Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan
The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan (新加坡海南会馆) was founded in 1854 by clan members from Qiongzhou (琼州, Kiungchow in Chinese dialect) county in Hainan province, China.1 Previously known as Kiung Chow Hwee Kuan (琼州会馆), the clan association was formally registered on 18 December 1890,2 and is one of the eight oldest registered societies in Singapore.3 On 16 August 1994, the association’s name was formally changed to “Hainan Hwee Kuan” to coincide with the creation of Hainan province in China.4 In 1986, it co-founded the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations with six other major clan associations.5
Kiung Chow Hwee Kuan was founded by Han Ya Er (also known as Wang Yi; 韩亚二 ; 旺彝), Wang Zhi De (王志德) and other Hainanese clansmen in 1854. In 1857, the clan purchased three houses at 6 Malabar Street from the British East India Company as the premises for members to gather and socialise.6 A Chinese temple named “Tin Hou Kong” (天后宫) which housed a number of deities, such as the Goddess of Heaven (天后圣母), Goddess Shuiwei (水尾圣娘) and 108 meritorious heroes (昭烈一百零八兄弟), shared the same space as the clan association. Although the temple and the association have their respective responsibilities and functions, they operated as one entity from 1880 to 1932. Funds collected through fundraising activities by the temple were also used for the welfare and educational needs of the clansmen. One of the projects started with the temple funds was the Kheng Chiu Loke Tin Kee medical centre (later renamed as Kheng Chiu Loke Tin Kee Home), founded in 1902.7
In 1879, the clan association acquired a house located on a 8,925-square-foot site at 47 Beach Road, where the clan association is still located today.8 The place was reconstructed with a living hall and a courtyard, and the temple behind it. It was completed in 1880 and to mark the milestone, a ceremony was held and a plaque erected at the premises.9
Operations ceased during the Japanese Occupation (1942–45) and resumed after the war. Due to the aged state of the building and the clan’s expansion needs, the building was rebuilt from 1957 to 1962. The new seven-storey-high Kiung Chow Building was officially opened on 7 April 1963. Comprising an auditorium and offices, the ground floor of the building was occupied by the association while the rest of the building was rented out for commercial use.10 On 16 November 1964, the Tin Hou Temple was registered as a non-profit company under the name of Kheng Chiu Tin Hou Kong and Cemetery.11
Supporting education and welfare
Supporting education has always been a key focus of the Hainan Hwee Kuan.12 The clan donated to support the post-war rebuilding of Yock Eng School, founded in 1910, and to Pei Chun Public School, founded in 1933.13 In 1974, the clan association set up their own bursaries and scholarships to provide financial assistance to the children of clansmen – this had been done jointly with the Federation of Hainan Association in Malaysia from 1954 to 1973.14
A mutual-aid section was set up since 1967 to better cater to the welfare of the clansmen and to promote the spirit of mutual assistance and cooperation.15 Activities were organised for members by various interest groups such as the table tennis team, Chinese orchestra, the harmonica group and a choir.
Promoting heritage and culture
In the 1980s, the association frequently held lectures, talks and forums to promote Hainanese heritage and culture, appreciation of Chinese history as well as the culture and history of Singapore. Heritage materials on Hainanese culture were also collected to help clansmen understand their roots.
