Singapore Foochow Association
The Singapore Foochow Association was registered on 28 December 1909. It has contributed to education in Singapore through the San Shan School, and has been promoting Chinese culture through organising related activities. Identified as one of the seven largest clan associations in Singapore,1 it received the inaugural “Clan of the Year” award from the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations in 2012 for its efforts in promoting Chinese culture.2
The city of Foochow (or Fuzhou in hanyu pinyin) is located in the eastern part of Fujian province, China. The Foochow people (also known as Hockchews) arrived in Singapore during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.3 They were not among the earliest Chinese immigrants, and in 1921, it was estimated that there were 12,863 Foochow people – this was only 4 percent of the total Chinese population here then.4 In the early days, Foochow people were known for having ‘three knives’ – a tailor’s pair of scissors, a barber’s shaving blade and a coffee shop worker’s bread knife – because of the occupations commonly taken up by them.5 By 2015, they only made up about 2 percent of the resident Chinese population.6
The intention to form an association was first mentioned in 1907 when the founder and first chairman, Sun Zishan7 (孙子善), and fellow Foochow acquaintances came together to raise funds to support flood relief efforts in Fuzhou.8 The Singapore Foochow Association was registered on 28 December 1909, and located at 20 Craig Road.9
San Shan School
The association first set up a school in 1924 but it only lasted for two years due to insufficient funds.10 After the Japanese Occupation, there were high demands for education so the association started a school again within their building.11 Eventually in 1947, it established San Shan Primary School at Sophia Road, next to the Istana grounds.12
With urban redevelopment, the school saw a decline in enrolment from 1964 till when the school was closed in 1982, when it only had over 190 students.13 In the same year, the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts moved in and rented the school premises from the association at a nominal fee of S$120 a year for 12 years.14
Teachers and pupils of the school were relocated to a new school at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh, and it was named San Shan Primary School by the Ministry of Education to commemorate the association’s contributions to education.15 In 1996, the school building at Sophia Road was acquired by the government and the association received S$14 million in compensation.16 On 2 January 2002, San Shan Primary School merged with Braddell, First Toa Payoh and Westlake Primary Schools to form the First Toa Payoh Primary School.17 In order to connect former students of the school, the San Shan Primary School Alumni was formed in 1997.18
The association is currently housed in Foochow Building at Tyrwhitt Road. Completed in 1977, Foochow Building was jointly built by the association and the Singapore Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association at a cost of almost $4 million.19 In 2010, it was reported that the association acquired a three-storey pre-war shophouse in Temple Street in 2009 and redeveloped two houses in Lorong 18 Geylang into an office block.20
During the initial years, the association was the key centre looking after the welfare of fellow clansmen and mediating disputes.21 The association also contributed greatly to fund-raising efforts to support China during the Sino-Japanese war in 1937,22 and to assist Fuzhou in 1948 when it suffered from the worst flood in history.23
After Singapore’s independence, the association has been active in promoting Chinese culture through activities organised during major Chinese festivals like Chinese New Year and the Mid-autumn Festival, and through special events such as the Foozhou Food Festival.24 The promotion of Chinese language is also a major focus. The clan organised several Chinese creative writing competitions for primary school students, started a junior Chinese writers club with training sessions, and organised Chinese poetry competitions.25 They also organised well-attended business seminars with Fuzhou entrepreneurs from various business sectors as guest speakers.26
1924: Sets up San Shan School within the association building.
1937: Raises funds to support China during the Sino-Japanese war.27
1947: Re-establishes San Shan Primary School at Sophia Road.
1948: Raises funds for Fuzhou flood victims.28
1962: Purchases land at Lim Chu Kang for the Foochow clan cemetery. It is taken over by the government 30 years later in 1992.29
1971: Works with the Singapore Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association to build Foochow Building.30
1977: Foochow Building is ready.31
1985: Founds the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations together with six other major clan associations.32
1990: Jointly organises the inaugural International Foochow Conference with the Federation of Foochow Associations of Malaysia. Forms the World Federation of Fuzhou Associations.33
2012: Receives inaugural “Clan of the Year” award.34
Presidents and chairmen35
1910–1911: Sun Zishan (孙子善)
1912–1913: Lin Yunfan (林云藩)
1914–1917: Xu Jijun (徐季钧)
1918: Kang Yanqiu (康研秋)
1919–1922: Xu Jijun (徐季钧)
1923–1928: Lin Qianzeng (林乾增)
1929: Guo Yongquan (郭永铨)
1930: Jiang Xiuqi (江秀琦)
1931: Zheng Baoluo (郑保罗)
1932–1935: Lin Yunhe (林韵龢)
1936–1940: Chen Ziying (陈子英)
1941: Xu Boliang (徐伯良)
1945: Zheng Guangyu (郑光宇)
1946–1951: Yang Renyue (杨人月)
1952–1978: Jiang Kewu (江克武)
1979–2006: Lin Lihua (林理化)
2007–2010: Zhang Daibiao/Diong Tai Pew36 (张代彪)
2011–2014: Hong Baoxin (洪宝兴)
2015–2018: Cheng Wenluan (程文銮)
Ang Seow Leng
1. Huìguǎn cóng fúwù xiāngqīn zhuǎnbiàn wèi xiàozhōng guójiā 会馆从服务乡亲转变为效忠国家 [The guild hall changed from serving the folks to being loyal to the country], Nanyang Siang Pau 联合早报, 4 November 1985, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Tan Weizhen, “Chinese Clan Associations Play Important Role in Integration: PM,” Today, 26 January 2012, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Leong Weng Kam, “Foochow Association Still Growing at 100,” Straits Times, 7 November 2010, 34. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Zheng Bingduan 郑炳端 and Chen Liling 陈莉玲, eds., Bǎi nián bì lù 百年筚路 [Hundred years road] (Singapore 新加坡: Xinjiapo Fuzhou hui guan 新加坡福州会馆, 2010), 13. (Call no. Chinese RSING 369.25957 BNB)
