Article provided by National Library Board

How are donations from our Chinese clans contributing to Singapore's memories?

To mark the donation by the Chin Kang Huay Kuan to the National Library Board, the National Library had curated a display of about 20 items at the L9 Reading room, National Library building from 15 Nov 2018 to 4 Jan 2019.
To mark the donation by the Chin Kang Huay Kuan to the National Library Board, the National Library had curated a display of about 20 items at the L9 Reading room, National Library building from 15 Nov 2018 to 4 Jan 2019.PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD

Donations from Chinese clan associations, such as heritage materials and rare primary documents, enhance Singaporeans’ understanding of the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia and the early development of the Chinese community in Singapore.

These include primary materials such as minutes of meetings, documents and photographs that capture the “memories of the bygone days”. These materials were amassed through Singapore’s pre-war, post-war, and post-independence years, and the donations of heritage materials from these associations is akin to building an archive of collective memories of the people who lived in different periods of Singapore’s past.

The National Library preserves the materials and makes them accessible to researchers and members of the public.

For example, in 2018, the National Library Board received a donation of rare documents from the Singapore Chin Kang Huay Kuan. It consisted of a handwritten draft of regulations and the first book of minutes of meetings which represented the re-establishment of Chin Kang Huay Kuan following World War Two.

Another example is a donation from the Singapore Lam Ann Association, which included the clan association’s minutes of key meetings from the early years and a set of seven rare account books on the Hong San See temple, one of the oldest temples in Singapore.

Among the materials donated by the Tiang Lim Association are photographs taken in the 1950s which were visual documentation of the management committees, staff and also the clan association’s in-house music troupe. These photographs had been taken in front of their former premises at Kallang Bridge and Geylang, both of which have since been demolished.