In 1995, the clan association established the Professor Wu Teh Yao Cultural and Educational Foundation in memory of the notable Hainanese academic. In the same year, the Kheng Chiu Loke Tin Kee Home in Tampines was registered as a non-profit organisation and underwent an S$8 million transformation into a modern old folks’ home.16
In February 2001, the clan association collaborated with the Singapore History Museum (now the National Museum of Singapore) to organise an exhibition on the history of the Hainanese community in Singapore, as well as a series of events and talks to deepen the public’s understanding of Hainanese history and culture.17
To commemorate the centenary of Yock Eng School, a series of fundraising activities were organised from 2008 to 2010 with the target to raise $500,000. The intent was to donate part of the funds raised to the President’s Challenge and use the rest for acquiring new school equipment and for bursaries and scholarships. The activities included an Alumni Art Exhibition, ancestral heritage tour, marathon cum food festival, a dinner hosting 1000 guests18 and a concert performance staged by the school’s Dance group, Alumni Choir and the theatre opera group from Hainan Hwee Kuan.19
On 17 December 2010, a celebratory dinner was held to commemorate the 156th anniversary of Hainan Hwee Kuan, the 157th anniversary of Tin Hou Temple and the 107th anniversary of Kheng Chiu Loke Tin Kee Home.20
In 2014, the Hainan Hwee Kuan organised a series of events for its 160th anniversary celebrations and for the 25th anniversary of the International Federation of Hainan Associations. These included an exhibition on the calligraphy and artworks of international Hainanese artists, a heritage exhibition on the history of Hainan Hwee Kuan and the International Federation of Hainan Associations, as well as a business forum for international Hainanese businessmen.21
From 8 to 15 November 2018, in collaboration with the Singapore General Hospital, Hainan Hwee Kuan organised a medical mission known as “Hainan Smile” to Chengmai county in Hainan to operate on patients with cleft and craniofacial problems. This is the 20th medical mission since the first mission in 2009.22
Seow Peck Ngiam
1. “新加坡海南会馆简史,” The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan, accessed 4 July 2019.
2. Lin Wendan 林文丹, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue 新加坡宗乡会馆史略 [History of clan associations in Singapore] (Singapore: Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, 2005), 243. (Call no. Chinese RSING q369.25957 HIS)
3. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 243.
4. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 245.
5. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 244.
6. Singapore Hainan Association 新加坡海南会馆, Xinjiapo qiongzhou tian hougong, hainan huiguan yibai wushi zhounian jinian tekan 新加坡琼州天后宫, 海南会馆一百五十周年纪念特刊 [Singapore Qiongzhou Thean Hou Temple, Hainan Guild Hall 150th Anniversary Special Issue] (Singapore: Singapore Hainan Association, 2004), 112. (Call no. Chinese RSING 369.25957 XJP)
7. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 243.
8. Singapore Hainan Association, Xinjiapo qiongzhou tian hougong, 112.
9. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 243.
10. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 243.
11. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 244.
12. Singapore Hainan Association, Xinjiapo qiongzhou tian hougong, 94.
13. Singapore Hainan Association, Xinjiapo qiongzhou tian hougong, 94, 97.
14. Singapore Hainan Association, Xinjiapo qiongzhou tian hougong, 94.
15. The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan, “新加坡海南会馆简史.”
16. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 245.
17. Lin Wendan, Xinjiapo zong xiang huiguan shi lue, 245.
18. “Yuying qing chuang xiao bainian xiju yanchu yuanman juxíng” 育英中学百年校庆要筹款50万 [Yuying celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the school, the drama performance was successfully held], Lianhe Wanbao 联合晚报, 3 March 2010, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “Yuying qing chuang xiao bainian xiju yanchu yuanman juxíng” 育英庆创校百年 戏剧演出圆满举行 [Yuying celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the school, the drama performance was successfully held], Lianhe Wanbao 联合晚报, 7 August 2010, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
20. “Hainan huiguan yu tian hougong xia yue 17 ri juban san qing lianhuan yanhuì” 海南会馆与天后宫 下月17日举办 三庆联欢宴会 [Hainan Guild Hall and Thean Hou Temple will hold the Three Celebration Banquet on the 17th of next month], Lianhe Wanbao 联合晚报, 13 November 2010, 22. (From NewspaperSG)
21. The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan 新加坡海南会馆, 160 Zhōu jìniàn 25 shuāng qìng tèjí 160周纪念 25双庆特辑 [160th Anniversary 25 Double Celebrations] no. 2 (2014)
22. The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan, “海南微笑工程,” accessed 4 July 2019.
The information in this article is valid as at August 2020 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.