Chin Kang Huay Kuan

Chin Kang Huay Kuan (晋江会馆) was founded in 1918 by migrants from Jinjiang county, southern Fujian, in China. Since its establishment in Singapore, the clan association has contributed to local education through the Chin Kang School, while looking after the welfare of fellow Jinjiang clansmen, and promoting Chinese culture through organising various related activities.

The earliest known junk from Jinjiang arrived in Singapore in 1821, two years after a British trading port was established in Singapore.1 Jinjiang migrants mainly worked along the Singapore River, loading and unloading goods from ships. According to a survey in the 1970s conducted by Peng Song Toh, a Singapore Chinese newspaper journalist born in Jinjiang, 56 coolie quarters were located in the areas of North Bridge Road, Rochor-Kallang River and South Bridge Road.2

In 1918, the Jinjiang migrants formed a clan association, to support and keep in touch with each other.3

Chin Kang Huay Kuan was registered on 29 July 1925.4 One of the founding members, Xiao Zhilai (萧志来), offered his property at 27–29 Bukit Pasoh as a permanent location for the association.5 The building for the office was completed in 1928.6

During the 1930s and 1940s, Chin Kang Huay Kuan played an important quasi-governmental role in migration matters, issuing travel visas for new migrants and character reference documents for clansmen returning to China for visits.7

Before the Second World War, the building was the headquarters of the Overseas Chinese Mobilisation Council (华侨抗日动员总会) for anti-Japanese activities in 1941. The huay kuan’s then president, Hong Baozhi (洪宝植), requested the governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Shenton Thomas, to issue a proof of order, which showed that it was the British who ordered the building to be used for anti-Japanese activities. When the Japanese occupied the building, the lives of clan association members were spared with this document.8 The building was also a bomb shelter during air raids, for people living around the area.9 The clan premise was turned into a Japanese comfort house after Singapore fell.10 In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the end of Japanese Occupation, the Chin Kang Huay Kuan building was marked as a historic site with a heritage marker.11

Chin Kang School
Eager to play a part in restoring education after the war, the association set up Chin Kang School in 1947 with an initial intake of about 70 students at their Bukit Pasoh premises. The school was open to all children regardless of clan affiliation. With an increase in student population, the school expanded its premise in 1960 with donations from Jinjiang clansmen in Malaya.12 During the renovation, the school operated from premises on loan from Eng Teng Huay Kuan, Hwee Ann Huay Kuan and Eng Hoe Siong Bou Kek. The S$100,000 school building was completed in 1961.13

From 1971 there was no new intake of students, and by 1975 the executive committee decided that the school would close by 1976, as it was no longer viable to continue with only three classes and a dwindling student population. Most of the children attended government schools, and families moved out of the area, where Chin Kang School was located, to new towns.14

However, the school was reinstated with the same name (晋江学校) in 2006 and now serves a different purpose. It encourages lifelong learning for people of all ages and promotes Chinese culture.15

Chin Kang Huay Kuan rebuilt the damaged building immediately after the Japanese Occupation. Having lost all documents and possessions in the building, it commenced the re-registration of members in February 1946. This was also the first time that the association accepted female members.16 The Chin Kang Huay Kuan Relief Section was also set up in 1946 to provide mutual aid to its members during weddings and funerals.17

In 1977, a recreation section was set up with several interest groups like dance, taekwondo, table tennis, Chinese orchestra, Chinese painting, creative writing, drama and nanyin (a form of Chinese classical music from the southern Chinese province of Fujian).18 Its activities are open to all from any race and dialect group.19

As the number of female members grew, they began to hold leadership positions traditionally held by men. In 1990, five women were elected to the executive committee of the huay kuan, the first in the history of a Chinese clan association in Singapore.20 In 1994, the Women’s Section was formed to promote family togetherness and networking among fellow members through activities such as festival celebrations and charity work.21

One of the huay kuan’s more notable leaders is Chua Gim Siong, who was also the founding deputy secretary-general of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations in 1986. He was the clan’s first local born president and the youngest ever clan leader in 1982 at age 36. He revitalised the clan association with new activities and initiatives. Under his leadership, the clan took an inclusive approach and opened its membership to anyone, including other races. Efforts were also made to recruit young members through cultural activities organised by the huay kuan. A youth group was formed in 2008. These outreach efforts differentiated Chin Kang Huay Kuan from other clan associations, which were suffering from falling membership and aging leadership issues.22

Chin Kang Huay Kuan also formed links with its overseas counterparts. It kept in touch with Malaysia’s Jinjiang associations through the Singapore-Malaysia Jinjiang Clansmen Fellowship (新马晋江同乡联谊会) founded in 1970, and the Asian Federation of Jinjiang Clan Associations (亚洲晋江社团联合会) formed in 1990. The latter was replaced by the International Jinjiang Clan Association (世界晋江同乡总会) in 1997.23

