Singapore Chinese Physicians’ Association

The Singapore Chinese Physicians’ Association was founded in 1946 after World War II. Formerly known as the Singapore Chinese Medical Society, it is one of the largest traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) organisations in Singapore. It was established to provide TCM medical services, education and research. Today, the association manages a number of subsidiaries such as the Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution, Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chung Hwa Medical and Drugs Research Institute, and Chung Hwa Acupuncture Research Institution.1

Early beginnings
The association’s roots can be traced back to 18 August 1946 when a group of Chinese physicians in Singapore held a forum at the Singapore Shang Hang Clan Association (星洲上杭同乡会) to discuss establishing an organisation dedicated to TCM. The forum was led by Yew Hen Nam (游杏南), Chan Chi Yen (曾志远) and Wu Rui Fu (吴瑞甫), a famous physician from Xiamen, China, who had been residing in Singapore then. They sought to establish an academic group in Singapore to unify TCM practitioners and collectively engage in the promotion, study and reform of TCM. The forum resulted in the establishment of the Singapore Chinese Medical Society (新加坡中国医学会), and Wu was elected as the chairman.2

After two months of preparation by the founding committee, the Singapore Chinese Medical Society was officially founded on 27 October 1946 at its inaugural general meeting. The objectives of the society were to teach and propagate TCM principles, research the expertise of TCM worldwide and seek best practices. The society also aimed to provide a community of support and academic network to encourage joint research and improve TCM treatment techniques.3

In 1947, the society was renamed Singapore Chinese Physicians’ Association (新加坡中医师公会; SCPA) at its second general meeting.4 It was located at 130 Cecil Street until its move to Telok Ayer Street in 1956.5 The association contributed to the development of TCM in Singapore through the active public promotion of TCM, such as having practitioners to share TCM knowledge in newspaper columns.6

Chung Hwa Free Clinic
In the 1950s, SCPA sought to establish a charity clinic to help the sick and the poor. The clinic could also serve as a place for clinical studies and research.7 The Chung Hwa Free Clinic (中华施诊所) was officially opened on 17 March 1952, operating temporarily at the premises of Chung Shan Wui Koon (中山会馆).8

New premises and renaming
After much preparation and fundraising activities, the association moved to new premises of its own at a three-storey shophouse at 202 Telok Ayer Street in 1956 on 24 November 1956.  At the same time, Chung Hwa Free Clinic was officially renamed Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution (中华医院).9

First and second branches of Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution
To improve public access to TCM consultation, a new branch of the medical institution was conceived. In 1961, philanthropist Lan Jin Qiang (蓝晋强) donated two shophouses at 233–235 Serangoon Road to SCPA, and Chung Hwa Medical Institution – First Branch (中华医院第一分院) was established there.10 In 1967, the government announced a symbolic sum of $5,000 to be given to the medical institution yearly as an appreciation for their charity work. This gesture greatly encouraged the public to provide more support and donations, and a second branch in Geylang (中华医院第二分院) was opened on 27 October 1967 on the occasion of SCPA’s 21st anniversary celebrations.11

In 1970, the government acquired the land occupied by the second branch.12 However, the branch remained opened until June 1994 when it made way for development projects.13

Toa Payoh Chung Hwa Medical Institution
In 1971, a plot of land spanning 19,500 sq ft between the intersection of Toa Payoh Lorongs 4 and 6 was granted to SCPA for a new building.14 Fundraising activities were held for more than three years, with more than S$4.89 million raised, to build the medical facility.15 On 28 October 1978, the three-storey Chung Hwa Medical Institution building in Toa Payoh was opened.16 The building consisted of outpatient clinics, laboratories, meeting facilities, auditorium, a library and basement carpark. The SCPA headquarters and their subsidiaries – Singapore Chinese Physician Training School, Chung Hwa Medical and Drugs Research Institute (中华医药研究院) and Chung Hwa Acupuncture Research Institute (中华针灸研究院) – were also housed in the same building.17

The economic downturn, coupled with the government’s acquisition of the land for redevelopment, led to the closure of the first branch of Chung Hwa Medical Institution on Serangoon Road on 31 October 1986.18

