Clan Associations and the Teochew Building

I was in the vicinity to settle some administrative work and since I was already here, I decided to take a short walk around of the place.

To the left of the old Sacred Heart Church is the Teochew Building, home to the Ngee Ann Kongsi.

Teochew Building 1People who look at the ethnic Chinese usually wrongly assume that since they look so similar, they must identify with each other. Like most other cultures the Chinese also have their own dialect groups. These dialect groups have different cuisine, language and cultural practices. People who spoke the same language, felt a kinship with each other. (Here is a map of where teochew is spoken, taken from Wikipedia)

Teochew DialectOne of the main groups are the Teochews. The southern Chinese teochews come from the Chaoshan region in Guangdong and are found largely in Thailand and Singapore. (Here is a map of Guangdong from Wikipedia)

Map of GuangdongThis dialect diaspora had left China during periods of great economic hardship in search of a better life, there are almost 10 million teochew Chinese among the diaspora. The teochews were previously also called Ngee Ann.

In 1845, the Ngee Ann Kongsi was set up by Seah Eu Chin to maintain the teochew culture and religion as well as to provide welfare for needy teochews. It was set up by 12 surname groups.

Seah Eu ChinIt was situated in the Wak Hai Cheng Bio, a temple that is still standing in Raffles Place. It was gazetted by an act of government in 1933. In 1927, a group of teochew business man felt that the Ngee Ann Kongsi had failed in its mission to the teochews and was a club for the 12 surname groups. This group was led by Mr Lim Nee Soon (Nee Soon or Yishun in Singapore was named after him).

Lim Nee SoonThe talks failed and a seperate group called the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan was set up. Eventually both sides put their differences aside and came together in this building.

Ngee Ann Kongsi Teochew Poit Ip Huay KuanThe Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan serves to promote and presevre teochew culture. The Ngee Ann Kongsi serves as a charity. It runs a traditional chinese clinic in Balestier, hiring some top physicals with it. It also runs schools Ngee Ann Primary, Secondary, Polytechnic, and the University of Adelaide (Singapore Campus); provides scholarships and bursaries..

Teochew Building 2 Teochew Building 3It’s main revenue source (since its a not for profit charity that needs to raise its own money), comes from commercial business and renting of commerical land. Land in Balestier, Grange Road and 29 hectares of land around Orchard Road. It owns Ngee Ann City.

Teochew Building 4Apart from that, it also rents the land to Wisma Atria and Mandarin Hotel.

Teochew Building 5Back to the Teochew Building. This building, apart from housing the administrative work of the Ngee Ann Kongsi there are parts of the building reserved for culture and heritage such as the Culture Hall and Collections Gallery. The pictures above mostly came from the Heritage Centre.

Here are some other shots of the place.

Teochew Building 7 Teochew Building 8 Teochew Building 6 Teochew Building 9How to get there


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