Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations



The Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) is an umbrella body of Chinese clan associations in Singapore.1 The Federation was registered on 9 December 1985 and formally inaugurated on 27 January 1986. It was founded by seven clan associations, namely Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan, Singapore Kwang Tung Association, Singapore Foochow Association, Nanyang Khek Community Guild, Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan, and Sam Kiang Huay Kwan.2

The SFCCA aims to revitalise the roles played by Singapore’s Chinese clan associations, to promote Chinese language, values and traditions, as well as to organise and support educational, cultural and community activities. It also aims to promote social cohesion and harmony among all races and new immigrants in Singapore.3

Location
The SFCCA’s first office was on the second floor of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Building in Telok Ayer Street.4 In 1997, the Federation moved to its new building at Toa Payoh Lorong 2. Seminars and talks have been hosted on its premises. Clan members and members of other associations have also rented function rooms in the building to run events such as exhibitions, gala dinners, as well as cultural and entertainment shows.5

Background
The earliest clan association in Singapore, Sing Chow Chiu Kwok Thong Cho Kah Koon (星洲谯国堂曹家馆), was founded in 1819.6 Since then, numerous Chinese clan associations based on kinship or locality have grown with the influx of Chinese migrants. These associations played a critical role in the lives of the Chinese community by setting up schools, looking after clansmen’s funeral arrangements, managing cemeteries, building temples, providing healthcare and issuing marriage certificates, among other functions.7

Formation of the SFCCA
After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the role of clan associations diminished as the Singapore government took care of the people’s welfare issues and education needs.8 Along with the English-based bilingual education system and the Speak Mandarin Campaign came a decline in the use of dialects. In 1980, the Singapore population census showed that up to 60 percent of the Chinese in Singapore were aged 29 and below,9 and that this younger local born and bred generation had less affinity to their ancestral home villages and provinces.10 At the same time, other civic, charitable and sports organisations were also competing for memberships.11

To meet these challenges, the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations was inaugurated on 27 January 1986 with the following objectives:12

This signified a new era and a new direction in the development of Chinese clan associations in Singapore.13 Founding president Wee Cho Yaw iterated that the clans had to seek new directions and roles to remain relevant and to start recruiting younger members for leadership positions with the eventual goal of being open to Chinese from different groups and even to other races.14

Membership
SFCCA accepts applications for both ordinary and associate membership. In 2012, changes made to the SFCCA’s constitution meant that non-clan Chinese groups, such as sporting groups or those involved in the arts, education and academic research could join the Federation as associate members. It was hoped that doing so would enable Chinese community groups to attract more people and enhance the integration of new Chinese immigrants.15 As of 2012, the SFCCA had over 220 members.16


Contributions
The SFCCA has contributed to the Chinese community and society at large in various ways.

Promoting an understanding of Chinese culture

Numerous activities related to Chinese culture have been organised by the SFCCA. These include conferences and seminars, exhibitions, inter-school Chinese debates, Chinese variety concerts, dragon boat races,17 as well as the yearly River Hongbao show which has been a feature event during Singapore’s Chinese New Year festivities since 1987.18

In 1989, the SFCCA set up a resource centre for materials related to the Chinese community.19 Following this, another resource centre – the Chinese Heritage Centre – was set up by the SFCCA in 1995 to support the study of the overseas Chinese, as well as Chinese history, language, culture and the arts.20

Funding
The SFCCA has supported individuals’ pursuit of education by providing scholarships and bursaries. In 1992, together with the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it set up the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), a non-profit self-help group which offers programmes and assistance schemes, such as the CDAC-SFCCA Bursary, to help the under-privileged in the Chinese community.21

Strengthening ties

In 1997, the SFCCA set up its website and assisted its members to establish their own online presence to stay connected with clan associations around the world.22

After having led the SFCCA for almost 25 years, banker Wee Cho Yaw handed over the presidency to Chua Thian Poh in 2010. Chua introduced new initiatives to promote social integration and cohesion by welcoming new Chinese immigrant groups to join the SFCCA and participate in its activities.23 To strengthen communication between the government and the Chinese community, Chua also introduced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as the Federation’s first patron.24

