Sam Kiang Huay Kwan

Sam Kiang Huay Kwan (新加坡三江会馆), a Chinese clan association for the sanjiang community, first started as the Sam Kiang Public Office in 1906 before changing to its current name in 1927. It has made contributions to education in Singapore through the Sam Kiang Public School which was set up before the Second World War. The association also established a charity medical clinic, and has been promoting Chinese culture through organising various related activities for its clansmen.

In Singapore, the term sanjiangren (三江人) is used as an umbrella term to refer to a minority group of Chinese who are not from southern China. Originally, the term sanjiang (三江) was used to refer to the three provinces around the Yangtze River: Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Jiangxi.1 During the registration of sanjiang immigrants in Singapore in the 1900s, they were always mislabelled as Shanghainese by the British customs officers, who were not familiar with the non-southern China provinces and these immigrants had left China via the port of Shanghai.2 The sanjiangen migrants are mainly highly literate teachers, entrepreneurs and professionals who left their competitive work environment in China for better opportunities here. They became most prominent in the areas of construction, woodwork and furniture making, tailoring, laundry and dry-cleaning, piano companies and bookstores.3 According to the 2010 Singapore population census, there were about 22,000 Shanghainese living in Singapore.4

The sanjiang community came together when the Sam Kiang cemetery was established in 1898. As the community grew in numbers, the Sam Kiang Public Office was set up in 1906 at Jalan Ampas. The founding president was Fu Zhuxian (傅竺贤). The office was later renamed Sam Kiang Huay Kwan in 1927 and its members included those who were not from southern China, like Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi, where the Hokkiens, Teochews, Cantonese, Hakkas and Hainanese came from.5

During the 1930s, the clan association moved to 2 Cuppage Road, and after the Japanese Occupation in 1946, it shifted to 23 St Thomas Walk.6 The association moved yet again in 1996 to its current address at 41 Wilkie Road.7 It was gazetted that the Sam Kiang Huay Kwan was registered on 20 September 1961.8

Sam Kiang cemetery
In 1898, Sam Kiang clansmen bought 2.4 hectares of land at Jalan Rimau to serve as burial grounds for their clan. The land was identified for urban redevelopment in 1982. Unclaimed bodies from the cemetery were cremated and kept at the Sam Kiang Huay Kuan office at St Thomas Walk until the Sam Kiang Ancestral Hall at Depot Road was completed in 1989. The hall underwent a major renovation in 2007 with funding from the Shaw Foundation.9

Sam Kiang Old Folks’ Home
The Sam Kiang Old Folks’ Home was originally built in 1979 and located near the Sam Kiang cemetery to take care of the old and destitute clansmen. However, it soon closed down in 1982 due to urban redevelopment. The residents were then relocated to Ang Mo Kio and Henderson Old Folks’ Homes.10

Sam Kiang Public School
The exact year of the school’s establishment could not be traced as related documents were destroyed during the Japanese Occupation. However, it had been around since 1937, when a property at 4 Cuppage Road was bought for the school.11

The school was closed during the war and in 1950, a committee was set up to help raise funds for the school which resumed in 1951.12 It was then relocated to St Thomas Walk where the Sam Kiang Huay Kwan office operated, in order to accommodate the growing student population.13 Enrolment  increased from 65 students in 1951 to 345 students in 1956, and saw a continual growth.14 However, subsequent changes in the social environment and education policy led to a sharp decline in the student population. Eventually, the school closed in 1971.15

More than three decades later, in 2004, the clan association opened a school for new purposes: offering language courses in Chinese and conversational Shanghainese, as well as cultural courses.16

Sam Kiang Huay Kuan Charity Clinic
The charity clinic was opened in 1977,17 with donations by Runme Shaw and other clansmen, offering free medical consultation to the public for a nominal registration fee, and no registration fee was charged for the poor.18 Originally located at St Thomas Walk, it moved to 60 Sophia Road near the clan association’s office at Wilkie Road, when its premises at St Thomas Walk were redeveloped in 1996.19

