Friday, July 29, 2005

18. Mun Sun Fook Tuck Chee, 1876, needs conservation

Thursday, July 28, 2005

19. Hainan Mazu Temple, 1878, rebuilt

Founding dialect group - Hainanese; Main diety - Mazu; status - demolished & rebuilt

The Hainanese community is one of the smaller dialect groups in Singapore. The Hainan Clan was formed in 1854 with their first clan house(1857) setup in a shophouse along Malabar Street. In 1881, 3 years after the new temple was built, there were 8,319 Hainanese in Singapore. They were the 4th in size after Hokkiens, Teochews and Cantonese. There were only 6,170 Hakkas then. Now according to statistics in 1990, the Hainanese population was 0.3% less than the Hakkas. Four other dialect groups forming the real minority Chinese dialect groups are Foochow, Heng Hua, Shanghainese and Hock Chia respectively. The scale of the original temple along Beach Road resembles the Hainanese temple in Penang (still standing ). In terms of architectural style and temple layout, this Hainanese temple really looked like a Cantonese temple! However, in Cantonese temples, the front entrance would normally be a brick wall with an entrance in the centre. The frontage of the Hainan temple were sealed by timber doors with a triple door-entrance much like a Hokkien temple. Interestingly, the Hainanese language itself is related to the Hokkien dialect group. The picture on top shows the rear hall of the old temple. This picture has always been confused by local writers with the Thian Hock Keng temple. From the architectural style and the chinese characters that suggests Hainan, this altar in the picture is more likely to be that of the Hainanese Tian Hou Temple and Clan house in Beach Road.

The rear hall of the temple along Beach Road was incorporated to the back of the Hainan Association Building in 1962. The altar and candle stands can still be seen in the rebuilt temple today. For more information, see

20. Chinese Chamber of Commerce, 1878, rebuilt

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

21. Kwong Fook Gu Miu, 1880, demolished

Founding dialect group - Cantonese ; Main diety - Monkey God ; status - demolished,1880 bronze bell at the rebuilt Peck San Theng.

A Cantonese temple located at Lavender Street but since demolished. This temple functioned as a temple as well as a guild house for the various trades practiced by the Cantonese then (in Penang, there is the 'Lu Ban' temple which act as a carpenter's guild). A little sidetrack, there was a more historical shophouse neighbouring the temple. This two-storey clan house was founded by a guy called Chow Ah Chi who was a carpenter cum translater (probably spoke Bahasa & English) recruited by Raffles in Penang before Singapore was founded. So Chow sailed with Raffles alongside with 30 Indian convicts to form the first rackey party in search of a better port to rival the Dutch perhaps. Local legend has it that it was Chow who landed on Singapore first and planted a flag (Union Jack or East India Co., nobody knows....I doubt if even Chow himself could have told the difference) on a hillock 200km from mouth of Rochor River.Raffles saw the glorius flag and landed soon after. Nobody knows where, historians were not the least interested. Legend continues that as a reward for braving unchartered territories - such as lions, crocodiles, mosquitoes, Orang Lauts and above all ,the Dutch - Chow was given a plot of land near the landing spot. That plot of land eventually became No. 1 Lavender Street, the clan house of Chow, the Toi San Cantonese carpenter from Penang. The clan house has also been demolished.