An old document that illustrates the strong ties between a clan association and its kinsmen is among the more than 1,000 items that the Kim Mui Hoey Kuan has donated to the National Library Board (NLB).
Headlined《为图今后金门航行便利劝请乡人》, the notice dated circa early 20th century, called for the Kinmen community (Kinmen, also called Quemoy, is located in the Taiwan Strait between the island of Taiwan and mainland China) to support the non-profit Quemoy Steamship Co. Ltd and the Quemoy Co. Ltd, Hostel Department set up by Kim Mui Hoey Kuan. The former aimed to provide a safer and cheaper mode of transport for Kinmen people travelling between Kinmen and Xiamen.
The collection also includes the clan association’s publications, letters, financial documents and meeting records from the early 20th century to the 21st century. These materials shed light not only on the history of Kim Mui Hoey Kuan and the Kinmen community in Singapore, but also on that of the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia and the contributions of Chinese clan associations in Singapore. They form a valuable addition to NLB’s collection and serve as a resource for researchers keen on studying the history of clan associations and the Kinmen community in Singapore.
On 14 March 2021, Kim Mui Hoey Kuan will celebrate its 150th anniversary. At the event, Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive Officer, National Library Board will present a token of appreciation to Kim Mui Hoey Kuan for its donation. The token is a reproduction of the《为图今后金门航行便利劝请乡人》document.
"This generous donation from the Kim Mui Hoey Kuan continues the strong collaboration between the National Library Board and the Chinese community, allowing more people to have access to Singapore's heritage and history. These materials will bolster the National Library Board as a knowledge institution in Singapore, and help researchers and the public learn more about the pioneers of the Chinese community, their struggles and how they overcame numerous challenges by coming together," said NLB’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ng Cher Pong.
Currently, the collection is undergoing preservation and conservation, and selected items are being digitised. Once this is completed, the public can access the digital files via BookSG (https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/printheritage/).
About the donor
In 1919, clansmen from Kim Mui County, also known as Kinmen, established the clan association, Kim Mui Hoey Kuan, at their clan temple. Preparations for the Hoo Chay Beoh Temple at Smith Street started in 1870 and the building was completed in 1876. The temple and association were set up for religious purposes and to provide support to Kinmen county and fellow kinsmen in the early years. It was heavily involved in the development of Kinmen in various industries and building of roads and bridges. Presently, it focuses on promoting the Kinmen culture and maintaining ties within the community by organising ancestral rites, arts and cultural festivals. It has also published historical books such as Kinmen Eminent Persons in History (Singapore Edition). The clan association moved to Keng Lee Road in 1986.
About the donation
Kim Mui Hoey Kuan donated a total of 1,059 heritage materials to NLB in 2019 and 2020. The collection comprises primary documents and publications. Please refer to the Annex below for highlights of the donated materials.
One interesting tranche consists of over 300 pieces of hitherto unknown letters and financial documents related to the Quemoy Steamship Co. Ltd and the Quemoy Co. Ltd, Hostel Department. Before the mid-20th century, Singapore had the highest number of Kinmen migrants in the world. There was a lot of traffic between Kinmen and Singapore. However, ferry services were unreliable, unsafe and expensive. Hence, Kim Mui Hoey Kuan decided to set up the Quemoy Steamship Co. Ltd in 1922 to provide an affordable, safe and clean alternative to its fellow countrymen. Quemoy Hostel in Xiamen was established to provide lodgings for passengers on the Quemoy Steamship. Kinmen migrants from Singapore would travel to Xiamen where they boarded the Quemoy Steamship to Kinmen and vice versa.
About National Library Board
The National Library Board (NLB) nurtures Readers for Life, Learning Communities and a Knowledgeable Nation by promoting reading, learning and history through its network of 27 public libraries, the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore. NLB also forges strategic partnerships that encourage awareness, appreciation and greater discovery of Singapore’s history through its rich collections on Singapore and the region.
NLB achieves excellence through innovation, focusing on citizen engagement and co-creation, resource and digital innovation. This creates learning opportunities, greater access to library resources, services and archival collections, as well as a continual development of innovative library spaces. Established on 1 September 1995 as a statutory board, NLB is under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).
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ANNEX - KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF DONATED MATERIALS