Dr Arthur Tjandra was born 曾华浚, but had to use Arthur Tjandra as his legal name in all legal documents, as Chinese names, language, culture and even the celebration of Chinese New Year were banned in Indonesia, from 1965 to 2002. This is why Chinese Indonesians have unique surnames, sometimes with not even the slightest resemblance to their original surnames. Tjandra is derived from Chan, which is how 曾 is pronounced in Hokkien dialect. In Indonesia, the phonetic “C” was written as “TJ” prior to 1972. It was not until 1972 that the phonetic “C” was written as “C”. This was how Dr Arthur Tjandra’s unique surname came about.
Despite being born into a privileged background, Dr Arthur Tjandra was brought up in modest and humble way by his parents. Dr Arthur Tjandra is the grandson of the late Mr Tjan Kim Kai, who founded the very first paint manufacturing plant in North Sumatra in Indonesia, PT SICO, which is still in operation today, and the great grandson of the late Mr Thio Siong Soe, a well-known philanthropist, who owned coconut oil plantations, coconut oil mills and rubber plantations across Indonesia and Malaysia. One of the rubber plantations, Rubber Hock Lie, which is a joint venture between the late Mr Thio Siong Soe and the late Mr Lee Kong Chian, still exists today. The Thio family in Medan and the Lee family in Singapore were later bonded by marriage, 6 decades after the set-up of the business joint venture.
In the late 1970s, Dr Arthur Tjandra’s father, the late Mr Tjan Sek Him, the eldest son and heir of the late Mr Tjan Kim Kai, bought out all shares from his father’s business partners, a group of investors from Penang, and turned the paint factory Dr Arthur Tjandra’s grandfather started, into a family-owned business. This was done in order to save the legacy Dr Arthur Tjandra’s grandfather had built, and save some 1,000 local jobs from the paint manufacturing plant, as those foreign investors planned to divest the company, after the passing of Dr Arthur Tjandra’s grandfather.
Dr Arthur Tjandra’s father taught him that one should work hard to achieve one’s goals and dreams, and not rely on family’s fortune and inheritance. His mother, Mdm Thio Kim Swan, granddaughter of the late Mr Thio Siong Soe, was Chief Financial Officer at his grandfather’s group of coconut oil plantations and coconut oil mills, prior to getting married. She eventually chose to be a full-time stay-at-home mother instead of a high-flying career as a corporate CFO, so that she could be a hands-on mother and instill Confucian values to her children. Dr Arthur Tjandra sought, but could not find any woman who wanted to be a housewife and hands-on mother. Children today are mostly raised by maids. This is the reason Dr Arthur Tjandra remains single. At age 50, he is no longer seeking and is happy to remain single for the rest of his life.
Dr Arthur Tjandra grew up in Medan, Indonesia, where he attended a top notch school, Sutomo Primary School, Junior High School, and Senior High School (formerly known as 蘇東/Su tung) the best at the time and still is, presently, which is often touted as the 華中/Hwa Chong of Medan. Hwa Chong is one of the top 2 Junior Colleges in Singapore. Just like Hwa Chong, Sutung was a Chinese school, until it was closed down when Chinese language and culture were banned in 1965. It then re-emerged as Sutomo. It was one of the many schools which construction his late great grandfather, Mr Thio Siong Soe, contributed generously to. Dr Arthur Tjandra’s great grandfather believed that poverty could be eradicated and a nation could be made strong through education. He donated generously to the constructions of many schools, both in Indonesia and China. To honor Mr Thio Siong Soe’s generous contribution, Dr Arthur Tjandra’s uncle, the late Dr Johan, Mr Thio Siong Soe’s grandson, was elected to chair Sutomo school board and foundation in the late 1970s. He remained chairman of the school board and foundation, up to the time he passed away in 2017. The late Dr Johan played a role in shaping Dr Arthur Tjandra into the confident man he is today, by making him standing-in in his medical practice as a locum doctor, whenever he went overseas, attending conferences or on vacations, ever since the time Dr Arthur Tjandra was a first year medical student!
Upon graduation from Sutomo Senior High School as one of the top 10 graduates among approximately 800 graduating students, Dr Arthur Tjandra went on to attend medical schools at the University of North Sumatra in Medan, University of Wales in Cardiff, and University of Sydney in Sydney. After completing an internship program at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and served a 3-year bond with the Indonesian government, Dr Arthur Tjandra relocated to Singapore, joining Singapore General Hospital as a Medical Officer (a.k.a. Resident). Initially aspiring to be a cardiologist, Dr Arthur Tjandra eventually found his passion and love in cosmetic surgery. He was extremely lucky to have crossed path with and be trained by an outstanding plastic surgeon, Dr Fong Poh Him, who was the father of modern liposuction in Singapore. Dr Fong Poh Him was the first surgeon to perform liposuction surgery in Singapore back in the 1980s. Dr Arthur Tjandra later on followed Dr Fong Poh Him‘s foot steps to become one of the greatest liposuction surgeons in the world.
In 2008, Dr Arthur Tjandra set up his private practice, Elixir de Vie, which eventually becomes worldwide famous. Patients are coming to Dr Arthur Tjandra from every corner of the world. As a matter of fact, 99.99% of his patients are from overseas, many of whom travel all the way from the Americas, Europe and Australasia, often spending up to 48 hours of traveling time, in order to reach Indonesia, where Elixir de Vie is located.
Entering his 10th year in private practice, and 27 years of medical practice, 2018 marked another important milestone in Dr Arthur Tjandra‘s life. He decided to go into semi-retirement and spend more time in his Tantric practice. He set up a blog, TantricPractice.com, to propagate Buddha’s teachings, in particular Tantric teachings. He also set up The Arthur Tjandra Foundation, following the foot steps of his philanthropists Great Grandfather Mr Thio Siong Soe, Aunt Dr Della Suantio Lee and Uncle Dr Lee Seng Gee. From 1st Jan 2018 onward, 50% of profits generated by Elixir de Vie, are channeled to The Arthur Tjandra Foundation. Dr Arthur Tjandra is not a billionaire. He is not even a multi-millionaire. But his mentor, A/Prof Fong Poh Him, once told him, “You don’t need to be a millionaire to start giving to those in needs. When you have only $10 and you give away $5, that is philanthropy.”