My name at birth is TAN CHADE MENG, with the family name coming first, in the Chinese tradition.

My name is in Teochew, my ancestral Southern Chinese dialect. In Mandarin, it would be CHEN YI MING (陈一鸣 (Simplified Chinese), 陳一鳴 Traditional Chinese)).

Yi Ming (一鸣) comes from the famous Chinese idiom 一鸣惊人, which means “the call of a bird that shakes the world”. It comes from the story of King Zhuang of the Chu kingdom (楚庄王), who was king from 613 BCE up till his death in 591 BCE.

When King Zhuang ascended to the throne, the real power was held by a few of his ministers. For his first three years as king, he indulged himself in drinks and women all day. He also gave the order that whoever dared to advise him otherwise would be beheaded.


Two of his ministers risked their heads to see him. One of them asked him a probing riddle. “There is a magnificent bird on the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, that bird is completely useless. For three years, it never flew or called! Do you think this bird is sick, Sire?”


The king understood and he revealed his true intentions.  “For three years, the bird never flew,” he said. “This is so that its wings can be strong. On its first flight, it will pierce the sky.” (“不飞则已,一飞冲天.”) For three years, it never called. This is so that it can observe, learn, and look for the right opportunity. When it calls, the call will shake the world.” (“不鸣则已,一鸣惊人.”)


A few months later, when the king judged that the opportunity was right, he seized power and promoted the two guys who dared to advise him to senior ministers. Immediately, he started a series of reforms. During his lifetime, the Chu Kingdom attained “superpower” status among the Warring States.


That’s what my name is supposed to mean. A person who seems ordinary, but hides enormous potentials. When he acts, his achievements will shake the world.  Just in case the world needed shaking.