Sam Kiang Mansions
The clan diversified into real estate for the first time with the building of a condominium on its former clan building site at St Thomas Walk. Profits and income earned were used for the clan’s social and welfare services.20 The project, costing $30 million, was completed in 1999 after three years of construction. All units of the 20-storey development were sold except for 12 units, which are owned by the clan.21 Seven percent of rent collected from these units is used for the clan’s expenses.22

Despite being a minority clan association for members of non-southern Chinese origins, it played an active role by joining the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1935,23 and had representatives in the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry committee in 1983.24 It was also one of the seven largest clan associations in Singapore that founded the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations in 1985.25

As clan members are from various parts of non-southern China with their own dialects, meetings are conducted in Chinese in order for members to understand each other better.26 In recent years, the clan also organised seminars and meetings to help new migrants better integrate into Singapore.27

Major milestones
1898: Established Sam Kiang cemetery at Jalan Rimau.
1906: Sam Kiang Public Office is set up at Jalan Ampas.
1927: Renamed Sam Kiang Huay Kwan.
1930?: Clan office is moved to 2 Cuppage Road.
1937?: Sam Kiang Public School is opened at 4 Cuppage Road.
1946: Clan office is moved to 23 St Thomas Walk.
1971: Closure of Sam Kiang Public School.
1977: Opening of Sam Kiang Huay Kwan Charity Clinic.
1980–1982: Sam Kiang Old Folks’ Home located near the Sam Kiang cemetery is in operation.
1982: Sam Kiang cemetery land is acquired for redevelopment; closure of old folks’ home.
1985: One of the founding clans of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations.
1989: Sam Kiang Ancestral Hall at Depot Road completed.
1996: Clan is relocated to current office at 41 Wilkie Road.
1999: Sam Kiang Mansions completed.
2003: New migrants elected as council members for the first time.28
Sam Kiang School reopened.

Presidents and chairmen29
Yang Xinghua (杨惺华)
1953–1967: Wang Xiangxian (王相贤)
1968–1973: Lu Chunsheng (陆春生)
1974–1977: Shui Mingzhang alias Chwee Meng Chong (水铭漳)
1978–1981: Shao Songqing (邵松青)
1982–2001: Shui Mingzhang alias Chwee Meng Chong (水铭漳)
2002–2019: Li Bingxuan (李秉萱)