The Telok Ayer Chung Hwa Medical Institution building underwent renovation and services resumed on 18 July 1994, with an expansion of new services in rehabilitation, smoking cessation and specialised services in knee joints.19 The next few decades saw an expansion of community services and opening of new branches: Yishun Chung Hwa Medical Institution on 25 August 1996,20 Woodlands Chung Hwa Medical Institution on 11 April 2000,21 the Novena branch in Ren Ci Community Hospital on 20 March 201022 and the Bukit Panjang Branch on July 2012.23 In 2005, a new milestone was reached when the first TCM specialist clinic was set up within Changi General Hospital.24 Although the Novena branch had ceased operations on 25 October 2011,25 a new Joo Chiat branch was set up in 2013.26

On 20 April 2011, Chung Hwa Medical Institution was registered as a public company with limited liability, and approved as a charity on 23 May 2011.27

Nurturing a new generation of TCM practitioners
SCPA established the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in January 1953 to nurture a new generation of TCM practitioners for continuity in Singapore and Malaysia.  Formerly known as the Singapore Chinese Physician Training school (中医专门学校), it was renamed in 1976 as Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (新加坡中医学院).28  The college partners overseas institutions such as Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine and Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine to train and nurture TCM practitioners in Singapore.29

Seow Peck Ngiam

1. Xīnjiāpō zhōngyī shī gōnghuì chénglì wǔshí zhōunián jīn xǐ jìniàn tèkān 新加坡中医师公会成立五十周年金禧纪念特刊 [The golden jubilee commemorative issue for the 50th anniversary of the Singapore Chinese physicians association) (Xinjiapo 新加坡: Xinjiapo zhong yi shi gong hui, 新加坡中医师公会, 1996), 9. (Call no. Chinese RSING 610.69520605957 XJP)
2. Xīnjiāpō zhōngyī shī gōnghuì chénglì, 9.
3. Xīnjiāpō zhōngyī shī gōnghuì chénglì, 9.
4. “Guó yīxué huì zhí wěi zuó kāihuì” “国医学会执委昨开会,” [The Executive Committee of the Chinese Medical Association met yesterday], Nanyang Siang Pau 南洋商t, 17 October 1947, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Wu H., “Zhōngyī zǔzhī, zhōngyī xuéxiào” “中医组织,中医学校” [Chinese Medicine Organization, Chinese Medicine School], Sin Chew Jit Poh 星洲日, 14 April 1972, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “Zhōngyī shī gōnghuì xīn huìsuǒ jīnrì jǔxíng kāimù diǎnlǐ” “中医师公会新会所 今日举行开幕典礼” [The new clubhouse of the Association of Chinese Medicine Practitioners held its opening ceremony today], Sin Chew Jit Poh星洲日, 24 November 1956, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
7. “Zhōngyī shī gōnghuì xīn huìsuǒ.”
8. “Zhōngyī huì zhǔbàn zhōnghuá shī zhěnsuǒ jǔxíng kāimù lǐ shèngkuàng dūnqǐng zhèngrǔliáng shì zhǔchí jiǎncǎi” “中医会主辦中华施诊所 举行开幕礼盛况 敦请郑汝良氏主持剪彩 “ [The Chinese Medical Association hosted the opening ceremony of the Zhonghua Shi Clinic, urging Zheng Ruliang to preside over the ribbon-cutting], Sin Chew Jit Poh 星州日 , 18 March 1952, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
9. “Zhōngyī shī gōnghuì xīn huìsuǒ.”
10. “Sān jiān císhàn yīyuàn dìzhǐ” “三间慈善医院地址” [Addresses of three charity hospitals], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 11 November 1984, 47; Wong Suet Fern 黄板蕨 ”Zhōnghuá yīyuàn dì yī fēnyuàn bèi zhēngyòng jué jiēshòu péicháng jīn gòuzhì sīrén chǎnyè” “中华医院第一分院被征用 决接受赔偿金购置私人产业 “ [The first branch of Chung Hwa Hospital was expropriated and decided to accept compensation to purchase private property], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 31 August 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
