The Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA) was formed on 17 August 1900 to advance the interests and welfare of the Straits-born Chinese community (also known as the Peranakans) in Singapore as well as to promote their allegiance to the British Crown. Unlike the China-born Chinese who hailed mainly from the various southern provinces of China, the Straits Chinese were defined as those born or living in the Straits Settlements and whose loyalty was towards the British Crown. One of the original objectives of the association was to promote among its members “an intelligent interest in the affairs of the British Empire, and to encourage and maintain their loyalty as subjects of the Queen”.
The founding members of the SCBA were prominent Straits-born Chinese, some of whom were educated in Britain. These included influential personalities such as Seah Liang Seah, Lim Boon Keng, Song Ong Siang and Tan Jiak Kim, who was the first president of the association. The majority of the initial 800 members were drawn from the Chinese Philomathic Society of Singapore, which was established in 1896 to address political and social issues of concern to the Straits-born Chinese.
To demonstrate its allegiance to the British, one of the first achievements of the SCBA was the formation of a Straits-Chinese company in the Singapore Volunteer Infantry in 1901 for the purpose of local defence.During World War I, SCBA leaders donated funds and even purchased warplanes to aid the British war effort. In addition, they sat on school committees to improve English education in schools and donated money for the establishment of the King Edward VII Medical School in 1905. SCBA members were also active in social work. For instance, Lim Boon Keng launched a campaign against opium smoking in 1906.
Shortly after the SCBA was established in Singapore, a branch was set up in Malacca in October 1900 followed by a Penang branch in 1920. The SCBA changed its name to the Singapore Chinese Peranakan Association in 1964 and again in March 1966 when it was renamed The Peranakan Association. The Peranakan Association celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2000.
1. Proposed “Straits Chinese British Association”. (1900, June 19). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Koh, E. (2010). Singapore stories: Language, class, and the Chinese of Singapore, 1945–-2000 (pp. 20–21). Amherst, NY: Cambria Press. Call no.: RSING 306.44959570904 KOH.
3. Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore (pp. 319–320). Singapore: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON.
4. Yong, C. F. (1992). Chinese leadership and power in colonial Singapore (pp. 53–54). Singapore: Times Academic Press. Call no.: RSING 959.5702 YON.
5. Yong, 1992, pp. 52-53.
6. Yong, p. 88.
7. Yong, p. 89.
8. Tan, C. B. (1993). Chinese Peranakan heritage in Malaysia and Singapore (p. 23). Kuala Lumpur: Fajar Bakti. Call no.: RSING 305.895105957 TAN.
9. Lim, C. G. S. (2003). Gateway to Peranakan culture (p. 20). Singapore: Asiapac. Call no.: RSING 305.8951 LIM; ‘Malaysia and S’pore must work in harmony’ call. (1967, June 5). The Straits Times, p. 8.
10. Peranakan group celebrates 100 years. (2000, August 28). The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewpaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.