Rare Parkinson's Heroes Who Changed the World
Mr. Lloyd Tan is the icon and hero of the Parkinson's community. His spirit lives in us forever. Let us feel his energy as he guides us to live with Parkinson's, reaches out to us to give hope and inspiration.

He was the “Selfless Warrior”. Everywhere he went, Mr. Lloyd Tan touched the hearts of many people. He was already a community hero long before he founded the first Parkinson’s support group in Malaysia.

 

The Young ManMr. Lloyd Tan Pao Chan was born in Malacca on the 8th of May, 1935. He came from a simple and poor Peranakan family. His father, Mr. Tan Tiam Hock, worked as a clerk while his mother, Mdm. Wee Yek Neo, was a housewife. He had only a sibling, Mr. Tan Choon Swee, who was a year younger.

Mr. Lloyd Tan started schooling only at the age of ten, at the Anglo-Chinese School (ACS), Malacca, in 1945. Due to the Japanese occupation in Malaya (1941-45), his early education was interrupted.  He completed his study at the ACS in 1953.

 

The Loving Teacher

Chronology of events in Mr. Lloyd Tan’s teaching career

1954 – enrolled in the Malayan Teachers’ College (MTC) at Kota Bahru, Kelantan.
1956 – started teaching at the ACS in Malacca.
1962 – underwent further training in teaching at the Malayan Teachers’ College at Kirkby, Liverpool, England.
1963 – taught Arts and English at the Continuation School at Tanah Merah, Kelantan.
1966 – taught at the Klang High School, Selangor.
1976 – appointed to be an art lecturer at the Specialist Teachers’ Training Institute at Cheras, Selangor.
1981 – worked at the Curriculum Unit, Teachers’ Training Section in the Ministry of Education.
1990 – officially retired.

 

The Dedicated Scoutmaster

Chronology of events in Mr. Lloyd Tan’s scouting career

1956 – the Assistant Scoutmaster for the First ACS Tranquerah (Junior) Scout Troop, Malacca.
1958 – the Scoutmaster for the First ACS Tranquerah Boy Scout Troop, Malacca.
1960 – led the First ACS Tranquerah Boy Scout Troop to win the National Scout craft competition, which was held at the Semangat Camp, Cheras, Selangor.
1962 –  earned the much coveted Wood Badge (the three bead necklace) at the Gilwell Park, Chingford, London.
1963 – the Scoutmaster at the Continuation School at Tanah Merah, Kelantan.
1966 – the Scoutmaster for the 6th Klang Sea Scouts at the Klang High School, Selangor.
1971 – attended the 13th World Scout Jamboree (Asagiri Heights, near Fujinomiya City, Japan), the 23rd World Scout Conference (Tokyo, Japan) and the National Trainers Course (Yangminshan, Taipei, Taiwan).
1971 – appointed by the Boys Scouts Association of Malaysia as the Deputy Scouts Commissioner for the Klang District, Selangor.
1973 – appointed by the Boys Scouts Association of Malaysia as the Scouts Commissioner for the Petaling District, Selangor.
1974 – five sea scouts and a land scout, under the leadership of Mr. Lloyd Tan, successfully sailed down the Klang River, Selangor, in a raft. This event was the first of its kind in Malaysia.
1977 – attended the National Jamboree at Sibolangit Camp, Medan, Indonesia.
1978 – awarded the Long Service Medal by the Scouts Association of Malaysia.
1987 – received the “Semangat Rimba” medal, which was the second highest scouting award in Malaysia.
1989 – one of the organizers of the Seventh National Jamboree, Manjung, Perak.
1990 – retired from the Ministry of Education.

 

The Family Man

Mr. Lloyd Tan first met his wife, Mdm. Yap Yun Kin, while both of them underwent training at the Malayan Teachers’ College, Kota Bahru in 1954. In 1963, both of them were married. They had two children, Wilfred Tan and Sheryl Tan, who were born in 1966 and 1968 respectively.

 

1960 – Malacca
Mr. Lloyd Tan and his wife on a holiday

The following are excerpts from an article which was written by Ms. Sheryl Tan;

God blessed him with 71 years on this temporary place called earth, and for the most part, he lived them to the maximum.

When his children were young, his family took priority, and he took his family on outings. Childhood, he believed, was just a few fleeting years, and children should be allowed to enjoy it, and not carry any of the adult responsibilities they would eventually need to learn. He was a devoted husband and father.

One night, we came home late after a function, and my brother and I had fallen asleep in the car. Our father carried us upstairs, both at the same time, and I remember being drowsily happy in my father’s arms, thinking that he must have been the strongest man in the world.



October 1970 – Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Tan celebrating Wilfred’s fourth birthday

Left: Wilfred and Sheryl with the “strongest man in the world”. Right: Wilfred blowing the candles with the help of his loving mom and very cute little sister

1979 – The family outing at Fraser’s Hill
Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Tan with Sheryl and Wilfred at the back

As a husband and father, our hearts will always be filled with clear memories of a cheerful, laughing man, one who always joked, even on the telephone, and often broke the silence with hearty belly laughs. Laughter, it would seem, was truly the best medicine for him then.