5. Leong, “Foochow Association Still Growing at 100.”
6. Charmaine Ng, “A Secret, Cherished Language,” Straits Times, 5 May 2017, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall 新加坡福州会馆, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí: Xīnjiāpō fúzhōu huìguǎn 105 zhōunián jìniàn105期颐添五大庆特辑: 新加坡福州会馆105周年纪念 [105th edition of the five celebrations: Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall 105th anniversary, n.d.], 16. (Call no. Chinese RSING 369.25957 SSJK)
8. Zheng and Chen, eds., Bǎi nián bì lù, 15.
9. Singapore, List of Existing Societies Registered in the Colony of Singapore, Government Gazette, 15 June 1951, 933. (Call no. RCLOS 959.57 SGG)
10. Leong, “Foochow Association Still Growing at 100.”
11. Chen Zheng 陈正, Lin Youzhang 林佑璋 and Ye Songying 叶松英, ed., Dì líng rénjié: Xīnjiāpō fúzhōu huìguǎn bāshíwǔ zhōunián jìniàn tèkān: 1910–1995地灵人杰 : 新加坡福州会馆八十五周年纪念特刊 : 1910–1995 [Elites of the land: Special issue for the 85th anniversary of the Singapore Fuzhou Guild Hall: 1910–1995] ([Xinjiapo] [新加坡]: Xinjiapo Fuzhou hui guan 新加坡福州会馆, 1995), 30. (Call no. Chinese RSING 369.25957 DLR)
12. Chua Leong Kian, “Nanyang Academy to Move into School,” Straits Times, 25 February 1981, 8. (From NewspaperSG); Leong, “Foochow Association Still Growing at 100.”
13. 三山学校简介 [Introduction to Sanshan School], Singapore Foochow Association, last retrieved 26 September 2018.
14. “Plan for Foreign Lecturers to Up Arts Standards,” Straits Times, 1 March 1982, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “Academy Plans to Offer Two New Subjects,” Straits Times, 28 February 1981, 13. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Leong, “Foochow Association Still Growing at 100.”
17. “About Us,” First Toa Payoh Primary School, last retrieved 26 September 2018.
18. Sānshān xiàoyǒu huì chénglì shí zhōunián jìniàn tèkān三山校友会成立十周年纪念特刊 [Special issue for the 10th anniversary of the Sanshan Alumni Association] (Xinjiapo 新加坡: San shan xiao you hui 三山校友会, 2007), 18. (Call no. Chinese RSING 372.95957 SSX)
19. 福州大厦已落成二十日举行开幕礼林金山部长受邀主持仪式 [The opening ceremony of Fuzhou Building has been completed on the 20th Minister Lin Jinshan was invited to preside over the ceremony], Nanyang Siang Pau 南洋商报, 7 November 1977, 25. (From NewspaperSG)
20. Leong, “Foochow Association Still Growing at 100.”
21. Zheng and Chen, eds., Bǎi nián bì lù, 16.
22. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí, 16.
23. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí, 16; “1,000 Die, 200,000 Lose Homes in Flood,” Straits Times, 21 June 1948, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
24. Zheng and Chen, eds., Bǎi nián bì lù, 91–102.
25. Zheng and Chen, eds., Bǎi nián bì lù, 104–10.
26. Zheng and Chen, eds., Bǎi nián bì lù, 112–14.
27. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí, 16.
28. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí, 16; “1,000 Die, 200,000 Lose Homes in Flood.”
29. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí, 16.
30. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí, 16.
31. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí, 16.
33. Singapore Fuzhou Assembly Hall, 105 Jī yí tiān wǔ dàqìng tèjí, 16; “Chinese Clans’ Role Still Vital, Says PM Lee,” Channel NewsAsia, 25 January 2012. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
34. Tan, “Chinese Clan Associations Play Important Role in Integration.”
35. Zheng and Chen, eds., Bǎi nián bì lù, 142–60; Singapore Foochow Association, 三山学校简介.
36. Leong, “Foochow Association Still Growing at 100.”
The information in this article is valid as at 5 January 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.