Ang Seow Leng

1. Shen Lingxie, “The Sanjiangren in Singapore,” Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies 5 (2011–2102), 176.
2. Tham Yuen-C, “Shanghainese Enjoys Mini Revival in Singapore,” Straits Times, 26 January 2017, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Shen, “The Sanjiangren in Singapore,” 191.
4. Department of Statistics, Singapore, “Table 4: Chinese Resident Population By Age Group, Dialect Group and Sex,” Census of Population 2010. Statistical Release 1, Demographic Characteristics, Education, Language and Religion, 2011.
5. Li Bingxuan, Li Guosheng and Li Wei 李秉萱, 李国生 and 李玮, eds., “Sānjiāng huìguǎn” 三江会馆 [Sanjiang Guild Hall], in Sānjiāng bǎinián wénhuà shǐ jìniàn tèkān 三江百年文化史纪念特刊 [Sanjiang Centennial Cultural History Commemorative Special Issue] (Singapore: San Jiang Guild Hall, 2001), 119. (Call no. Chinese RSING q369.25957 SJB)
6. Li, Li and Li, eds., “Sānjiāng huìguǎn,” 119–20.
7. Shen, “The Sanjiangren in Singapore,” 186.
8. Singapore, “List of Registered Societies as on 1 April 2018,” No. 5 of 2018, Supplement to the Republic of Singapore Government Gazette, 267. (Call no. RCLOS 348.5957 SIN)
9. Chen Nengduan 陈能端, “Yìwù zhàogù xiān rén gǔhuī sānjiāng huìguǎn yǒuqíng yǒu yì” 义务照顾先人骨灰 三江会馆有情有义 [Voluntary care for the ashes of the ancestors], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报 , 9 November 2009, 9 (From NewspaperSG); “About Us,” Singapore Sam Kiang Huay Kwan, accessed 11 February 2019.
10. Li, Li and Li, “Sānjiāng huìguǎn,” 135–36; Singapore Sam Kiang Huay Kwan, “About Us.”
11. Pan Xinghua 潘星华, ed., Xiāoshī de huá xiào: Guójiā yǒngyuǎn de zīchǎn 消失的华校: 国家永远的资产 [The Disappearing Chinese School: The Country's Forever Asset] (Singapore: Published by Federation of Chinese School Alumni Associations, 2014), 194. (Call no. Chinese RSING 371.82995105957 XSD)
12. Pang, ed., Xiāoshī de huá xiào, 194.
13. Ou Rubai 区如柏, “Bǎinián fēngyǔ nányáng tàhuāng sānjiāng tóngxiāng shī chéng kěn qīn” 百年风雨南洋拓荒 三江同乡狮城恳亲 [A century of wind and rain in Nanyang pioneering Sanjiang fellowship in the Lion City], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 3 September 2001, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Pang, ed., Xiāoshī de huá xiào, 194.
15. Li, Li and Li, eds., “Sānjiāng huìguǎn,” 132; Singapore Sam Kiang Huay Kwan, “About Us.”
16. Pang Xinhua 潘星华, “Zài wén sānjiāng lǎnglǎng dúshū shēng. Liánhé zǎobào” 再闻三江朗朗读书声. 联合早报 [Hear the sound of Sanjiang reading aloud again. Lianhe Zaobao], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 27 June 2005, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
17. “Sānjiāng huìguǎn císhàn zhěnliáo suǒ zuórì xiàwǔ zhèngshì jiēmù shàowéimíng yǔ shuǐ míng zhāng jūn qiángdiào jiāng wèi gè jiēcéng gè mínzú fúwù,” 三江会馆慈善诊疗所昨日下午正式揭幕 邵维铭与水铭章均强调将为各阶层各民族服务 [Sanjiang Guild Hall Charity Clinic was officially opened yesterday afternoon. Both Shao Weiming and Shui Mingzhang emphasized that they would serve all strata and ethnic groups], Nanyang Siang Pau 南洋商, 13 March 1977, 18 (From NewspaperG);
18. Singapore Sam Kiang Huay Kwan, “About Us.”
19. Li, Li and Li, eds., “Sānjiāng huìguǎn,” 134; Singapore Sam Kiang Huay Kwan, “About Us.”
20. Wang Hui Ling, “Two Clans Plan to Develop Condos on Their Land,” Straits Times, 21 April 1993, 24. (From NewspaperSG)
21. Singapore Sam Kiang Huay Kwan, “About Us”; Shen, “The Sanjiangren in Singapore,” 186.
22. Shen, “The Sanjiangren in Singapore,” 186.
23. Shen, “The Sanjiangren in Singapore,” 177.
24. Shen, “The Sanjiangren in Singapore,” 180.
25. “Qī dàhuìguǎn fāqǐ zōng xiāng huì guǎn liánhé zǒng huì chénglì” 七大会馆发起 宗乡会馆联合总会成立 [Seven Assembly Halls were launched and the Federation of Clan Associations was established], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 12 December 1985, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
26. Sānjiāng huìguǎn dàibiǎo shào sōngqīng zhǐchū fāngyán jiāotán chángyán bù dáyì pǔjí huáyǔ duì shèhuì yǒuyì 三江会馆代表邵松青指出 方言交谈常言不达意 普及华语对社会有益 [Shao Songqing, representative of Sanjiang Guild Hall, pointed out that speaking in dialects often does not convey meaning, and popularizing Chinese is beneficial to the society], Nanyang Siang Pau 南洋商, 23 September 1979, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
27. Shen, “The Sanjiangren in Singapore,” 182.
28. Xia Jing 夏婧, Xīn yímín dāng shàng sānjiāng huìguǎn lǐshì 新移民当上三江会馆理事 [New Immigrant Becomes Director of Sanjiang Guild Hall], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 23 January 2003, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
29. Li, Li and Li, eds., “Sānjiāng huìguǎn,” 168–69; “历届理事会名单” [List of previous councils], Singapore Sam Kiang Huay Kwan, accessed 11 February 2019. (Please note that the list starts from 1948. Earlier names of the presidents and chairmen are not found.)

The information in this article is valid as at 15 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.

Chinese clans and associations
Sam Kiang Huay Kwan (Clan association)

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