Birth of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan
Thian Hock Keng Hokkien Huay Kuan
The Singapore Hokkien community can be traced as far back in 1828. They first gathered at Heng Shan Teng Temple off Silat Road. When Thian Hock Keng temple construction completed in 1840 it became the meeting premises of the Huay Kuan. It was formally established in 1860 with Tan Kim Ching (eldest son of Tan Tock Seng) as the first president. He also served as a Justice of Peace and issued marriage certificates under his seal. Besides looking after the welfare of the clan members, the Huay Kuan also acted as mediators and maintained law and order within the Chinese community.
In 1915 the association was officially registered and changed its name to Thian Hock Keng Hokkien Huay Kuan but in 1929 it was renamed Hokkien Huay Kuan.
The Hokkien Huay Kuan was housed at Thian Hock Keng until 1919 when it moved to Hua Yi Xuan — one of the wings of the Temple. In 1955 the association moved to a new six-storey building across from the temple and in 2003 the building was rebuilt to an eight-storey office complex.
Hokkien Huay Kuan and Education
Chongwen Ge, Singapore's 1st Chinese Private School
The Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan set up their first school in 1849. Over the years they built Chongwen Ge, Chui Eng Free School, Tao Nan School, Chong Hock Girls' School, Nan Chiau High School, Kong Hwa School and they established Ai Tong School in 1912.
The Huay Kuan's progressive thinking made it possible for girls to be educated in an era where females were considered inferior. They also started the Teacher's Training College in 1941 to ease the shortage of locally trained teachers.
Initially, these schools taught Chinese values of Confucius analects in Hokkien. But they dropped the education curriculum of China and adopted the modern system — teaching English and mathematics in addition to Chinese.
Apart from building schools, the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan also offers bursaries and scholarships to all needy children, regardless of race. It is also constantly reinforcing the use of Chinese language, promoting Chinese culture and traditional values. Currently, the Huay Kuan operates six schools: namely Ai Tong, Tao Nan, Chong Fu, Nan Chiau High, Nan Chiau Primary and Kong Hwa.
Hokkien Huay Kuan Today
The new Hokkien Huay Kuan building.
2005 is an important year for Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan. It held its Tri-Celebrations to commemorate its 165th Anniversary, the official opening of its new building and the completion of the Restoration fo Thian Hock Keng Temple. Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong officially declared the building open and graced the banquet dinner as the Guest of Honour. This event marked a whole new chapter for the Huay Kuan. Since it's establishment, Hokkien Huay Kuan has contributed significantly to the Singapore community, and it shall continue to fulfill its social commitments and pass on this inheritance to the future generations.
Find out more about the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan at its website.