During its 100th anniversary in 2018, Chin Kang Huay Kuan donated materials that document its social functions to the Singapore National Library Board.24

Major milestones
1918: Chin Kang Huay Kuan is founded.
1925: Registration as a society.
1928: Completion of Chin Kang Huay Kuan building at Bukit Pasoh.
1941: Clan building used as headquarters of the Overseas Chinese Mobilisation Council.
1946: Relief Section is set up.
1947: Chin Kang School is established.
1975: Chin Kang School closes down.
1977: Recreation section is set up.
1993: First convention of the World Chin Kang clan; third anniversary of its Asian federation comprising Chin Kang clans in Hongkong, Macau, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Burma and Singapore.25
1994: Women’s Section is formed.
2006: Chin Kang School reopens.
2008: Youth group is formed.
2012: Chin Kang Huay Kuan is the recipient of the Clan of the Year Award.26

Post-war presidents and chairmen27
Hong Baozhi (洪宝植): 1946–47
Huang Tinglin (黄廷霖): 1948–49
Su Qiusheng / Soh Chew Seng (苏秋生): 1950–54; 1957–60
Zhuang Pitang (庄丕唐): 1955–56
Ding Macheng (丁马成): 1961–62
Xu Jingchi (许经赤): 1963–67; 1974–75
Zhang Kecai (张克彩): 1968–73
Cai Shigan (蔡世柑): 1976–81
Cai Jinsong / Chua Gim Siong (蔡锦淞): 1982–87
Cai Chengzong (蔡成宗): 1988–93
Zhang Jinchuan (张锦川): 1994–97
Xiao Sunxi / Seow Soon Hee (萧孙喜): 1998–99; 2014–15
Xie Xiuxing (谢秀兴): 2000–2001
Lin Guangjing (林光景): 2002–2007
Cai Kewang (蔡克网): 2008–2009
Zhuang Zhenxiang (蔡镇祥): 2010–13
Bu Qingzhong / Pok Cheng Chong (卜清钟): 2016–21

