Early Straits Chinese associations and clubs
Comments on article: InfopediaTalk
The early Straits Chinese associations and clubs were not only meeting places for the peranakan community but served as an educational platform and political voice of the local community.
Literary, intellectual and cultural clubs
The first literary and debating society, the Celestial Reasoning Association, had their inaugural meeting on 27 May 1882, and for the next three years, it led a vigorous existence of fortnightly meetings. The objectives of this grouping, the first of its kind among educated Chinese, were to improve the members in English and generally to encourage learning and morality. Its first president was the Chinese Consul Tso Ping Lung who remained in that position for a number of years. The Association disbanded by 1989.
In 1911, the Straits Chinese Literary Association (SCLA) was formed by a handful of Straits Chinese, most of whom were alma maters of Anglo-Chinese School. With eight members, the association was registered on 17 June 1911. Their regular fortnightly meetings gave young members a fine training ground for public speaking, and indoor and outdoor games. The SCLA's Recorder, a bi-monthly publication, was first published in January 1919 with Reverend Goh Hood Keng as editor. It was distributed free-of-charge. An organisation worth notable mention is the Straits Chinese Reading Club for its efforts in inculcating an honorable character along Christian lines amongst young men, whilst training them in the habit of study and discussion.
In 1906, the Straits Chinese Amateur Musical Society was established with a club house in Wallich Street, which was very handsomely furnished, and was supported by a strong membership. It began with Choa Giang Teo and Chia Keng Tye who had been practicing orchestral pieces with a small number of their personal friends for their own enjoyment. They even occasionally assisted at Straits Chinese Concerts and variety entertainments. In the early 1920s, Peranakan banker Chia Keng Tye with his great love for classical music, formed and financed The CKT Orchestra (possibly Singapore's first local orchestra). Tay Lian Teck, an excellent violinist served as conductor. Tay's talents were much recognised and later he became the first Asian to be admitted into the all-Caucasian, Singapore Philharmonia Orchestra
Social and sports clubs
The Straits Chinese Recreation Club (SCRC) began activities at the end of 1884, and was mentioned by the Straits Times of 14 January 1885, as a Club for the purpose of playing lawn tennis, cricket, and the practicing of English athletic sports. Other outdoor sports included football and hockey, and indoor activities like chess and billiards. The first Chinese New Year sports was inaugurated on Hong Lim Green on 22 February 1896. The founders of the SCRC were Koh Tiong Yan, Koh Seck Tian, Chia Keng Chin, Tan Chew Kim and Ong Kim Cheow. The Straits Government gave a piece of land at the back of the Police Court and in 1887, Cheang Hong Lim donated $3,000 for an iron rail fence.
The first Club House was opened on 2 July 1887. More than 100 Chinese and European gentlemen were invited for the occasion. The Club was opened by Chinese Consul Tso Ping Lung, who proposed the toast of its success and prosperity. Music entertainment was provided by the band of the 2nd South Lancashire Regiment. The octagonal pavilion designed by H. D. Richards, was brilliantly decorated and illuminated for the occasion. The President then was Tan Keng Wah. Together with the Honorary Secretary, Low Cheng Koon, and Assistant Honorary Secretary Tan Chew Kim plus about a dozen of the original members collected funds for the building. The Club stood on where Hong Lim Green stands today as a recreational park.
There was also the short-lived Straits Chinese Social Club. Its demise was immediately followed by the formation of the Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA) on 17 August 1900. Tan Jiak Kim, Seah Liang Seah, Dr Lim Boon Keng and Song Ong Siang founded this grouping for uplifting the community, and educating members to take abiding interest in public affairs and to cultivate a public spirit, a spirit of "service before self". The SCBA (now known as the Peranakan Association) had political, social, recreational functions.
Dr S. C. Yin formed the Straits Chinese Football Associationat a meeting held on 20 May 1911 at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, presided over by Dr Chan Sze Pong. All Chinese clubs with football as its activity were invited to join. Dr Yin was elected its first president. In 1913, he presented the Dr Yin Shield for competition among Straits Chinese football clubs. The first match was played at St Joseph's Institution playground on 15 July 1911.
Today the two organisations dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Baba culture in Singapore are the Peranakan Association and the Gunong Sayang Association.
Clammer, J. R. (1980). Straits Chinese society: Studies in the sociology of Baba communities of Malaysia and Singapore (pp. 5, 9). Singapore: Singapore University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 301.45195105957 CLA)
Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore (pp. 209-502). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SON)
"The King's Chinese" Song Ong Siang, Sir (pp. 41-42) [Microfilm: NL 7746]. (1936). Singapore: Straits Times.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 STR)
The information in this article is valid as at 1998 and correct as far as we can 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.
Associations, institutions, etc.--Singapore
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Sports, recreation and travel>>Ball games>>Cricket