Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan

by Seow, Peck Ngiam

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

Early days

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

New building

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

Recent developments

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



Author

Seow Peck Ngiam




Resources
1.The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan. (2013). 新加坡海南会馆简史. Retrieved 2019, July 4 from Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan website: http://hainan.org.sg/index.php?m=index&a=hainanhuiguan
2.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 243. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
3.
 林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 243 (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
4.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 245. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
5.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 244. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
6.
新加坡海南会馆. (2004). 《新加坡琼州天后宫, 海南会馆一百五十周年纪念特刊》. Singapore: 新加坡海南会馆, p. 112. (Call no.: RSING 369.25957 XJP)
7.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 243. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
8.
新加坡海南会馆. (2004). 《新加坡琼州天后宫, 海南会馆一百五十周年纪念特刊》. Singapore: 新加坡海南会馆, p. 112. (Call no.: RSING 369.25957 XJP)
9.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 243. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
10.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 243. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
11.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 244. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
12.
新加坡海南会馆. (2004). 《新加坡琼州天后宫, 海南会馆一百五十周年纪念特刊》. Singapore: 新加坡海南会馆, p. 94. (Call no.: RSING 369.25957 XJP)
13.
新加坡海南会馆. (2004). 《新加坡琼州天后宫, 海南会馆一百五十周年纪念特刊》. Singapore: 新加坡海南会馆, pp. 94, 97. (Call no.: RSING 369.25957 XJP)
14.
新加坡海南会馆. (2004). 《新加坡琼州天后宫, 海南会馆一百五十周年纪念特刊》. Singapore: 新加坡海南会馆, p. 94. (Call no.: RSING 369.25957 XJP)
15.
The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan. (2013). 新加坡琼州会馆/天后宫史略. Retrieved 2020, August 8 from the Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan website: http://hainan.org.sg/index.php?m=index&a=qunzhou 
16.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 245. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
17.
林文丹 [Lin, W.D.]. (2005). 《新加坡宗乡会馆史略》 [History of clan associations in Singapore]. Singapore: 新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会, p. 245. (Call no.: RSING q369.25957 HIS)
18.
育英中学百年校庆要筹款50万. (2010, March 3). 联合晚报 [Lianhe Wanbao] 2nd Edition, p.9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19.
 育英庆创校百年 戏剧演出圆满举行. (2010, August 7). 联合晚报 [Lianhe Wanbao], p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20.
海南会馆与天后宫 下月17日举办 三庆联欢宴会. (2010, November 13).  联合晚报 [Lianhe Wanbao], p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21.
The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan. (2014). 《泉》. 160周纪念 25双庆特辑 Issue 2014-02. Retrieved 2019, July 4 from the Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan website:  http://hainan.org.sg/uploads/20141216/548ff617cedaf.pdf
22.
The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan. (2013). 海南微笑工程. Retrieved 2019, July 4 from the Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan website: http://hainan.org.sg/index.php?m=index&a=news_view&id=219



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.

Subject
Chinese clans and associations
Clans--Singapore
Organisations>>Associations>>Chinese Clans
Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan (Clan association)

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