He was always active, always on the go, and one who loved having supper with the family. I recall our numerous night walks, down to the coffee shop nearby to buy home and share his favourite “hokkien mee”.

As his family, we often gave him small and seemingly insignificant items, but they must have held unsuspecting sentimental value for him as, unbeknown to us, he kept these items over the years, never finding it in his heart to dispose of them.

As the years flew by, this teacher began to invest more time in school-related activities. His students became his children, as he took his scouts and Christian Union students on numerous outstation trips, providing them with lifelong learning experiences. Their care for him through his golden years, and attendance at his funeral, bore clear testament to the care and concern he had always shown them. Being a generous and selfless man, he always put others’ needs before his own, but never seeing the need to attend to his personal requirements and desires. Yes, he touched many lives in ways teachers seldom do. That was my father, always giving to society.

A caring man, during his numerous trips outstation for work or official scouting activities, he never once failed to call home, and his returns home were always celebrated with “Welcome Home!” signs at the door, accompanied by joyful barks of our family dog.

 

1991 – Welcoming Sheryl back upon the completion of her studies at Canada
From left: Mrs. Lloyd Tan, Sheryl and Mr. Lloyd Tan

Being stricken with PD could probably the cruelest fate dealt to an active man like him. He told me it was like being caged because the body would not do what the mind was willing to.

He faced what seemed insurmountable frustrations, yet amidst it all, he decided to start what is now known as the Malaysian Parkinson’s Disease Association. In hindsight, that was probably his last hurrah, his last ditch effort in contributing whatever he still could, while he still could.

Despite it all, he was still human, just like the rest of us, and numerous times, he succumbed to depression.

1988 – Celebrating Wilfred’s graduation at the United States
From left: Mr. Lloyd Tan, Wilfred, Mrs. Lloyd Tan and Sheryl
2002 – Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Tan with granddaughter at home (Section 11, Petaling Jaya)

 

2005 – The last family photograph of the Selfless Warrior
Standing (from left): Sheryl, Wilfred and Mrs. Lloyd Tan. Seated: Mr. Lloyd Tan

Years ago, he told me he wished he could stop living. He hated the life he led. He felt he was a prisoner in his own body and was a burden to his family.

Again, the body would not do what he was willing to, though this time, it was the heart that was let down. He shared some of his regrets, and to a certain extent, that gave him a sense of relief, having said it out to the persons who mattered.

He lived life to the fullest and I believe he was happy for the most part of it. He chose to live his life as he wanted to, and committed himself to society and to God.

He fought the battle, and won. He’s home at long last.

 

The Parkinson Hero

 

Prior to the era of the MPDA, PD was a largely unknown illness in this country. The Malaysian public had no clues at all about this illness. It was nothing but a mystery.

Many people did not even know that it was a brain disease. For anyone who had been told to have PD, the first reactions were fear and uncertainty.

Not knowing what to do, most Parkinson’s patients succumbed to the illness even before the physical disability became severe. Many of them gave up even before the fight started. They succumbed to the fear.

Nevertheless, in 1992, someone changed the whole scenario, in a drastic manner. He was a man who had a lot of dreams for the society.

A “God-sent man” decided to reach out to the Parkinson’s community and thus, initiated a revolution in the Parkinson’s care in this country. He was Mr. Lloyd Tan Pao Chan, a teacher and a newly diagnosed Parkinson’s patient, who always thought that life was about doing something to change the society and world.

On 5th September 1993, an article about PD with the title “Help for Parkinson’s victims” was published in The Star, a local English newspaper. In this article, Mr. Wong Twee Jin highlighted the role of a Parkinson’s support group. Having witnessed how his father suffered from PD, Mr. Wong realized that Parkinson’s patients and caregivers needed to do something for themselves. As such, in the article, Mr. Wong invited the Parkinson’s patients and caregivers to get together for a discussion.

In a short time, a historical meeting was held at a restaurant in SS2, Petaling Jaya on 11th September 1993. It was attended by Mr. Wong Twee Jin, Mr. LK Nathan (Parkinson’s caregiver), Mr. Leong Chung Thad (Parkinson’s caregiver) and Ms. Lillian Ang (Parkinson’s caregiver).

Following the initial discussion, another meeting was held in December 1993, at Mr. Leong Chung Thad’s house at SS2, Petaling Jaya. In addition to the four persons who attended the first meeting, others who were present at the second meeting were Mr. Lloyd Tan, Mdm. Theresa Barbosa (Parkinson’s patient), Mdm. Koo Tan Choo (Parkinson’s patient), Mr. Victor Arul (Parkinson’s caregiver), Mr. Koh Hun Wai (Parkinson’s patient) and Mr. Choo Cheow Piew (Parkinson’s caregiver).

During the second meeting, the idea of setting up the first Parkinson’s support group in Malaysia was further discussed. Following the second meeting, a pro-tem committee was formed on 8th January 1994.  Mr. Lloyd Tan was unanimously elected to be the Chairman while Mr. LK Nathan became the Deputy Chairman.

After nine months of hard work, the pro-tem committee’s effort paid off. On 12th September 1994, the Parkinson’s Disease Association of Selangor and Federal Territory was born.