The SFCCA announced in 2012 that it would build a cultural centre known as the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. This centre would showcase Singapore’s multicultural identity, and it would be a central venue for new immigrant groups to interact with the local Chinese clans.25 The 11-storey centre, located next to the Singapore Conference Hall at Shenton Way, was built at a cost of $110 million. Comprising a multipurpose hall, a 530-seat auditorium, a rooftop garden, a studio for recitals, and a multipurpose hall for talks and exhibitions, the centre was opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2017.26

Publishing output
Since 1986, the SFCCA has been publishing Yuan 《源》magazine with the aim of promoting and preserving Chinese culture and tradition.

The SFCCA has also published bilingual books such as 《华人礼俗节日手册》(Chinese customs and festivals in Singapore),27 Chinese Heritage, 《新加坡华人会馆沿革史》 (History of the Chinese clan associations in Singapore),28 and 《李光耀谈新加坡的华人社会》(Lee Kuan Yew on the Chinese Community in Singapore).29 《华人礼俗节日手册》was published in 1989 in response to an SFCCA-initiated survey in 1988 that revealed that younger Singaporeans, especially if they were English-educated, were losing interest in observing Chinese festivals and rituals.30 《李光耀谈新加坡的华人社会》, a book that includes Mr Lee Kuan Yew's speeches on Chinese language and culture, was published in 1991 in collaboration with the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry.31

In addition, the Federation's key Mandarin publications include 《新华历史人物列传》 (Historical Chinese personalities in Singapore) – which was published in 1995,32 as well as 《新加坡华人通史》(A general history of the Chinese in Singapore) – which was published in 2015 to celebrate Singapore’s 50 years of independence and the SFCCA’s 30th anniversary.33  

Supporting Chinese clans
The SFCCA continues to support the growth of Chinese clans in Singapore. In 2011, it introduced the Clan of the Year Award to recognise outstanding clans and the inaugural SFCCA Outstanding Youth Award in 2017 to young people who have made outstanding contributions in promoting Chinese culture or clan activities.34



Author
Ang Seow Leng




References
1. Wang, H. L. (1993, May 22). Chinese clans at the crossroads. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

2. Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations. (2012). About SFCCA. Retrieved 2018, August 6 from Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations website: http://www.sfcca.sg/en/aboutus; January launch of federation of clan groups. (1985, December 12). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Chin, D. (2011, September 18). Chinese clan federation to promote social bonding. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Lim, B. T. and Peng, C. L. (Eds.) (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》[History of Clan Associations in Singapore] (Vol. 1). 新加坡: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 19.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese q369.25957 HIS); Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations. (2012). About SFCCA. Retrieved 2018, August 6 from Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations website: http://www.sfcca.sg/en/aboutus
5. New home for clan federation. (1997, May 9). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Singapore. Oral History Department, Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations and Singapore. National Archives. (1986). 《新加坡华人会馆沿革史 [History of the Chinese clan associations in Singapore] (Vol. 2). 新加坡: 新加坡新闻与出版公司, p. 228. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 369.25957 HIS)
7. Singapore. Oral History Department, Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations and Singapore. National Archives. (1986). 《新加坡华人会馆沿革史 [History of the Chinese clan associations in Singapore] (Vol. 2). 新加坡: 新加坡新闻与出版公司, pp. 336–350. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 369.25957 HIS); Pang, C. L. (2016). Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations: revitalising clan associations. In C. L. Pang (Ed.), 50 years of the Chinese community in Singapore (pp. 29–50). Singapore; New Jersey: World Scientific, p. 30. (Call no.: RSING 959.57004951009045 FIF)
8. Pang, C. L. (2016). Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations: revitalising clan associations. In C. L. Pang (Ed.), 50 years of the Chinese community in Singapore (pp. 29–50). Singapore; New Jersey: World Scientific, p. 30. (Call no.: RSING 959.57004951009045 FIF)
9. 郑普洛. (1988). 新加坡宗乡会馆的历史演变. , 第7期, p. 43. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 369.25957 Y)
10. Pang, C. L. (2016). Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations: revitalising clan associations. In C. L. Pang (Ed.), 50 years of the Chinese community in Singapore (pp. 29–50). Singapore; New Jersey: World Scientific, p. 31. (Call no.: RSING 959.57004951009045 FIF)
11. Pang, C. L. (2016). Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations: revitalising clan associations. In C. L. Pang (Ed.), 50 years of the Chinese community in Singapore (pp. 29–50). Singapore; New Jersey: World Scientific, p. 31. (Call no.: RSING 959.57004951009045 FIF)
12.  Pang, C. L. (2016). Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations: revitalising clan associations. In C. L. Pang (Ed.), 50 years of the Chinese community in Singapore (pp. 29–50). Singapore; New Jersey: World Scientific, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 959.57004951009045 FIF)
13. Koh, S. T. (1986, March 13). The old clan days, revisited. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Wang, H. L. (1993, May 22). Chinese clans at the crossroads. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Leong, W. K. (2013, October 5). Community groups first to join clan federation. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations. (2012). About SFCCA. Retrieved 2018, August 6 from Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations website: http://www.sfcca.sg/en/aboutus
17. Lim, B. T. and Peng, C. L. (Eds.) (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》[History of Clan Associations in Singapore] (Vol. 1). 新加坡: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 19. (Call no.: RSING Chinese q369.25957 HIS)
18. Pang, C. L. (2016). Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations: revitalising clan associations. In C. L. Pang (Ed.), 50 years of the Chinese community in Singapore (pp. 29–50). Singapore; New Jersey: World Scientific, pp. 39–40. (Call no.: RSING 959.57004951009045 FIF)
19. 韩山元. (2010). 总会15年. In 林源福等撰稿. 《回顾25: 宗乡总会二十五周年文辑, 1985-2010》 (pp. 219–230). Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 227. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 369.25957 HGE)
20. Make distinction in China ties: BG Yeo. (1995, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Chinese Development Assistance Council. (2017). About CDAC. Retrieved 2018, July 16 from Chinese Development Assistance Council website: https://www.cdac.org.sg/aboutus/organisation-profile
22. 韩山元. (2010). 总会15年. In 林源福等撰稿. 《回顾25: 宗乡总会二十五周年文辑, 1985-2010》 (pp. 219–230). Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 229. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 369.25957 HGE)
23. Chang, R. (2011, August 8). PM is named 1st patron of Chinese clan federation. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Chang, R. (2011, August 8). PM is named 1st patron of Chinese clan federation. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Chang, R. (2012, January 26). Chinese clans plan centre for new citizens. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Singapore’s approach to diversity has created a distinctive identity across ethnic groups: PM Lee Hsien Loong. (2017, May 19). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
27. Leong, W. K. (1988, September 21). Clans to go ahead with manual on Chinese rites. The Straits Times, p. 40. Retrieved from NewspaperSG

28. 主编, 黄燊辉, 林文丹. (1995). 《总会十年: 十周年纪念特刊: 1985-1995》. 新加坡: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, pp. 23–26. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 369.25957 ZHS)
29. 李资政谈华人社会,双语版纪念册面市. (1991, June 4). 联合早报, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Leong, W. K. (1988, September 21). Clans to go ahead with manual on Chinese rites. The Straits Times, p. 40. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. 李资政谈华人社会,双语版纪念册面市. (1991, June 4). 联合早报, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. 主编, 黄燊辉, 林文丹. (1995). 《总会十年: 十周年纪念特刊: 1985-1995》. 新加坡: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, pp. 23–26. (Call no.: RSING Chinese 369.25957 ZHS)
33. Leong, W. K. (2015, November 6). Two books on Chinese in S’pore to be launched. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
34. Leong, W. K. (2017, January 16). Wanted: A new crop of Chinese clan leaders. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/



The information in this article is valid as at May 2019 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. 




 













































 

 

Subject
Chinese clans and associations
Chinese--Singapore
Clans--Singapore
Organisations>>Associations>>Chinese Clans
Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations