DR Sun Yat-sen was born Sun Wen on Nov 12, 1866, to a Hakka family in Cuiheng village, Xiangshan (today’s Zhongshan).
Sun had his early education at an elementary school in his village. After a few years, he left China and went to live with his elder brother, Sun Mei, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Sun graduated from Iolani School in 1882, and subsequently returned to China where he studied medicine at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese.
Increasingly frustrated with the Qing government, Dr Sun began to call for the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic.
In 1895, the first revolt in Guangzhou that Dr Sun organised fell through. He was put on the “most wanted” list by the police.
From 1895 until 1912, Dr Sun spent his years in exile overseas. During that time, he was busy raising funds for uprisings in China. He made trips to Japan, Hawaii, the United States, Canada, France, London and South-East Asia to drum up support from the overseas Chinese.
He spent time studying European political developments and philosophy in the British Museum and came up with his blueprint, Three Principles of the People.
Dr Sun focused his attention on the overseas Chinese in South-East Asia, especially Singapore and Malaya, and organised an underground resistance movement known as Tung Meng Hui to raise funds for his cause.
During his last visit to Malaya in November 1910, he chaired a secret meeting at his house in 404, Datuk Kramat Road, Penang, to plan the Second Guangzhou Uprising.
This was followed by an emotional speech at the Nanyang headquarters at 120, Armenian Street where Dr Sun appealed to his supporters to give it their all as it would be the “last battle”. Nine of the revolts he had planned over the years had ended in failure.
He left Penang on Dec 6, 1910, for Europe and the United States.
On April 27, 1911, the Second Guangzhou revolt failed but it fired the spirit of the revolutionaries.
On Oct 10, the Wuchang Uprising erupted, triggering revolts across the country. Dr Sun was still in exile in the United States at that time. When he learnt about the successful revolution, he returned to Shanghai on Dec 25. On Dec 29, Dr Sun was elected the provisional president of the Republic of China.
After the revolution, Dr Sun quickly fell out of power and led successive revolutionary governments as a challenge to the warlords who controlled much of the country.
The main issue was gaining the support of Yuan Shi Kai, leader of the Beiyang Army, the military of northern China. Dr Sun promised Yuan the presidency of the new republic.
When the Tung Meng Hui was reorganised as the Kuomintang or National Party, Dr Sun was elected chairman of the executive council.
After Yuan Shi Kai’s death in June 1916, vice-president Li Yuanhong became president of the Republic of China and Dr Sun was elected generalissimo by Parliament on Sept 1, 1917.
This was followed by a period of internal power struggles and in April 1918, Parliament under pressure from the Guangxi warlords gave way to the military government in Guangzhou. On May 4, 1918, Dr Sun resigned as generalissimo to concentrate on writing.
He was back in Guangzhou on Dec 29, 1920, to restore Parliament. Military rule came to an end and Dr Sun was elected president of the Republic of China on April 7, 1921.
Dr Sun died on March 12, 1925, at the age of 59 in Beijing. On April 16, the Guangdong government renamed his hometown of Xiangshan County as Zhongshan County.
On April 1, 1940, the Chinese government proclaimed Dr Sun as the founding father of the Republic of China.