1. Du Nanfa杜南发, “Zuizao dao xinjiapo de jinjiang ren” 最早到新加坡的晋江人 [The earliest Jinjiang people to arrive in Singapore], in Singapore Chin Kang Huay Kuan’s Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang, bai zai huihuang世纪晋江, 百载辉煌, 1918–2018 (Singapore: Chin Kang Huay Kuan, 2018). [A century of Jinjiang, a hundred years of glory, 1918–2018], updated edition (Singapore: Chin Kang Huay Kuan, 2018), 130. (Call no. RSING 369.25957 CHI)
2. Peng Songtao彭松涛, “Bainian jinyi gulijian” 百年晋邑估俚间 [A century of the Jinjiang migrant coolie quarters], in Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang  世纪晋江, 133; Du Nanfa 杜南发 ed., "Cong wucaochuan dao gulijian: jinjiangren yu xinjiapo kaibu 200 nian" 从乌艚船到估俚间:晋江人与新加坡开埠200年 [From Chinese junk boats to coolie quarters: the Jinjiang people and 200 years of Singapore history], in Jianghe qingyuan: xinjiapo jinyi gulijian de gushi 江河情缘: 新加坡晋邑估俚间的故事 [Rivers endearment: The story of Singapore's coolie quarters] (Singapore: 新加坡晋江会馆, 2019), 33. (Call no. Chinese RSING 305.895105957 DNF).
3. “Jinjiang huiguan bainian shi” 晋江会馆百年史 [A hundred years of history of Chin Kang Huay Kuan] in Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang  世纪晋江, 23.
4. List of Registered Societies as on 1 April 2018, Supplement to the Republic of Singapore Government Gazette,  No. 5 of 2018, 291. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SSRSGG)
5. “Xinjiapo Jinjiang huiguan 1918–1998 chengzhang de guiji” 新加坡晋江会馆1918–1998成长的轨迹 [Singapore Chin Kang Huay Kuan’s journey of growth, 1918–1998],” in Wu Zhongshang, ed., and Peng You’er et al. 吴中山、编委彭悠儿, Huanliu sihai kuayue shiji: Xinjiapo Jinjiang huiguan qingzhu chengli bashi zhounian ji huzhu bu chengli wushi er zhounian jinian环流四海跨越世纪: 新加坡晋江会馆庆祝成立八十周年暨互助部成立五十二周年纪念 [Circumnavigating the four seas across the century: Commemorative publication of Singapore Chin Kang Huay Kuan’s 80th anniversary and 52nd anniversary of the establishment of mutual aid section] (Singapore: Lingzi Media Company, 1998), 43. (Call no. RSING 369.25957 XJP)
6. “Jinjiang huiguan bainian shi” 晋江会馆百年史, 23.
7. Du Nanfa杜南发, “Lishi wenjian yu huiguan gongneng de xin faxian” 历史文件与会馆功能的“新”发现 [Discovery of documents that shed light on the clan association’s functions], in Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang  世纪晋江, 118.
8. Peng Li’er 彭丽儿, ed., Jiushi Zhounian, huzhu bu liushier zhounian jinian tekan, 九十周年, 互助部六十二周年纪念特刊, 1918-2008 [90th anniversary, commemorative special issue of 62th anniversary of mutual aid section] (Singapore: Chin Kang Huay Kuan, 2008), 19. (Call no. RSING 369.25957 XJP)
9. “Jinjiang huiguan binan ji: Lu Heling lao xiansheng yijiu” 晋江会馆避难记: 卢鹤龄老先生忆旧 [Chin Kang Huay Kuan’s hard times: Mr Lu Heling recalls], in Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang  世纪晋江, 110.
10. Ke Jialiang柯迦量, “Duanduan 250 mi wuji bashu lu cheng wenshi jie” 短短250米武吉巴梳路成“文史街”?[The short 250-metre Bukit Pasoh Road becomes “historical street”?] Lianhe Zaobao 联合晚报, 9 December 2014,  6. (From NewspaperSG)
11. National Heritage Board, “Historic Sites Marked by the National Heritage Board,” accessed 31 August 2021; “Monuments to Remember WWII,” Straits Times, 7 July 1995, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Peng Li’er 彭丽儿, “Jinjiang xuexiao jianshi” 晋江学校简史 [A brief history of Chin Kang school], in Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang  世纪晋江, 36–41.
13. “$100,000 Building for School Completed,” Singapore Free Press, 9 January 1961, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Teresa Ooi, “Six Schools Shut Down,” New Nation, 11 February 1976, 4 (From NewspaperSG); Peng, “Jinjiang xuexiao jianshi” 晋江学校简史, 41.
15. Mo Meiyan 莫美颜, “Nanyang zhagen tuanjie huzhu” 南洋扎根团结互助 [Rooted in Nanyang with solidarity and mutual assistance], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 24 November 2012, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
16. “Jinjiang huiguan bainian shi” 晋江会馆百年史, 27.
17. “Jinjiang huiguan bainian shi” 晋江会馆百年史, 24.
18. “Xinjiapo Jinjiang huiguan 1918–1998 chengzhang de guiji” 新加坡晋江会馆1918–1998成长的轨迹, 46.
19. Du Guojun 杜国俊, “Kang le gu: Ni zhong you wo wo zhong you ni” 康乐股:你中有我 我中有你 [Recreational section: inclusivity at play], in Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang  世纪晋江, 54.
20. “New Initiative - Five Women Blaze a Trail in Clan Association,” Straits Times, 18 May 1990, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
21. “Jinjiang huiguan bainian shi” 晋江会馆百年史, 27.
22. S Ooi, “Moderniser of Chinese Customs,” Straits Times, 11 October 1987, 19; Teo Lian Huay, “Clan with Its Doors Wide Open,” Straits Times, 3 December 1984, 10 (From NewspaperSG); Liu Hongliang 刘宏量, “Jinjiang huiguan fu huizhang Ke Hongjing cong zhu minnan xuesheng dao wei huiguan yin xinxue” 晋江会馆副会长柯鸿景从助闽南学生到为会馆引新血 [Ke Hongjing, vice president of Chin Kang Huay Kuan, goes from helping students in Southern Fujian to attracting new blood to the clan association], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 4 July 2011, 4–5. (From NewspaperSG)
23. “Tuidong zongxiang shetuan yushi bingjin de liliang: Jinjiang huiguan de shidai jiaose” 推动宗乡社团与时并进的力量:晋江会馆的时代角色 [The force that pushes clan associations to keep pace with the times: The role of Chin Kang Huay Kuan], in Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang  世纪晋江, 92–94; “Gathering of the Clan at Jinjiang,” Straits Times, 25 April 1997, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
24. Jessie Yak, “Singapore’s Chin Kang Heritage,” BiblioAsia (Jan–Mar 2019).
25. “SM Lee to Speak at Chinese Clan’s 75th Anniversary,” Straits Times, 14 December 1993, 23. (From NewspaperSG)
26. Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, “2012 Clan of the Year Award,” 15 February 2012.
27. Centennial Commemorative Special Issue Editorial Board, Shiji jinjiang  世纪晋江, 184–99.

The information in this article is valid as of August 2021 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.

Singapore Chin Kang Huay Kuan
Chinese clans and associations
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