Dr Tan Lai Yong

Director, Outreach and Community Engagement, College of Alice and Peter Tan, National University of Singapore

Dr Tan Lai Yong

Director, Outreach and Community Engagement, College of Alice and Peter Tan, National University of Singapore

Biography

Upon graduation from the National University of SIngapore in 1985, Dr Tan Lai Yong worked as a doctor in Singapore. In 1996, he and his family moved to Yunnan, China, and joined a community development team, working with the poverty affected in remote villages, caring for orphans, disabled children and leprosy affected.

In his 15 years in Yunnan, he had to cycle about 30 km daily, create innovative ways to teach health and hygiene to the different Minority Ethnic groups and villages, plan for “surgery camps” for cleft palate babies and other disabled people, and also initiated tree planting efforts that led to thousands of trees being planted to help raise farm income and reduce soil erosion.

As part of the China National Day celebrations in 2004, Dr Tan was given the Friendship Award for Foreign Experts at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, an event that was graced by Premier Wen Jia Bao. He was also given the Singapore International Foundation Award presented by Mr. Lee Hsien Loong and the 2005 Singapore MILK Fund (Mainly I Love Kids) Award for Outstanding Youth and Children’s Worker by former President Mr S R Nathan.

In 2007, the Yunnan Provincial TV Station ran a series on people in Yunnan and the viewers voted Dr Tan Lai Yong as one of the “Good Citizens of Kunming”(昆明好人. He has written several books and his first book, “Biting the Bamboo” – Experiences of Work and Life in Yunnan, is in its 5th printing. He also wrote the book , “Two Ears But Only One Mouth – Reflections on Wisdom in Rural Yunnan” and “Pilgrims” – A Photo journal of life in a Dai Village in Xishuangbanna ( a joint publication with photographer Andrew Chew).