11. “Zhōnghuá yīyuàn dì èr fēnyuàn dìng èrshíqī rì jǔxíng jiēmù” “中华医院第二分院 订二十七日举行揭幕” [The second branch of Chung Hwa Hospital is scheduled to open on the 27th], Shin Min Daily News 新明日, 15 October 1967, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “Zhōnghuá dì èr fēnyuàn bèi zhēngyòng zhōngyī shī gōnghuì jīng pài yuán xiàng guójiā fāzhǎn bù shāngyì” “中华第二分院被征用 中医师公会经派员 向国家发展部商议” The Second China Branch was requisitioned by the Association of Chinese Physicians to discuss with the Ministry of National Development], Shin Min Daily News 新明日报, 31 August 1970, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Dì 25 yè guǎnggào zhuānlán 2” “第25页 广告 专栏 2 “ [Page 25 Advertising Box 2], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 9 June 1994, 25. (From NewspaperSG)
14. “Toa Payoh to Have $1.5 Mil Chinese Hospital,” Straits Times, 8 December 1971, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “Xīnjiāpō zhōngyī shī gōnghuì zhǔ dàbā yáo zhōnghuá yīyuàn xīn shà” “新加坡中医师公会主大巴窑中华医院新厦” [New Building of Toa Payoh Chung Hwa Hospital, Singapore Chinese Physicians Association], Nanyang Siang Pau 南洋商, 27 October 1979, 22. (From NewspaperSG)
16. “Dàbā yáo zhōnghuá yīyuàn 27 rì zhèngshì jǔxíng kāimù”  “大巴窰中华医院 27日正式举行开幕” [Toa Payoh Chung Hwa Hospital officially opened on the 27th], Sin Chew Jit Poh 星洲日, 27 July 1979, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
17. Xīnjiāpō zhōngyī shī gōnghuì chénglì, 10; “Zhōngyī shī gōnghuì chénglì zhōnghuá zhēnjiǔ yán jiù yuan” “中医师公会成立 中华针灸硏究院” [Chinese Medicine Practitioners Association established Chinese Academy of Acupuncture and Moxibustion], Shin Min Daily News 新明日, 27 May 1978, 3. (From NewspaperSG); Chung Hwa Free Clinic (Singapore) 中华医院 (Singapore), Zhōnghuá yīyuàn tèjí 中华医院特辑 [Chung Hwa Hospital Special], (Xinjiapo 新加坡: Chu ban she que 出版社缺, 1997), 11. (Call no. Chinese RSING 362.11095957 CHU)
18. “Zhōnghuá yīyuàn dì yī fēnyuàn quēfá jīngfèi yuèdǐ guānbì” “中华医院第一分院缺乏经费月底关闭” [The first branch of Chung Hwa Hospital closed at the end of the month due to lack of funds], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 27 October 1986, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Xīnjiāpō zhōngyī shī gōnghuì chénglì, 34.
20. “Zhōnghuá yīyuàn dì yī fēnyuàn quēfá jīngfèi yuèdǐ guānbì” “中华医院义顺分院25日开幕” [The first branch of Chung Hwa Hospital closed at the end of the month due to lack of funds], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 19 August 1996, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
21. “Zhōnghuá yīyuàn shuàixiān yòng diànnǎo zhěn bìng wù lán fēnyuàn xiàolǜ gāo”  “中华医院 率先用电脑诊病兀兰分院效率高” [Chung Hwa Hospital takes the lead in using computers to diagnose patients with high efficiency in Woodlands Branch], Lianhe Zaobao 联合晚报, 11 April 2000, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
22. “Shè zài réncí yīyuàn nèi zhōnghuá yīyuàn xīn fēnyuàn kě wéi réncí bìngrén zhēnjiǔ” “设在仁慈医院内 中华医院新分院 可为仁慈病人针灸” [Located in Renci Hospital, the new branch of Chung Hwa Hospital can provide acupuncture for benevolent patients], Lianhe Wanbao 联合晚报, 20 March 2010, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
23. Andrea Ong, “The Sinseh Will See You Now – at the CC,” Straits Times, 1 July 2012, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
24. “Zhōnghuá yīyuàn zhuānkē jìnrù zhāng yí yīyuàn” “中华医院专科 进入樟宜医院” [Chung Hwa Hospital Specialist Entered Changi Hospital], Lianhe Wanbao 联合晚报, 25 October 2005, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
25. “会友博客,” Singapore Chinese Physicians’ Association, 2011.
26. Singapore Chinese Physicians’ Association, “会友博客.”
27. Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution, 新加坡中华医院常年报告书2019, Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution, 2019.
28. Xīnjiāpō zhōngyī shī gōnghuì chénglì, 26.
29. “About the College,” Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, last modified 7 September 2021.

The Information in this article is valid as at December 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. 



Traditional Chinese Medicine industry
Singapore Chinese Physicians' Association
Medicine, Chinese--Singapore--Societies, etc.--History
Public health
Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine

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