New clan association for Gong surname formed

The association's protem committee members: (from left) Mr Kiang Kian Seng, Mr Gong Yongping, Mr Kiang Choon Tong, Mr William Gong and Ms Kiang Pei Yah.
The association's protem committee members: (from left) Mr Kiang Kian Seng, Mr Gong Yongping, Mr Kiang Choon Tong, Mr William Gong and Ms Kiang Pei Yah. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

More than 50 households with the surname found here; fund-raising and membership drive also launched

Their Chinese surname, Gong, is a rare one in Singapore.

But that did not stop a small group with the name - also known as Kiang, Keng, Kong or Kung in its various English translations - to buck the trend and start an association for their clansmen here.

Businessman Kiang Choon Tong, 67, who mooted the idea, registered the Gong Association (Singapore) two months ago, unperturbed that bigger clan groups are suffering from dwindling membership and smaller ones are closing.

There are about 300 Chinese clan associations in Singapore, down from 400 half a century ago.

An active grassroots leader in Ulu Pandan, Mr Kiang, the association's temporary committee chairman, said: "We may be small and best known perhaps for the famous wonton noodle stall in Geylang bearing our surname, but we still hope to gather more of our clansmen together with our own association."

He has no idea how many Gongs there are in Singapore, but so far he and four other founding members, including two new Chinese immigrants William Gong, 59, the committee's secretary, and Mr Gong Yongping, 57, the assistant secretary, have already discovered more than 50 Singapore households with the surname.

"There must be at least 100 Gong families in Singapore," added Mr Kiang Kian Seng, 75, another founding member.

Famous personalities sharing the surname include the late Hong Kong property tycoon Kung Yu Sum, better known as Rina Wang, and the late Chinese movie star and songstress Gong Qiuxia.

Mr Keng Kim Hong, 66, also a founding member, said that until now, the Gongs in Singapore could join the Singapore Liu Kwee Tang, a clan association for members coming from six surnames, including Gong. The others are Hong, Fang, Jiang, Wang and Weng or Ong.

"With an association of our own, we can now network with other Gong clan groups all over the world," added Mr William Gong, now a Singapore citizen and a senior lecturer in a private school.

Chairman Kiang Choon Tong, who announced the new group's formation during Liu Kwee Tang's 46th anniversary lunch celebration at Futsing Building in Jalan Besar yesterday, said a fund-raising campaign and a membership drive have been launched.

"At the lunch celebration, we gave out membership forms and received a donation of $5,000 from a member of Liu Kwee Tang," he said.

On the membership drive, he hoped that the younger generation, including the founding members' children, could take the lead.

His two children, daughter Pei Yah, 42, and son Thye Wee, 40, are already in the protem committee, he said.

Liu Kwee Tang president Ong Liang Kwang, 58, said the Gongs are the last in his association to form a clan group of their own.

"I am happy it happened now," he added.

The Gongs' association will be launched officially in May next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'New clan association for Gong surname formed'. Print Edition | Subscribe