SINGAPORE: At their inception in the early 19th century, Singapore's clan associations helped Chinese immigrants who had arrived in Singapore in search of a better life. From finding work to housing, clan associations extended help to those with the same surname, or those from the same region.
In the case of the Kong Chow Wui Koon, which was established in 1840 by seven wealthy clansmen from the Xinhui district in China’s Guangdong province, it was also a place where they found entertainment, through sport, Cantonese opera, and other interest groups such as lion and dragon dance troupes.
Anne Lee, the Deputy Secretary General of the Kong Chow Wui Koon, said these activities had a bonding effect among clansmen.
“Through these activities, and through wushu classes or bonding through the dragon dance or lion dances, many of them started to fold in friends from outside Xinhui origins, and they contributed a lot to nation building," she said. "Because before Singapore had national service, we were one of the main stations that was approached by Mr Lee Kuan Yew during the nation building years, to form a volunteer youth corps. Mainly because we had a lot of healthy and dedicated young men here."
But times have changed, and so has the role of the clan association. From passing down traditional art forms, to promoting inter-generational communication, Chew Wui Lynn spoke to the Kong Chow Wui Koon about what the clan is doing, to keep up with the times.
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