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Su-lan Chen Edit Profile

also known as Chen Shu-nan


Mr.Chen was an overseas physician, founder of a number of organizations and anti-opium fighter.


He was born in Fuzhou, Fujian, China on February 13, 1885 as a third-generation Methodist.


Chen Su-lan entered the Anglo-Chinese College, Foochow, in October 1900. At a revival meeting led by visiting Bishop Bradford, he pledged to become a preacher one day. On January 1905 Mr. Chen graduated with honors. Then he entered King Edward VII College of Medicine, Singapore in June 1905. Mr. Chen was a gold medalist and winner of nearly all the prizes awarded by the College. He graduated with honors in May 1910, obtained a Licentiate in Medicine, as part of the first batch of seven graduates. In addition, Chen Su-lan also topped that class, and was since in private practice.


Mr. Chen served as a vice president of British Medical Association (Malaya Branch). He also was a lecturer in and writer on social hygiene and opium and a specialist on opium addiction and the cure of the opium habit. Mr. Chen was known as a member of the following government appointments —the Council of King Edward VII College of Medicine, Central Board, Social Hygiene Advisory Board and Standing Advisory Committee on Opium, in Singapore.

Chen Su-lan was appointed a president of St. John’s Ambulance Centre, later - vice President of the Child Welfare Society. Mr. Chen was the president of the Singapore Anti-opium Society and director of The Clinic for the cure of Opium Addicts. He was a member of general committee of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Committee of Rotary Club of Singapore, Director of Y.M.C.A. Mr. Chen served as an advisor to Y.M.C.A., and President of Alumni Association of Colleges of Medicine.

When the Pacific War broke out in December 1941, the Japanese army made steady progress in its conquest of the Malayan peninsula. Chen, who felt that Singapore would fall, decided to flee from the island. On 13 February 1942, he boarded one of the last ships leaving Singapore but unfortunately, the ship was attacked, bombed and set on fire. The passengers abandoned ship and Chen found himself adrift in the cold sea, clinging on to a raft with a few other survivors. During those hours in the water, he re-evaluated his life and realised he had not kept to his childhood commitment to be a preacher. He decided to live fully for God and not himself.

Upon landing on short at a mangrove forest, Chen returned home only to be detained by the Kempeitai (Japanese military police). An informer had told the Japanese that Chen and other leaders of the Methodist Church were conspiring against the Japanese government. Although his home was searched, no evidence was found which would incriminate him, and he was released.


  • After the war, the British Military Administration invited Chen to join the Advisory Council. Chen took the opportunity to speak out boldly against the numerous social problems that had arisen because of the war. To help solve these problems, in 1945, he founded the Chinese Young Men's Christian Association (now called the Metropolitan YMCA) to help provide demoralised youths with opportunities to rehabilitate themselves.


  • It was cterated to help provide demoralised youths with opportunities to rehabilitate themselves.

    Young Men's Christian Association (now called the Metropolitan YMCA) , China


  • The Trust disbursed funds and land to Christian organisations like Scripture Union, and for the founding in 1968 of the Methodist Children's Home which was named after him.

    Chen Su Lan Trust , China



Chen Su-lan was an anti-opium fighter, philanthropist and social reformer.

Mr. Chen was deeply concerned with the social and health conditions in Singapore. He recognised that opium addiction was a grim social problem, not helped by the fact that the colonial government monopolised the sale of the drug as means to regulate its use. At the risk of being labelled disloyal to the British, Chen mounted a campaign against opium addiction. He was the president of the Singapore Anti-Opium Society and the director of the Anti-Opium Clinic which he founded in 1933. However, in 1937, the outbreak of war in China caused donations to be diverted to the China Relief Fund and thus the clinic had to close down.