Tan Chung Liang: From Making Music to Making Bellies Full

More than twenty-five years ago, one local Malaysian, Tan Chung Liang (Liang) arrived in the famed tunnel in the basement of HELP University (formerly located in Pusat Bandar Damansara) to begin his studies in Economics through the University of London (UOL) External Programme.

From the time Liang walked into the hallowed halls of HELP University, to the time he graduated in 2002, his university life was nothing short of amazing. “I made so many memorable friendships, some that still stand today,” he said.

His studies were peppered with numerous extracurricular activities like football, organising Christmas shows every year in the foyer, to producing awesome beats with Lewis Paragasam, one of Asia’s leading percussionists and innovator of new trends in world music and the Asiabeat crew (a popular percussionist band founded by Lewis Paragasam).

As fate would have it, Liang’s educational journey did not culminate with him pursuing a career in Economics. Giving credit to learning what he learnt during his college education, Liang decided to take a more liberal pursuit by opening his first restaurant in Kota Kemuning, and getting signed onto a record label in 2004 to being the only male DJ in 2011 for Capital FM.

Although his first F&B venture took a hit during the Covid-19 lockdown, he was fortunate enough to be able to open another restaurant named RedRedBotakHead in Gardens MidValley. 

Despite not fully utilising his Economics degree, Liang was still grateful to having developed a keen financial awareness of managing his finances without relying on a manager or talent agency. In fact, Liang credits learning the importance of time management from a talk given by Dr. Goh Chee Leong, from which he learnt the relevance of prioritising what should be prioritised and what should not be. This thought serves as a vital tool for anyone working in any phase of their lives.

True to form, learning time management proved to be a valuable tool as Liang had to persevere when the local town council denied his restaurant license due to a baseless allegation. He credits his mental acuity and life-skills honed during his HELP days which helped push his determination into finally receiving his restaurant certification.

Having a passion is key to what a person should want in their life story. For Liang, it was his passion for connecting people through food and their love for music. This is his main focus in his life. To cook up memories through the love for food and good music as he journeys towards a ripe old age filled with amazing stories in his continued pursuits is what pushes him every day.

In parting, he wishes to remind students that their time in university, apart from the education, is the place where they will enhance their identity. You will invariably add skills, make new friends, extend your network, expand your mind, understand what you are capable of. And always push your limits.