Although the Memorandum of Understanding between Siriraj Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital is only a week old, did you know that our strong tie and partnership with Thailand date all the way back to the 19th century?
King Chulalongkorn, who established the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, visited Singapore with his queen and several ministers in 1871. During that time, the Siamese Consul in Singapore was Tan Kim Ching, the eldest of the three sons of Mr Tan Tock Seng.
Tan Kim Ching was the first person who held such important role in strengthening ties between Singapore and Siam as Thailand was known then. In 1885, King Chulalongkorn elevated Tan Kim Ching's title to that of Consul-General. He was bestowed the Royal Title Phraya Astongt Disrarak Siamprajanukulkij and was also appointed Special Commissioner for Siam in the Straits Settlements.
A very strong relationship was forged between Tan Kim Ching and the royal family of Thailand. When the king visited Singapore in 1890, he even stayed at Tan Kim Ching's residence, 'Siam House' in North Bridge Road. The king also paid a visit to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and presented us with a donation of one thousand (1000) dollars in Thai gold coins.
Tan Kim Ching also helped King Chulalongkorn to purchase a piece of land and build the 'Hurricane House' in Scotts Road. This is where the current Royal Thai Embassy now stands.
Tan Kim Ching recommended a British English teacher, Anna Leon Owens to King Mongkut (Father of King Chulalongkorn) to teach English to the Royal children. This was made popular by the musical 'The King and I' and the movie 'Anna and the King'.