would be shocked when they are told about his background and mercies. The weird "nobody" is actually a truly great hero of kindness.

What Tan has done over all these years are things that most people refuse to do. When he attends funerals, he would ask the family members of the deceased: "Does he leave any articles for daily use like wheelchair, walking stick and diapers that could be donated to old folks homes or poor elders?"

If the family is reach, he would show them a list of philanthropic institutions and say: "If you do not need the consolatory money, would you consider donating them to charity? There are many people here who need our help."

It is believed that no one would be willing to ask such questions at funerals, but Tan has been doing so everyday. He can resist the depreciation and criticisms from others as to him, contributing his efforts to help those in need has greater significance.

"All I did are little mercies and people usually do not even know that I'm doing charity work. I know that many people laugh behind my back or even in front of me, saying that I'm a weirdo. I've got used to it and I don't mind at all. I know clearly that I have to keep helping those who are in need and I'll make my greatest efforts to help them."

After getting the second-hand wheelchairs and diapers from funerals, Tan always faces a problem, a Chinese taboo in which beneficiaries would say behind his back that: "I wonder where he got this wheelchair. It's original user might just have passed away yesterday and he brought it to me today."

Tan felt hurt every time he heard it. He would ask the beneficiaries to return the wheelchairs and tell them he would bring another one for them a few days later.

"I thought about it for a very long time when I returned home but I could not find any solutions at first. Luckily, I have found a win-win solution at last and hope that they can use the second-hand wheelchair without worries."

His solution is to spend his own money on repairing, repainting and replacing the wheelchair tyres to make the beneficiaries feel better.

"Many people might think that I'm a fool for doing such things even the beneficiaries have rejected my goodwill. But I think that I should try my best if I really want to help them. So it is not a problem."

In addition to effort contribution, Tan has also donated much money in the name of "mysterious man". He has also helped in promoting charity fund raising campaigns and he has set a record five years ago by raising RM95,000 for a blind children home.

Thrilling pass strengthens self-reliance

Tan started to learn walking only when he was eight years old and he stepped into a primary school for the first time when he was supposed to be studying in Standard 4. He will be short of breath every time he walks for long as his legs are limp.

Therefore, his parents have hired two helpers to help him so that he could attend school just like other children.

Tan also revealed a thrilling childhood story. He said that he needed to cross a road in front of his school everyday. One day, he refused to be supported by the helpers and insisted to cross the road on his own. As a result, he almost got hit by a bus and lost his life.

"My school bag dropped and I could actually touch the bus stopped in front of me. I got scolded when I was home but the experience has strengthened my determination to rely on no one but myself."

Tan has been valetudinarian since he was young. Although he started school late, he never gives up his future. He tried harder compared to any others. Somehow, he still failed to catch up and he did not further his study after finishing his junior high school. He then started to learn running his family business.

"I started doing charity work after a priest told me I must help others without hoping for any kinds of repayment regardless whether I am rich or poor. I firmly believe his words and since then, I have been trying very hard to earn money."

After he had saved some money, he started to send anonymous cheques to various philanthropic institutions. Sometimes he donated RM100, sometimes RM400 and sometimes he would send five cheques with different names to a philanthropic institution. Averagely, he sends five times a month.

Former SMJK Phor Tay principal Fu Qingxi was one of the most respected people of Tan.

"She told me to make money donation to help those in need if I have money and if I don't have money, I must also contribute my efforts to help them."

He paid his principal a visit before she passed away at a hospital and she gave him a couplet that encouraged him to do charity work.

Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE

Guang Ming Daily

MySinchew 2011.01.24



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