New clan group for residents from Jiangsu

A group of professionals from China's Jiangsu province, all new Singapore citizens or permanent residents, have set up their own clan association, increasing the number of such groups to at least 14.

Led by Dr Zhou Zhaocheng, 43, a Lianhe Zaobao senior executive and columnist, the Jiangsu Association (Singapore) was registered about two weeks ago.

Dr Zhou, an active Chinese community leader who is also a council member of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA), said his group's 20 mostly tertiary-educated founding members include scientists, engineers, lecturers and entrepreneurs.

There has been a spike in the number of clan associations formed by new Chinese citizens or PRs in the last five years, with at least eight new groups being formed, more than the original six set up between 1990 and 2010.

The number of Chinese nationals coming here has also increased significantly since the early 1990s. No official figures are available, but observers estimate at least several hundred thousand have come here to work, study and live since then. Many have become Singaporeans.

The new residents said they started their own clubs because they want to stay in touch with people from their hometowns and often find it difficult to relate to older members of existing clans.

Integrating the newcomers into the mainstream Chinese community has been a challenge to SFCCA president Chua Thian Poh, who leads the umbrella body of more than 230 clan and cultural groups, including several formed by new Chinese immigrants.

Mr Chua, who is also president of Singapore's largest clan group, Hokkien Huay Kuan, said: "I support the new Jiangsu Association because I believe they want to contribute to the community here as well. I hope they will join our federation."

Indeed, Jiangsu Association's president Dr Zhou, who came here in 1998, said among his group's objectives are plans to strengthen ties between Jiangsu province and Singapore through business, education and cultural exchange.

At the new group's committee meeting last Wednesday, some members suggested holding a charity event after the association's launch next March, to help the needy in Singapore.

Vice-president Cao Lin, 51, an engineer who came here 25 years ago, said there are at least a few thousand new residents from Jiangsu here and the number is increasing. "We also want to help newcomers from our hometowns to integrate into Singapore society, especially students," he added.

Dr Zhou said a membership drive would start soon and he hoped to have at least 1,000 members within the next two years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'New clan group for residents from Jiangsu'. Print Edition | Subscribe