History Lessons

Tang Bin

A local hero

Tang Bin (1627-1687 AD) was a government official during the Qing Dynasty. Originally from Henan Province, Tang is remembered as an honest and upright public servant, committed to the well being of the local people.

Tang was never tempted by the luxuries of high office. During his tours of the countryside in his province, he travelled with just three mules; one for carrying his worn-out bedding (and a bamboo bookcase) the other two for carrying him and his servant.

He was often mistaken for a man of lesser birth. Upon arriving at a destination on imperial business, a gatekeeper doubted his identity; “You don’t smell like an official – even if you were cooked up in a pot.”

But Tang persevered with his modest lifestyle and was eventually promoted to Governor of Jiangsu Province. Even so, he lived simply. While other government officials wined and dined, Tang preferred a light supper of vegetables and a bowl of tofu soup. Hence his local nickname, ‘Tofu Soup’ which was bestowed not in mockery but in respect and appreciation for his forbearance.

In later years, Tang and his wife occasionally travelled in an old, covered sedan. The sedan was so worn that one day the cotton screen protecting Tang from the sun disintegrated. Witnesses were moved to tears.

The lesson? If you want to see legislators weep with appreciation, take Tang’s approach: ditch the corporate jet and fly economy class. Perhaps you will be remembered as an upright and benevolent CEO.


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