The passing of a property icon and a pioneer The passing of a property icon and a pioneer
Share this on WhatsAppDATUK TAN CHIN NAM, FOUNDER OF TAN & TAN AND IGB GROUP, PASSES AWAY AT AGE 92 The property industry today... The passing of a property icon and a pioneer


The property industry today mourns the loss Datuk Tan Chin Nam, who was the patriarch of one of Malaysia’s most prominent property families, and co-founder of two of the country’s biggest property development companies – IGB Group and Tan & Tan Developments Bhd.

Tan, who was born on March 18, 1926, passed away peacefully yesterday.

Tan was part of a trail blazing duo on the property landscape, who along with his brother, the late Datuk Tan Kim Yeow, co-founded two of the most iconic development brands in the country.

A little-known fact is prior to pursuing commercial success with their developments in the late 1940s, the two brothers cut their teeth in the world of construction by building safe communities for those being targeted during the Japanese occupation during the second World War. Many other “early adventures” have been captured in some of his biographical publications.

Tan with legendary horse trainer Bart Cummings celebrating their 2008 Melbourne Cup win. (pic source: ABC)

The two brothers eventually rose from street vendors (selling chickens, vegetables and fruits) to genuine development and business entrepreneurs in the 1950s via an early company called Wah Seong (Malaya) Trading Co.

By 1964 the two brothers had set up IGB Corp, and in 1971 Tan & Tan was set up focus on residential developments. Tan Chin Nam was directly responsible on the growth of the Tan & Tan brand, and while the moniker has now become synonymous with upmarket luxury, the company originally focused on low-cost houses, which ironically earned Tan the affectionate title of “Mr Low Cost Housing” in the mid-70s.

Today, however, both the IGB and Tan & Tan brands have given Malaysia some of its most prominent and popular residential and commercial landmarks.

These include KL’s first upmarket condominium Desa Kudalari, the first high-end gated development Sierramas in Selangor, and of course, Mid Valley City (to name a few).

In addition to Tan & Tan and IGB Group, the Tan family also controls Wah Seong Corp Bhd and IGB REIT – which currently wholly owns the Mid Valley Megamall and The Gardens Mall.

Under the second-generation leadership, Tan & Tan is managed by Tan Chin Nam’s daughter Tan Lei Cheng, while IGB is helmed by Tan Kim Yeow’s son, Datuk Seri Robert Tan.

Tan built development companies that gave us icons such as Mid Valley City.

Apart from his fame as a developer, Tan Chin Nam was also an avid player and promoter of chess, and the owner of Australia-based thoroughbred racehorses. Tan was also the principal owner of one of Australia’s most successful horse trainers, Bart Cummings.

He was the owner of the 2008 Melbourne Cup winner, and is one of only four thoroughbred horse owners to win the Melbourne Cup four times.

Property360 salutes a true Malaysian entrepreneur, a property pioneer, a trailblazing businessman. The country has lost an icon, but his legacy is forever enshrined in the tapestry of the great Malaysian story.


EDITOR’S PERSONAL NOTE: During the course of my career, I have had the rare privilege of meeting Datuk Tan Chin Nam on a few occasions. While there was always much wisdom to be gleaned from this sage-like gentleman, none resonates as vividly as this oft repeated line: “I never assume. Neither should you. You know why? Because it makes an ASS out of U and ME”.

Thanks for the lesson Datuk. Rest in Peace.  

Property 360 Online